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Benjamin Cunningham Yancey and    his Brother in Law - John Harrell

South's `Lost Colony'

Family Joined Confederate Exodus To Brazil After War

January 21, 2001|By Lee King, Sentinel Correspondent

The saga of the Confederates who left the United States after the Civil War has been called a missing chapter in American history. If so, then the story of the Yancey family in Umatilla is among the missing pages.

The Yanceys date back to one of the earliest and most vehement of the Southern secessionists -- so vehement that members of the family moved for a time to a remote corner of South America, in what has been referred to as "the Lost Colony of the Confederacy."



Among the Yanceys who lived in Brazil and came to be known as "Confederados'' were Dalton Huger Yancey, Lake County's first judge and a state senator in the late 1880s; Will Yancey, a county commissioner from 1927 to 1935; and Will Yancey's father, Benjamin Cunningham Yancey, who was among the first settlers in Umatilla, where he and his wife, Lucy, arrived in 1881.

The men were sons and a grandson of the family patriarch, William Lowndes Yancey, whose great-grandson, Fred D. Yancey Jr., 85, still lives in Umatilla.

Yancey shared stories and documents of his family's history.

"Some people have described my great-grandfather as a fiery orator," Fred Yancey said. "And some people have referred to him as an SOB."

Not only was William Lowndes Yancey called "the voice of secession," he favored reinstating the slave trade with Africa. And if it hadn't been for his death at the age of 49, he himself might well have spearheaded the exodus of thousands of Confederate soldiers and their families who aban-doned Dixie and moved to faraway lands after the Civil War.

W.L. Yancey was one of the so-called "fire-eaters" whose sizzling oratory inflamed Southern pas-sions. His open disdain for Yankees was no doubt intensified by his disdain for his stepfather, a Northerner who railed against slavery as fervently as W. L. Yancey defended it -- but not with the same scorching temperament.

Controversial and combative, W. L. Yancey was alternately eulogized as a latter-day Moses for his eloquence and jeered as an agitator. Once, he was burned in effigy. Yancey spent three months in jail for manslaughter after killing one of his critics, and as a member of the U.S. Congress in 1844, he was drawn to violence again.

On a chilly winter day, he and another congressman dueled on the field of honor, both of them firing their weapons and both of them missing. He quarreled frequently with Confederate Pres-ident Jefferson Davis, but willed his field glass -- originally George Washington's -- to Davis as "evidence of my esteem for his wisdom and virtue as a statesman." Yancey had received the field glass from the Ladies Mount Vernon Association for his efforts toward restoring Washington's home.


When Yancey died of illness at the height of the war, others were left to deal with the "pathway in blood" that he had promised in defense of secession. Among them were two of his sons, Ben and Dalton, both Confederate soldiers. They had heard their father's dire predictions that if the North prevailed, the South would forever be subjugated, dominated and demeaned. They undoubtedly shared their father's dread and adopted his views, but not much about their thinking is known.


What is known is that Ben and Dalton, like thousands of other Confederates, found themselves at a crossroads after the South surrendered at Appomattox in 1865. The Southern economy had collap-sed, and much of the agrarian landscape lay in ruin and desolation.

Many in the population were not only destitute but also embittered. One observer likened the South to a burning bush with a wet blanket around it. Outwardly, the flames seemed quenched, but under the blanket, the fire still flickered with a consuming hatred.

For these impassioned rebels, leaving the United States was the only way to escape the memories and the fear that they would be forced forever to grovel at the feet of Northerners and freed slaves. Their final gesture of defiance? Becoming exiles on foreign soil.

Ben Yancey, who was 31 at the time, and Dalton Yancey, 22, joined those voluntary exiles in 1867. The destinations were many: Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Canada -- but mostly Brazil, where the Confederates and their skills as cotton planters were openly courted by the emperor, Dom Pedro II. Also, Brazil still allowed slavery.

With people like the Yancey brothers on board, ships sailed south from New York, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Galveston. It's said that they sailed to the chants of "Oh give me a ship with sail and with wheel. And let me be off to happy Brazil."

The spirited yet war-weary emigrants took with them whatever they could: plows, wedding dresses, cotton gins, Bibles, pressed flowers, hound dogs, seeds and locks of hair. One woman took her parlor piano because, she reportedly said, "I'll never be coming back." Some of them had once been millionaires. Most were now impoverished.

A man aboard a ship that sank off the coast of Cuba lost a chest laden with books and boxes stuffed with Confederate bank notes. After the wreck, he lamented that the books were valuable beyond measure but the notes were worthless.

Another ship, blinded by a storm, found itself off the coast of Africa. Only then was it discovered that the metal hoops for the women's skirts -- stored under the compass -- had tugged its needle in the wrong direction.




Once the Southerners arrived in Brazil, the colonies they established included one on the banks of the Amazon River. Ben and Dalton Yancey joined the only colony that survived long term. The brothers were among about 50 to 100 families who settled in what became known as Americana, about 75  miles  north-west of Sao Paulo. Each family typically bought about 1,200 acres to farm -- at 12.5-cents an acre -- along with modest housing, which usually consisted of a palm-thatched hut with earthen floors. One of the things that pleased them most was finding soil that was as red as the clay they had tilled in Dixie.

For reasons unknown, Dalton Yancey returned to Alabama after only a year. But Ben stayed on and became the husband of another emigrant, Lucy Hall. They named their first son William Lowndes Yancey, in memory of the child's grandfather. But in Brazil and later as a commissioner in Lake County, he would be known as Will.

Lucy Hall was the daughter of Hervey Hall, another die-hard believer in the South's cause. It was his books and Confederate money that had been lost off the coast of Cuba.

During the war, Hall had ordered the rugs in his Georgia mansion turned into blankets for the soldiers. Later, when he reached Brazil, probably in 1867 at age 67, he arrived with only modest funds, having sold his entire Georgia estate for 10 cents on the dollar.

Hall was determined to duplicate his former Old South mansion and Georgia plantation, eventually growing acres of cotton, tobacco and coffee. A persevering yet hot-tempered businessman and planter, he once boasted that he had it all in Brazil -- manicured gardens, a cotton gin house, a tobacco-curing barn, eight slaves and slave cabins and even a church.

