Rescuing Lincoln

Most Americans are familiar with the young Abraham Lincoln. Stories abound of his truth telling, rail splitting, candlelight reading, soil tilling, store keeping, and flatboat driving. Amazingly enough, James M. McPherson has managed to touch on all of them — and a few more besides — in this brief biographical essay written to coincide with the bicentennial of the birth of our 16th president.
 

 
James M. McPherson, Oxford University Press, 96 pages, $12.95
 
Most Americans are familiar with the young Abraham Lincoln. Stories abound of his truth telling, rail splitting, candlelight reading, soil tilling, store keeping, and flatboat driving. Amazingly enough, James M. McPherson has managed to touch on all of them — and a few more besides — in this brief biographical essay written to coincide with the bicentennial of the birth of our 16th president.
 
As expected, 2009 has been the occasion for the birth of a number of new Lincoln biographies, the longest of which reaches four digits, page-wise. In Lincoln’s day such a tome would have required at least three digits worth of candles to read.
 
What might not have been expected is that one of the nation’s premier Civil War historians would weigh in with so slight a volume. And yet that is just what McPherson has done. More to the point, this ridiculously slim volume works ridiculously well. It’s more than an exercise in niche marketing or relief for sore eyes; it’s a biographical essay for readers who know a little or a lot about Lincoln, as well as for readers who lack Lincoln’s stamina or candle-power.
 
Let’s return to that flatboat for a moment. In 1828 and again in 1831, Lincoln and a pal steered such a craft down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans. In McPherson’s estimate, each excursion "widened his horizons" in more ways than one. Along the way, he encountered innumerable people and scenes that were entirely new to him. But the most vivid of the lot was the sight of some of his fellow countrymen "shackled together with irons."
 
The young Lincoln had surely known of slavery, but he had never seen slaves. And once he did, the sight never left him. Years later he wrote that those bound men remained a "continual torment to me."
 
Some historians have used that famous Lincoln line to hammer its author. Their hammering goes something like this: If that sight was so tormenting, why didn’t Lincoln become an abolitionist? Instead, the young Lincoln decided to become — horror of horrors! — a politician. Worse than that, it appears that he never so much as toyed with the idea of joining the tiny ranks of the abolitionists. To add to the general embarrassment of it all, Lincoln was perpetually consumed with ambition — and political ambition, no less.
 
According to his law partner, Billy Herndon, Lincoln’s ambition was a "little engine that knew no rest," driven by nothing less than an all-American and all-consuming desire to be known. In the midst of one of his all too frequent bouts of depression, Lincoln confided to his closest friend that he was "more than willing to die" except "that he had done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived."
 
Some abolitionists did manage to be remembered — think William Lloyd Garrison — but Lincoln is not among them. Worse than that, for much of his political life, Lincoln was an anti-abolitionist and the target of abolitionist ire. Can the author of the Emancipation Proclamation be rescued from all of this?
 
 
In a word, yes. And McPherson is a most able rescuer. His mission: to save Lincoln from the charge that there is anything necessarily inconsistent with being a politician and being a man of principle.
 
"If slavery isn’t wrong, then nothing is wrong." That’s another unforgettable Lincoln line that McPherson has remembered to include. It also expresses a principle that Lincoln never forgot, whether he was steering that flatboat away from danger (or from dangerously tormenting sights) or steering his country away from the "peculiar institution" of slavery.
 
The steering metaphor guides McPherson through the entire essay as he takes the reader on Lincoln’s anti-slavery journey. By McPherson’s estimate, Lincoln gave upward of 175 speeches on slavery between the 1854 passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the onset of his presidency. The consistent theme of every one of them was the "necessity to exclude slavery from the territories as a first step toward its ultimate extinction."
 
Ultimate extinction. Lincoln never wavered from that goal, as he simultaneously steered his political career and his country toward a "new birth of freedom." Of course, that steady hand was joined to a man of great ambition. And of course, men of great ambition are quite capable of making great mistakes. McPherson details some of those as well.
 
But to Lincoln’s great credit, his ambitions and those mistakes never let him steer away from his great goal. Of course, he would have preferred to achieve this goal without a great war, but when war came, he refused to steer away from it, nor did he hesitate.
 
McPherson ends his account with another story of Lincolnian non-hesitation: New Year’s Day, 1863, was the day he would sign the Emancipation Proclamation. But first he had to endure a three-hour ordeal of hand-shaking at a White House reception. Exhausted and scarcely able to hold the pen, he worried that the signature would be unsteady and some would conclude that he had hesitated. Never more certain that he was "doing right," he signed without hesitation and without trembling. And why not? After all, veterans of steering flatboats and countries are mightily prepared to do that sort of thing.
 


John C. "Chuck" Chalberg teaches American history in Minnesota. He can be reached at Chuck.Chalberg@normandale.edu.

  • RK

    The cult of elevating the Chief Executive to mythical status gets another apologia. While history wrongly claims him as the great emancipator, Lincoln’s refusal to grant the south states’ rights for the sake of the union is the real cause of the war. Centralized government and the advancement of federal power are among the consequences of his problematic presidency.

  • CCR

    Better check out the book by DiLorenzo to deal with all the hoary myths here.

    But, let’s tackle one or two.

    “Of course, he would have preferred to achieve this goal without a great war, but when war came, he refused to steer away from it, nor did he hesitate.”

    Yet somehow all the other slave holding societies managed to do so without a war costing the lives of 600,000 (out of a population of 30,000,000 or so.

    “New Year’s Day, 1863, was the day he would sign the Emancipation Proclamation.”

    Which freed not a single slave as it did not apply anywhere the writ of the Federal government was honored.

    Just as a personal aside, my twice great grandfather was commanding a regiment under Sherman during the siege of Atlanta. In his letters home he made it clear that the proclamation would have no effect on the relations between the races. He also noted that if the North lost the war because of what he perceived to be the poor popular support for the war that he would pull up stakes and move to the confederacy.

    Like most of the soldiers of the north, he was a unionist, not an abolitionist. It is a distortion and a disservice to history to view that war through a lens that sees it as a war against slavery.

  • Joe H

    Don’t let the naysayers get you don’t Mr. Chalberg. I appreciate and share this appreciation for Lincoln as a true opponent of slavery and a great president as well.

  • BPS

    While history wrongly claims him as the great emancipator, Lincoln’s refusal to grant the south states’ rights for the sake of the union is the real cause of the war. Centralized government and the advancement of federal power are among the consequences of his problematic presidency.

