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Lincoln the Tyrant: The Libertarians' Favorite Bogeyman
Big Government ^ | Dec 5th 2010 | Brad Schaeffer

Posted on 12/07/2010 11:31:03 AM PST by presidio9

On a recent pilgrimage to Gettysburg I ventured into the Evergreen cemetery, the scene of chaotic and bloody fighting throughout the engagement. Like Abraham Lincoln on a cold November day in 1863, I pondered the meaning of it all. With the post-Tea Party wave of libertarianism sweeping the nation, Lincoln’s reputation has received a serious pillorying. He has even been labeled a tyrant, who used the issue of slavery as a mendacious faux excuse to pummel the South into submitting to the will of the growing federal power in Washington D.C. In fact, some insist, the labeling of slavery as the casus belli of the Civil War is simply a great lie perpetrated by our educational system.

First of all, was Lincoln in fact a tyrant? For me the root of such a characterization centers on the man’s motivations. A man of international vision that belied his homespun image, Lincoln saw the growing power of an industrialized Europe and realized that a divided America would be a vulnerable one. “The central idea of secession,” he argued, “is anarchy.” Hence, maintaining the Union was his prime motivation, not the amassing of self-serving power.

It is true that Lincoln unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus. From a Constitutional standpoint, the power of the federal government to suspend habeas corpus “in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety” is clearly spelled out in Article 1, Section IX. And an insurrection of eleven states would certainly qualify as such. Whether or not Lincoln had the authority (Article I pertains to Congress) most significant to me is that the Constitution does allow for the suspension of habeas corpus in times of severe crisis. So, doesn’t the question distill down to a more wonkish matter of legal procedure, rather than the sublime notion of denying the rights of man?

Constitutional minutia aside, the question remains whether or not Lincoln’s actions made him a tyrant. Consider the country in 1861-1862, the years in which the writ was suspended, re-instituted and then suspended again until war’s end. The war was not going well for the North, and Southern sympathies were strong in the border states and the lower Midwestern counties. The federal city was surrounded by an openly hostile Virginia on one side and a strongly secessionist Maryland on the other. “Copperhead” politicians actively sought office and could only sow further seeds of discord if elected. Considering these factors, one wonders what other course of action Lincoln could have taken to stabilize the situation in order to successfully prosecute the war. “Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts,” he asked, “while I may not touch a hair on the head of the wily agitator who induces him to desert?”

It seems that one’s appreciation for Lincoln’s place in history is largely an off-shoot of one’s position on the rebellion itself.

If the South was within its rights to secede, then Lincoln was a cruel oppressor. If not, then he had no choice but to put down a major insurrection.

What most glib pro-Southern observers of the war’s issues forget is that there were three million Americans enslaved in that same South, who would have been dragged into a newly formed Confederate States of America. “How is it,” asked Samuel Johnson as early as 1775, “that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Can any true libertarian argue that using the power of the federal government to end a state’s perpetuation of human bondage is an act of tyranny, regardless of the reason? And whether or not either side was willing to admit it, slavery was indeed the core issue of the war.

For those who believe otherwise then I ask you: In 1861, if the entire country was either all free or all slave states, would war have still come? If secession was about securing the South’s dearest rights, I must ask a follow-up: the right to do what exactly? We know the answer of course.

Was the North without sin? Certainly not, as anyone who understands the economic symbiosis of the two regions can attest. But in the end it was a Northern president using Northern troops who freed the slaves, and erased from the American experience what Lincoln himself referred to as “the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

A common blasé position among the Lew Rockwell’s of the world (a man who never felt the lash himself of course) is that slavery would have eventually died out as modernization overtook the antebellum Southern way of life. Yes it can be argued that it was economically inefficient – but it’s Marx not Mises who argues that systems of production necessarily dictate political forms. Consider that the de facto servitude of Blacks in the post-reconstruction South lasted well into the 1960s, and South Africa’s apartheid into the 1980s…both of which were ended by external pressures rather than internal catharsis
.

