Category Archives: Miscellanea

Our son is born!

Some months ago we announced that we were expecting a second baby, today we proudly announce that last Sunday, 3rd April 2016, at 23:11, our son was born in Toulouse.

The delivery went smoother than the previous time (her mother’s words) and both Luca and the child enjoy good health at the moment, recovering in the clinique.

Looking forward to introduce him.

His sister, Andrea, looking forward to introduce him to the world.

David, the newcomer (design from uncle Jaime).

David, the newcomer (design from uncle Jaime).

David weighed 3,620 grams at birth and measured 51cm tall.

Little David, inscribed on Monday in the Toulouse registry as David Irastorza van Veen (1), seems to have light grey/blue eyes, looks like a good navigator to fly with at the side and asked us to thank you all for the interest and good wishes, and said that is looking forward to meeting you in the following days, weeks, months and years.

(1) To be inscribed in the Spanish registry in due time, Consulate time…

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Análisis comparado sobre el acierto de mi pronóstico de las elecciones generales 2015

Ayer se celebraron las elecciones generales al congreso de España. Los resultados, conocidos por todos, ya con el escrutinio acabado han sido los siguientes:

Resultados elecciones generales 2015.

Resultados elecciones generales 2015.

La madrugada del viernes al sábado publiqué un post con el pronóstico que yo hacía para estas elecciones. Muestro aquí de nuevo el resumen con la distribución de escaños en el arco parlamentario.

 

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

En este post quería simplemente examinar la bondad de dicho pronóstico. Para ello, en primer lugar quería compararlo con otros pronósticos que se han hecho en estas fechas. En la tabla de debajo, muestro una compilación de pronósticos con el resultado final a la izquierda. El código de color lo añado para ver donde aciertan y fallan cada uno de los pronósticos. Si el resultado cae dentro del margen que se indica lo doy por bueno (verde, independientemente de cómo de grande es el margen), si el resultado se desvía del margen por un solo escaño lo marco en amarillo, si se desvía por dos o más escaños lo dejo en rojo (como muy “desviado”) (1).

Comparativa de encuestas electorales vs resultados.

Comparativa de encuestas electorales vs resultados.

En la tabla se puede ver que de los 4 grandes partidos en 3 de ellos el resultado se encuentra del pronóstico que hice y con Podemos me desvié en 1 escaño. Todos los otros pronósticos tienen al menos a dos partidos (si no los cuatro) completamente fuera de los márgenes. Con quien más se han columpiado todos es con Ciudadanos, a quienes prácticamente todos daban resultados muy por encima de los obtenidos. Igualmente a Podemos prácticamente le daban todos menos de 64 escaños (excepto GESOP, que se pasó por encima en más de 10). A PP varios le daban bastante por debajo de 120 escaños. Es el PSOE el que mejor predijeron en general, aunque dos encuestas le daban un hundimiento bastante más pronunciado.

Por otro, sobre esta comparación quería indicar que la famosa cocina del CIS tampoco es tan tendenciosa como a veces se quiere hacer ver (2). Al partido del gobierno le ha dado justo en el centro. Al PSOE lo tiene prácticamente en el margen. Y es a Ciudadanos y Podemos donde los tiene cruzados, como las otras encuestas excepto GESOP.

Por último, tengo la impresión de que en las cocinas al voto indeciso lo tienden a ver como más de cambio de lo que realmente es (3).

Una vez comparadas las encuestas y visto que mi pronóstico efectivamente fue mucho más certero, quería ver cómo de certero fue en términos absolutos. Para ello he recopilado los resultados provincia por provincia para poder comparar la desviación o no que tiene el pronóstico para cada partido. Ello se ve en las siguientes 3 tablas: pronóstico, resultados y corrección.

Pronóstico detallado.

Pronóstico detallado.

Resultados detallados por provincia.

Resultados detallados por provincia.

Correccion_por_provincia

Corrección del prónostico con resultados por provincia y partido.

 

En la corrección he usado el mismo código de colores: verde cuando el resultado estaba dentro de lo pronosticado, amarillo si me equivoqué en 1 escaño para ese partido (introduciendo un naranja cuando ese error supone pasar de estar representado a no estarlo o viceversa) y rojo cuando me equivoco en 2 o más escaños.