    (1) The Emancipation Proclamation freed any slave that made it to Union Lines. It often made soldiers of them as well.
    (2) The real cause of the war is what the confederates themselves said it was at the time they left the union(NOT what they said after they’d lost and began lying about it). Read portions of confederate states articles of secession at http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html
    The real reasons were desire to keep their slaves and fear of black equality, as they so state. The south would never have freed its slaves without war. The major difference between the confederate constitution and the real one is that the confederate EXPLICITLY protects ‘negro’ slavery. Read what Alexander Stephens, the confederate vice-president wrote before the war ” Our system is founded on the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man”
    (3) Tyranny at the state and local level is just as odious as tyranny at the centralized national level. RK, I can’t imagine why you’d perfer one to the other. If you believe the antebellum state and local governments were better, please read either “Southern Honor” by Bertram Wyatt-Brown or some of the sections on antebellum government in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. BTW, there is/was no right to seceed from the union. Read Kranwitter’s “Vindicating Lincoln”.

    Neo-confederate revisionist history began right after confederates lost the war. It has a mean-spirited, dishonest feel to it. Even Robert E. Lee went into to it after the war, said some pretty devastating things, and actively antagonistic toward the newly freed blacks. Read “Lee Considered” by Alan Nolan, ‘After the War’ section.

  • BPS

    Better check out the book by DiLorenzo to deal with all the hoary myths here.

    Already read it. He selectively quotes, misstates historical facts, twist historical implication to support his already pre-concieved ideas. Want an example? Google the letter Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley and compare it to how DiLorenzo quotes it.
    For a much more balanced account, read

  • Kelly

    revisionist history is just that. Some (like RK) may find evil in the reach of the federal to the detriment of states’ rights. But Lincoln said it best – a house divided against itself, cannot stand”. Having half free, half slave was an untenable situation.

  • Christopher Manion

    In 1963, when I was taking his American History class, Civil War historian Albert Castel was writing an article (one of hundreds he published) on the 1864 situation in Kansas and western Missouri. I discovered it only recently, and note with a tremor that Castel mentions, almost as an aside, Lincoln’s reaction to Colonel Mosby, whose hideout was right here where we live on the Shenandoah River (next to

  • RK

    …..said in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858:

    “I will say that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people….”

    …..told Horace Greeley that if he could save the Union by freeing the slaves he would do so; if he could save the Union by freeing no slave he would do that; and if he could save the Union by freeing some slaves and leaving others in bondage, he would do that too.

    …..favored a constitutional amendment authorizing the purchase and deportation of slaves.

  • BPS

    In 1963, when I was taking his American History class, Civil War historian Albert Castel was writing an article (one of hundreds he published) on the 1864 situation in Kansas and western Missouri. I discovered it only recently, and note with a tremor that Castel mentions, almost as an aside, Lincoln’s reaction to Colonel Mosby, whose hideout was right here where we live on the Shenandoah River (next to

  • BPS

    …..said in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858:

    “I will say that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people….”

    …..told Horace Greeley that if he could save the Union by freeing the slaves he would do so; if he could save the Union by freeing no slave he would do that; and if he could save the Union by freeing some slaves and leaving others in bondage, he would do that too.

    …..favored a constitutional amendment authorizing the purchase and deportation of slaves.

    Lincoln changed, like good men do, when he came to know better.
    He likely never met an educated black man, before he came to Washington. He called Frederick Douglass “The most meritorious living American. In his last speech (and likely the one which inspired Booth to murder him) he call for citizenship and voting rights for blacks who’d served in the Union army and those who could read and write. He signed the Freedmen’s Act, which provided for education and basic necessities of the newly freed slaves.
    Hadley Arkes in his book “Natural Rights and the Right to Choose” relates something that happened early in Lincoln’s Presidency. The Buchanan adminstration had refused a patent and a passport to 2 Boston residents. As blacks, according to the Supreme Courts Dred Scott decision (the Roe v. Wade of it time) they were not citizens and had no rights white men were bound to respect. Lincoln had the previous adminstration’s decisions reversed, and had the passport and patent issued. His adminstration TREATED blacks as citizens even before the 15th amendment MADE them citizens in the eyes of the constitution.
    RK, if you’re really interested in history you should read Kranawitter’s book “Vindicating Lincoln”. You might, like Lincoln, um, change.

  • RK

    You seem to be contradicting yourself. First you claim that preserving the Union was not what motivated Lincoln; that he was a heroic emancipator. Then, when given evidence to the contrary, you backtrack and say that Lincoln changed because he was a good man. Which is it? Did he initiate a devastating war to prevent secession and then decide it was really to free the slaves? Um…..

  • BPS

    You seem to be contradicting yourself. First you claim that preserving the Union was not what motivated Lincoln; that he was a heroic emancipator. Then, when given evidence to the contrary, you backtrack and say that Lincoln changed because he was a good man. Which is it? Did he initiate a devastating war to prevent secession and then decide it was really to free the slaves? Um…..

    Trying to create a strawman?! Won’t work…I never made any claim about Lincoln’s motivations, other than say I thought him a good man. And I think both saving the Union and ending slavery were good things.

    And Lincoln “initiated a devastating war”!!! I guess that Fort Sumter thing just never really happened… Like Sept 11th (LOL)
    You really don’t know much history do you?! For a more full treatment of what happened during the whole Ft Sumter episode read David’s “Lincoln” biography. What he says is, Lincoln warned the S. Carolina governor in advance that he was sending a ship with only food and water to the soldiers at the Fort. If he allowed the ship to land, the Feds would not attempt to land men or arms without advance notice. Lincoln tried very hard cool the passions the south had for war, while still hanging on the the principles that the Union did not cease to exist and that the majority would rule.

  • RK

    Trying to create a strawman?!

    Um, no. I’ve read what you wrote and must tell you that it’s not always clear. So you acknowledge that Lincoln had preserving the Union on his mind when he started the war in S. Carolina? Frankly, that’s really my primary point. I believe, as Jefferson Davis said, that slavery was used as a pretext by some abolitionists.

    The south had a Constitutional right to secede. By intervening, Lincoln created a precedent whereby the Federal government could assume absolute power over the states. Sure, tyranny of any kind is bad, but suggesting that we permit federal tyranny in lieu of state or local tyranny is an argument I can’t imagine anyone really trying to further. Is it?

  • Christopher Manion

    BPS writes: >It’s unclear to me …< < That is obvious. Reverting to Hobbes to condone tactics that George Washington would have punished in a heartbeat (let alone the Constitutional suspensions) sidelines morality permanently (since, as Christ observed, we will always have “wars and rumors of wars” on which to base our “temporary” lifting of moral and Constitutional limits). Regarding current affairs, George Bush’s vast aggrandizement of the “unitary presidency” (following Lincoln’s lead) has handed Obama all the power he needs on a silver platter. Bush transgressed the rule that Paul Weyrich (RIP) could not repeat too often: never give to your friend any power which your enemy might one day inherit. Was “Union” really worth 600,000 lives? The U.S. population in 1860 was approximately 31 million. Today, in proportion, that would amount to some 6 million lives. If California decided to secede and become “Mexifornia,” would it be worth 6 million lives for Obama to stop them? If so, which ones? Which 6 million lives? Whose, specifically?

