THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 695, November 4, 2012
"The coming week may well change the course of
history, for better or worse. In my lifetime,
it has always been worse. 2012 my prove to be
America's last good year, the beginning of a
slide into a new Dark Age."
Grand Old Plunderer: Dishonest Abe's Legacy and the 2012 Election
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
Election Day is right around the corner here in the once fruited plain. And once again, the two allegedly "ideologically opposed" candidates are taking to the stump to show just how different they are from one another. Mitt Romney, the "conservative" standard bearer, is regaling the American public with pledges to "repeal and replace" the recently upheld Soviet style monstrosity known as Obamacare, all the while neglecting to mention the fact that the healthcare reform plan model implemented in Massachusetts during his term as governor served as the template for the national plan.
Predictably, right up until the Sabbath of "civic duty," the usual conservative blowhards will continue to loudly bloviate about the need to put a "principled conservative Republican" back in the Oval Office; a dashing character in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and course, the vaunted Abraham Lincoln. "If he were alive today," they'll gush, "Lincoln would know just what to do!"
Certainly, dear readers, you are familiar with the myths crafted around "Father" Abraham, the humble country lawyer who was elected President to free the slaves and reunite our great nation from sea to shining sea. But as the old saying goes: history is written by the victors. And thus, under the Lincoln coined moniker "Right makes might," Abe's crushing military victory is invoked as seemingly divine proof that the Civil War "once and for all" determined the supremacy of the federal government.
Before you fall prey to the temptation to pull the lever for "anybody but Obama" (who, like his predecessor George W. Bush and hair sprayed statist homeboy Mitt Romney, quotes Lincoln to justify his illegal activity) let's take a quick trip down memory lane and debunk the myths spun by Abe's apologists.
Myth # 1: Abraham Lincoln believed in racial equality
This is pure wishful thinking based upon total ignorance of Abe's actual words and, more importantly, deeds throughout his political career. In countless speeches he spoke in favor of maintaining both slavery in the states where it existed and segregation in the so called "Free States." In one of his exchanges with Stephen A. Douglas during the famed 1858 Illinois Senate race, Lincoln said the following:
"I will say then 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; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."
On the issue of slavery, he made his beliefs clear in his First Inaugural Address:
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them..."
Furthermore, as noted Lincoln critic Professor Thomas J. DiLorenzo of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has documented exhaustively, the celebrated Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. It only applied to Confederate held territory (where it could not be enforced) and allowed all slaveholders in the Border States of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri to keep their slaves (it also allowed the "peculiar institution" to continue in Washington, D.C.). 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 advisors, 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."
Additionally, 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 Professor DiLorenzo in his book 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." " (P. 34)
Also, as late as 1865, Lincoln was drafting plans to deport the newly freed slaves to Africa and Latin America. In essence he and the rest of the "anti-slavery" Republican Party believed that blacks should be free to live any place but the U.S.
Myth # 2: Lincoln was a champion of the Constitution
While Lincoln did indeed say, "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution," his actions speak louder than his flowery rhetoric. If he really did feel that way about the Constitution he would not have unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus (Lincoln subsequently issued an arrest warrant for Chief Justice Roger Taney who declared the action unconstitutional), waged total war on the peacefully seceded Southern states (which ultimately led to over 1 million casualties, including 50,000 Southern civilians), or used the military to shut down opposition newspapers and printing presses.
A champion of constitutional law would not have ordered the military to confiscate all privately owned firearms within the Border States and illegally imprisoned over 13,000 Northern anti-war protestors in military prisons (the forerunner to Japanese American internment, Guantanamo Bay, and the 2012 NDAA). It was Lincoln who, following the lead of his political idol Alexander Hamilton, really upped the ante on subverting the rule of law and the Bill of Rights. The latter was colorfully described by his eventual successor George W. Bush as nothing more than a "god-damned piece of paper."
Myth # 3: Lincoln was an advocate for peace
Advocates for peace do not conscript hundreds of thousands of impoverished men into the Army while allowing the wealthy and well connected to buy their way out. A man of peace would not send hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths while making every effort to insure that his son would remain safely in college. A man of peace would not have authorized homicidal maniacs like Generals William T. Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant and Phil Sheridan to carry out the burning, shelling and looting of entire Southern cities. Sherman would later use this style of warfare against the Plains Indians, who were "disrupting" the progress of the government subsidized transcontinental railroad through their tribal lands.
Men of peace do not preside over the largest mass military execution in American history, as Lincoln did in 1862 when he ordered the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians (this grisly spectacle remains the largest mass execution in American history). Men of peace would have not rejected peace offers by both Confederate emissaries and France's Emperor Napoleon III, who offered to arbitrate between the Confederacy and the United States.
If Lincoln truly was the man of peace and staunch advocate of American founding principles he is held up to be, he would have wisely let the Southern states peacefully secede from the union that was voluntary entered into by the individual sovereign states. After all the Declaration of Independence, the principles of which Lincoln claimed to be fighting for, was at its heart a declaration of secession from the British Empire:
"We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved..." (Emphasis added).
Myth # 4: Lincoln was a God fearing man
The Republicans shamelessly promote themselves as being "God's Own Party" and endlessly point to Lincoln's use of Scripture in his speeches as proof of this fact. Like most politicians Lincoln knew full well that appealing to and manipulating the Bible would sway potential voters as it sadly still does today. The reality is Lincoln rarely attended church as an adult, was never know to pray, and his closest associates (including both of his White House secretaries and his long time law partner William Herndon) claimed that Lincoln fell anywhere on the spiritual gamut from pantheist to atheist. Ward Hill Lamon, who served as Lincoln's one time law partner in Illinois as well as his personal bodyguard in Washington, said of Lincoln's religious outlook:
"Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men."
John G. Nicholay, one of Lincoln's private White House secretaries and a close confidant of the President, wrote in an 1865 letter:
"Mr. Lincoln did not, to my knowledge, in any way change his religious ideas, opinions, or beliefs from the time he left Springfield to the day of his death."
Even if Lincoln was a professing Christian, he would have been an utter hypocrite as he did not live by the example set by the Prince of Peace. Some Christian he was if he supposedly waged a war to free slaves which resulted in close to a million deaths when every other Western nation on Earth (including the British, French and Spanish colonial empires along with the Northern U.S. states) ended slavery peacefully. No genuine Christian, who claimed Jesus the Prince of Peace as Lord, would have violated both the Bill of Rights and the principles of Natural Law (both of which protect human life and dignity as preached in the Sermon on the Mount).
There you have it folks. This election season, don't be suckered in by the hucksters and Lincoln idolaters of the GOP. I myself recommend abstaining from voting all together. After all, the so called "lesser of two evils" is still evil. But if you feel compelled to do so, I also recommend that you peruse the following two books before heading to the ballot box: The Real Lincoln [ amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com ] and Lincoln Unmasked [ amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com ] by Dr. DiLorenzo, whose writings I have citied in this article. Educate yourselves and keep informed. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."
Conor MacCormack is a freelance writer/blogger who runs Providential Publications, which offers writing/editing/media services and is the author of the new libertarian science fiction novel, Dragonheart, now available on Amazon. He has also served as an intern for Congressman Ron Paul, M.D. in Washington, D.C.
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