En total, en la tabla hay unas 280 predicciones a hacer: 223 correctas (si bien prácticamente 50 son darle un cero a IU en las provincias donde se presenta, todas), 53 errores de un escaño (19 de los cuales suponen cambio en la representación), 3 errores de 2 o más escaños.

Debajo incluyo un par de gráficas donde se puede ver de un vistazo lo descrito arriba. Por partido y provincia acierto en un 80%. Por provincia, prácticamente el 50% están predichas correctamente para todos los partidos.

Analisis por partido y provincia.

Análisis por partido y provincia.

Análisis por provincia.

Análisis por provincia.

Finalmente, en el post donde incluí el pronóstico indicaba que las dos castillas parecían fáciles de predecir, no así Cataluña, Galicia y País Vasco. Efectivamente, de largo es en Cataluña donde más errores he tenido. Castilla y León ha salido bastante bien. Y en Castilla La Mancha tuve algún error más de los esperado (escaños a Ciudadanos). (4)

(1) El hecho de usar una desviación de 1 o 2 para distinguir entre poco y muy desviado es totalmente arbitrario. De hecho, podría haber cogido como “poco desviado” hasta 5 escaños, y mi pronóstico seguiría siendo igual de mejor que los otros, pero he querido coger 1 porque así es el mismo código de colores que uso en este mismo artículo un poco después para ver el acierto provincia a provincia y partido a partido. Y ahí, sí, no se puede suponer que desviarse por más de 1 escaño es “poca” desviación.

(2) No en vano, la última encuesta del CIS se realiza sobre 17.000 muestras, esto es un orden de magnitud de las ~800, ~1200, 2800, etc., que usan las otras.

(3) En mi opinión mejor harían en pensar en ese voto como una regresión a la media de lo ya visto en elecciones anteriores.

(4) En la tabla se puede ver que en la Comunidad Valenciana he coloreado todas las casillas en verde a pesar de haber números en Podemos y Compromís. Esto es debido a que en el momento de hacer el pronóstico no era consciente de que de hecho iban juntos. Y le di a cada uno la representación que creía que iban a tener. La suma de ambas representaciones pronosticadas es igual al resultado del conjunto. Esto ha sido posible en parte gracias a que Valencia es una circunscripción grande y el error en no agruparlas no ha hecho que mi pronóstico perdiese escaños de Podemos.

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Mi pronóstico de las elecciones generales de España de 2015

Con la ocasión de las elecciones generales en España el próximo domingo 20 de diciembre, quería aprovechar para hacer un pronóstico de las mismas como ejercicio de aprendizaje (1).

En un principio quería haber producido el pronóstico a partir de utilizar, de chequear algunas encuestas de alguna empresa demoscópica en particular con las elecciones generales de 2011, contrastarlas después con los resultados, y sacar algún tipo de factores de corrección. Y hacer lo mismo con las autonómicas de 2011/2012 y 2015. Pero cuando me puse a ver las encuestas de las generales no se daba el detalle de porcentajes de voto por partido y circunscripción. Por ello tuve que desechar esa metodología.

Finalmente, he ido comparando los resultados de generales de 2011, y las dos últimas autonómicas, y viendo la tendencia me he ayudado de alguna encuesta en algunos casos (2). Aclarar que el ejercicio no se trata de una encuesta (no he ido llamando a nadie), ni de una media de encuestas (3).

Como he dicho antes, cuando una encuesta nos dice “el PP va a conseguir un 26% y entre 110-116 escaños” nos da un resultado que se compone de la suma de muchas provincias, que no nos sirve para ver que va a pasar en nuestra provincia en particular. El CIS sin embargo, ofrece una encuesta con hasta 17 mil encuestados, donde indica su estimación de reparto de escaños por provincias y de porcentajes de voto globales (4). Y esa visión, mucho más completa es la que quería replicar con este ejercicio.

Como recordatorio: en España tenemos 52 circunscripciones (provincias más Ceuta y Melilla) que aportan desde 1 diputado (Ceuta y Melilla) a 36 (Madrid). El total son 350 y la mayoría absoluta se consigue con 176 escaños. Dicho esto, la tabla y la gráfica siguientes resumen todo el trabajo:

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Pronóstico detallado.