Typically, the settlers continued to speak English in their homes for several generations, and most families still called themselves "Americans."

Hall enjoyed writing back to Southern newspapers about his success and once exclaimed, "I have never seen such prolific soil. Everything grows as if by magic."

Nevertheless, his success ended tragically. In 1877, just 10 years after his arrival, Hall was murd-ered by an angry neighbor who then fled to Texas. The settlement of Americana was stunned.


In letters home, Lucy Yancey described a life of struggle, failure and disappointment -- great hardship and dashed dreams in a place that was meant to rekindle Southern pride and gracious living.

"I am tired of living in Brazil," she wrote. "But we are so poor now that I am afraid it would take all we have here to get [back]. My husband is willing to go now and he is anxious to see [his mother] once more. What a joy it would be to greet our dear ones again."


And so the Yanceys -- like many of the other exiles who either got homesick, had financial woes, worried about Brazil's political unrest and economic downturns, feared slavery was ending or generally disliked the lifestyle -- returned to the United States. Numbers vary, but perhaps a third of the initial influx of 5,000 or more Confederados returned over time.  Ben and Lucy Yancey re--turned to Umatilla in 1881, after 14 years of living in Brazil. They arrived here with enough re-maining assets, after selling everything in Brazil, to purchase a quarter-mile stretch of property, known today as Yancey's Addition, according to Umatilla records. Dalton Yancey, who had married in Alabama, joined them in 1884.  Those who returned, such as the Yanceys, were back in familiar surroundings -- but familiar did not necessarily mean friendly. Many of the returning Confed-erados were subject to ridicule. More than one newspaper editorial railed that they were fools to leave and only failure brought them back.

Regardless, Ben Yancey persevered and became a citrus grower, as did one of his sons, Frederick Dalton Yancey Sr. and his grandson, Frederick Dalton Yancey Jr., who once had more than 300 acres under his management.

Today, Fred Yancey Jr. is the last of the Yancey men in Umatilla. His son, Frederick Dalton Yancey III, 56, lives in Virginia and Fred Jr.'s grandson, Benjamin Cooper Yancey, 21, lives near Denver, Colo. Benjamin Yancey is the patriarch's great-great-great-grandson.

At age 85, Fred Yancey Jr.'s face is burnished by years of toil in the sun, and when fruit is ripening in the fall, he surveys his holdings by driving his golf cart through the 35 acres of oranges behind the house that he and his wife Margaret built in 1948.

In Lake County, Yancey became a respected name in government, a pioneer among citrus growers and a founding influence on the area's religious life. Fred Yancey Jr. is proud of the many awards that line his living room wall, and the city is pleased that the family has been generous -- the Yanceys recently donated money for a new public library.

Benjamin Cunningham Yancey (1836-1909)


History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography by Thomas Owens, 1921. Page 1820

YANCEY, BENJAMIN CUNNINGHAM; lawyer and planter, was born July 30, 1836, at Greenville, S. C., and died March 19, 1909, at Umatilla, Fla.; son of William Lowndes and Sarah Caroline (Earle) Yancey (q. v.). He graduated from the University of Alabama, B: A., 1856, after a two years course, and in the Law school of Lebanon, Tenn. He began the practice of law with his father in Montgomery. After the war, along with numerous other Southerners, he went to Brazil where he lived about thirteen years. He returned to the United States, located in Florida. and engaged in planting and the culture of oranges. He was captain of artillery in the regulars of the C. S. Army, stationed at Fort Morgan, was after-ward on detached duty, commanded a battalion of skirm-ishers in Deas' brigade, commanding it in the battle of Murfreesboro. He was a Democrat, and a presbyterian. Married: June, 1873, at Santa Barbara, Brazil, to Lucy Cairnes, daughter of William Hervey and Catherine (Ives) Hall, who had lived at Columbus and Gainesville, Ga. Children: 1. William Lowndes, m. Katherine Belle Ursoil, Umatilla, Fla.; 2. George Earle, m. Annie Mathews, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 3. Hervey Hall, m. Maude L. Green, Jacksonville, Fla.; 4. Goodloe Dupree, m. Mary Peterson, Umatilla, Fla.; 5. Lucy Dillingham, m. Joseph W. Fuller, Colum-bus, Ga.; 6. Frederick Dalton, unmarried. Last residence: Umatilla, Fla.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Cunningham Yancey

  Benjamin Cunningham Yancey was born on July 30, 1836 in Greenville, South Carolina, the son of the great William Lowndes Yancey, U.S. Congressman and Confederate Senator from the State of Alabama, the first Confederate Commissioner sent to England and France by President Davis, author of the Ordinance of Secession for the State of Alabama, and fire-eating secessionist non pareil. His, is a story in itself.

  Benjamin C. Yancey was raised in Montgomery, Alabama graduating from the University of Alabama in 1856 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He later attended Cumberland University in Tennessee, receiving a degree in law. Upon completion of his bar exam, Benjamin was admitted to the bar in Montgomery where he practiced law until the clouds of war appeared on the horizon. When it became apparent that the Lincoln administration would no longer abide by the Cons-titution, and would, by force of arms, coerce the South to remain in an unholy alliance with the North, young Ben Yancey enlisted in Capt. Joe Bibbs company of artillery in Montgomery. He was quickly appointed 1st lieutenant and later captain. Ben served through most of the war as captain of artillery. He eventually became Lt. Colonel of the 17th Battalion of Alabama Sharpshooters. The 17th served with distinction at Murfreesboro, Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, as well as the bloody campaigns in and around Atlanta. By December of 1863, the 17th Alabama was comprised of a mere 59 men, of whom a quarter had no weapons. Officially, as of August, 1864, the battalion ceased to exist. It had originally been formed with two companies by assignment from the 19th  and 39th Regiments of Alabama Infantry, and it is assumed that the remnant of the 17th went back to their original regiments. As a testament to Lt. Col. Yancey’s integrity, a witness on his application for pension stated that he “was regarded as one of the most reliable and gallant officers in our brigade.”

  After the war, Lt. Col. Yancey moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Still stinging from the bitter defeat of the Confederacy, many former Confederate soldiers emigrated to South America and Mexico. They were known as “Confederados” by the locals. Some stayed on and have descendants there to this day, while others, like Lt. Col. Yancey, eventually came back to live in their beloved Dixie-land. While still in Brazil, Lt. Col. Yancey met and married Miss Lucy Caines Hall. They were married on June 30th 1873 in Sao Paulo. On Oct. 29th  1881, the Yancey’s moved to Umatilla, Florida. Here, they raised 5 sons and 1 daughter and went into the citrus business. After suffering for many years from malaria and “nervous prostration” brought on from exposure and hardships during the war, Lt. Col. Benjamin Cunningham Yancey, “fell asleep in Jesus” on March 17th 1909 and was “buried in Glendale Cemetery among the orange groves he had planted.”

Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Sr.  Grandparents

Here are the earthly remains of Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Attorney-at-Law. He died on the 3 of October 1817 in the 34th year of his age. Ornament of his profession. The prideof his friends and of his country. The greatness of his genius only surpassed by the luster of his virtue "Let me die the death of the righteous." entwined with piety and compassion shown to the last moments of his short but well-spent life.

Father of the famous Confederate Orator & Secessionist William Lowndes Yancey and his brother Benjamin C Yancey Jr. 

Citation:William Lowndes Yancey: From Unionist to Secessionist 1814-1852. [A Thesis] By Ralph B. Draughon. 1968.

Both James Yancey and his wife died about 1790, and their three sons were dispatched to kinsmen for support. One of the boys, Charles Yancey, was cared for by his uncle, Benjamin Cudworth, a Charleston merchant. This Charles Yancey lived a long life as an itinerant and often inebriated schoolmaster and eventually ended up on the doorstep of William L. Yancey, who made earnest efforts to reform his aged uncle. Reforming Uncle Charles proved too difficult a task, however, and William Yancey reluctantly decided: "He will die I fear a sot & cannot maintain any degree of respectability."


The other two orphaned sons of James Yancey were sent to more distant kinsmen. Treated harshly by their guardians, both Nathaniel Barnwell Yancey and Benjamin Cudworth Yancey ran away. Nathaniel died when fifteen years old. Benjamin was more fortunate. With the help of Congressman Robert Goodloe Harper, he got a commission as a midshipman on the U.S.S. Constellation, participated in a great sea battle with the French ship La Vengeance, but resigned his commission in May 1801.

After leaving the navy, Benjamin Yancey read law with Robert Goodloe Harper, who had retired from Congress and removed to Baltimore. A year later Yancey returned to South Carolina, studied law with Benjamin Saxon of Abbeville, and became Saxon's law partner.

. . . In 1815, when William was still a baby, the Yanceys left Abbeville District. After losing the Abbeville election, Benjamin Yancey was invited to be the law partner of his friend Daniel Elliott Huger, in the low country. Yancey accepted the offer and took his family to Charleston, where he and Huger organ-ized a partnership with James Louis Petigru, of Beaufort, as an associate of their firm.

. . . In 1817, a few months after the birth of Benjamin Cudworth Yancey Jr., yellow fever swept through the Carolina low country, and the Yanceys planned a trip to escape the epidemic. The family carriage, however, was held up by the high waters of the Edisto river, and the elder Benjamin contracted the disease. As his fever grew steadily worse, the Yanceys proceeded to Mount Vintage, The Abbeville plantation of Christian Breithaupt, a family friend. Breithaupt took the family in, cared for them in Benjamin's last days of distress and suffering, and witnessed the deathbed will which Benjamin dic-tated. When Benjamin died on [3 Oct 1817] Breithaupt insisted that his friend should be buried at Mount Vintage in the Breithaupt family vault.

William Lowndes Yancey        Parents

William Lowndes Yancey (August 10, 1814 – July 27, 1863) was a journalist, politician, orator, diplomat and an American leader of the  southern secession  movement.  A member of the group known as the Fire-Eaters, Yancey was one of the most effective agitators for secession and rhetorical defenders of slavery. An early critic of John C. Calhoun and nullification, by the late 1830s Yancey began to identify with Calhoun and the struggle against the forces of the anti-slavery movement. In 1849, Yancey was a firm supporter of Calhoun's "Southern Add-ress" and an adamant opponent of the Compromise of 1850.

Throughout the 1850s, Yancey, sometimes referred to as the "Orator of Secession", demonstrated the ability to hold large audiences under his spell for hours at a time.[1] At the 1860 Democratic National Convention, Yancey, a leading opponent of Stephen A. Douglas and the concept of popular sovereignty, was instrumental in splitting the party into Northern and Southern factions. At the 1860 convention, he used the phrase “squatter sovereignty” in a speech he gave to describe popular sovereignty.

During the American Civil War, Yancey was appointed by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to head a diplomatic delegation to Europe in the attempt to se-cure formal recognition of Southern independence. In these efforts, Yancey was unsuccessful and frustrat-ed. 

William Lowndes Yancey

Upon his return to America in 1862, Yancey was elected to the Confederate States Senate where he was a frequent critic of the Davis Administration. Suffering from ill health for much of his life, Yancey died during the war at the age of 48.



Yancey’s mother, Caroline Bird, lived on the family home (nicknamed "the Aviary") located near the falls of the Ogeechee River in Warren County, Georgia. On December 8, 1808, she married Benjamin Cudworth Yancey, a lawyer in South Carolina who had served on the USS Constellation during the 

Quasi-War with France. Yancey was born at "the Aviary"; three years later, on October 26, 1817, his father died of yellow fever. He was probably named for William Lowndes (1782-1822), who represented South Carolina in Congress at the time that Yancey was born.



Yancey’s widowed mother married the Reverend Nathan Sydney Smith Beman on April 23, 1821. Beman had temporarily relocated to South Carolina to operate Mt. Zion Academy, where William was a student. In the spring of 1823, the entire family moved when Reverend Beman took a position at the First Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York. Beman worked with Reverend Charles G. Finney in the New School movement and in the 1830s became involved with abolitionism through contacts with Theodore Dwight Ward and Lyman Beecher.