Given the cost in dead and treasure, would it have been best to let the South go and hope for the best in slavery’s natural demise? As Patrick Henry, a southerner, once asked: “Is life so sweet or peace so dear as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Certainly Lincoln’s steadfast prosecution of the war revealed his feelings on this fundamental question.

So when I look at Lincoln I see a man who, for myriad reasons ranging from realpolitik to moral imperative, released three million people from the shackles of slavery. I see a man who may have over-reached his legal authority by making the suspension of habeas corpus an executive rather than legislative initiative, but did not act outside the spirit of the Constitution regarding its position on whether such a right was untouchable.

I can only conclude that to think Lincoln a tyrant is to support the Confederacy’s right to secede in the first place…and take its enslaved Americans with them. Given what a weakened state a split country would have placed us in as we moved into the industrial age, given the force for good that a united and powerful America has been in the world since Appomattox, and considering even his most brazen suspensions of Constitutional rights were temporary, and resulted in no one swinging from the gallows for their opposition to the war, I must support the actions of this great President who was ultimately motivated by love of country, not lust for power. As Shakespeare might have said: “Despotism should be made of sterner stuff.”


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: abrahamlincoln; godsgravesglyphs; libertariancatnip; lincoln
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1 posted on 12/07/2010 11:31:04 AM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9

A Lincoln thread! What could possibly go wrong?


2 posted on 12/07/2010 11:32:52 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Pablo lives jubtabulously!)
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To: Tijeras_Slim
A Lincoln thread! What could possibly go wrong?

At least it's a distraction from the Sarah wars.

3 posted on 12/07/2010 11:35:51 AM PST by Servant of the Cross (I'm with Jim DeMint ... on the fringe!)
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To: presidio9
The Gettysburg Address -- Decoded by Gary North
4 posted on 12/07/2010 11:37:02 AM PST by Ozone34 ("There are only two philosophies: Thomism and bullshitism!" -Leon Bloy)
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To: presidio9
and resulted in no one swinging from the gallows for their opposition to the war,

Why wasn't Mr. Davis tried and possibly executed? To put him on trial would be to put secession on trial, a losing proposition for the prosecution.

5 posted on 12/07/2010 11:39:00 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

You know full well my personal posting rule: Never post anything that lacks the potential for a 60-car pileup.


6 posted on 12/07/2010 11:40:15 AM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: presidio9
If the South was within its rights to secede, then Lincoln was a cruel oppressor.

I find nothing in the Constitution that precludes secession or enumerates a power to the Federal government to preclude it. Indeed, the fact that the Congress accepted Texas' specific reservation of that right in admitting it to the union belies any assertion to the contrary.

That said, that the article does not mention the way the South was paying 70% of the taxes shows that the author had no intention of a reasoned and balanced presentation.

7 posted on 12/07/2010 11:42:00 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to manage by central planning.)
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To: presidio9

I predict a long and protracted struggle.


8 posted on 12/07/2010 11:43:16 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: presidio9
...the power of the federal government to suspend habeas corpus “in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety” is clearly spelled out in Article 1, Section IX. And an insurrection of eleven states would certainly qualify as such.

State governments are elected governments with sovereign rights.

9 posted on 12/07/2010 11:45:52 AM PST by MarineBrat (Better dead than red!)
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To: presidio9
If the South was within its rights to secede, then Lincoln was a cruel oppressor.

Gee, he gets it.

10 posted on 12/07/2010 11:46:14 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: central_va
bump
11 posted on 12/07/2010 11:46:34 AM PST by carton253 (Ask me about The Stainless Banner - a free e-zine dedicated to the armies of the Confederacy.)
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To: presidio9
First of all, was Lincoln in fact a tyrant? For me the root of such a characterization centers on the man’s motivations.... It is true that Lincoln unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus.....Constitutional minutia aside, the question remains whether or not Lincoln’s actions made him a tyrant....

....A common blasé position among the Lew Rockwell’s of the world (a man who never felt the lash himself of course) is that slavery would have eventually died out as modernization overtook the antebellum Southern way of life.

