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Mr. Lincolnís Economics Primer (long, and superb)
National Review ^ | 12 February 2010 | Allen C. Guelzo

Posted on 02/12/2011 6:06:39 AM PST by Notary Sojac

Abraham Lincoln’s greatest love was politics, but his intellectual passion was for what the 19th century called “political economy” — the way economics and politics intersected in society and government. According to his law partner William Herndon, Lincoln “liked political economy, the study of it,” and Shelby Cullom, who practiced law beside Lincoln in Springfield, Ill. (and later crafted the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887), thought that “theoretically . . . on political economy he was great.” Although Lincoln’s angular, shambling appearance gave him the look of anything but a student of economics — one contemporary said he resembled “a rough intelligent farmer” — people quickly found out that “any man who took Lincoln for a simple minded man would very soon wake up with his back in a ditch.”

Before he was elected the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln “ate up, digested, and assimilated” the premier texts in 19th-century political economy — John Stuart Mill’s The Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mathew Carey’s Essays on Political Economy (1822), his son Henry Carey’s three-volume Principles of Social Science (1858), John Ramsay McCulloch’s The Principles of Political Economy (1825), and Francis Wayland’s Elements of Political Economy (1837). These were also the principal statements of classical “liberal” economics — Mill was a protégé of David Ricardo, Henry Carey was the enemy of “all interference with the liberty of man to employ his industry in such manner as his instinct of self-interest may dictate,” and McCulloch edited an edition of Adam Smith.

Lincoln read and absorbed it all, and it had a profound effect. His embrace of classical-liberal economics was the force that moved all his achievements, from victory in the Civil War to the galaxy of economic policies that emerged from his presidency. And Lincoln’s principles are the ones most loathed by the progressive Left today. Barack Obama struggled mightily during his presidential campaign to connect his image with that of Lincoln, but Lincoln’s ideas march against him as surely as the stars march in their courses.

Take the American Revolution to its roots, and you will find it to be a revolution against regulation. Britain’s imperial planners were originally interested in the New World for the quick riches it might yield. When their colonizing forays produced no such fortunes, they banned the development of all but a handful of manufactures in the colonies, taxed the colonies’ carrying trade, and labored to convert them into an agricultural resource. The colonists rebelled, and we know with what result.

The Revolution left America independent — and without much of a manufacturing sector. This suited Thomas Jefferson, who waxed eloquent about the superior virtues of agrarian life and the corruptions of commerce, but not Alexander Hamilton, who worried that an American republic without the economic strength of manufacturing would be easy pickings whenever some over-mighty European empire grew hungry for adventures in the New World. Jefferson won the initial political argument over the shape of the American economy, but Hamilton’s views won the economic argument when the War of 1812 demonstrated just how vulnerable an agrarian republic was to British industrial might.

The next round of this dispute was played out by Andrew Jackson, who shared all of Jefferson’s suspicions about commerce and extended them to its twin enablers, banks and corporations, and Henry Clay, who urged the federal government to encourage industrial development through a public-private national bank, direct assistance for building a transportation network (“internal improvements,” as it was called), and protective tariffs to help industrial start-ups compete with established foreign competitors.

The wild card that roiled these economic disputes was slavery. It coexisted uneasily with commerce, which had little use for slave labor. Slavery prized stability, in which an established hierarchy of great white planters would always rule black slaves, and white yeomen farmers could always be bought off with subsidies (in the form of debtor-relief laws, state laws banning bank and corporate charters, and newer, cheaper land in the West). Andrew Jackson might have railed against “those amongst us who wish to enlarge the powers of the General Government,” but when it came to slavery, his fellow Democrats did not hesitate to enlarge those powers in order to evict the Cherokee Indians from their tribal lands in Georgia and replace them with plantations, annex Texas as a new slave state, and trigger an expansionist war with Mexico to swell the borders of American slavery. The power to promote economic growth, however, was denounced by Jackson as “usurpation” and “mere selfishness.” After all, a federal government that had the power to develop one kind of economic activity, in the form of markets and commerce, might foster experiments in meddling with another — slavery.