Pronóstico detallado.

Por otro lado, el censo se compone de algo más de 36,4 millones de electores. De ellos 34,5 son residentes en España. De ellos, he supuesto que la participación es de un 75% (uniforme en todo el país por simplificación; aunque no lo será).

A los casi 2 millones de electores residentes en el extranjero los he despreciado para la estimación de números totales de votos obtenidos por cada partido. No los he despreciado porque lo haga el gobierno con el arduo tramite del voto rogado, sino porque la participación será mucho menor (fue menor del 10% en 2011) y como se reparte en las 52 circunscripciones es muy difícil que decida el signo de un escaño (5).

Con todo ello he supuesto que votan casi 26 millones de personas. Con unos 25.1 millones de votos a partidos (excluyendo blancos y nulos). Con los porcentajes de voto indicados arriba, los votos totales obtenidos por los principales partidos serían:

  • PP: 6,65 millones
  • PSOE: 5,67 millones
  • Podemos (6): 4,53 millones
  • Cs: 3,18 millones
  • IU/UP: 0,9 millones

Una vez compartido el pronóstico, no voy a hacer ningún análisis del mismo, dado que puede estar muy o poco equivocado; mejor esperar a tener los resultados reales.

(1) Ya en 2011, tras las elecciones generales hice el ejercicio de repartir con distintos métodos (proporcional vs D’Hondt, circunscripciones provinciales vs única…) y el ejercicio me resultó útil.

(2) Por ejemplo, en las dos Castillas parece no muy difícil hacer un pronóstico en cuanto reparto de escaños a partir de los últimos resultados y su evolución. Sin embargo, en Cataluña, Galicia o País Vasco no es nada sencillo.

(3) Ver por ejemplo los que hace Kiko Llaneras aquí.

(4) Ver más abajo las tablas del CIS. La fuente aquí.

(5) Sobre esto se ha escrito ya. En otro momento buscaré la referencia y la añadiré aquí.

(6) Incluyendo En Comú, Compromís y En Marea.

CIS_porcentajes CIS_detalle

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Corrida Camarguaise (bullfighting / toros)

Hace unos meses viajamos a La Camargue, y en particular al pueblo Saintes Maries de la Mer. En esa visita tuvimos la oportunidad de asistir a una corrida de toros, pero a una “corrida Camarguaise“, que es diferente a una corrida de toros “andaluza” (como dicen en Francia).

Durante la corrida hice una serie de fotos y videos que se pueden ver más abajo para entender mejor el breve resumen de las cosas que percibimos, aunque estoy seguro de que no llegué a entender todas sus particularidades.

En una corrida camarguesa, no hay un matador, ni banderillas ni picador. El toro no muere. De hecho se parece más a lo que en España llamamos concurso de recortes; aunque tampoco es igual, es mucho menos vistoso y espectacular (al menos la que tuvimos la oportunidad de presenciar).

En la corrida camarguesa que presenciamos, un pequeño grupo se enfrenta al toro por turnos. En este caso eran como tres recortadores (raseteurs), vestidos de ropa deportiva (no un traje de luces), que por turnos partían en carrera para pasar por delante del toro, y si tenían la oportunidad hacerse con uno de los trofeos que lleva el toro en la sien, entre los cuernos. Estos trofeos son pequeñas cintas de papel, que el raseteur debe coger en carrera con la ayuda de un garfio.

Corrida camarguesa en Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Corrida camarguesa en Saintes Maries de la Mer.

Por cada trofeo que cojan, el raseteur obtiene una puntuación y un premio en metálico. Ese premio depende de las aportaciones de los negocios locales y asistentes a la corrida, que financian la fiesta. De hecho, durante la corrida, hay un locutor que va anunciando los nombres de distintas empresas y la cantidad dineraria que aportan. Al cabo de unos segundos el locutor indica en cuanto está la suma en ese instante. Conforme la suma aumenta mayor es el incentivo de ser el primero en coger los trofeos.