  • BPS

    Trying to create a strawman?!

    Um, no. I’ve read what you wrote and must tell you that it’s not always clear. So you acknowledge that Lincoln had preserving the Union on his mind when he started the war in S. Carolina? Frankly, that’s really my primary point. I believe, as Jefferson Davis said, that slavery was used as a pretext by some abolitionists.

    The south had a Constitutional right to secede. By intervening, Lincoln created a precedent whereby the Federal government could assume absolute power over the states. Sure, tyranny of any kind is bad, but suggesting that we permit federal tyranny in lieu of state or local tyranny is an argument I can’t imagine anyone really trying to further. Is it?

    First, your whole premise is wrong! Lincoln didn’t start the war, the confeds started it by firing on Ft. Sumter. Or don’t you believe that happened?
    And do you REALLY believe the war would have happened without slavery?! If so why, in all this time, have you not commented on what the CONFEDERATES themselves said were their reasons for leaving the Union?!

    The south had no Constitutional right to secede. The US Constitution, in Sect. VI declares itself to be the supreme law of the land no matter what state constitutions say.
    The U.S. came into being by our colonial ancestors excercising their natural law right to revolution. This right can only morally be exercised when existing governments SERIOUSLY transgress other natural law liberties. Lincoln issued a challenge to the seceeders to show which liberties had been trampled by the federal government in his first inaugural. You cannot resort to bullets when you have resort to ballots. If you don’t like the way a political issue has played out, well write some articles or whatever and convince more people to support your side. It’s never over. And in a republic such as ours, a political minority cannot hold a politicial majority hostage, by saying, in effect “Well I’m taking my marbles and going home.”

  • BPS

    Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union
    Adopted December 24, 1860
    …ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

    this is excerpted by me…read the whole thing and others at http://sunsite.utk.edu/civil-war/reasons.html)

    Chris, you’re Catholic right? Please correct me if I’m wrong, but expiation is not inconsistant with Catholic doctrine. The lives lost and destruction caused by the Civil War was an expiation for the civil and moral sins of slavery. Lincoln more than implied it in his 2nd inaugural address when he said “…He [God] gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came… Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
    And Chris, the Washington who put down the Whiskey Rebellion would have approved of Lincoln’s War measures. He was a big “NO BULLETS if you got BALLOTS” kind of guy.

  • Christopher Manion

    Gods ways are not our ways, and His ways are hidden, so I do cannot confirm you insight regarding the 600,000 deaths in the Civil War as our national expiation of the sin of slavery (only five percent of the Confederate soldiers had slaves, and I assume few of the northerners did, so their sin was ….?)

    You refuse even to address the obvious points: Weyrich was right about power, and you’re stuck with the consequences with Obama. And Eric Voegelin addresses at length the ideological determination not to answer the forbidden question (die verbotene Frage) in “Science, Politics, and Gnosticism” (Regnery PB 199smilies/cool.gif.

    So I will ask it again, although it’s Friday at five. Please try to answer it.

    +++

    Was “Union” really worth 600,000 lives? The U.S. population in 1860 was approximately 31 million. Today, in proportion, that would amount to some 6 million lives.

    If California decided to secede and become “Mexifornia,” would it be worth 6 million lives for Obama to stop them?

    If so, which ones? Which 6 million lives? Whose, specifically?

  • RK

    First, your whole premise is wrong! Lincoln didn’t start the war, the confeds started it by firing on Ft. Sumter.

    Yes, the south fired first. But they were left no choice following northern provocation. Lincoln had sent 75,000 troops to Ft. Sumter.

    Slavery was a key issue, but as an issue in the balance of power between North and South. Beginning with Missouri in 1818, as territories were brought into the nation there was a give and take between slave holding and and free states. The Missouri Compromise established slavery for the southern states and closed slavery for the northern states. It was a political football used by the North to exert power.

    As Chris has said, the 600,000 killed by this war represented the greatest per capita death total of any war in U.S. history. Moreover, there were 400,000 injured. To suggest that these deaths were justified because of the institution of slavery is stunning!

    If you mean that my premise of not rationalizing everything Lincoln did is wrong. I’ll admit guilt as expiation for your false premise[smiley=cool]

  • Richard A

    What exactly is to be gained by tearing down Lincoln’s reputation as the “Great Emancipator.” As Shelby Foote (among many others) points out in the great history of the Civil War, while the actual war measure of the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave where it was effective, it was also in fact the effective means whereby slavery was abolished in the United States. Because of the proclamation, it was politically impossible for any European power to recognize the Confederacy as a legitimate government. Because of the proclamation, and because of the fact that the soldiers organized in support of the Confederate cause continued their fight until their states were occupied by Union forces they made the proclamation effective where it had not been when it was issued.
    Read how Lincoln understood the “slave conspiracy”. He was himself opposed to slavery, and was himself the principle author of every action which in practice ended the practice of slavery in the United States. Using Lincoln’s own “conspiracy” logic, he was himself the principal practical abolitionist in the Union.

  • Dennis J. Francis

    RK writes: “Yes, the south fired first. But they were left no choice following northern provocation. Lincoln had sent 75,000 troops to Ft. Sumter.”

    Uhhh, there was less than 1,000 US soldiers east of the Mississippi in early 1861, and less than 16,000 in the entire Army. And a few dozen guys running out of food in an unfinished fort hardly constitutes a provocative threat.

  • BPS

    Gods ways are not our ways, and His ways are hidden, so I do cannot confirm you insight regarding the 600,000 deaths in the Civil War as our national expiation of the sin of slavery (only five percent of the Confederate soldiers had slaves, and I assume few of the northerners did, so their sin was ….?)

    Slavery was the one great big thing that didn’t square with the grand, uniquely American fusion of Christian ethics with politics. Think about it…St. Paul writes “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, but all are one in Jesus Christ,” and 1750 or so years later Jefferson proposes “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal”. However, in our governing document, so we could have a working government, everyone is so ashamed of this slavery thing going on, they talk around it, can’t mention it explicitly and make this bargain. Everyone involved knows that the shipping, banking, insurance and distilling industries in the north were built during colonial days on the “Triangular Trade”–Rum to Africa to trade to Black chieftans and Muslim traders for slaves, slaves to the West Indies and Southern states, money (& molassas to make more rum) north. The Brown family, who endowed Brown University in Rhodes Island, grew rich from trading in slaves. Southern states send their goods to Europe and with the money coming back buy more slaves. But unlike planters in the West Indies, who are mostly absentee, they live in close proximity to their slaves. They have to develop a philosophy to rationalize away the inconsistancy with both the Christian idea and the political equality idea. Practically every southerner buys into this idea that the blacks aren’t really human in the same way as we white people are. Lots of consciences are troubled. Not to mention black people abused.