Beman’s marriage was marred by domestic unrest and spousal abuse that led to serious considerations of divorce and finally a permanent separation in 1835. This atmosphere affected the children and caused William to reject many of his step-father’s teachings. Yancey’s biographer, historian Eric H. Walther, speculates the character of Yancey’s later career was a result of low self-esteem and a search for public adulation and approval that went back to his childhood experiences with Reverend Beman.


In the fall of 1830, Yancey was enrolled at Williams College in northwestern Massachusetts. The 16-year-old Yancey was admitted as a sophomore based on the required entrance examinations. At Wil-liams, he participated in the debating society and for a short time was the editor of a student news-paper. In the autumn of 1832, Yancey took his first steps as a politician by working on the campaign for Whig Ebenezer Emmons. Overall, Yancey had a successful stay at Williams academically that was marred only by frequent disciplinary problems. Despite being selected as the Senior Orator by his class, Yancey left the school in the spring of 1833, six weeks before graduation.



Yancey returned to the South, relocating to Greenville, South Carolina. He originally lived on his un-cle’s plantation, where he served as a bookkeeper. The uncle, Robert Cunningham, was a strong unionist, as were most of Yancey’s family, including his birth father. On July 4, 1834, at a Fourth of July celebration, Yancey made a stirring nationalistic address in which he openly attacked the radicals of the state who were still talking secession from the repercussions of the Nullification Crisis:



          Listen, not then, my countrymen, to the voice which whispers (for as yet, it does not raise itself              above a whisper) that Americans, who have been knit together by so many cords of affection,                  can no longer be mutual worshippers at the Shrine of Freedom — no longer can exist together,                citizens of the same Republic 



As a result of Yancey’s political activities, he was appointed editor of the Greenville (South Carolina) Mountaineer in November 1834. As editor, he attacked both nullification and the chief architect of nullification, John C. Calhoun. Yancey compared Calhoun to Aaron Burr and referred to them as "two fallen arch angels — who have made efforts to tear down the battlements and safeguards of our coun-try, that they might rule, the Demons of the Storm."



Yancey resigned from the newspaper on May 14, 1835. On August 13, married Sarah Caroline Earl. As his dowry, Yancey received 35 slaves and a quick entry into the planter class. In the winter of 1836–1837, Yancey removed to her plantation in Alabama, near Cahaba (Dallas County). It was an inoppor-tune time to relocate. As a result of the Panic of 1837, Yancey's financial position was seriously dam-aged by cotton prices that fell from fifteen cents a pound in 1835 to as low as five cents a pound in 1837.


In early 1838, Yancey took over the Cahaba Southern Democrat, and his first editorial was a strong defense of slavery. From his current economic perspective, Yancey began to identify the anti-slavery movement negatively with issues such as the establishment of a national bank, internal improvements, and expanding federal power. As the former nationalist moved to a states’ rights position, Yancey also changed his attitude toward Calhoun — applauding Calhoun’s role in the Gag rule Debates. Yancey also began to attack Henry Clay for his support of the American Colonization Society, which Yancey equated with attacks on Southern slavery.























in Elmore County, Alabama. While his intent was to resume his life as a planter, Yancey suffered a huge financial reversal when his slaves were poisoned as a result of a feud between Yancey’s overseer and a neigh-boring overseer. Two slaves were killed, and most of the others were incapacitated for months. Unable to afford replacements and burdened with other debts from his newspaper, Yancey was forced to sell most of the slaves as they recovered. Yancey did open in Wetumpka the Argus and Commercial Advertiser.


Yancey was increasingly interested in politics as his personal politics moved towards the most radical wing of the Southern Democratic Party. Influenced most by Dixon Hall Lewis, Yancey fell into a social and political circle that included political leaders of the state such as Thomas Mays, J. L. M. Curry, John A. Campbell, and John Gill Shorter. In April 1840, Yancey started a weekly campaign newsletter that supported Democrat Martin Van Buren over Whig William Henry Harrison in the 1840 presid-ential election while emphasizing that slavery should now be the most important political and economic concern of the South. While still not a secessionist, Yancey was also no longer an uncond-itional unionist.


He was elected in 1841 to the Alabama House of Representatives, in which he served for one year. In March 1842, Yancey sold his newspaper because of increasing debt (throughout his career as an editor he faced the problem of many fellow editors — obtaining and collecting on subscriptions), and he opened a law practice instead. In 1843, he ran for the Alabama Senate and was elected by a vote of 1,115 to 1,025. His special concern in this election was the effort being made by Whigs to determine appor-tionment in the state legislature based on the "federal ratio" of each slave counting as three-fifths of a person. Currently only whites were counted and the change would benefit the Whigs who generally were the largest slaveholders. This division between large slaveholders and yeomen Alabamians would continue through the Alabama secession convention in 1861.



In 1844, Yancey was elected to the United States House of Representatives to fill a vacancy (winning with a 2,197 to 2,137 vote) and re-elected in 1845 (receiving over 4,000 votes as the Whigs did not even field a candidate). In Congress, his political ability and unusual oratorical gifts at once gained recog-nition. Yancey delivered his first speech on January 6, 1845, when he was selected by the Democrats to respond to a speech by Thomas Clingman, a Whig from North Carolina, who had opposed Texas an-nexation. Clingman was offended by the tone of Yancey’s speech and afterwards Yancey refused to clarify that he had not intended to impugn Clingman’s honor. Clingman challenged Yancey to a duel, and he accepted. The exchange of pistol fire occurred in nearby Beltsville, Maryland; neither combatant was injured.



In Congress, Yancey was an effective spokesman in opposing internal improvements and tariffs and supporting states’ rights and the start of the Mexican-American War. More and more, he subscribed to conspiracy theories regarding Northern intentions while helping to provide ammunition for those Northerners who were starting to believe in a slaveholders’ conspiracy. In 1846, however, he resigned his seat, partly for financial reasons, and partly because of his disgust with the Northern Democrats, whom he accused of sacrificing their principles for economic interests


Within a few months of his resignation, Yancey moved to Montgomery, where he purchased a 20-acre (81,000 m2) dairy farm while establishing a law partnership with John A. Elmore. No longer a planter, Yancey still remained a slaveholder, owning 11 slaves in 1850, 14 by 1852, and 24 between 1858 and 1860. While he had suggested with his resignation that his active role in politics might be over, "per-haps forever", Yancey found this to be impossible.