Además de los 3 raseteurs (pueden ser más), estos estaban acompañados de un equipo de ayudantes (peones) que tenían como misión el llamar al toro, orientarlo y posicionarlo en el ruedo. También el ganadero tenía su labor. Puede ser porque la barrera en esa plaza fuese de menor altura de la que tienen las plazas en España; el hecho es que el toro saltó varias veces la barrera y corrió por el pasillo entre la barrera y la grada. Entonces, era el ganadero, el que, con la ayuda de una vara, reconducía al toro a una de las puertas de acceso a la plaza.

En resumen, un espectáculo curioso, con un cierto parecido a un concurso de recortes.

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Pregnant again!

Dear readers, we are expecting a second child!

As I did a bit over two years ago (here), I take the opportunity of using this communication channel to inform (especially to those of you I couldn’t see in the past month) the good news.

Family..

“The family venturing around the world now looking forward to meet the baby” (small collage made from a design by Jaime, the uncle).

If everything goes well and dates are as expected, the delivery would take place at the beginning of April 2016.

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The most (and least) read of the first 500 posts

A classic post of the blog: a recap at each hundredth post dedicated to show which were the most and least read of the first 500 posts. (1)

Since I started the blog in February 2010, the blog has received over 207,000 visits and hundreds of comments.

Find below the list of the top 10 and bottom 10 posts:

1. Impuestos en Francia vs. España
2. Will Boeing 787 ever break-even?
3. Mi adiós a Ibercaja
4. 787 Break Even for Dummies
5. Monaco GP Walking Tour
6. Impuestos en Francia vs. España (actualización 2012)
7. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2012)
8. Beluga vs. Dreamlifter
9. Patek Philippe Caliber 89
10. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts (2011)

490. Resist the bias to act
491. Bill Clinton endorsing Kiva (video)
492. Risk
493. Europe Day
494. Nothing like a good red wine…
495. What charities do you support?
496. Bye, Vistalegre
497. Boulevards de Colomiers 2014
498. Special assistance vs. free ride
499. Wells Fargo History Museum at San Francisco

Let’s see what I’ll write in the next 100 posts…

(1) I wrote four such posts when I reached the first 100200300 and 400 posts in the blog.

NOTE: the box in the right showing “Current Top Posts” shows the most read ones in the last two days, not the all-time most read ones (the ones above).

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Lincoln and U. S. Grant on the preservation of the Union

Yesterday I read an article about president Abraham Lincoln (here, in Spanish, by Mario Muchnik) that reminded me the words you can hear in the Lincoln Memorial at the Mall in DC where he stresses that is objective was not to end slavery but to preserve the Union. I went to look for the exact words (source here):

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

[Excerpt from a response letter from Lincoln to Horace Greeley]

These words reminded me of a passage by Ulysses S. Grant, the Union general (commanding general at the end of the civil war) and later 18th President, which I had read in his Personal Memoirs. I wanted to share it here:

Up to the Mexican war there were a few out and out abolitionists, men who carried their hostility to slavery into all elections, from those for a justice of the peace up to the Presidency of the United States. They were noisy but not numerous. But the great majority of people at the North, where slavery did not exist, were opposed to the institution, and looked upon its existence in any part of the country as unfortunate. They did not hold the States where slavery existed responsible for it; and believed that protection should be given to the right of property in slaves until some satisfactory way could be reached to be rid of the institution. Opposition to slavery was not a creed of either political party. In some sections more anti-slavery men belonged to the Democratic party, and in others to the Whigs. But with the inauguration of the Mexican war, in fact with the annexation of Texas, “the inevitable conflict” commenced.

As the time for the Presidential election of 1856—the first at which I had the opportunity of voting—approached, party feeling began to run high. The Republican party was regarded in the South and the border States not only as opposed to the extension of slavery, but as favoring the compulsory abolition of the institution without compensation to the owners. The most horrible visions seemed to present themselves to the minds of people who, one would suppose, ought to have known better. Many educated and, otherwise, sensible persons appeared to believe that emancipation meant social equality. Treason to the Government was openly advocated and was not rebuked. It was evident to my mind that the election of a Republican President in 1856 meant the secession of all the Slave States, and rebellion. Under these circumstances I preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell. With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there could be no pretext for secession for four years. I very much hoped that the passions of the people would subside in that time, and the catastrophe be averted altogether; if it was not, I believed the country would be better prepared to receive the shock and to resist it. I therefore voted for James Buchanan for President. Four years later the Republican party was successful in electing its candidate to the Presidency. The civilized world has learned the consequence. Four millions of human beings held as chattels have been liberated; the ballot has been given to them; the free schools of the country have been opened to their children. The nation still lives, and the people are just as free to avoid social intimacy with the blacks as ever they were, or as they are with white people.