From his first political stirrings in the early 1830s, Abraham Lincoln never had a doubt where his allegiances lay. Henry Clay, Lincoln said, was “my beau ideal of a statesman,” and when Lincoln attached himself to Clay’s newly organized Whig party in the 1830s, he became, a fellow lawyer recalled, “as stiff as a man can be in his Whig doctrines.” In his first political campaign, in 1832, Lincoln announced that “time and experience have verified to a demonstration the public utility of internal improvements.” In the state legislature, Lincoln emerged as the Illinois Whigs’ foremost advocate of a state bank, improved roads and bridges, and the funding of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. He dabbled in commerce himself — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — but left it to become a lawyer, a profession that was being transformed from its pre-Revolutionary role as the arbiter of community morality into a new one as the enforcer of commercial contracts. His case files, significantly, were almost entirely civil and commercial. Only 6 percent of the cases Lincoln handled were criminal; the largest components of his practice were breach-of-contract suits and debt collections.

Lincoln’s Whigs were saddled with a reputation, which persists among some modern historians, for being crotchety, negative, and (above all) rich, while the Jacksonian Democrats are cast as the coonskin-wearing sons of the common man. This pushes out of view the embarrassingly large fortunes that sat on the tables of Jacksonian leadership, especially in the slaveholding South. In 1860, two out of every three estates worth more than $100,000 were in the South, and the wealthiest county in the United States was Adams County, in the heart of Democratic Mississippi. And while Andrew Jackson may have been billed as the paladin of Homo democraticus, he had become quite wealthy through land speculation, owned 150 slaves and a 1,000-acre plantation in Tennessee, and enjoyed a continuing major-general’s salary that amounted to more than $5,000 per annum (well over $100,000 in today’s reckoning).

Nevertheless, Lincoln’s move to the head of the Illinois Whig party earned him criticism as a sell-out to the “aristocracy.” It was an accusation he found incredible. A friend recalled decades later that when a rival Democratic politician began raging about the aristocratic pretensions of the Whigs, Lincoln reached over and pulled open the man’s vest, and out tumbled the frills of a very un-Democratic “ruffle shirt,” along with “gold watches with large seals hung heavily & massively down.” Lincoln pointed out that when his opponent “was riding in a fine carriage, wore his kid gloves and had a gold headed cane, he was a poor boy hired on a flat boat at eight dollars a month, and had only one pair of breeches and they were of buckskin.” “If you call this aristocracy,” Lincoln concluded, “I plead guilty to the charge.”

Lincoln had indeed been “a poor boy.” Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was a typical agrarian yeoman, one of the sort that Jefferson described as “God’s chosen people, if ever he had a chosen people.” A contemporary recalled him as a man “satisfied to live in the good old fashioned way” so long as his “shack kept out the rain” and “there was plenty of wood to burn.” But Thomas’s son found nothing terribly enchanting about the back-breaking work of the farm or the drunken hooliganism that was its chief entertainment. A friend recalled Lincoln’s saying that “his father taught him to work” on the farm “but never learned him to love it.” Lincoln was always reluctant to talk about his poor-boy origins except when they gave him an opportunity to measure how far he had risen above them. On other occasions, he would sum up his early life in twelve words: “I have seen a good deal of the backside of this world.” What attracted him to Henry Clay and the Whigs was not elitism but mobility — a path, through commerce and finance, out of that backside.

It was also what led him into his lifelong opposition to slavery. “I am naturally anti-slavery,” he said in 1864. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” What he loathed in slavery was not just the physical violence — “the poor creatures hunted down, and caught, and carried back to their stripes” — but the economic deadness that confined them to “unrewarded toils.” He even considered his father’s control over his own labor on the farm to be a species of slavery, so much so that he once announced, “I used to be a slave, and now I am so free that they let me practice law.”