Yancey recognized the significance of the Wilmot Proviso to the South and in 1847, as the first talk of slaveholder Zachary Taylor as a presidential candidate surfaced, Yancey saw him as a possibility for bringing together a Southern political movement that would cross party lines. Yancey made it clear that his support for Taylor was conditional upon Taylor denouncing the Wilmot Proviso. However, Taylor announced that he would seek the Whig nomination, and in December 1847 Lewis Cass of Michigan, the leading Democratic candidate, endorsed the policy of Popular sovereignty.



With no available candidate sufficiently opposed to the Proviso, in 1848 Yancey secured the adoption by the state Democratic convention of the "Alabama Platform," which was endorsed by the legislatures of Alabama and Georgia and by Democratic state conventions in Florida and Virginia. The platform declared:



1. The Federal government could not restrict slavery in the territories.

2. Territories could not prohibit slavery until the point where they were meeting in convention to draft a state constitution in order to petition Congress for statehood.

3. Alabama delegates to the Democratic convention were to oppose any candidate supporting either the Proviso or Popular Sovereignty (which allowed territories to exclude slavery at any point)

4. The federal government must specifically overrule Mexican anti-slavery laws in the Mexican Cession and actively protect slavery.



When the national convention was held in Baltimore, Cass was nominated on the fourth ballot. Yan-cey’s proposal that the convention adopt the main points of the Alabama Platform was rejected by a 216–36 vote. Yancey and one other Alabama delegate left the convention in protest, and Yancey’s efforts to stir up a third party movement in the state failed.



The opening salvo in a new level of sectional conflict occurred on December 13, 1848, when Whig John G. Palfrey of Massachusetts introduced a bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. Throughout 1849 in the South "the rhetoric of resistance to the North escalated and spread". Calhoun delivered his famous "Southern Address", but only 48 out of 121 Congressmen signed off on it. Yancey persuaded a June 1849 state Democratic Party meeting to endorse Calhoun’s address and was instrumental in cal-ling for the Nashville Convention scheduled for June 1850.



Yancey was opposed to both the Compromise of 1850 and the disappointing results of the Nashville Convention. The latter, rather than making a strong stand for secession as Yancey had hoped, simply advocated extending the Missouri Compromise Line to the Pacific Coast. Yancey helped create South-ern Rights Associations (a concept that originated in South Carolina) in Alabama to pursue a seces-sionist agenda. A convention held in February 1851 of these Alabama associations produced Yancey’s radical "Address to the People of Alabama". The address began:



The legacy of the old party organization had been to lead their members to avoid any decisive action on the great slavery question, and to wink and acquiesce in aggressions on the South rather than endanger party success by opposition to them.



The address hit all of the main points that would ultimately resurface in the secession during the win-ter of 1860–1861, especially the treatment of Southerners:



…as inferiors in the Union — as degraded by your contact with slaves, and as unworthy of an associa-tion with the Northern man in the great work of extending the institution of slavery over the vast plains of the West.



Despite the efforts of Yancey, the popularity of the Compromise of 1850, the failure of the Nashville Convention, and the acceptance of the more moderate Georgia Platform by much of the South, led to unionist victories in Alabama and most of the South. Yancey’s third party support for George Troup of Georgia on a Southern rights platform drew only 2,000 votes.



Despite the efforts of Yancey, the popularity of the Compromise of 1850, the failure of the Nashville Convention, and the acceptance of the more moderate Georgia Platform by much of the South, led to unionist victories in Alabama and most of the South. Yancey’s third party support for George Troup of Georgia on a Southern rights platform drew only 2,000 votes.



Yancey supported a plan originated by Edmund Ruffin for the creation of a League of United South-erners as an alternative to the national political parties. In a June 16, 1858 letter to his friend James S. Slaughter that was publicly circulated (Horace Greeley referred to it as "The Scarlet Letter"), Yancey wrote:


No National Party can save us; no Sectional Party can do it. But if we could do as our fathers did, organ-ize Committees of Safety all over the cotton states (and it is only in them that we can hope of any effec-tive movement) we shall fire the Southern heart — instruct the Southern mind — give courage to each other, and at the proper moment, by one organized, concerted action, we can precipitate the cotton states into a revolution.



Yancey was ill for much of the remainder of 1858 and early 1859. For the 1859 Southern Commercial Convention in Vicksburg, which passed the resolution to repeal all state and federal regulations ban-ning the slave trade, Yancey could only contribute editorials, although by July 1859 he was able to speak publicly in Columbia, South Carolina, in favor of repealing the restrictions. When the Alabama Democratic Party organized in the winter of 1859-1860 for the upcoming national convention, they chose Yancey to lead them on the basis of the Alabama Platform. Both Stephen A. Douglas and popular sovereignty were the immediate targets, but by then Yancey also recognized that secession would be necessary if a "Black Republican" were to gain the White House.



After twelve years' absence from the national conventions of the Democratic Party, Yancey attended the Charleston convention in April 1860. The Douglas faction refused to accept a platform, modeled after Yancey’s Alabama Platform of 1848, committed to protecting slavery in the territories. When the platform committee presented such a proposal to the convention, it was voted down on the floor by a 165–138 vote. Yancey and the Alabama delegation left the hall and were followed by the delegates of Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida, Texas, and two of the three delegates from Delaware. On the next day, the Georgia delegation and a majority of the Arkansas delegation withdrew. As Eric Walther states, "Through his years of preparation and despite some brief wavering, William L. Yancey had finally destroyed the Democratic Party."