    You refuse even to address the obvious points: Weyrich was right about power, and you’re stuck with the consequences with Obama. And Eric Voegelin addresses at length the ideological determination not to answer the forbidden question (die verbotene Frage) in “Science, Politics, and Gnosticism” (Regnery PB 199smilies/cool.gif.

    So I will ask it again, although it’s Friday at five. Please try to answer it.

    Was “Union” really worth 600,000 lives? The U.S. population in 1860 was approximately 31 million. Today, in proportion, that would amount to some 6 million lives.

    If California decided to secede and become “Mexifornia,” would it be worth 6 million lives for Obama to stop them?

    If so, which ones? Which 6 million lives? Whose, specifically?

    Chris, secession and the Civil War would not have happened without (1) the existance of black slavery (2)the Dred Scott decision (3) America’s expansion west. So your California question is about something whose time has past. You can’t have a fight without two sides willing to fight and no one would fight for it and no one would fight to stop it. California seceed?! To borrow from the circa 1860 S. Carolina wag “It’s too small for a nation, and too large for an insane asylum.”
    Regarding the Civil War that actually happened–since there are two sides to every fight what you really need is two questions (1) For the Union “Is a Union without Slavery that lives up, at least partially, to it’s founding ideals worth fighting and dying for?” and (2)for the South “Is our absolute power over 4 million black people, in which our honor as white people and on which much of our economy is dependent on worth fighting and dying for”? Evidently, the answer to both is yes, though I vote for (1). Since I’m a black American, I’d excercise my natural right of rebellion due to transgression of my natural liberties, the same natural right the colonial Americans execised before they had recourse to the ballot. I’d try to convince others of like mind, both black and white to do likewise. I’d even try to convince those with mixed or bad motives to fight on my side, for as Shakespeare said “No King ever embarked on a enterprise, and tried it out with all unspotted subjects”. Hmmm…sounds familiar…

  • BPS

    I couldn’t get the quote thing to work. Editor/moderator, if you please…

    Oh, and thanks Dennis! I think RK meant that Lincoln call up 75,000 troops after Ft Sumter, but it doesn’t quite fit his timeline.

    Here’s a couple question for RK and Chris.
    (1)Did the black slaves in the south have a natural right to rebellion? A thought experiment, as Walker Percy liked to say: If blacks people held in bondage in the south managed a successful slave revolt, killed a million white southerners, thru off their shackles and and started their own government, would they have acted morally? If not, why are their action morally worse than what white colonials did?

    (2) If black people held in bondage in the south convinced others to fight for them, would this be morally better or worse?

    (3) In Paul’s letter to Philomon he sends the runaway slave Onesimus back to Philomon with the admonition to treat him as a brother. How does one enslave a brother?

  • RK

    RK writes: “Yes, the south fired first. But they were left no choice following northern provocation. Lincoln had sent 75,000 troops to Ft. Sumter.”

    Uhhh, there was less than 1,000 US soldiers east of the Mississippi in early 1861, and less than 16,000 in the entire Army. And a few dozen guys running out of food in an unfinished fort hardly constitutes a provocative threat.

    Sure, quibble with my writing style–my editor is gone for the week. By the way, I think you meant, “Uhhh, there were less than 1,000 US soldiers east of…..”

    While it may be open to interpretation, there are many who understand that the south, in order to save face, fired upon Fort Sumter. At any rate, nobody believes it happened suddenly in a vacuum without events leading up to it.

    The 75,000 troops Lincoln sent was the largest military force ever assembled in North America until that time. This unprecedented (and unauthorized by Congress!) exertion of presidential authority set the tone for the war between the states. It let the genie out of the bag in terms of establishing the power of the president. We haven’t been the same since.

    Until that time, Lincoln had not given any indication that he was an abolitionist. If he really cared about ending slavery he could have saved lots of treasure, pain, heartache and lives by simply buying up the remaining slaves. He was prevailed upon by northern bankers and merchants to subdue the south.

  • BPS
  • Christopher Manion

    BPS can only endure by implying that supporters of the Constitution who criticize Lincoln must support slavery, too.

    Lincoln wanted “the Union, slave or free.” And as a Catholic, with Tom DiLorenzo, “I wonder if they know that Pope Pius IX sent Jefferson Davis a hand-made crown of thorns when Davis was in prison after the war.”

    In order to deflect the issue, BPS instructs me about the evils of slavery. Well, my mother always said, when someone insults you, just say, “why, THANK you!”

    And now back to the issue at hand: first, BPS ignores the Weyrich Rule, and thus I will assume his silence acknowledges that George Bush’s vast aggrandizement of the “unitary presidency” (following Lincoln’s lead) has handed Obama all the power he needs on a silver platter. Yes, George Bush has given Obama’s continued abuse of the Constitution a “Republican” seal of approval.

    Second, BPS apparently does not want to go any further in interpreting the secret mind of God regarding which calamities “expiated” which of our sins. Good for him (or her)!

    Third (and last), BPS’s implied notion that I somehow do not oppose slavery (or understand its evil) is hardly a worthy means of evading the question, so like the Little Prince, who always insisted on getting an answer, I will ask the question again:

    For the third and last time (lucky for BPS!), will BPS simply tell us honestly without evasion:

    Was “Union” really worth 600,000 lives? The U.S. population in 1860 was approximately 31 million. Today, in proportion, that would amount to some 6 million lives.

    If California decided to secede and become “Mexifornia,” would it be worth 6 million lives for Obama to stop them?

    If so, which ones? Which 6 million lives? Whose, specifically?

  • RK
  • meg
  • Brian Saint-Paul

    I just removed a couple comments to prevent an escalating flame war. This is a very interesting discussion, so let’s stay focused on the arguments and not the people making them.

    We can disagree on Lincoln and still be friendly. Thanks in advance.

  • Paul Bergeron

    Mr. Chalberg promotes James McPherson’s biography of Abraham Lincoln to argue that Lincoln was a politician and a man of principle. What must be made clear here is the principle: violence is justified in pursuit of national unity (territorial integrity) or the ending of social injustice (slavery). What’s missing from the analysis is the Catholic doctrine of the just war. When comparing the crisis in the United States in 1860 to other countries, secession (Norway from Sweden in 1905)and abolition (Brazil in 188smilies/cool.gif were successfully accomplished without violence. If Lincoln’s actions are held to be the model, what does this say about resolving the ultimate human rights issue of this era, the status of embryonic humans? Are Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph the John Brown’s of this era? And has the government that resulted from the War of 1861-1865 truly made all of the inhabitants more free or less free?

