Southern History Series: A Southern Republic and a Northern Democracy (1863)

Frank A. Alfriend’s A Southern Republic and a Northern Democracy appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond in May 1863:

“It is no disparagement of the wisdom and patriotism of our forefathers, for us who have survived the wreck of the government of their creation, to ascribe its destruction to certain radical errors of principle, which escaping their penetration are revealed in the calamities which afflict posterity. It is no ungrateful denial of their merited fame, to avail ourselves of the lights which experience has given us, while reading the philosophy of the failure of the Union, in the events which marked its career, and culminated in its downfall.

The Revolution, through who bloodstained paths we are now treading our way to independence, is but the natural sequence, with all its coincident features of misery and desolation, of those causes, whose operation began with the existence of the late Union, and have steadily increased in force and directness with each stage in our national development.

John Randolph, when a youth of sixteen, with that sagacity which so eminently distinguished his later years, clearly detected that insidious germ of consolidation which he afterwards so aptly characterized as “the poison under the wing of the Federal Constitution.” But this alarming evil against which even the forecaste of Mason, and the inspired prophecy of Henry, warned their countrymen as the source of contention and strife, if not the instrument of destruction to which all rights and powers of State Sovereignty, which was not the only cause for apprehension, nor indeed the most formidable. Later events have proven that the most powerful cause for the severance of the bonds of Union between the North and South, was far beyond the reach of legislative remedy, and far superior to the statesmanship of the wisest framers of the Federal Constitution.

We advance no new theory in the interpretation of the philosophy of this revolution, when we ascribe the necessity of separation to the irreconcilable antithesis and utter incompatibility of the civilization of the two sections. That Cavalier element predominating in Southern civilization, and giving tone to Southern society, and character to Southern politics, had its representatives in the early days of the Union in those who opposed the surrender of the liberties of the States to a necessary inimical, centralized power. That Puritan element which underlies the fabric of Northern civilization, clearly manifested its antagonism to the other, by seeking in the very incipiency of the government, to deprive the States of all their power, and to establish with an irresponsible supremacy, a monster consolidated empire, which like that of Augustus, should have the name of Republic, but the character of an unmitigated despotism. The former, in later periods of our history, had a worthy champion in Carolina’s great son, who on all occasions nobly sustained the eminence of his mother State, as the most vigilant of all the vessels in her jealously of Federal encroachment. The later found an early and powerful advocate in Webster, who despite that professed comprehensive patriotism, embracing equally all sections of his common country, and despite the concealed splendour of his eloquence and statesmanship, was yet an appropriate representative of New England selfishness, and descends to history as the author of the ablest and most elaborate vindication of that policy now applied to the extinguishment of the liberties of a free people.

But apart from the considerations of an essential difference of origin and race, there are other evidences of widely distinct and conflicting social establishment. These conflicting elements are not only of harmonious cooperation in the old Union, but have never been harmoniously blended under any system of government; and will ever stand as two irreconcilably hostile systems, until the established wisdom of one shall secure the universal repudiation of the other.

It will not be denied that the two Confederacies, as they now confront the world, represent, approximately at least, essentially different establishments – the one a Democracy, with a redeeming feature of regulated liberty, the other, in its social character, eminently Patrician, and utterly opposed to a system thoroughly popular.

The Federal Constitution, the government of our common creation, from the moment of its adoption, has presented an open question, which has finally sought its solution in the arbitrament of war, as to the rightful interpretation of its design whether Confederate or Democratic, Republican or Consolidated …”

The Confederate war aim was to create a “Norman Cavalier” based Southern ethnostate that would dispense with the foolish errors, excesses and fanaticism of “Anglo-Saxon Puritan” liberal democracy in favor of a more congenial “Patrician Republic” led by a superior race.

George Washington mounted on horseback. Is there a better symbol of the Cavalier ideal of the honor driven Southern gentleman and his ideal of classical republicanism, servant leadership to his community and its values of virtus and libertas?

In the 21st century, Southern identity has become extremely degraded in the Sunbelt era of our history, but modern cultural geographers know the organic culture of the South still lingers on and determines much about our politics. We need to articulate an authentic Southern conservatism grounded in our culture and history for our alienated, deracinated and disaffected youth.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. I have always thought the predominant cause of the Civil War was because the Articles of Confederation was not modified and was replaced with the Constitution. Mainstream history teachers us that the Articles were impractical and unworkable and could not be reformed. And yet if you look at some of the proposals to amend the Articles we can see that was not the case. The Anti-Federals wanted a revised Articles. They were the majority in the United States. But the Federalists wanted something altogether new which is the Constitution they we have today. They were in the minority as regards political opinion in the colones but were also more wealthy, and hence more powerful, than the workers and farmers who supported the AOC or its revision thereof. The states elected the delegates to revise the AOC. That is not want they did. They swore the assembly to secretary, forbid talking to the media, and threw out the baby with the bathwater thereby leaving the relationship of the states to the central government in flux which would eventually culminate into southern secession. Today states are mere provinces of the federal leviathan and are not independent units. In that regard a multi-starred flag is hypocritical because the states have no sovereignty any longer. Better yet to replace it with just one large star representing the “Consolidated Union” that R.E. Lee warned about. When and if we do have our own southern nation again I vote for it being called the Southland Confederation in which citizens thereof will be known as “Southlanders” I like that. It has a mythic Lord of the Rings feel about it.

  2. Frank A. Alfriend’s A Southern Republic and a Northern Democracy should be standard reading to anyone into southern or Confederate history, its pretty good. I doubt anyone in those college southern studies programs ever read it or would care

  3. You did say something the other day about the “Northerners being overbearing”, and that’s the damn truth of it.

    • Yankees have always taken themselves too seriously.

      I’m a Southerner. I don’t take myself nearly as seriously as those people. I have the self-awareness to know that my own culture isn’t “universal” so I have no interest in trying to violently impose liberal democracy on others. Also, I am far less bigoted than those people, which is why anyone is free to make their case here so long as they steer clear of endorsing violence.

      • There is no such thing as Yankees or Southerners. Only White Americans and non whites.

        • Yes and no.

          1.) Yes, our long established regional cultures have been degraded in the Sunbelt era, but they haven’t gone away. I knew from studying cultural geography why Blompf was going to win in 2016.

          2.) No, there are significant religious, cultural and ideological differences between White Americans. In fact, there are even genetic differences that a highly visible. The Melting Pot didn’t eradicate those differences. It may have sharpened them.

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