Victims of a Duplicate Despotism: R. S. Tharin's "True Conservatism"

John Hartwell

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#1
Arbitrary arrests in the South: or, scenes from the experience of an Alabama Unionist, (1863) by Robert Seymour Symmes Tharin, "comminly known in the West as 'The Alabama Refugee.'"

Judge not the book by its title alone, for it is something quite different. The author was a South Carolina born lawyer, former law-partner of William L. Yancey, who had lived in Alabama for 30 years, and claims to have "struck the first blow against secession." Having fled the South because of persecution for his Unionist views, he went North, but found no freedom there. He contends that “arbitrary arrests have filled the bastilles of the South and of the North with victims of a duplicate despotism.” In a letter to his mother, he claims:

"I have many times essayed to write to you; but no means of transportation for letters has been offered, because Mr. Lincoln was afraid I would say something revealing the Union element of the North, which is not tainted with Abolitionism, and Mr. Davis was afraid I would say something appealing to the Union element of the South, which is untainted with Secessionism.

"The mutual jealousy of these two satraps of each other, and of every thinking mind and speaking tongue and pen in the Republic, would be amusing, dear mother, if it were not so dreadful in its results. Radicalism, or Sectionalism, South and North, delighting in extremes and rioting in anarchy, has planted the dagger into our bleeding hearts, and then commands the mother and her persecuted son to hold no intercourse in a country once free to the feet and the lips of millions of now trampled serfs."

To put it succinctly, he sees America during the war as composed of five "classes" of people:

"The first class, represented in this unhappy country by the Secessionists of the South, will have neither the desire nor the opportunity to listen to reason until mobocracy shall have received a check from the outraged people of the South.

"The second, of which the traitors of the States still loyal are an example, have the opportunity, but not the desire, to hear the truth. Because they see around them much to condemn, they discover in Jeff. Davis every thing to praise. They offer but an apology for treason.

"The third class is to be seen in the perjured leaders of the Rebellion. They seized upon an inflamed state of feeling which they themselves had excited, to bring upon the country a revolution, which they are to ride, they hope, into power and greatness. Under the cry of "Southern Rights," they openly trample upon Southern Rights.

"The other class — the Radicals of the North — seize upon the belligerent state of the country as a glorious opportunity for the consummation of their cherished plans, and, in order to bring about the emancipation of the slave, deliberately render it almost impossible to save the Union, or close the war. Under the cry of 'the war for the Union,' they fight against the Union.

"But there is another class of men, who, aware of the existence and motives of all the others, will yet pursue the even tenor of their own way, and who, before coming to a conclusion on public or private matters, will weigh the arguments on both sides, and judge for themselves, in accordance with the facts.

"I believe this class to be scattered over the length and breadth of this whole nation, both in loyal and disloyal communities, and to them I appeal for a hearing and a just verdict."

Tharin appeals to what he calls "true conservatism," Unionist, but non-Abolitionist. He asserts:

"No one denies that slavery is an evil;
No one denies that adultery is an evil;
But the Shakers, who advocate absolute non-intercourse between the sexes in order to destroy adultery, are not a whit less ridiculous than those Abolitionists who advocate the utter extermination, or provincial vassalage, of the people of the South in order to destroy slavery. They would 'make a wilderness, and call it peace.'"

Although he does stand against slavery, he "solves" it by ignoring it. One may note that all of his 5 "classes of people" are white.

I have to admit I have not read this book, nor am I likely to for quite some time (the list is already far too long), but just from skimming through it, I think there is much here that would interest other members, so I bring it to the attention of all.

cheers!

jno
 
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#2
Arbitrary arrests in the South: or, scenes from the experience of an Alabama Unionist, (1863) by Robert Seymour Symmes Tharin, "comminly known in the West as 'The Alabama Refugee.'"