  • D.B.

    ….what it could not win at the ballot box. It attempted to usurp, bluster, bully and threaten a legitimate election, and then when that election didn’t go the way they wanted, they tried to tear our Country apart to preserve an institution that by even 19th Century standards was abominable. Being from Kansas, our state saw first hand the lengths Pro-Slavery forces would go to maintain their “way of life”…they tried to usurp the legitimately elected government of the Kansas Territory. Mexico sadly also dealt with them, as Pro-Slavery squatters flooded the Texas Province, violating their Constitution and treating with scorn a Mexican governnment that had allowed them in…then crying foul and taking up arms when the Mexican government tried to enforce its own laws. What of the rights of Kansas, or the Sovereignty of Mexico? States Rights was a convenient smoke screen to continue Slavery…all this Antebellum Romanticism is just that….Romanticism…everytime you picture a Robert E. Lee riding gallantly on his horse, remember that a black man with a scarred up back and treated as property saddled it for him…a sobering picture, is it not?

  • CCR

    Superficially, one might wonder why the rights and wrongs of the mis-named civil war continue to be such a hot point. Yet, it is clear that the issue of wars in general and their justification has been a crucial topic of the past 150 years or more.

    Let’s look at the record of the U.S. Government in the wars of this period starting with the Mexican war.

    True the Mexican government was run by a bunch of arrogant idiots

  • Steve Berg

    A few years ago I wrote an article for Chronicles Magazine about the Illinois Negro Code. It was a condensation of one of the chapters in my dissertation. The first Illinois state constitution, of 1818, and approved by the U.S. Congress specifically authorized slavery at the Shawneetown Salt Works. Of course, the term of enslavement there, was to be only a year, and I am sure that this particular item was strictly enforced. Of course, as a part of the Northwest Territory, there were not supposed to be any slaves in the area. But, there were. By 1828, there was already a law on the books that prevented a negro, mulatto or indian from testifying in a court case involving a white. Blacks were not allowed to serve on juries, vote, or possess weapons. Miscegenation laws were on the books by the 1830s. There was already a section in the statute books called the Illinois Negro Code by then. One of the requirements was that any black moving into the state had to post a thousand dollar bond with their county clerk as security that they would not commit crimes or become a burden on the state. When the 1847 constitutional convention was held, there was considerable discussion involving racial issues. One article in that constitution was ratified separately from the rest. It banned the immigration of any blacks into the state. It passed overwhelmingly, statewide, though the northern part of the state supported it a bit less enthusiastically than the southern part did. This 1848 constitution was in effect until 1870. If Lincoln was against any of this, he certainly was quiet about it. He was a well known and popular politician, and surely any efforts by him on behalf of the thoroughly oppressed blacks would have been front page news. If so, where is it?

  • D.B.

    So you concede that the South fired first? What is one to think of a region that used bullying, threats and demagogue rhetoric to attempt to derail a legitimate election? What is one to think of a region that only cares about States Rights and Soveriegnty when it suits their own purposes (Kansas and the dispute over Texas being the glaring examples) and then disregards those principles as they like? What is one to think about a region that takes up arms against it’s own country in insurrection and circumvents constitutional processes? Don’t give me that nonsense about Lincoln “provoking it”…he wanted to avoid the war, promised to leave slavery alone where it already existed and to uphold the Fugitive Slave Law….Compromise goes BOTH ways, and the South blustered and attempted to cow the Federal government with threats of Secession….Lincoln would not be bullied, and if I was him I wouldn’t have either.

  • RK

    What is one to think about a region that takes up arms against it’s own country in insurrection and circumvents constitutional processes?

    I guess I’d think the same thing of them as I do of a plucky group of radicals that dumped the Empire’s tea into Boston Harbor back in the day. How dare they, those insubordinate colonists!?!? Self determination is unacceptable!

  • D.B.

    What is one to think about a region that takes up arms against it’s own country in insurrection and circumvents constitutional processes?

    I guess I’d think the same thing of them as I do of a plucky group of radicals that dumped the Empire’s tea into Boston Harbor back in the day. How dare they, those insubordinate colonists!?!? Self determination is unacceptable!

    They had their voice in Congress, they had representation…they couldn’t get what they wanted using Constitutional Processes so they took up arms. I can’t help but be amused by Confederate apologists…they have no choice but to whitewash slavery and reduce it to a question of “States Rights.” Funny enough, the Abortion lobby uses the same reasoning processes the South used to justify Slavery in defending “Their right to choose.” Right is right, and Wrong is wrong. You haven’t addressed my points of Southern aggression, pre-Civil War…their actions in Texas, the war in Kansas…it was that rail splitter Lincoln who stared the “War of Northern Aggression”, right?

  • BPS

    BPS can only endure by implying that supporters of the Constitution who criticize Lincoln must support slavery, too.

    The problem, Chris, is that you and folks like you (i.e. DiLorenzo) support only “your idea” of the US Constitution, not what it really says. You don’t provide quotes from the Constitution or the founders to support the notion that succession is constitutional because you can’t. You can’t because succession isn’t constitutional. There’s no getting beyond Article VI. Nothing Lincoln did violated either the spirit or letter of the Constitution. The same cannot be said for the confederates. And I never said or implied that you supported slavery. But almost all the confederates, including the “sainted” Lee, said slavery was a positive good. I can cite examples if you’re interested.

    Lincoln wanted “the Union, slave or free.” And as a Catholic, with Tom DiLorenzo, “I wonder if they know that Pope Pius IX sent Jefferson Davis a hand-made crown of thorns when Davis was in prison after the war.”

    If you’re quoting the letter to Horace Greeley, I challenge you to read the whole thing. And its a historical fact that when Lincoln wrote it, he had already written the 1st draft of the Emancipation, and submitted the idea to his cabinet. And you guys love the Pius IX reference, as if it conveys some sort of moral probity on Davis (like the SCV thinks he and Varina taking a little free black boy as a “pet”–her term–does). Does that mean Pope Alexander VI having Savonarola killed make eliminating critics morally kosher?

    In order to deflect the issue, BPS instructs me about the evils of slavery. Well, my mother always said, when someone insults you, just say, “why, THANK you!”

    Well, I didn’t intend to instruct you on anything, merely answer your question on what sin the north had committed in reference to slavery. But as the Church tells me instructing the ignorant is a virtue, I’ll just say “you’re welcome!”

    And now back to the issue at hand: first, BPS ignores the Weyrich Rule, and thus I will assume his silence acknowledges that George Bush’s vast aggrandizement of the “unitary presidency” (following Lincoln’s lead) has handed Obama all the power he needs on a silver platter. Yes, George Bush has given Obama’s continued abuse of the Constitution a “Republican” seal of approval.

    Well, since I respect and admire the late Mr. Weyrich, I won’t say he’s wrong. I will deny that Lincoln in any way created, promoted, or transformed the presidency into anything other than what it was in Washington’s time. As I said, the Washington who put down the Whiskey Rebellion would have heartily approve. What historical facts can you cite that Lincoln did any such thing?

    Second, BPS apparently does not want to go any further in interpreting the secret mind of God regarding which calamities “expiated” which of our sins. Good for him (or her)!

    Actually Stonewall Jackson was much more likely to see the hand of God blessing the confederate cause in his battlefield victories (He often said “He who does not see the hand of God is blind”) than my balanced observation But I’ll let Lincoln say it much better than I can– “The will of God prevails… each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party”.

    For the third and last time (lucky for BPS!), will BPS simply tell us honestly without evasion:

    Was “Union” really worth 600,000 lives? The U.S. population in 1860 was approximately 31 million. Today, in proportion, that would amount to some 6 million lives.

    If California decided to secede and become “Mexifornia,” would it be worth 6 million lives for Obama to stop them?

    If so, which ones? Which 6 million lives? Whose, specifically?

    Please re-read my previous post in answer. Simply because you do not like the answer does not make it an evasion.

  • BPS

    Mr. Chalberg promotes James McPherson’s biography of Abraham Lincoln to argue that Lincoln was a politician and a man of principle. What must be made clear here is the principle: violence is justified in pursuit of national unity (territorial integrity) or the ending of social injustice (slavery). What’s missing from the analysis is the Catholic doctrine of the just war.?

    From the Catechism (para 2309)
    “The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
    (1)the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    (2)all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    (3)there must be serious prospects of success;
    (4)the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
    These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.
    The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

    seriatim-
    (1)The confeds were the agressors by firing on Ft. Sumter. RK and CCR are historically incorrect and should read the account in Donald David’d bio of Lincoln, who even DiLorenzo cites. Their agression would have caused lasting,grave and certain harm to our republic.
    (2)I have detailed (I cite David)how Lincoln attempted cool the violent passions of the confeds. They fired on the fort anyway.
    (3)Definite possible success for the Feds. According to Shelby Foote, only confed arrogance envisioned success.
    (4)Debauched slavery of black, mostly Christian people, and the violent confed threat of revolt against lawful government was ended. Can anyone demonstrate how the Civil war created evil greater than that? The lawfully elected government of the US republic decided, in it’s prudential judgement, that it was worth the fight.
    Paul, can you show I’m wrong in applying just war doctrine to the Civil War?

    When comparing the crisis in the United States in 1860 to other countries, secession (Norway from Sweden in 1905)and abolition (Brazil in 188smilies/cool.gif were successfully accomplished without violence.

    Norway was forced by war into Union with Sweden. Almost 100 years later, after folks had become more resonable, they separted with MUTUAL approval. How is that in any way similar to the confed states, which had NO existance out side the constitution and petitioned to join a federal union with the approval of existing states already members, leaving WITHOUT approval of existing states? In addition, they violently took fed property. I’ve already demonstrated how US slavery was different from anywhere else. I’d be happy to hear your thought on what I’ve already wrote on it, esp. since you’re SCV.

    If Lincoln’s actions are held to be the model, what does this say about resolving the ultimate human rights issue of this era, the status of embryonic humans? Are Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph the John Brown’s of this era? And has the government that resulted from the War of 1861-1865 truly made all of the inhabitants more free or less free?

    The Almighty has his purposes, as Lincoln said. I, as a Catholic Christian, realize it’s not my business to try to hurry God’s hand. But to embellish Mr. Manion’s hypothetical of California seceeding:
    Supposed the US supreme court decided that by the natural law on which the US was founded unborn children are legally protected persons. Suppose, by explication of the legal authorities of the US all states accept this verdict, except CA. The legislature of CA decides to seceed from the union and keep abortion legal in its borders. The federal govt attempts to convince to do the right thing. CA gets violent. The Fed govt asks for volunteers. I’d answer the call! If necessary, I’d die doing my duty.
    And yes Paul, as a black american, I think the results of the Civil War made us all more free than we were before it. Do you really believe otherwise?

  • BPS

    One hardly knows where to start…I have such a problem with people who just throw falsehood out as historical facts, which neo-confeds often do…My question is, did you think I wouldn’t check?!

    In the case of Fort Sumpter, Lincoln had given the Southerners the impression that it would not be re-supplied.

    He never gave any such impression. He warned the S.C. governor that he would supply the fort with provisions only and would not attempt to throw in men or munitions. This is from Donald David’s bio.

    In 1898, the Maine blew up in Havana harbor. Captain Sigsbee reported to the president that a magazine explosion caused the disaster. The government promptly convened an investigation board and concluded that the Spanish blew it up

  • RK

    the Abortion lobby uses the same reasoning processes the South used to justify Slavery in defending “Their right to choose.”

    Not even close. Slavery was a convenient issue, a pretext, for northern efforts to consolidate power for the federal government. Unborn babies have no serious political advocates willing to use abortion as a cudgel to ramrod some other issue. This is the central issue of that war. I can’t help but be amused by neo-con northern apologists who refuse to consider that handwringing over slavery was merely a ruse to establish federal power….at a cost of over 600,000 lives.

  • BPS

    Slavery was a convenient issue, a pretext, for northern efforts to consolidate power for the federal government. Unborn babies have no serious political advocates willing to use abortion as a cudgel to ramrod some other issue. This is the central issue of that war. I can’t help but be amused by neo-con northern apologists who refuse to consider that handwringing over slavery was merely a ruse to establish federal power….at a cost of over 600,000 lives.

    Can you quote ONE thing, cite one historical FACT that backs up your assertion? I’ve quoted you the “slavery is a postive good and the north is making us feel bad about it” rationale that the confeds explicitly state in their official, state approved reasons for seceeding and starting the war.

    Can you cite one historical thing?!

  • BPS

    I mean one fact from a history book or bio that’s incontrovertable, not some rationalizion by DiLorenzo. Not something created out of whole cloth like Lincoln sending 75,000 troops to Ft. Sumter. No facts that you cannot verify, from, say wikipedia. Perhaps a quote from Lincoln or someone close to him that he “wanted to consolidate federal power and use slavery as a ruse” to that end.

  • RK

    Can you quote ONE thing, cite one historical FACT that backs up your assertion? I’ve quoted you the “slavery is a postive good and the north is making us feel bad about it” rationale that the confeds explicitly state in their official, state approved reasons for seceeding and starting the war.

    Can you cite one historical thing?!

    You mean one other than the ones that I and others have already listed for you here only to have them offhandedly disregarded? How about 600,000 unnecessary deaths?

    Slavery ended peacefully in Great Britain, Spain, France, Brazil, Cuba AND the northern states. What if Lincoln had gone to Europe to meet with European leaders about steps he might take to end slavery peacefully? What if he had explored possibilities other than plunging into the deadliest war in U.S. history soon after he took office? What if he had purchased the freedom of the slaves at a cost far less than the exorbitant costs of the civil war?

    The horrible “black codes” implemented after the war had existed previously in northern states (including Illinois without opposition from Lincoln!). These “codes” were established with Republican (northern) approval. Much of the racism that occurred in the south for generations after the war can arguably be traced to anger over what had happened during the war and afterward during “Reconstruction”.

  • CCR

    One hardly knows where to start…I have such a problem with people who just throw falsehood out as historical facts, which neo-confeds often do…My question is, did you think I wouldn’t check?!

    In the case of Fort Sumpter, Lincoln had given the Southerners the impression that it would not be re-supplied.

    He never gave any such impression. He warned the S.C. governor that he would supply the fort with provisions only and would not attempt to throw in men or munitions. This is from Donald David’s bio.

    Sorry BPS, but you don’t appear to have checked.

  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Hi folks,

    We’re about to post a classic article from a 1996 issue of Crisis, entitled “Slavery and Abortion.” While the piece is quite positive on Lincoln, we’re posting it for its larger argument regarding abortion (including a proposal remarkably similar to one Ron Paul has been making for years).

    InsideCatholic takes no position on Lincoln and the Civil War. Just wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding.

  • D.B.

    You haven’t answered any of my points except to wag your finger at Lincoln and the North. You haven’t addressed the South’s attempt to usurp the Constitution and the legal process for its own end and incite violence when it didn’t get its way (Kansas) or its violation of the National Soveriegnty of a neighboring power (illegal squatters in Texas, the violation and scorn for the Mexican Constitution’s prohibition against slavery)…Its amusing to watch Confederate apologists try and justify decades of bellicosity and beligerence, and whitewash the South’s own blame for the Civil War. Do you honestly believe that the South would give up it’s slaves? The Plantation System was the basis of the Southern Economy…to assert the South would just give up their whole way of life for a wad of cash and a horse is hilariously naive. To say “We should have just done what Europe did” is bad history and nonsense…

  • BPS

    You mean one other than the ones that I and others have already listed for you here only to have them offhandedly disregarded? How about 600,000 unnecessary deaths?

    Slavery ended peacefully in Great Britain, Spain, France, Brazil, Cuba AND the northern states. What if Lincoln had gone to Europe to meet with European leaders about steps he might take to end slavery peacefully? What if he had explored possibilities other than plunging into the deadliest war in U.S. history soon after he took office? What if he had purchased the freedom of the slaves at a cost far less than the exorbitant costs of the civil war?

    The horrible “black codes” implemented after the war had existed previously in northern states (including Illinois without opposition from Lincoln!). These “codes” were established with Republican (northern) approval. Much of the racism that occurred in the south for generations after the war can arguably be traced to anger over what had happened during the war and afterward during “Reconstruction”.

    In other words, RK, you have nothing!

    You don’t deal with any of the facts I cite about what the Southern leaders said THEMSELVES at the time (not their self-serving statements after they’d lost) about why they seceeded and their justifications for starting the war.

    You said in an earlier post that they fired on Ft. Sumter to save face?! Must have missed that in “Just War Theory” as a good reason to start firing.

    As for the black codes, whether existing in northern or southern states, these all flowed from the same place, the idea that ‘black are not human in the same way white people are’. First stated in American political philosophy by Jefferson as “merely [his] impression and open to correction by others” and given full blown political develop by John C. Calhoun, who even attacked the Declaration of Independence’s statement “We hold these truth’s to be self-evident that all men are create equal in a speech in 1848 and in his writings.

    These are fACTS, and facts are stubborn things. These are not off-hand dismissals. You have no facts to back up your assertions, especially your central one:
    “Slavery was a convenient issue, a pretext, for northern efforts to consolidate power for the federal government”

  • RK

    You haven’t answered any of my points except to wag your finger at Lincoln and the North. You haven’t addressed the South’s attempt to usurp the Constitution and the legal process for its own end and incite violence when it didn’t get its way (Kansas) or its violation of the National Soveriegnty of a neighboring power (illegal squatters in Texas, the violation and scorn for the Mexican Constitution’s prohibition against slavery)…Its amusing to watch Confederate apologists try and justify decades of bellicosity and beligerence, and whitewash the South’s own blame for the Civil War. Do you honestly believe that the South would give up it’s slaves? The Plantation System was the basis of the Southern Economy…to assert the South would just give up their whole way of life for a wad of cash and a horse is hilariously naive. To say “We should have just done what Europe did” is bad history and nonsense…

    Apparently stating the obvious is required here. Slavery is wrong. The south, insofar as it took steps to preserve the institution of slavery, was at fault. That said, there was certainly reason to expect the south to begin freeing slaves. It was happening throughout the world. Technology was beginning to replace the need for manual labor. Many southerners had already freed slaves. There’s nothing naive about questioning the actions of a Chief Executive who started a tragic war, not to free slaves, but to preserve the Union. It’s naive to think otherwise. To repeat myself, his poor leadership established an unbalanced authority in favor of the executive branch. The cost of which continues to be paid for today. It’s amusing to watch Lincoln apologists become overwrought when anyone dares question the sainted Abe.

  • BPS

    Sorry BPS, but you don’t appear to have checked.

  • BPS

    there was certainly reason to expect the south to begin freeing slaves. It was happening throughout the world. Technology was beginning to replace the need for manual labor. Many southerners had already freed slaves.

    The confed constitution, in Article I, section 9, Clause 4 “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed”. Article IV, section 2 prohibited states from interfering with slavery. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 extended slavery to any future confed territories. As for technology replacing slavery, I suggest you read “The Encyclopdia of Southern Culture”, the section on antebellum industry. Southern slave owners made significant extra cash by hiring out slaves to industry.

    Now as an example of southerners attitude toward freeing their slaves, let’s discuss the “sainted” Robert E. Lee. All the neo-confeds can cite how Lee freed his own slaves, was a wonderful example of reconcilitation, etc. But historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor in a recent article in “Civil War Times” and in her book “Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through his Private Letters” tells a different story. Lee’s father-in-law specified in his will that all his slaves would be freed. Lee went to court AND TRIED TO GET THE WILL OVERTURNED! He paid the county Sheriff to flog slaves who knew they were to be freed, and escaped. The true tragedy of slavery is that Christian gentlemen compromised their honor to do things they would not have imagined doing to the same people if they were white.