[…]

During the eleven months that I lived in Galena prior to the first call for volunteers, I had been strictly attentive to my business, and had made but few acquaintances other than customers and people engaged in the same line with myself. When the election took place in November, 1860, I had not been a resident of Illinois long enough to gain citizenship and could not, therefore, vote. I was really glad of this at the time, for my pledges would have compelled me to vote for Stephen A. Douglas, who had no possible chance of election. The contest was really between Mr. Breckinridge and Mr. Lincoln; between minority rule and rule by the majority. I wanted, as between these candidates, to see Mr. Lincoln elected. Excitement ran high during the canvass, and torch-light processions enlivened the scene in the generally quiet streets of Galena many nights during the campaign. I did not parade with either party, but occasionally met with the “wide awakes” —Republicans—in their rooms, and superintended their drill. It was evident, from the time of the Chicago nomination to the close of the canvass, that the election of the Republican candidate would be the signal for some of the Southern States to secede. I still had hopes that the four years which had elapsed since the first nomination of a Presidential candidate by a party distinctly opposed to slavery extension, had given time for the extreme pro-slavery sentiment to cool down; for the Southerners to think well before they took the awful leap which they had so vehemently threatened. But I was mistaken.

The Republican candidate was elected, and solid substantial people of the North-west, and I presume the same order of people throughout the entire North, felt very serious, but determined, after this event. It was very much discussed whether the South would carry out its threat to secede and set up a separate government, the corner-stone of which should be, protection to the “Divine” institution of slavery. For there were people who believed in the “divinity” of human slavery, as there are now people who believe Mormonism and Polygamy to be ordained by the Most High. We forgive them for entertaining such notions, but forbid their practice. It was generally believed that there would be a flurry; that some of the extreme Southern States would go so far as to pass ordinances of secession. But the common impression was that this step was so plainly suicidal for the South, that the movement would not spread over much of the territory and would not last long.

Doubtless the founders of our government, the majority of them at least, regarded the confederation of the colonies as an experiment. Each colony considered itself a separate government; that the confederation was for mutual protection against a foreign foe, and the prevention of strife and war among themselves. If there had been a desire on the part of any single State to withdraw from the compact at any time while the number of States was limited to the original thirteen, I do not suppose there would have been any to contest the right, no matter how much the determination might have been regretted. The problem changed on the ratification of the Constitution by all the colonies; it changed still more when amendments were added; and if the right of any one State to withdraw continued to exist at all after the ratification of the Constitution, it certainly ceased on the formation of new States, at least so far as the new States themselves were concerned. It was never possessed at all by Florida or the States west of the Mississippi, all of which were purchased by the treasury of the entire nation. Texas and the territory brought into the Union in consequence of annexation, were purchased with both blood and treasure; and Texas, with a domain greater than that of any European state except Russia, was permitted to retain as state property all the public lands within its borders. It would have been ingratitude and injustice of the most flagrant sort for this State to withdraw from the Union after all that had been spent and done to introduce her; yet, if separation had actually occurred, Texas must necessarily have gone with the South, both on account of her institutions and her geographical position. Secession was illogical as well as impracticable; it was revolution.

Now, the right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression, if they are strong enough, either by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable. But any people or part of a people who resort to this remedy, stake their lives, their property, and every claim for protection given by citizenship—on the issue. Victory, or the conditions imposed by the conqueror—must be the result.

In the case of the war between the States it would have been the exact truth if the South had said,—”We do not want to live with you Northern people any longer; we know our institution of slavery is obnoxious to you, and, as you are growing numerically stronger than we, it may at some time in the future be endangered. So long as you permitted us to control the government, and with the aid of a few friends at the North to enact laws constituting your section a guard against the escape of our property, we were willing to live with you. You have been submissive to our rule heretofore; but it looks now as if you did not intend to continue so, and we will remain in the Union no longer.” Instead of this the seceding States cried lustily,—“Let us alone; you have no constitutional power to interfere with us.” Newspapers and people at the North reiterated the cry. Individuals might ignore the constitution; but the Nation itself must not only obey it, but must enforce the strictest construction of that instrument; the construction put upon it by the Southerners themselves. The fact is the constitution did not apply to any such contingency as the one existing from 1861 to 1865. Its framers never dreamed of such a contingency occurring. If they had foreseen it, the probabilities are they would have sanctioned the right of a State or States to withdraw rather than that there should be war between brothers.

The framers were wise in their generation and wanted to do the very best possible to secure their own liberty and independence, and that also of their descendants to the latest days. It is preposterous to suppose that the people of one generation can lay down the best and only rules of government for all who are to come after them, and under unforeseen contingencies. At the time of the framing of our constitution the only physical forces that had been subdued and made to serve man and do his labor, were the currents in the streams and in the air we breathe. Rude machinery, propelled by water power, had been invented; sails to propel ships upon the waters had been set to catch the passing breeze—but the application of stream to propel vessels against both wind and current, and machinery to do all manner of work had not been thought of. The instantaneous transmission of messages around the world by means of electricity would probably at that day have been attributed to witchcraft or a league with the Devil. Immaterial circumstances had changed as greatly as material ones. We could not and ought not to be rigidly bound by the rules laid down under circumstances so different for emergencies so utterly unanticipated. The fathers themselves would have been the first to declare that their prerogatives were not irrevocable. They would surely have resisted secession could they have lived to see the shape it assumed.

I travelled through the Northwest considerably during the winter of 1860-1. We had customers in all the little towns in south-west Wisconsin, south-east Minnesota and north-east Iowa. These generally knew I had been a captain in the regular army and had served through the Mexican war. Consequently wherever I stopped at night, some of the people would come to the public-house where I was, and sit till a late hour discussing the probabilities of the future. My own views at that time were like those officially expressed by Mr. Seward at a later day, that “the war would be over in ninety days.” I continued to entertain these views until after the battle of Shiloh. I believe now that there would have been no more battles at the West after the capture of Fort Donelson if all the troops in that region had been under a single commander who would have followed up that victory.

There is little doubt in my mind now that the prevailing sentiment of the South would have been opposed to secession in 1860 and 1861, if there had been a fair and calm expression of opinion, unbiased by threats, and if the ballot of one legal voter had counted for as much as that of any other. But there was no calm discussion of the question. Demagogues who were too old to enter the army if there should be a war, others who entertained so high an opinion of their own ability that they did not believe they could be spared from the direction of the affairs of state in such an event, declaimed vehemently and unceasingly against the North; against its aggressions upon the South; its interference with Southern rights, etc., etc. They denounced the Northerners as cowards, poltroons, negro-worshippers; claimed that one Southern man was equal to five Northern men in battle; that if the South would stand up for its rights the North would back down. Mr. Jefferson Davis said in a speech, delivered at La Grange, Mississippi, before the secession of that State, that he would agree to drink all the blood spilled south of Mason and Dixon’s line if there should be a war. The young men who would have the fighting to do in case of war, believed all these statements, both in regard to the aggressiveness of the North and its cowardice. They, too, cried out for a separation from such people. The great bulk of the legal voters of the South were men who owned no slaves; their homes were generally in the hills and poor country; their facilities for educating their children, even up to the point of reading and writing, were very limited; their interest in the contest was very meagre—what there was, if they had been capable of seeing it, was with the North; they too needed emancipation. Under the old regime they were looked down upon by those who controlled all the affairs in the interest of slave-owners, as poor white trash who were allowed the ballot so long as they cast it according to direction.

I am aware that this last statement may be disputed and individual testimony perhaps adduced to show that in antebellum days the ballot was as untrammelled in the south as in any section of the country; but in the face of any such contradiction I reassert the statement. The shot-gun was not resorted to. Masked men did not ride over the country at night intimidating voters; but there was a firm feeling that a class existed in every State with a sort of divine right to control public affairs. If they could not get this control by one means they must by another. The end justified the means. The coercion, if mild, was complete.

