In response to the spirited and colorful comments that my article Dishonest Abe’s Legacy And The 2012 Election generated, I’ve decided to expound further upon Abraham Lincoln’s sordid Administration and the consequences it had for our Constitutional republic. Let’s re-examine the contested facts, shall we?
Lincoln did not wage the Civil War to liberate the slaves.
As I said before, the cartoonish version of American history portraying Lincoln as the storied “Great Emancipator” is nothing but a combination of wishful thinking and willful propaganda. Lincoln laid bare his intentions in waging war on the peacefully seceded Southern States in a letter to New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley in 1862:
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.” (Emphasis added)
Furthermore, as noted Lincoln critic Professor Thomas J. DiLorenzo has documented exhaustively and repeatedly, the celebrated Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. It applied only to Confederate-held territory (where it could not be enforced); allowed the “peculiar institution” to continue in Washington, D.C.; and allowed all slaveholders in the Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware and Missouri to keep their slaves.
Lincoln himself acknowledged the fact that the Proclamation was only a war measure, not a genuine attempt to emancipate the slaves. William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state and one of his closest political confidants, had the following to say about the nature of the Proclamation: “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”
In addition, many Northern newspapers (which were subsequently censored by Lincoln and closed down by Federal troops) excoriated the Proclamation as nothing more than a political sham. An editorial in the New York World thoroughly mocked Lincoln’s supposed act of liberation:
The President has purposely made the proclamation inoperative in all places where we have gained a military footing which makes the slaves accessible. He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it. The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia renders the proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous.
Not only that, but the slaves who were “freed” by Union troops in Federally controlled portions of the South were essentially pressed back into servitude as manual laborers. As described by DiLorenzo in The Real Lincoln:
Many slaves who ended up in the hands of the Federal army were not set free but were put to work doing the most unpleasant tasks in and around army encampments. Others were sent back to their owners. Congress passed several “confiscation acts” in the early years of the war that allowed Federal troops to confiscate the slaves (and other property) in conquered rebel territory. As one Illinois lieutenant wrote, “I have 11 Negroes in my company now. They do every particle of the dirty work. Two women among them do the washing for the company.”
Due to his sly political gamesmanship regarding the issue of slavery, Lincoln was despised by several prominent abolitionists. Among them was the great 19th century libertarian abolitionist and philosopher Lysander Spooner, who viciously attacked the actions of the Lincoln Administration and supported the right of the Southern States to secede from the Union. Spooner, unlike a good deal of his abolitionist colleagues who later became supportive of Lincoln’s war, saw through the Administration’s flowery rhetoric. He declared, “All of these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor,’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats.”
Spooner also lambasted Lincoln and the Republicans for their insincerity over the issue of Emancipation. Slavery was not abolished, he wrote, “as an act of justice to the black man himself, but only as ‘a war measure,’ and because they wanted his assistance… in carrying on the war they had undertaken for maintaining and intensifying that political, commercial, and industrial slavery…” He also cut through Lincoln’s laughable assertion that he was also waging the war to defend the principle of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” The only type of “consent” Lincoln upheld, Spooner said, was that by force of arms: “Everybody must consent, or be shot.” Great Emancipator, indeed.
In spite of the plethora of evidence to the contrary available both online and in print, many Lincoln worshipers maintain that Lincoln miraculously “changed his views” on race. “In his heart,” they cry, “Lincoln cherished racial equality!” First of all, how do they know what was in the heart and mind of a man who has been dead for more than 150 years? Do they possess powers of clairvoyance? Can they commune with the dead? What scholarly, academic evidence rooted here on planet Earth do they have to back up their claims? Everything that I have cited and quoted regarding Lincoln’s views on race comes from the man’s own recorded words and deeds, as well as the testimony of those who knew him both before and during the Civil War.
One revealing story comes from Benjamin Butler, the Massachusetts Congressman who was appointed a Union Army General by Lincoln (who kept him in command despite his gross incompetence on the battlefield, which lead to needless Union casualties). Butler, as the military dictator of occupied New Orleans, sentenced a Confederate sympathizer to death for tearing down the American flag, confiscated the private property (including firearms) of suspected Rebels and censored the press. After all, he was just taking his cue from Lincoln, but I’ve digressed.
After the war, Butler recounted a “colonization interview” that he had attended with Lincoln shortly before the President’s death, during which Lincoln asked, “What shall we do with the negroes after they are free?” According to Butler, Lincoln continued, saying “I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes.” After the dumpy General proposed deporting the newly freed slaves to Panama to act as slave labor for a planned canal (which would come to fruition during Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidency), Lincoln responded, “There is meat in that, General Butler, there is meat in that.” For more information on this exchange and Lincoln’s record on “racial equality,” I highly recommend the book Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement by historians Philip Magness and Sebastian Page. (Butler’s dialogue with Lincoln is described in detail on page 109 of the book.)
Last but not least Lincoln, in his first Inaugural Address, unequivocally stated the reason he would wage war on the South:
The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. (Emphasis added)
Get that folks? It was all about taxes for Lincoln and company. The chief reason Lincoln wanted to “save the Union” was so that he could force the Southern States to continue to pay the bulk of his program of protectionist tariffs. In a nutshell, Lincoln essentially told the South, “Your money or your life,” just as King George III told the colonists in 1776. In this light, the Southern States were only emulating their patriot forebears in seceding from a government to which they no longer consented. Indeed, the Declaration of Independence was primarily a document of secession from the British Empire, and it codified the right of a people to “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” as an unalienable right.
Lastly as far Lincoln’s “late life conversion” to Christianity is concerned, some Christian he must have been if he supposedly waged a war to free slaves that resulted in 750,000 deaths when every other Western nation on Earth (including the British Empire and the Northern United States) ended slavery peacefully. No genuine Christian who claimed Jesus the Prince of Peace as Lord and Savior would have violated both the Constitution and the principles of Natural Law (both of which protect human life and dignity as preached in the Sermon on the Mount). If Christian Republicans hail Lincoln as a paragon of Christian virtue, the Vatican might as well go ahead and make Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin saints. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16, NKJV)
Think about these things long and hard before you rush headlong into the voting booth to pull the lever for the party of Lincoln this November, the alleged “lesser of two evils.” Remember: By voting for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil.