The Lincoln Mythology is Born
by: Steve Scroggins
March 4th, 2011 marked the 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration as President of the United States. Lincoln idolators and court ‘historians’ are certain to gush forth with fluff and flowery prose about how Lincoln “saved the Union” and “freed the slaves” when history shows that he did neither -- in fact, he did just the opposite, as we'll show below.
1. Lincoln the Great Emancipator: He reluctantly inaugurated war to abolish slavery
First of all, war was NOT required to end slavery. No other country in the world required war to end it; neither did America. Chattel slavery was doomed by the 1850s and on its way to extinction everywhere in the western Christian world. Brazil, a former Portuguese colony, was the last to abolish slavery in the western hemisphere in 1888. It is a lingering fallacy that it took war to end slavery in America.
Lincoln stated in his first inaugural address that he had no intention, no inclination and no legal authority to abolish slavery where it existed. He stated this in writing on numerous occasions. In the same address, Lincoln stated his support for the Corwin Amendment - otherwise known as the "Slavery Forever Amendment" -- which would constitutionally enshrine slavery permanently beyond the jurisdiction of the Congress.
The Republican party platform opposed the expansion of slavery to the western territories for economic and social reasons. The Republicans didn't want any blacks or Indians living anywhere near them. Illinois, it should be noted, had passed law to prohibit the settling or residence of blacks in Illinois. The Lincoln Dream was for a lilly-white America with no blacks or Indians. His soldiers, trained in the art of making war on southern civilians, did a fair job of genocide against the plains Indians after the war.
In his inaugural address, Lincoln promised not to invade or start a war EXCEPT to enforce the tariff law and hold federal forts for the purpose of tariff collection. His object was to quell the secession movement and force the recently departed states to return to the union, or at least to pay the tariffs as if they were still part of the Union. Lincoln claimed in the address that states did not have the authority to secede or leave the union. This is, of course, a 180 degree about-face from his stated opinion just 14 years earlier.
Lincoln's 1861 argument was logically ridiculous. Lincoln claimed that somehow the union came before the states which formed the union by ratifying the Constitution. That's like saying that a marriage came before the two people who were joined in the marriage.
Lincoln argued in his 1861 Inaugural address that "Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments." Note that the Framers specifically avoided the use of the words "national" and "perpetual" and struck them from proposed documents. James Madison made it clear that the people, their liberties and their "safety and happiness" were more important than any form of government when he said, "The safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions must be sacrificed."
Lincoln was inaugurated March 4th. After Lincoln's secretary of state promised to evacuate and surrender Fort Sumter for weeks, Lincoln dispatched an armada to reinforce and resupply Fort Sumter in early April, an act of war. Lincoln let the Confederates know it was coming. To miminize the loss of life, the Confederates decided to bombard the Fort into submission before warships arrived. Fort Sumter was surrendered April 12th. It should be noted that there was no loss of life in the attack and the federal garrison was permitted to leave peacefully after the surrender. Lincoln had provoked the South into firing the first shots. Again, there was no person killed or injured at Fort Sumter, but it fired a war fever in the north.
On April 15th Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers with which to invade the South and enforce the tariff laws. He ordered a naval blockade of southern ports, raised an army, gathered war materiel and committed other acts of war without the Constitutionally required Declaration of War from Congress.
When the Congress finally convened in July 1861, they rubber stamped his aggressive military actions since April 15th. They also confirmed his motive and objectives. The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution dated July 25, 1861 stated explicitly that the purpose of the war was to "preserve the union" and "not to interfere in the established institutions of the states" nor to limit their rights and freedoms in any other way.
Once Lincoln started the war by attempting to reinforce Fort Sumter by force, he repeatedly stated that his intent was to "save the Union" and his war effort had nothing to do with slavery. A year and a half after hostilities commenced, in his August 1862 correspondence with Horace Greeley (New York Tribune), he emphatically stated that slavery was irrelevant to the war -- it was only about restoring (preserving) the Union. This was just a month before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
Regardless of any sophistry or distortions to the contrary, the historical record shows incontrovertably that Lincoln and the U.S. Congress started and prosecuted the war for the purpose of preventing southern secession and independence and to enforce the tariff collections, to "preserve the union" as they called it. Though slavery (especially expansion) was a source of regional conflict, it was NOT the purpose of the war.
And what did the participants in the war think? General John B. Gordon gives us an assessment:
But what about the Emancipation Proclamation, you ask? It was strictly a war measure aimed at weakening the South by creating chaos or inciting slave insurrection. Another obvious purpose was to keep Britain and the European powers out of the war -- many of those nations wanted to trade with the South for cotton. Here's a sample of how the British press saw the Proclamation:
As the secession "crisis" started in December 1860 and continued into January 1861, the initial reaction of most people in the North was "let them go in peace." They acknowledged that the principles of the Declaration of Independence, including the 'consent of the governed', prohibited coercion of the southern states to remain in the union by force. But by February and March, the northern industrialists and shipping interests had leaned on the northern editors and made them aware of the financial losses southern independence would bring the northern states. Northern editorials changed from "let them go" to "heck, no, we'll go broke." See a selection of Northern editorials for the flavor of the thought and note the change.
As the saying goes, "follow the money." The real power and wealth wanted war to protect their financial interests and to keep the southern states on the taxpaying plantation to pay for their subsidized infrastructure and favored special interests. It should be noted that the Republican party platform included raising protectionist tariffs (paid mostly by the southern states)... and the Congress passed the Morrill Tariff which doubled the tax rates, and President Buchanan signed it into law just two days before Lincoln was inaugurated.