There were two political parties, it is true, in all the States, both strong in numbers and respectability, but both equally loyal to the institution which stood paramount in Southern eyes to all other institutions in state or nation. The slaveowners were the minority, but governed both parties. Had politics ever divided the slave-holders and the non-slave-holders, the majority would have been obliged to yield, or internecine war would have been the consequence. I do not know that the Southern people were to blame for this condition of affairs. There was a time when slavery was not profitable, and the discussion of the merits of the institution was confined almost exclusively to the territory where it existed. The States of Virginia and Kentucky came near abolishing slavery by their own acts, one State defeating the measure by a tie vote and the other only lacking one. But when the institution became profitable, all talk of its abolition ceased where it existed; and naturally, as human nature is constituted, arguments were adduced in its support. The cotton-gin probably had much to do with the justification of slavery.

The winter of 1860-1 will be remembered by middle-aged people of today as one of great excitement. South Carolina promptly seceded after the result of the Presidential election was known. Other Southern States proposed to follow. In some of them the Union sentiment was so strong that it had to be suppressed by force. Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri, all Slave States, failed to pass ordinances of secession; but they were all represented in the so-called congress of the so-called Confederate States. The Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of Missouri, in 1861, Jackson and Reynolds, were both supporters of the rebellion and took refuge with the enemy. The governor soon died, and the lieutenant-governor assumed his office; issued proclamations as governor of the State; was recognized as such by the Confederate Government, and continued his pretensions until the collapse of the rebellion. The South claimed the sovereignty of States, but claimed the right to coerce into their confederation such States as they wanted, that is, all the States where slavery existed. They did not seem to think this course inconsistent. The fact is, the Southern slave-owners believed that, in some way, the ownership of slaves conferred a sort of patent of nobility—a right to govern independent of the interest or wishes of those who did not hold such property. They convinced themselves, first, of the divine origin of the institution and, next, that that particular institution was not safe in the hands of any body of legislators but themselves. Meanwhile the Administration of President Buchanan looked helplessly on and proclaimed that the general government had no power to interfere; that the Nation had no power to save its own life. Mr. Buchanan had in his cabinet two members at least, who were as earnest—to use a mild term—in the cause of secession as Mr. Davis or any Southern statesman. One of them, Floyd, the Secretary of War, scattered the army so that much of it could be captured when hostilities should commence, and distributed the cannon and small arms from Northern arsenals throughout the South so as to be on hand when treason wanted them. The navy was scattered in like manner. The President did not prevent his cabinet preparing for war upon their government, either by destroying its resources or storing them in the South until a de facto government was established with Jefferson Davis as its President, and Montgomery, Alabama, as the Capital. The secessionists had then to leave the cabinet. In their own estimation they were aliens in the country which had given them birth. Loyal men were put into their places. Treason in the executive branch of the government was estopped. But the harm had already been done. The stable door was locked after the horse had been stolen.

During all of the trying winter of 1860-1, when the Southerners were so defiant that they would not allow within their borders the expression of a sentiment hostile to their views, it was a brave man indeed who could stand up and proclaim his loyalty to the Union. On the other hand men at the North—prominent men—proclaimed that the government had no power to coerce the South into submission to the laws of the land; that if the North undertook to raise armies to go south, these armies would have to march over the dead bodies of the speakers. A portion of the press of the North was constantly proclaiming similar views. When the time arrived for the President-elect to go to the capital of the Nation to be sworn into office, it was deemed unsafe for him to travel, not only as a President-elect, but as any private citizen should be allowed to do. Instead of going in a special car, receiving the good wishes of his constituents at all the stations along the road, he was obliged to stop on the way and to be smuggled into the capital. He disappeared from public view on his journey, and the next the country knew, his arrival was announced at the capital. There is little doubt that he would have been assassinated if he had attempted to travel openly throughout his journey.

[Excerpt from U. S. Grant “Personal Memoirs”, CHAPTER XVI: RESIGNATION—PRIVATE LIFE—LIFE AT GALENA—THE COMING CRISIS]

Needless to say that I encourage the reading of U.S. Grant Personal Memoirs.

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