Judge not the book by its title alone, for it is something quite different. The author was a South Carolina born lawyer, former law-partner of William L. Yancey, who had lived in Alabama for 30 years, and claims to have "struck the first blow against secession." Having fled the South because of persecution for his Unionist views, he went North, but found no freedom there. He contends that “arbitrary arrests have filled the bastilles of the South and of the North with victims of a duplicate despotism.” In a letter to his mother, he claims:

"I have many times essayed to write to you; but no means of transportation for letters has been offered, because Mr. Lincoln was afraid I would say something revealing the Union element of the North, which is not tainted with Abolitionism, and Mr. Davis was afraid I would say something appealing to the Union element of the South, which is untainted with Secessionism.

"The mutual jealousy of these two satraps of each other, and of every thinking mind and speaking tongue and pen in the Republic, would be amusing, dear mother, if it were not so dreadful in its results. Radicalism, or Sectionalism, South and North, delighting in extremes and rioting in anarchy, has planted the dagger into our bleeding hearts, and then commands the mother and her persecuted son to hold no intercourse in a country once free to the feet and the lips of millions of now trampled serfs."

To put it succinctly, he sees America during the war as composed of five "classes" of people:

"The first class, represented in this unhappy country by the Secessionists of the South, will have neither the desire nor the opportunity to listen to reason until mobocracy shall have received a check from the outraged people of the South.

"The second, of which the traitors of the States still loyal are an example, have the opportunity, but not the desire, to hear the truth. Because they see around them much to condemn, they discover in Jeff. Davis every thing to praise. They offer but an apology for treason.

"The third class is to be seen in the perjured leaders of the Rebellion. They seized upon an inflamed state of feeling which they themselves had excited, to bring upon the country a revolution, which they are to ride, they hope, into power and greatness. Under the cry of "Southern Rights," they openly trample upon Southern Rights.

"The other class — the Radicals of the North — seize upon the belligerent state of the country as a glorious opportunity for the consummation of their cherished plans, and, in order to bring about the emancipation of the slave, deliberately render it almost impossible to save the Union, or close the war. Under the cry of 'the war for the Union,' they fight against the Union.

"But there is another class of men, who, aware of the existence and motives of all the others, will yet pursue the even tenor of their own way, and who, before coming to a conclusion on public or private matters, will weigh the arguments on both sides, and judge for themselves, in accordance with the facts.

"I believe this class to be scattered over the length and breadth of this whole nation, both in loyal and disloyal communities, and to them I appeal for a hearing and a just verdict."

Tharin appeals to what he calls "true conservatism," Unionist, but non-Abolitionist. He asserts:

"No one denies that slavery is an evil;
No one denies that adultery is an evil;
But the Shakers, who advocate absolute non-intercourse between the sexes in order to destroy adultery, are not a whit less ridiculous than those Abolitionists who advocate the utter extermination, or provincial vassalage, of the people of the South in order to destroy slavery. They would 'make a wilderness, and call it peace.'"

Although he does stand against slavery, he "solves" it by ignoring it. One may note that all of his 5 "classes of people" are white.

I have to admit I have not read this book, nor am I likely to for quite some time (the list is already far too long), but just from skimming through it, I think there is much here that would interest other members, so I bring it to the attention of all.

cheers!

jno
Off hand it would appear Tha r I n in would of supported Bell for president. Obviously many contemporary people would disagree with his assertions. Not to say their is no merit in his observations.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
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Messages
16,114
Location
los angeles ca
#3
Arbitrary arrests in the South: or, scenes from the experience of an Alabama Unionist, (1863) by Robert Seymour Symmes Tharin, "comminly known in the West as 'The Alabama Refugee.'"

Judge not the book by its title alone, for it is something quite different. The author was a South Carolina born lawyer, former law-partner of William L. Yancey, who had lived in Alabama for 30 years, and claims to have "struck the first blow against secession." Having fled the South because of persecution for his Unionist views, he went North, but found no freedom there. He contends that “arbitrary arrests have filled the bastilles of the South and of the North with victims of a duplicate despotism.” In a letter to his mother, he claims:

"I have many times essayed to write to you; but no means of transportation for letters has been offered, because Mr. Lincoln was afraid I would say something revealing the Union element of the North, which is not tainted with Abolitionism, and Mr. Davis was afraid I would say something appealing to the Union element of the South, which is untainted with Secessionism.

"The mutual jealousy of these two satraps of each other, and of every thinking mind and speaking tongue and pen in the Republic, would be amusing, dear mother, if it were not so dreadful in its results. Radicalism, or Sectionalism, South and North, delighting in extremes and rioting in anarchy, has planted the dagger into our bleeding hearts, and then commands the mother and her persecuted son to hold no intercourse in a country once free to the feet and the lips of millions of now trampled serfs."

To put it succinctly, he sees America during the war as composed of five "classes" of people:

"The first class, represented in this unhappy country by the Secessionists of the South, will have neither the desire nor the opportunity to listen to reason until mobocracy shall have received a check from the outraged people of the South.

"The second, of which the traitors of the States still loyal are an example, have the opportunity, but not the desire, to hear the truth. Because they see around them much to condemn, they discover in Jeff. Davis every thing to praise. They offer but an apology for treason.

"The third class is to be seen in the perjured leaders of the Rebellion. They seized upon an inflamed state of feeling which they themselves had excited, to bring upon the country a revolution, which they are to ride, they hope, into power and greatness. Under the cry of "Southern Rights," they openly trample upon Southern Rights.

"The other class — the Radicals of the North — seize upon the belligerent state of the country as a glorious opportunity for the consummation of their cherished plans, and, in order to bring about the emancipation of the slave, deliberately render it almost impossible to save the Union, or close the war. Under the cry of 'the war for the Union,' they fight against the Union.

"But there is another class of men, who, aware of the existence and motives of all the others, will yet pursue the even tenor of their own way, and who, before coming to a conclusion on public or private matters, will weigh the arguments on both sides, and judge for themselves, in accordance with the facts.

"I believe this class to be scattered over the length and breadth of this whole nation, both in loyal and disloyal communities, and to them I appeal for a hearing and a just verdict."

Tharin appeals to what he calls "true conservatism," Unionist, but non-Abolitionist. He asserts:

"No one denies that slavery is an evil;
No one denies that adultery is an evil;
But the Shakers, who advocate absolute non-intercourse between the sexes in order to destroy adultery, are not a whit less ridiculous than those Abolitionists who advocate the utter extermination, or provincial vassalage, of the people of the South in order to destroy slavery. They would 'make a wilderness, and call it peace.'"

Although he does stand against slavery, he "solves" it by ignoring it. One may note that all of his 5 "classes of people" are white.

I have to admit I have not read this book, nor am I likely to for quite some time (the list is already far too long), but just from skimming through it, I think there is much here that would interest other members, so I bring it to the attention of all.

cheers!

jno
Was Tha r I n( my phone won't let me spell his name) a friend or supporter of Senator Bell for president?
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
May 27, 2011
Messages
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los angeles ca
#5
Per p. 61:
"As an elector for the Bell-Everett ticket, my favorite argument in support of my position was the Farewell Address of that greatest of Southerners, George Washington."​
Makes sense. Bell's point of view represented a reasonably good sized slice of American public opinion. Bell earned 13% of the popular vote and at least per the Wiki article on Bell 39% of the Southern vote. Bell was narrowly defeated by Breckenridge in some states and won three states. Not bad in a four way race but presidential elections is not horseshoes it' s a zero sum game.
Leftyhunter
 
Joined
May 21, 2018
Messages
6
Location
Charleston, SC
#7
I just joined this group and found this post. Robert Tharin is my great great uncle (the brother of my great great grandfather). I have read his book and found other biographical details about him (including a scanned copy of a letter he wrote to President Lincoln).

There is a book about him called "Robert Tharin, Biography of a Mountain Abolitionist" by Don West which is mostly useless. All biographical information in it comes from Tharin's own book.

Tharin's own book "Arbitrary Arrests in the South" does indicate a strong belief in the union and constitution with somewhat of a self-righteous bent. He seems more opposed to slave owners than to slavery itself. He is a very descriptive and evocative writer.

He enlisted briefly in an Indiana infantry regiment. He later petitioned unsuccessfully to be appointed as the reconstruction governor of SC. He returned to Charleston after the war. His grandson was a Wake Island aviator and later USMC general.
 



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