The antidote to slavery, Lincoln insisted, was also economic: free labor. In the 19th century, free labor was the shorthand term for a particular way of viewing capitalism: as a labor system, in which employers and employees struck bargains for production and wages without restriction, and where the boundaries between these two roles were fluid enough that today’s employee could, by dint of energy, talent, and foresight, become the employer of tomorrow.

Slavery was the polar opposite of free labor. With very rare exceptions, it denied the slave any future but that of being a slave, and it replaced the open-ended arrangements of employees and employers with a rigidly dictatorial system. The harmful effects extended beyond the slaves themselves, Lincoln wrote, because in the process, all labor became stigmatized as “slave work”; the social ideal became “the gentleman of leisure who was above and scorned work,” rather than “men who are industrious, and sober, and honest in the pursuit of their own interests.” Men who are industrious — that, of course, described Lincoln. Slavery, then, was not merely an abstraction; it was the enemy of every ambition Lincoln had ever felt.

Free labor, however, was ambition’s friend. Like Adam Smith, who traced the “the real price of everything” to “the toil and trouble of acquiring it,” Lincoln believed that labor laid the foundation for everyone to build up capital of their own. “Capital is only the fruit of labor; and could not have existed if labor had not first existed.” The folly of slavery lay in its assumption that the vast majority of laborers were indolent and without ambition, “that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it, induces him to labor.” Since by that rule “nobody works unless capital excites them to work,” the most efficient way to motivate laborers to work is to “buy the men and drive them to it, and that is slavery.”

In a system of free labor, by contrast, the prospect of profit incites the laborer to work and save, then turn into an entrepreneur himself and hire others to labor. Hiring workers, in turn, not only fires the entrepreneur’s ambition, but opens up the path of ambition for his employees, “men who have not their own land to work upon, or shops to work in, and who are benefited by working for others.”

Lincoln was aware that pro-slavery propagandists had begun claiming in the 1850s that laborers in northern factories were, in reality, no more free to make wage bargains than slaves on southern plantations. In fact, they claimed, “free labor” was worse off, because employers had no obligation to provide health care for mere wage-earners or to support them in childhood and old age, the way slaveowners did for their slaves.

Lincoln found this comparison absurd, largely because his own life experience refuted it: “Twenty-five years ago, I was a hired laborer.” A typical young man in this situation, he explained, “has for his capital nothing, save two strong hands that God has given him, a heart willing to labor, and a freedom to choose the mode of his work.” If the beginner really is willing, however, “he works industriously, he behaves soberly, and the result of a year or two’s labor is a surplus of capital . . . and in course of time he too has enough capital to hire some new beginner.” This, to Lincoln, was the key flaw in the slavery defenders’ case: Slavery offered no reward at all for sobriety or industry, while free labor was the “just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all — gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all.”

He did not deny that there were hired men who never became anything more, but that was not because of any defect in free-labor capitalism. “If any continue through life in the condition of the hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune.” Ambition was not a crime to be punished. “We do not propose any war upon capital,” he insisted. Far from it: He wanted “to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else” and “leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can.” The genius of free labor, he explained to an audience of workingmen in New Haven, Conn., was that “when one starts poor, as most do in the race of life . . . he knows he can better his condition.” Lincoln wanted every “man to have the chance — and I believe a black man is entitled to it — in which he can better his condition. . . . That is the true system . . . and so it may go on and on in one ceaseless round so long as man exists on the face of the earth!”

To make this system work, Lincoln envisioned an active role for the federal government, but it was hardly that of a top-down managerial state. “The leading principle — the sheet anchor of American republicanism,” Lincoln said, is that “no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent.” This was what guaranteed “individuals . . . the sacred right to regulate their own family affairs” and “communities . . . [to] arrange their own internal matters to suit themselves” without wanton interference by government. “The proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own” was the “foundation of the sense of justice there is in me.”