Failing to nominate a candidate, the convention adjourned and reconvened in Baltimore on June 18, 1860. In a last gasp effort to obtain party unity, Douglas supporter George N. Sanders made an unauth-orized offer to Yancey to run as vice-president. Yancey turned this down, and the entire Yancey dele-gation from Alabama was refused credentials in favor of a pro–Douglas slate headed by John Forsyth. With the South Carolina delegation also being denied credentials, the Louisiana, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee delegations left the convention. The Southern representatives reconvened in Baltimore on June 23 and adopted the Yancey platform from the Charleston convention and nomi-nated John C. Breckinridge for president. In a speech before the convention, Yancey characterized the Douglas supporters as "ostrich like — their head was in the sand of squatter sovereignty, and they did not know their great, ugly, ragged abolition body was exposed". Yancey, who had already made thirty public addresses in 1860, delivered twenty more during the campaign. If he had not been before, he was certainly now a national figure — a figure making it clear that secession would follow anything other than a Breckinridge election.



Yancey’s speaking tour in favor of Breckinridge was not confined to the South. In Wilmington, Dela-ware, Yancey stated, "We stand upon the dark platform of southern slavery, and all we ask is to be allowed to keep it to ourselves. Let us do that, and we will not let the negro [sic] insult you by coming here and marrying your daughters."



On October 10, 1860, at Cooper Institute Hall in New York Yancey advised Northerners interested in preserving the Union to "Enlarge your jails and penitentiaries, re-enforce and strengthen your police force, and keep the irrepressible conflict fellows from stealing our negroes…" Yancey cited southern fears that with abolitionists in power, "Emissaries will percolate between master [and] slave as water between the crevices of rocks underground. They will be found everywhere, with strychnine to put in our wells." He further warned the crowd that Republican agitation would make Southern whites "the enemies of that race until we drench our fields with the blood of the unfortunate people."


At Faneuil Hall in Boston, Yancey defended the practices of slavery:



You are allowed to whip your children; we are allowed to whip our negroes [sic]. There is no cruelty in the practice. … Our negroes [sic] are but children. … The negro [sic] that will not work is made to work. Society tolerates no drones.



From Boston, Yancey’s tour included stops in Albany, Syracuse, Florence (Kentucky), Louisville, Nashville, and New Orleans, finally returning to Montgomery on November 5. When news of Lincoln’s election reached the city, Yancey rhetorically asked a public assemblage protesting the results, "Shall we remain [in the Union] and all be slaves? Shall we wait to bear our share of the common dishonor? God forbid!"



On February 24, 1860, the Alabama legislature passed a joint resolution requiring the governor to call for the election of delegates to a state convention if a Republican was elected president. After first waiting for the official electoral votes to be counted, Governor Andrew Moore called for the election of delegates to take place on December 24 with the convention to meet on January 7, 1861. When the convention convened, Yancey was the guiding spirit. The delegates were split between those insisting on immediate secession versus those who would secede only in cooperation with other Southern states. A frustrated Yancey lashed out at those cooperationists:



The misguided, deluded, wicked men in our midst, if any such there be, who shall oppose it [secession], will be in alignment with the abolition power of the Federal government, and as our safety demands, must be looked upon and dealt with as public enemies.



Eventually, the ordinance of secession was passed over cooperationists objections by a vote of 61–39.When the newly established Confederate States of America met later that month in Montgomery to establish their formal union, Yancey was not a delegate, but he delivered the address of welcome to Jefferson Davis, selected as provisional President, on his arrival at Montgomery. While many of the fire-eaters were opposed to the selection of a relative moderate like Davis, Yancey accepted him as a good choice. In his speech, Yancey indicated that in the selection of Davis, "The man and the hour have met. We now hope that prosperity, honor, and victory await his administration." Many historians agree with Emory Thomas who wrote, "When Yancey and Davis met in Montgomery the helm of the revolution changed hands. Yancey and the radicals had stirred the waters; Davis and the moderates would sail the ship."



Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Yancey met on February 18, 1861, as Davis was starting to put together the executive branch of the government. Yancey turned down a cabinet position, but indicated he would be interested in a diplomatic post. Don Doyle argues that Davis displayed "tone deafness" in appointing Yancey, who was "ignorant of the world" and himself realized that he was "wholly unsuited by experience and personality for diplomacy." However, Davis feared that Yancey would be a political opponent, and wanted him out of the country.



On March 16, Yancey was formally appointed as the head of the diplomatic mission to England and France. Ambrose Dudley Mann and Pierre Adolphe Rost were also part of the mission; only Mann had any diplomatic experience. The delegation assembled in London at the end of April. Confederate Sec-retary of State Toombs’ official instructions to Yancey were to convince Europe of the righteousness and legality of southern secession, the viability of the militarily strong Confederacy, the value of cotton and virtually duty-free trade, and the South’s willingness to observe all treaty agreements in effect bet-ween Britain and the United States except for the portion of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty requiring aid in combating the African slave trade. Above all, Yancey was to strive for diplomatic recognition.



Hubbard argues that President Davis could not have selected "three less qualified Southern leaders". In contrast to Walther’s favorable characterizations of Yancey’s conduct, Hubbard stated that Yancey’s conduct in England was "consistently impulsive, arrogant, [and] unreasonably demanding". Arriving in Britain just a few days ahead of the news about the attack on Fort Sumter, Yancey and his delegation met informally with British foreign secretary Lord John Russell on May 3 and May 9. Yancey empha-sized the points from his instructions and denied, upon being questioned by Russell, that there was any intent to reopen the slave trade. Russell was non-committal, and on May 12, Queen Victoria announced British neutrality combined with recognition that a state of belligerency existed.



After news arrived of the Confederate victory at Bull Run, Yancey attempted to arrange another meet-ing with Russell, but he was forced to present his arguments in writing. Doyle argues that Yancey blundered badly by extolling the benefits of slavery to the world in general and Britain in particular. In an August 24 response directed to the representatives "of the so-styled Confederate States of America", Russell merely reiterated the previous determination to remain neutral. Critics maintain that the Yancey mission failed to adequately exploit openings presented by Union Secretary of State -William Seward’s antagonist attitude towards Great Britain or to address British concerns concerning the effect of the war on Great Britain. In late August, with little else to do, Yancey submitted his resignation but, due to the events of the Trent Affair, Yancey did not leave until his replacements, James M. Mason and John Slidell(selected by President Davis in July before he was aware of Yancey’s intent), arrived in January 1862. Yancey did make one further attempt to meet with Russell in the wake of the Trent affair, but Russell replied to the delegation that "we must decline to enter into any official communication with them."