    There’s nothing naive about questioning the actions of a Chief Executive who started a tragic war, not to free slaves, but to preserve the Union. It’s naive to think otherwise. To repeat myself, his poor leadership established an unbalanced authority in favor of the executive branch. The cost of which continues to be paid for today. It’s amusing to watch Lincoln apologists become overwrought when anyone dares question the sainted Abe.

    Again you offer no facts to support your assertion that he started the war(and not the confeds who fired on Ft Sumter). You offer no facts to support your assertion that he changed the balance of the branches of the Federal govt to anything other than what they were in Washington’s day. Again, I assert that the Washington who put down the Whiskey Rebellion would have highly approved of Lincoln’s actions. All the actions he took at the beginning of the war, when congress was not in session, were ratifed by the special session of congress which began in July 1861.

  • CCR

    Great! I quoted Donald David, and you quote some pseudo-historian who’s only ligitimacy is via the quack Von Mises Instutute!?

    Actually I was unaware that Denson worked through the Von Miese Institute. I simply was searching for a text showing that the Lincoln administration had misled the south, and I found it. That Denson is associated with Lew Rockwell is simply another point in his favor.

    …it blows all to hell your assertion “I don’t know of a single historian who still buys the Spanish attack allegation

  • BPS

    But that’s not what I meant.

    I know, but I don’t take rhetorical questions seriously. I respond jokingly or not at all.

    As Chris reminds us…I’d like an answer. I ask the question just to make a point. I’d really like to know:

    Do you agree with SSPX Bishop Williamson that-
    (1) Several million Jews were NOT murdered by Hitler’s government and his henchmen during WWII.
    (2) The Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade towers and the Pentagon were orchestrated by the CIA and Israel.
    (3) David Duke and the former all white South African government have the right ideas on how to deal with “the darker races”

  • Dave K

    BPS,
    You claim that Lincoln’s understanding of his authority under the Constitution, and that of the Federal government, was no different than was understood at the time of Washington. Are you familiar with the speech he delivered to a joint session of Congress on July 4, 1861? In that speech he explained his reasons for war and demonstrated his complete misunderstanding of the nature of the American Union of States. He was actually quite ignorant of American history and political thought. It is doubtful that he ever read the Federalist or even DeTocqueville. The more I study this topic the more I am convinced that Joe Sobran was correct when he said that Lincoln could not have carried on an intelligent conversation with Madison or Jefferson on the meaning of Federalism.

  • BPS

    BPS,
    You claim that Lincoln’s understanding of his authority under the Constitution, and that of the Federal government, was no different than was understood at the time of Washington. Are you familiar with the speech he delivered to a joint session of Congress on July 4, 1861? In that speech he explained his reasons for war and demonstrated his complete misunderstanding of the nature of the American Union of States. He was actually quite ignorant of American history and political thought. It is doubtful that he ever read the Federalist or even DeTocqueville. The more I study this topic the more I am convinced that Joe Sobran was correct when he said that Lincoln could not have carried on an intelligent conversation with Madison or Jefferson on the meaning of Federalism.

    Can you point to anything in the speech that supports your view? He makes a strong case against a legal right to secession and tells how the confeds started the war by firing on Ft. Sumter.

    And Joe Sobran is a crank, for whose opinion’s I have no respect at all. I met him once at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, and he’s crazy as a bat. So please quote Madison or any of the other founders if you’d like. As for Jefferson, while I have deep respect for the Lockean natural law principles of the Declaration (as did Lincoln!), he cannot be considered an authority on the Constitution. He was an anti-federalist, and counciled against ratification.

  • Dave K

    How about this,
    Lincoln; “Our States have neither more, nor less power, than that reserved to them, in the Union, by the Constitution–no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union.” Lincoln needed to reread the Declaration of Independence which announced the former colonies as independent states. He didn’t realize that it was those independent states that made up the USA. He also got the relation of the federal government to state government backwards. It was the states which created the federal government restricting its powers. There are more embarrassing statements for all to see.

  • Paul Bergeron

    March 24th, 2009 | 10:25pm
    Mr. Chalberg promotes James McPherson’s biography of Abraham Lincoln to argue that Lincoln was a politician and a man of principle. What must be made clear here is the principle: violence is justified in pursuit of national unity (territorial integrity) or the ending of social injustice (slavery). What’s missing from the analysis is the Catholic doctrine of the just war.?

  • Paul Bergeron

    4)Debauched slavery of black, mostly Christian people, and the violent confed threat of revolt against lawful government was ended. Victory for the South would have prolonged slavery, but not indefinitely. A defeated United States could conclude a peace treaty with the new Confederacy and conduct trade and engage in otherwise peaceful relations. Can anyone demonstrate how the Civil war created evil greater than that? By destroying a voluntary Union and creating a strong centralized government, Lincoln set into motion the colossal supergovernment which now promotes abortion on demand and frozen imprisonment or destruction of embryonic humans on a numerical scale far exceeding the number of Africans and Indians enslaved from the 17th to 19th centuries. The lawfully elected government of the US republic decided, in it’s prudential judgement, that it was worth the fight. A government in Germany lawfully elected Hitler too.
    Paul, can you show I’m wrong in applying just war doctrine to the Civil War? Many of your conclusions are based on false or inconsistent premises. Furthermore, slaves and free men of color fought for the United Colonies and for the Crown in the War for American Independence: slaves who fought for the Crown are freed. The slaves were not freed by the victorious Americans but the Americans are not condemned. Slaves and free men of color fought for the United States and for Great Britain in the War of 1812: again, the slaves who fought for Great Britain are freed. The slaves were not freed by the victorious Americans but the Americans are not condemned. The difference in 1861 appears to be that the Confederacy is condemned

  • Paul Bergeron

    When comparing the crisis in the United States in 1860 to other countries, secession (Norway from Sweden in 1905)and abolition (Brazil in 188smilies/cool.gif were successfully accomplished without violence.

  • Paul Bergeron

    If Lincoln’s actions are held to be the model, what does this say about resolving the ultimate human rights issue of this era, the status of embryonic humans? Are Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph the John Brown’s of this era? And has the government that resulted from the War of 1861-1865 truly made all of the inhabitants more free or less free?

  • Brian A. Cook

    Thank you.  I have been saddened to see Catholics whitewash and promote the Confederacy in spite of the loud evidence that it promoted slavery.  Look at the Cornerstone speech.  Look at the states’ constitutions.  

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