So government was not a choice between an all-powerful dictatorship and an anarchistic landscape devoid of highways, traffic signs, levees, and harbor clearance. There were some things that individuals could not accomplish on their own, and it was those things that called governments into being. “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities,” Lincoln wrote. “In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.” But “in relation to . . . crimes, misdemeanors, and non performance of contracts,” and the sort of need that “requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased,” and protection of “the machinery of government” itself, “there still would be some, though not so much, need of government.”

Lincoln’s rule was neither “big government” nor “no government” but minimal government, with that minimum confined almost entirely to the task of removing obstacles to self-improvement and the development of ambition. “To elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders — to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life” was “the leading object of the government.” And in the ultimate sense, the Civil War, by preserving the Union and eliminating slavery, was waged “in order that each of you may have through this free government . . . an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you all may have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.” Such a “nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

And fight he would: “I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me,” Lincoln wrote in 1862. But there were many places to do the fighting, and one of them was Congress (from which almost all the southern Democrats had conveniently withdrawn when their states seceded). The landmark pieces of legislation that he signed between 1861 and 1865 — the Homestead Act (1862), the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (1862), the Pacific Railway Act (1862), and the National Bank Act (1863) — together with the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which was signed into law by James Buchanan just before he turned the presidency over to Lincoln, amounted to nothing less than a repeal of six decades of Democratic dominance of the federal government. They would have made Lincoln’s presidency as controversial as Andrew Jackson’s even if there had been no Civil War. The railway act, which funded construction of the transcontinental railroad, was the ultimate version of Henry Clay’s “internal improvements,” while the tariff hiked import duties to all-time highs to protect American industry. (Lincoln backed the tariffs specifically because of the era’s whopping imbalance between European manufacturing and American manufacturing; whether he would have advocated their extension permanently is another matter.) In 1862 the Indiana Democratic state committee complained that Lincoln had struck “down at one dash all the labor of Gen. Jackson for the last four years of his administration.”

Did this amount to “big government”? Not if we measure bigness by the size of the federal budget. In 1860, federal spending amounted to a minuscule $63.2 million. Factored for a century and a half of inflation, the modern equivalent would be a federal budget of about $1.5 billion. During Lincoln’s presidency, federal spending leapt from $66.6 million in 1861 to $1.29 billion in 1865. But even with the swollen costs of war to absorb, the 1865 federal budget would translate into only about $18 billion in today’s money, using consumer-price inflation as the measure.

The bulk of that spending was war-related, and disappeared as soon as the wartime emergency was over. By 1871, the federal budget had shrunk to $293 million — only 22.7 percent of the size it had been in 1865 — and it would have shrunk even more drastically if not for the cost of servicing the wartime debt (which accounted for 44 percent of the budget) and paying pensions to wounded and injured soldiers (another 11 percent). Lincoln was dead by then, of course, but his successors and the Congress had generally followed his intentions. If Lincoln’s goal was to use the Civil War as the cloak for a permanent transformation of the federal government into an all-powerful megastate, the budget numbers certainly do not show much evidence of it.

The Italian historian Raimondo Luraghi once remarked that, unlike the Lincoln administration, the “Confederate rulers did not want a private capitalist industry” and “did not want to see a powerful industrial bourgeoisie rising in the Confederacy.” So while the Union government contracted out its wartime needs to the private sector, the Confederate government set up government-owned supply facilities “investing millions of dollars, arming and supplying one of the largest armies in the world — and all this as national property or under national control, in a kind of quasi-socialist management.” Predictably, the Confederacy’s nationalized industries did a bad job of supplying and feeding the rebel armies, so among the reasons Luraghi listed for the Confederacy’s downfall was its choice of “the way of ‘state socialism,’ a solution that is as far from capitalism as the earth is from the moon.”

But the fundamental convictions that animated the “Slave Power” — that stability is preferable to mobility, and that top-down management in the name of efficiency and fairness is the default position of human society — were not among the things surrendered at Appomattox. Half a century after Lincoln’s death, another American president would contradict every principle in political economy that Lincoln held dear by announcing that society must stop modeling itself on metaphors like “the race of life” and instead become a “family . . . where men can live as a single community, co-operative as in a perfected, coordinated beehive, not afraid of any storm of nature,” and do so “with an eye single to the standards of justice and fair play.” What a century of Woodrow Wilson’s “family” metaphor has produced, however, is the dreary reality of a government that regards citizens as miscreant children requiring constant correction of their appetites, salaries, attitudes, vocabulary, and even light bulbs.

Hurling Lincoln’s economic principles back against this present-day reality may seem like the height of futility. How many battalions, we may ask, do the economic ideas of a man dead for a century and a half command? But those inclined to dismiss these ideas should beware of Lincoln’s ditch. A generation from now, the question might seem more serious.Abraham Lincoln’s greatest love was politics, but his intellectual passion was for what the 19th century called “political economy” — the way economics and politics intersected in society and government. According to his law partner William Herndon, Lincoln “liked political economy, the study of it,” and Shelby Cullom, who practiced law beside Lincoln in Springfield, Ill. (and later crafted the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887), thought that “theoretically . . . on political economy he was great.” Although Lincoln’s angular, shambling appearance gave him the look of anything but a student of economics — one contemporary said he resembled “a rough intelligent farmer” — people quickly found out that “any man who took Lincoln for a simple minded man would very soon wake up with his back in a ditch.”

Before he was elected the 16th president of the United States, Lincoln “ate up, digested, and assimilated” the premier texts in 19th-century political economy — John Stuart Mill’s The Principles of Political Economy (1848), Mathew Carey’s Essays on Political Economy (1822), his son Henry Carey’s three-volume Principles of Social Science (1858), John Ramsay McCulloch’s The Principles of Political Economy (1825), and Francis Wayland’s Elements of Political Economy (1837). These were also the principal statements of classical “liberal” economics — Mill was a protégé of David Ricardo, Henry Carey was the enemy of “all interference with the liberty of man to employ his industry in such manner as his instinct of self-interest may dictate,” and McCulloch edited an edition of Adam Smith.

Lincoln read and absorbed it all, and it had a profound effect. His embrace of classical-liberal economics was the force that moved all his achievements, from victory in the Civil War to the galaxy of economic policies that emerged from his presidency. And Lincoln’s principles are the ones most loathed by the progressive Left today. Barack Obama struggled mightily during his presidential campaign to connect his image with that of Lincoln, but Lincoln’s ideas march against him as surely as the stars march in their courses.

Take the American Revolution to its roots, and you will find it to be a revolution against regulation. Britain’s imperial planners were originally interested in the New World for the quick riches it might yield. When their colonizing forays produced no such fortunes, they banned the development of all but a handful of manufactures in the colonies, taxed the colonies’ carrying trade, and labored to convert them into an agricultural resource. The colonists rebelled, and we know with what result.

The Revolution left America independent — and without much of a manufacturing sector. This suited Thomas Jefferson, who waxed eloquent about the superior virtues of agrarian life and the corruptions of commerce, but not Alexander Hamilton, who worried that an American republic without the economic strength of manufacturing would be easy pickings whenever some over-mighty European empire grew hungry for adventures in the New World. Jefferson won the initial political argument over the shape of the American economy, but Hamilton’s views won the economic argument when the War of 1812 demonstrated just how vulnerable an agrarian republic was to British industrial might.

The next round of this dispute was played out by Andrew Jackson, who shared all of Jefferson’s suspicions about commerce and extended them to its twin enablers, banks and corporations, and Henry Clay, who urged the federal government to encourage industrial development through a public-private national bank, direct assistance for building a transportation network (“internal improvements,” as it was called), and protective tariffs to help industrial start-ups compete with established foreign competitors.

The wild card that roiled these economic disputes was slavery. It coexisted uneasily with commerce, which had little use for slave labor. Slavery prized stability, in which an established hierarchy of great white planters would always rule black slaves, and white yeomen farmers could always be bought off with subsidies (in the form of debtor-relief laws, state laws banning bank and corporate charters, and newer, cheaper land in the West). Andrew Jackson might have railed against “those amongst us who wish to enlarge the powers of the General Government,” but when it came to slavery, his fellow Democrats did not hesitate to enlarge those powers in order to evict the Cherokee Indians from their tribal lands in Georgia and replace them with plantations, annex Texas as a new slave state, and trigger an expansionist war with Mexico to swell the borders of American slavery. The power to promote economic growth, however, was denounced by Jackson as “usurpation” and “mere selfishness.” After all, a federal government that had the power to develop one kind of economic activity, in the form of markets and commerce, might foster experiments in meddling with another — slavery.

From his first political stirrings in the early 1830s, Abraham Lincoln never had a doubt where his allegiances lay. Henry Clay, Lincoln said, was “my beau ideal of a statesman,” and when Lincoln attached himself to Clay’s newly organized Whig party in the 1830s, he became, a fellow lawyer recalled, “as stiff as a man can be in his Whig doctrines.” In his first political campaign, in 1832, Lincoln announced that “time and experience have verified to a demonstration the public utility of internal improvements.” In the state legislature, Lincoln emerged as the Illinois Whigs’ foremost advocate of a state bank, improved roads and bridges, and the funding of the Illinois & Michigan Canal. He dabbled in commerce himself — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — but left it to become a lawyer, a profession that was being transformed from its pre-Revolutionary role as the arbiter of community morality into a new one as the enforcer of commercial contracts. His case files, significantly, were almost entirely civil and commercial. Only 6 percent of the cases Lincoln handled were criminal; the largest components of his practice were breach-of-contract suits and debt collections.

Lincoln’s Whigs were saddled with a reputation, which persists among some modern historians, for being crotchety, negative, and (above all) rich, while the Jacksonian Democrats are cast as the coonskin-wearing sons of the common man. This pushes out of view the embarrassingly large fortunes that sat on the tables of Jacksonian leadership, especially in the slaveholding South. In 1860, two out of every three estates worth more than $100,000 were in the South, and the wealthiest county in the United States was Adams County, in the heart of Democratic Mississippi. And while Andrew Jackson may have been billed as the paladin of Homo democraticus, he had become quite wealthy through land speculation, owned 150 slaves and a 1,000-acre plantation in Tennessee, and enjoyed a continuing major-general’s salary that amounted to more than $5,000 per annum (well over $100,000 in today’s reckoning).

Nevertheless, Lincoln’s move to the head of the Illinois Whig party earned him criticism as a sell-out to the “aristocracy.” It was an accusation he found incredible. A friend recalled decades later that when a rival Democratic politician began raging about the aristocratic pretensions of the Whigs, Lincoln reached over and pulled open the man’s vest, and out tumbled the frills of a very un-Democratic “ruffle shirt,” along with “gold watches with large seals hung heavily & massively down.” Lincoln pointed out that when his opponent “was riding in a fine carriage, wore his kid gloves and had a gold headed cane, he was a poor boy hired on a flat boat at eight dollars a month, and had only one pair of breeches and they were of buckskin.” “If you call this aristocracy,” Lincoln concluded, “I plead guilty to the charge.”