Ping for later

12 posted on 12/07/2010 11:47:01 AM PST by Alex Murphy ("Posting news feeds, making eyes bleed, he's hated on seven continents")
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To: MarineBrat
State governments are elected governments with sovereign rights.

< SARCASM > That's racist! < /SARCASM >

13 posted on 12/07/2010 11:48:29 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: presidio9
labeling of slavery as the casus belli of the Civil War ...

Hence, maintaining the Union was his prime motivation...

Hmmm, a direct contradiction, in the first 2 paragraphs, not a good sign.

So was the slavery the casus belli, or was maintaining the Union?

Seems clear that Lincoln's reason for invading the South was to save the Union, NOT to end slavery.

Has the USA been less constitutional, and (much) more centralized on the federal government since? Yes. Absolutely.

14 posted on 12/07/2010 11:48:48 AM PST by AnalogReigns
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To: central_va; presidio9
>> Lincoln was a cruel oppressor <<

Yep, I guess we gotta say he looks to have been "the original RINO."

15 posted on 12/07/2010 11:49:31 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: presidio9
Given what a weakened state a split country would have placed us in as we moved into the industrial age, given the force for good that a united and powerful America has been in the world since Appomattox, and considering even his most brazen suspensions of Constitutional rights were temporary, and resulted in no one swinging from the gallows for their opposition to the war, I must support the actions of this great President who was ultimately motivated by love of country, not lust for power.

Isn't this a nice way of saying that the ends justify the means?

And, if so, I submit that the forces Lincoln put into motion, while perhaps partially freeing the slaves (only to put them into Jim Crow for decades, and then the fed plantation afterwards), have come to make slaves of all of us - to a tyrannical federal government and it's debt.

By that historical measure, I come to the opposite conclusion from the author.
16 posted on 12/07/2010 11:49:39 AM PST by chrisser (Starve the Monkeys!)
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To: Carry_Okie
the South was paying 70% of the taxes

Care to break that down and clarify? Are you referring to the fact that the gentility feared manufacturing, so they had to import every single item they didn't grow or whip?

17 posted on 12/07/2010 11:51:18 AM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: central_va

Perhaps we should dig him up and do just that...


18 posted on 12/07/2010 11:54:26 AM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: mnehring; Jedidah; a fool in paradise

ping


19 posted on 12/07/2010 11:55:30 AM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: Tijeras_Slim
The History channel ran a Gettysburg documentary just after the incessant shark steamer whatever this early morning.

I am a yank who lost three unknown great great uncles there, and it got me all amped up too.

20 posted on 12/07/2010 11:55:38 AM PST by mmercier (every time you stop to think about it...)
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To: chrisser

The Cruel Oppressor™ had a lot of willing help. Meet the "Torch of the North".

21 posted on 12/07/2010 11:56:03 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Carry_Okie
I find nothing in the Constitution that precludes secession or enumerates a power to the Federal government to preclude it.

That's because the Constitution didn't create the Union, it had already been created - as an explicitly perpetual one.

Every State in the Union had surrendered its right to unilaterally secede. Texas was unique only in that it received permission to secede in advance.

All of that is irrelevant, though. The South would have been allowed to secede peaceably, if it had chosen that path. Instead, it chose war.

22 posted on 12/07/2010 11:56:53 AM PST by jdege
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To: chrisser; presidio9

One comment I read once that I thought made sense was that say what you will of whether Lincoln was justified in making war on the South, the real issue is that he felt he had to make war. In other words, his real failure was in not ending slavery with diplomacy. The author of the article I read mentioned that several other contemporary countries, including Britain, our Mother country, had stopped slavery without going to war over it.


23 posted on 12/07/2010 11:57:01 AM PST by Hardastarboard (Bringing children to America without immigration documents is child abuse. Let's end it.)
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To: Hardastarboard

What diplomacy was left available to him when several states were already in open rebellion?


24 posted on 12/07/2010 11:58:46 AM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: rockrr
Perhaps we should dig him up and do just that...

You'd like that. I'm sure you would volunteer to perform the ghoulish act.