While Yancey was originally optimistic about his mission, his observations in conversations and in the British papers forced him to conclude that the slavery issue was the primary obstacle to formal diplo-matic recognition. He told his brother:


Anti-slavery sentiment is universal. Uncle Tom's Cabin has been read and believed....I ought never to have come here. This kind of thing does not suit me. I do not understand these people or their ways well enough."


While still in England, Yancey was elected to the Confederate Senate. His return home, because of the Union blockade, found him landing at the Sabine Pass near the Texas and Louisiana border. On his way to Richmond, he stopped in New Orleans where he made a public speech lamenting the fact that Europe looked down on the Confederacy over the issue of slavery, stating, "We cannot look for any sympathy or help from abroad. We must rely on ourselves alone."



From March 28, 1862 until May 1, 1863, Yancey served in three sessions of the Confederate Congress. While there, he reluctantly supported the Confederate Conscription Act of April 16, 1862, but was instrumental in allowing many state exemptions to the draft as well as the unpopular exemption for one overseer for every twenty slaves, an exemption that applied to about 30,000 men. He unsucces-sfully argued against the excessive use of secret, unrecorded sessions of Congress and generally pur-sued a states’ rights position in regard to the exercise of national war powers in general and impres-sment of supplies and slaves by the federal Confederate government in particular. On military matters, Yancey wanted details provided to Congress on reports of execution without trials of Confederate sol-diers by General Braxton Bragg, questioned the reasons Virginia had twenty nine brigadier generals while Alabama only had four, authored a resolution condemning drunkenness within the army, and joined in demands that Davis account for complaints on the military administration of the Trans-Mississippi District.



Yancey gradually ran afoul of President Davis on matters of policy, although he was not one of Davis’s most extreme critics. Their differences accelerated in a series of letters exchanged after May 1863, and no final resolution was reached. In Congress, Yancey and Benjamin Hill of Georgia, who had previously clashed in 1856, had their differences over a bill intended to create the Confederate Supreme Court erupt into physical violence. Hill hit Yancey in the head with a glass inkstand on the floor of the Senate, but in the ensuing investigation it was Yancey, not Hill, who was censured.



Yancey returned to Alabama in May 1863, before Congress had adjourned. By the end of June, Yancey was extremely ill, but he still continued his correspondence with President Davis and others. Finally on July 27, 1863, two weeks before his forty ninth birthday, Yancey died of kidney disease. Yancey’s fun-eral on July 29, 1863, brought the city of Montgomery to a standstill, and he was buried at Oakwood cemetery on Goat Hill near the original Confederate Capitol.

Yancey, like most members of the planter class, was a strong believer in a personal code of honor. In Septem-ber 1838, Yancey returned for a brief return visit to Greenville. A political slur by Yancey in a private con-versation was overheard by a teenage relative of the aggrieved party. Yancey was confronted by another relative (and his wife’s uncle), Dr. Robinson Earle. Conversation turned to violence, and the always-armed Yancey ended up killing the doctor in a street brawl. Yancey was tried and sentenced to a year in jail for manslaughter. An unrepentant Yancey was pardoned after only a few months, but while incarcerated he wrote for his newspaper, "Reared with the spirit of a man in my bosom — and taught to preserve inviolate my honor — my character, and my person, I have acted as such a spirit dictated."

Yancey returned to his paper in March 1839, but sold it a couple of months later when he moved to Wetumpka 


A Confuence of Transatlantic Networks  Pages:191-194

By:  Laura Janigan


Dalton Huger Yancey of Alabama


The thought of going to Brazil had more than just crossed Young Dalton Yancey’s mind near war’s end, but he took time to explore other options. In June 1866 and early 1867, at age twenty-one, Dalton, as well as many other young southern man, were in New York in search of situations. His brother Goodloe Harper Yancey, 18, was already installed at Eastman National Business College in Poughkeepsie. The youngest of seven offspring, two of whom did not survive childhood, Goodloe was a concern to his brother Dalton, who is pleased that his sibling would be returning to Athens, Georgia, and the “good influence” of his family so that he would realize that “life is not merely a pastime, to be spent in idleness and pleasure.”


Dalton Goodloe’s father was a famous Alabama fire-eater William Loundes Yancey, possibly the most influential secessionist politician of the antebellum South. An essentially urban-based movement, the Yancey-ites were constituted into factions, an older generation that deeply distrusted politics in general, and the younger generation seeking relief from “outmoded doctrines and a degrading sectional dependency.” After Williams death, his younger brother Benjamin assumed a pro parents role for his brothers offspring. William and Benjamin had lost their own father in 1817 when they were both quite young. Benjamin pere had been a law partner and personal friend of John C Calhoun in Abbeville, South Carolina. The Yanceys were another Broad River family of Huguenot descent.


When the elder Benjamin died, his wife, Caroline Bird Yancey, returned to her father’s home in Georgia. In 1822, the widowed Caroline married Nathan Sydney Smith Beman who was running the Mount Zion Academy in Warren County, Georgia. The couple soon moved to Troy, New York, where Beman became a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. In 1826, that church was the venue for a major revival movement launched by Charles Grandison Finney, a liberal anti-slavery  theologian closely associated with abolitionist such as Lewis Tappan.


William lounge Yancey attended Williams College but left before graduating. He returned to South Carolina where he entered Greenville law office of Benjamin F. Perry, an old friend of his fathers. By the winter of 1836-1837, he and his wife, the former Sarah Caroline Earle, daughter of a wealthy Greenville planter, had moved to Dallas county, Alabama. Yancey later purchased a farm near Wetumpka, but when most of his slaves died from drinking spring water poison by a neighbors over-seerr, he was obliged to return to his law practice to support his family. By the early 1840s, he had embarked on his colorful, contentious and unconventional political career.


In the aftermath of the Civil War, Dalton revived some of his father’s old New York ties as he cast about for a new footing. He approached his “old house,” James Wilde Jr. & Co., about reestablishing a working relationship, presumably in cotton trading. As of October 1866, Dalton held out some hope for a “more permanent arrangement and going South” in conjunction with Wilde & Co., but he was realistic about the situation. Commenting on his uncle that he had expected most of the young southerners then in New York to go home empty-handed soon, he added, “ I have just succeeded by the merest chance.”. He was buoyed somewhat by the nature of his associates,” I am with a liberal minded man and I believe they will do well by me.”


By late February 1867 Dalton's New York prospects had grown thin. One month into the business season, there were very few buyers, and several of his friends, on whom he was relying on heavily, would not be “coming on at all this spring and what few are here are buying very lightly.”  Dulton attributed the dullness of business to “the extreme and odious legislation of the present Congress” with the next session expected to be “composed of men even more radical than the present.” Citing an article in the otherwise unidentified Express, Dalton revealed his intent to emigrate: “I agree with that in saying that this country is no place for an honest white man to live. I have been thinking for some time of caring into effect my whole scheme of emigrating to Brazil. Just now a favor more opportunity presents itself.”


Dalton explained that a salesman from his Alabama house, Colonel C. B.. Cencir, was eager to go to Brazil and to have Dalton accompany him. Together, they had written to Rev. Ballard S. Dunn r in New Orleans expressing their interest in his plan. Dalton elaborated on Brazil's inducement and said he was eager to go to Brazil for the August- September planting season, adding that some men of capital would be going with Dunn, and that “many Southern planters” were already settled there.


Dalton had his mothers blessing: “Ma writes she would have but few regrets at leaving this country and if she could sell out everything they would all go. It shall be my part to prepare a home for them, for I think the time is not far off when they will find it hard as well as disagreeable to live in this country.” His mother had already put her house up for sale, But Dalton had to appeal to his uncle for cash, “I need about $500 or $1000, and if you can for a short time loan me that amount, Ma will return it to you from the proceeds of the sale of the house.


Dalton explained his “manifold” reasons for leaving, “my dislike and disgust for this government and my desire to establish a home for myself and my family are the first. But there is another, which is more cogent still and which finds a deeper seat in my heart. To the attainment of my object, means are essential and I go there to attain them. The result of the war has blasted all our hopes, and history, as well be written by Bancroftt, will attempt to take from us our character and honor. Hence my purpose. I would rear a monument over the ashes of him who has gone that would be a fit emblem of his greatness and that would outlive the nation that would dishonor him.


The same day that Dalton wrote to his uncle, Dunn's secretary, T. C. Pinckney, drafted a reply to Dalton andCrncir apologizing for the delay due to the volume of business. Dunn was so impressed with Daltob’s clarity of expression and explaining his reasons for wanting to go to Brazil that he had taken the liberty of publishing the letter in the New Orleans Crescent. Dunn believed that Dalton should “go out at the present time and not defer it, as the Country is going rapidly from bad to worse.” Given the later failure of Dunn's Lizzieland and the poor organization of his scheme, his exhortation to Dalton may have been somewhat self-serving. Although Pinckney cautioned Dalton that parcels in Dunn’s settlement would be distributed in “land office style” of first come, first served, he hedged this policy, saying that Dunn “has some private lands of his own, which he will reserve for you are you amount desired.”


Dalton forwarded his letter from Dunn to his uncle and then asked that it be sent to his younger brother Benjamin Cunningham Yancey, who, along with their mother, thought “well of my desire to emmigrate. I think Ben may conclude to go himself.”  Benjamin and Dalton Yancey, along with Colonel Cencir and a Dr. J.. A. Done of Alabama did move to Brazil, but they joined the Gunters at Lake Juparana, not Dunns LazielLand. After Gunters concern folded, the Yancey's moved to Santa Barbara and eventually developed associations at Rio with U.S. business interests.

C B Cencir
T C Pinckny



94, passed away on Feb. 17, 2010. He was born Sept. 27, 1915 to Frederick Dalton Yancey and Bessie Hodges Yancey in Umatilla. Mr. Yancey was a lifelong resident of Umatilla and a pioneer citrus grower until the time of his death. Mr. Yancey graduated from Umatilla High School and from the University of Florida with honors in 1937. He was a member of Alpha Beta, an honorary fraternity for agricultural students. He was a supporter of the University of Florida Foundation and a loyal gator fan.


He married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Johnson Yancey, who predeceased him in 2009 after 68 years of marriage. Fred and Margaret Yancey were recognized as Citizens of the Year of Umatilla in 1997.


Mr. Yancey was predeceased by his sisters, Lucy Elizabeth Yancey and Mary Ann Yancey. He was a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church of Umatilla where he served as deacon, elder, clerk of session, Sunday School Superintendent, treasurer and choir member for over 60 years. Mr. Yancey was also a member of the Umatilla Kiwanis Club for over 50 years, served as club treasurer and president and was awarded the honor of Legion of Merit.


He is survived by his son, F. Dalton Yancey, III (Barbara); daughter, Susan Y. Seabrook (Elliott) all of Umatilla; grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth Yancey of Fairfax, VA, Benjamin Cooper Yancey (Brianne)  of Umatilla, Jeffrey (J.J.) Kenneth Morris, Jr. of Longwood and Matthew Kelley Morris (Candice) of St. Petersburg; and great-granddaughter Avery Eileen Yancey.


The family would like to thank Reba Carter and all the compassionate caregivers who helped to provide many years of quality life and assistance, especially during his final months.


Memorials may be given to the First Presbyterian Church of Umatilla, P.O. Box 407, Umatilla, FL 32784 or the Umatilla Kiwanis Foundation, P.O. Box 1911, Umatilla, FL 32784.

Beyers Funeral Home is in charge of the funeral arrangements. Visitation will be Saturday, Feb. 20, 2010 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Beyers Funeral Home Chapel. A memorial and celebration of life service will be conducted at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 at the First Presbyterian Church, 593 Kentucky Ave., Umatilla, FL.


Online condolences may be made at, Beyers Funeral Home, 

Published in the Orlando Sentinel on Feb. 19, 2010

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