From this it appears that Charles Dickens summed up the yankee motivation best, a "desire for economic control of the Southern states."
2. Lincoln "Saved the Union" from those who would "destroy the Union"
Lincoln didn't save anything, just the opposite. We started the war with a Constitutional Republic and ended with a consolidated empire, ruled from a central capitol with the States neutered. The Southern states didn't seek to "destroy" anything. All they wanted was peaceful separation. There would have been no war if Lincoln hadn't raised the troops and launched an invasion and blockade. Remember, not one person had been killed or injured in the taking of Fort Sumter. The Southern states tried repeatedly to open negotiations to pay for the federal properties in their territory, their share of the national debt (infinitely smaller than today), and so on. Lincoln would not even discuss it. A man with his considerable political skills could have resolved the issues without war. No, the party that elected Lincoln was determined to keep the southern states as economic colonies -- even if they had to exterminate all southerners to do it.
3. Lincoln had to respond to Fort Sumter to put down treasonous secession
As noted above, no person was killed in the taking of Fort Sumter.
Secession cannot be reasonably considered treason. Most Americans celebrate that secession document called the Declaration of Independence every July 4th. We don't call it "Treason Day."
The states of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia in their ratification documents explicitly reserved the right to leave the union whenever in their opinion it was best for the security, happiness and liberty of their people. The other states reserved these rights implicitly. It was the understanding of all the Framers and those who ratified the Constitution in their respective states that the states "retain every power not expressly relinquished" in the Constitution. Since secession was not mentioned, that right is retained. This understanding is underscored by the 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution. If any thought for a moment they were bound in perpetuity, almost no states, and certainly not the requisite nine states would have ratified. They knew they didn't have the right to bind their posterity, but that they could choose for themselves their form of government.
The cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point studied the Constitution using an 1829 text written by William Rawle, a Philadelphia attorney, who was the U.S. District Attorney for Pennsylvania under the Washington Administration, one who prosecuted the rebels of the Whisky Rebellion. Chapter 32, entitled On the Permanance of the Union, contains the following text:
Charles Adams, in his book entitled When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession, obliterates the weak and faulty arguments that secession is not a right of the states.
Jefferson Davis was held without trial in military prison at Fortress Monroe for two years after the war. The yankee prosecutors realized they could not win a conviction of Davis in open court for treason. Davis wanted nothing more than his day in court, but it was denied when the indictment for treason was dismissed. On that same date, treason indictments on 19 other Confederate officers were dismissed.
The Constitution defines treason against the United States to consist only in "levying War against them or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort." Under that definition, it's Lincoln who could be convicted of treason since he organized and ordered that war be levied against the Southern states. When the Constitution uses the word "them" it refers to the States. Davis, on the other hand, hoped that the southern states could leave peacefully. Defending against an armed invasion is not treason. There was never any intent to interfere with the government of the United States nor to occupy any territory of the remaining states in the U.S. Thus, the term 'civil war' is a ridiculous misnomer.
4. Lincoln the Humanitarian
It should be remembered that Lincoln launched an unnecessary war for economic reasons that cost the lives of over 620,000 American soldiers, an estimated 50,000 civilians and left probably over a million horribly maimed and wounded. Standardized for today's population, that would be the equivalant of six million Americans dying in four years. Such unnecessary bloodshed earns Lincoln a place in the pantheon of 20th century killers such as Stalin, Pol Pot, and Adolph Hitler.
Sheridan and Sherman both noticed that Lincoln always asked to be regaled with stories of civilian suffering as the yankee armies practiced their raping, looting and vandalism. What kind of human being wants to hear such horror stories? See Walter Brian Cisco's War Crimes Against Southern Civilians Some of it is detailed in Thomas DiLorenzo's essay entitled, Malice Toward All, Charity Toward None: The Foundations of the American State
Lincoln actively advocated for "colonization" (deportation) of all blacks from North America. As noted earlier, Lincoln's Dream was an all-white America. He actively planned and lobbied for support to round up all blacks who were emancipated by any means and send to them outside the United States (to South America, the Caribbean or back to Africa). This part of the historical record is irrefutable, yet the Court Historians seems to omit such details while painting Lincoln as an angel.
5. Lincoln the champion of personal liberty and defender of the Constitution
This one is real howler. Lincoln crushed the Constitution while his rhetoric professed to revere it.
Lincoln illegally suspended Habeas Corpus. He imprisoned tens of thousands of Northern citizens without trial for expressing views contrary to his, or for criticizing the war effort. Lincoln shut down over 300 opposition newspapers in the North. One such editor/citizen imprisoned was mayor of Baltimore, the grandson of Frances Scott Key (author of the Star Spangled Banner). He arrested much of the Maryland legislature to prevent them from discussing secession. When Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus was unconstitutional, Lincoln issued as arrest warrant for Taney. Though the arrest was never made, the intimidating threat was made.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel in his book entitled Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men makes the case eloquently that while the 13th Amendment ended chattel slavery in America, the result of the war was to enslave all Americans at tax slaves. The growth of the Empire was enabled once the States had been neutered and the Constitution crushed in practice.
This has ran much longer than originally intended. And we covered only the top five Lincoln Myths. Lincoln didn't "save the Union," he destroyed the decentralized and voluntary Republic as defined in the Constitution. He didn't "free the slaves," he enslaved all Americans to their government. The name Lincoln shouldn't pass any American's lips unless followed by a contemptuous expectoration.