25 posted on 12/07/2010 11:59:16 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim
“A Lincoln thread! What could possibly go wrong?”

I don't know.
But by the way; anyone who uses a Apple computer is probably a leftist and Obama supporter.
Windows based systems are vastly superior and easier to use.

26 posted on 12/07/2010 12:01:52 PM PST by HereInTheHeartland (Vote like Obama is on the ballot)
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To: presidio9

Abortion is the slavery of the 21st century and I am an abolitionist.


27 posted on 12/07/2010 12:02:14 PM PST by ari-freedom (Happy Chanuka!)
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To: jdege
Every State in the Union had surrendered its right to unilaterally secede.

After all of the fighting and dying and "reconstructing", the US Constitution is STILL silent on the subject. The Yankees couldn't even get that right. EVERYONE then and now knows that an amendment like that would be DOA, well except you.

28 posted on 12/07/2010 12:02:43 PM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: mmercier
I shall also add that Lincoln was a tyrant, a necessary one to maintain order and the Republic in his time.

Wait until we all get to see who is necessary for this time.

Who we will get may likely be vastly less charitable.

29 posted on 12/07/2010 12:07:12 PM PST by mmercier (I have never been good enough, and something may give way)
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To: central_va; chrisser
Great picture of a great man. Here's another one I like:

Also, Japan did nothing to deserve Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

30 posted on 12/07/2010 12:07:34 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: HereInTheHeartland
You are correct. Not only that, but anyone who uses a 9mm instead of a .45 is gay, the Marines need to be abolished in favor of the 0bama Youth, soccer is the greatest sport ever, and the toilet paper should come out the top of the roll, not the bottom.

I think we covered everything. Let the bodies fly!

31 posted on 12/07/2010 12:10:11 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: presidio9

central_vag says, “what are you griping about? Look, some of them got window seats.”


32 posted on 12/07/2010 12:12:01 PM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: HereInTheHeartland
anyone who uses a Apple computer is probably a leftist and Obama supporter.

Hey! Did you hear? With the Libs getting booted in November, Microsoft just acquired Apple!


33 posted on 12/07/2010 12:15:03 PM PST by Servant of the Cross (I'm with Jim DeMint ... on the fringe!)
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To: presidio9

Hmm... just a tiny bit more room each than I had on my last Carnival cruise.


34 posted on 12/07/2010 12:15:35 PM PST by green iguana
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To: central_va

The Cruel Oppressor™ had a lot of willing help. Meet the "Torch of the North".

Yezzzirrrrr...


Runaway Slave

Apostle Claver tells the world how the real party of racism is the Democrats

35 posted on 12/07/2010 12:15:51 PM PST by rdb3 (The mouth is the exhaust pipe of the heart.)
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To: presidio9
Al Capone also thought the federal government was tyrannical.

There was a tyrannical president in office during the Civil War but he was based in Richmond.

36 posted on 12/07/2010 12:17:03 PM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: Hardastarboard
The author of the article I read mentioned that several other contemporary countries, including Britain, our Mother country, had stopped slavery without going to war over it.

On the contrary, slavery was one of the reasons we found ourselves fighting a second war of secession with our own mother country in 1812. Our history books tell us that James Madison was annoyed that the Brits were seizing our vessels and impressing our sailors into His Majesty's Navy, right? Ever hear of the Slave Trade Act 1807?

37 posted on 12/07/2010 12:17:07 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: central_va
Why wasn't Mr. Davis tried and possibly executed? To put him on trial would be to put secession on trial, a losing proposition for the prosecution.

Try again. Davis could have been tried for treason, perhaps should have been tried for treason, but the same Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who would later rule that secession as practiced by the Southern states was unconstitutional also said that trying Davis for his crimes after the ratification of the 14th Amendment would have violated his 5th Amendment protections.

So much for your "they couldn't try him without proving secession was legal" nonsense.

38 posted on 12/07/2010 12:17:17 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Servant of the Cross
A Lincoln thread! What could possibly go wrong?

The War of Northern Aggression!

39 posted on 12/07/2010 12:17:52 PM PST by ExtremeUnction
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To: mmercier
Hmmmm....I haven't yet gathered enough info to make an informed opinion about Lincoln. Having been treated to a public school education, I have had to go back and systematically research a ton of assumptions I was spoon-fed, and I'm not exempting Lincoln just because his face is on a coin.

That said, has anyone looked into Executive Order 11, or been to the Lone Jack, MO, Civil War Museum? I've learned a great deal, to include a great deal of misery created from both North and South in the Kansas City area. There was what appears to be essentially a genocide executed by Lincoln in that area. Yes, I'm going to throw the G-word. There was a lot of ugly going on - a lot of good folks stuck in the middle, and a lot of soldiers feeling entitled to "take" whatever they wanted from even families and farmers on their own side who were following orders.

So, until I can further study, I'm reserving judgment.

40 posted on 12/07/2010 12:19:05 PM PST by elk
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To: ExtremeUnction

The War of Southern Stupidity


41 posted on 12/07/2010 12:19:54 PM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: Billthedrill
soccer is the greatest sport ever

Get thee back to Europe where you belong. Your radical opinions are no longer welcome here.

42 posted on 12/07/2010 12:19:59 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: presidio9

Frum-like attempt to drive a wedge between the tea party and republicans....


43 posted on 12/07/2010 12:23:04 PM PST by Kent C
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To: green iguana
Hmm... just a tiny bit more room each than I had on my last Carnival cruise.

True, but thanks to the Federal Military Complex, our own Coast Guard and Navy got you safely back to San Diego, and you had all the booze and cold showers you wished for on the way. And, might I add, you probably weren't whipped more than once or twice, or forced to share a bed with a dead nieghbor.

44 posted on 12/07/2010 12:24:33 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: Carry_Okie
I find nothing in the Constitution that precludes secession or enumerates a power to the Federal government to preclude it.

There is nothing in the Constitution that precludes a state being expelled from the Union against its will either. Would you say that was a possibility?

Indeed, the fact that the Congress accepted Texas' specific reservation of that right in admitting it to the union belies any assertion to the contrary.

I believe that you are mistaken on that.

That said, that the article does not mention the way the South was paying 70% of the taxes shows that the author had no intention of a reasoned and balanced presentation.

Perhaps the author didn't meniton it because it isn't true?

45 posted on 12/07/2010 12:25:25 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Billthedrill

Lincoln: father of Big Federal Government and the midwife for 100 years of segregation. It didn’t take long for many of the freed slaves to realize that they were far from free and that this newfound freedom had signifiantly diminished their economic lot in life. A freedom won through reason and the voluntary decision of the Southern populace would have given these poor folks a chance for real integration into society. As it was, the sanctimonious Northerns condemed the former slaves to squalid urban ghettos. The urban elites - the same crew which imposed the welfare state as a means of perpetuating the economic slavery of the poor - attempted to reach utopia be stepping on the backs of those they claimed to assist. Not much has changed since 1863.


46 posted on 12/07/2010 12:25:33 PM PST by littleharbour
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To: presidio9

A British slave ship, and the relevance to this thread is?


47 posted on 12/07/2010 12:25:34 PM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: MarineBrat
State governments are elected governments with sovereign rights.

Within their own borders and so long as their actions don't violate the Constitution.

48 posted on 12/07/2010 12:27:04 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: Non-Sequitur
So much for your "they couldn't try him without proving secession was legal" nonsense.

Too bad we didn't aquire Guantanamo Bay until after the the illegal Spanish American war. Another one that we started just to be the bastards of the world that we've always been, and then covered up in the history books, by the way.

49 posted on 12/07/2010 12:27:50 PM PST by presidio9 (Islam is as Islam does)
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To: AnalogReigns
So was the slavery the casus belli, or was maintaining the Union?

Slavery was the prime motivator for the Southern side. Maintaining the Union was the prime motivator for the Northern side.

50 posted on 12/07/2010 12:28:20 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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