John Moncure Daniel (American National Biography)

Susan Wyly-Jones, "Daniel, John Moncure," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
At the outset of the Civil War, Daniel expressed confidence in Confederate president Jefferson Davis and advocated a strong central government and an aggressive military strategy. "No power in Executive hands can be too great, no discretion too absolute, at such moments as these. We need a dictator" (Examiner, 8 May 1861). He urged the adoption of conscription, traditionally unpopular in American culture, as the most judicious way to recruit soldiers from all classes of the population. By early 1862, frustrated with the "fatal paralysis" of the army and Davis's refusal to include him in his councils, Daniel turned against the administration with a vengeance. He began to attack Davis personally, accusing him of meddling excessively in military affairs, appointing unqualified cronies to his cabinet and to military posts, and in general mismanaging the war effort. Nothing but "the extinction of the dynasty of ignorant and imbecile politicians who have long monopolized place and power" would bring southern victory, Daniel claimed (Examiner, 15 Apr. 1862). One particularly biting attack on Confederate secretary of the treasury Edward A. Elmore in 1864 resulted in a duel--one of nine Daniel fought in his lifetime--in which Daniel was wounded in the foot. Like other harsh critics of the Confederate government, he distinguished between the Confederate administration and the cause of southern independence, to which he remained deeply committed.
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