Lincoln had indeed been “a poor boy.” Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was a typical agrarian yeoman, one of the sort that Jefferson described as “God’s chosen people, if ever he had a chosen people.” A contemporary recalled him as a man “satisfied to live in the good old fashioned way” so long as his “shack kept out the rain” and “there was plenty of wood to burn.” But Thomas’s son found nothing terribly enchanting about the back-breaking work of the farm or the drunken hooliganism that was its chief entertainment. A friend recalled Lincoln’s saying that “his father taught him to work” on the farm “but never learned him to love it.” Lincoln was always reluctant to talk about his poor-boy origins except when they gave him an opportunity to measure how far he had risen above them. On other occasions, he would sum up his early life in twelve words: “I have seen a good deal of the backside of this world.” What attracted him to Henry Clay and the Whigs was not elitism but mobility — a path, through commerce and finance, out of that backside.

It was also what led him into his lifelong opposition to slavery. “I am naturally anti-slavery,” he said in 1864. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” What he loathed in slavery was not just the physical violence — “the poor creatures hunted down, and caught, and carried back to their stripes” — but the economic deadness that confined them to “unrewarded toils.” He even considered his father’s control over his own labor on the farm to be a species of slavery, so much so that he once announced, “I used to be a slave, and now I am so free that they let me practice law.”

The antidote to slavery, Lincoln insisted, was also economic: free labor. In the 19th century, free labor was the shorthand term for a particular way of viewing capitalism: as a labor system, in which employers and employees struck bargains for production and wages without restriction, and where the boundaries between these two roles were fluid enough that today’s employee could, by dint of energy, talent, and foresight, become the employer of tomorrow.

Slavery was the polar opposite of free labor. With very rare exceptions, it denied the slave any future but that of being a slave, and it replaced the open-ended arrangements of employees and employers with a rigidly dictatorial system. The harmful effects extended beyond the slaves themselves, Lincoln wrote, because in the process, all labor became stigmatized as “slave work”; the social ideal became “the gentleman of leisure who was above and scorned work,” rather than “men who are industrious, and sober, and honest in the pursuit of their own interests.” Men who are industrious — that, of course, described Lincoln. Slavery, then, was not merely an abstraction; it was the enemy of every ambition Lincoln had ever felt.

Free labor, however, was ambition’s friend. Like Adam Smith, who traced the “the real price of everything” to “the toil and trouble of acquiring it,” Lincoln believed that labor laid the foundation for everyone to build up capital of their own. “Capital is only the fruit of labor; and could not have existed if labor had not first existed.” The folly of slavery lay in its assumption that the vast majority of laborers were indolent and without ambition, “that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it, induces him to labor.” Since by that rule “nobody works unless capital excites them to work,” the most efficient way to motivate laborers to work is to “buy the men and drive them to it, and that is slavery.”

In a system of free labor, by contrast, the prospect of profit incites the laborer to work and save, then turn into an entrepreneur himself and hire others to labor. Hiring workers, in turn, not only fires the entrepreneur’s ambition, but opens up the path of ambition for his employees, “men who have not their own land to work upon, or shops to work in, and who are benefited by working for others.”

Lincoln was aware that pro-slavery propagandists had begun claiming in the 1850s that laborers in northern factories were, in reality, no more free to make wage bargains than slaves on southern plantations. In fact, they claimed, “free labor” was worse off, because employers had no obligation to provide health care for mere wage-earners or to support them in childhood and old age, the way slaveowners did for their slaves.

Lincoln found this comparison absurd, largely because his own life experience refuted it: “Twenty-five years ago, I was a hired laborer.” A typical young man in this situation, he explained, “has for his capital nothing, save two strong hands that God has given him, a heart willing to labor, and a freedom to choose the mode of his work.” If the beginner really is willing, however, “he works industriously, he behaves soberly, and the result of a year or two’s labor is a surplus of capital . . . and in course of time he too has enough capital to hire some new beginner.” This, to Lincoln, was the key flaw in the slavery defenders’ case: Slavery offered no reward at all for sobriety or industry, while free labor was the “just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all — gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all.”

He did not deny that there were hired men who never became anything more, but that was not because of any defect in free-labor capitalism. “If any continue through life in the condition of the hired laborer, it is not the fault of the system, but because of either a dependent nature which prefers it, or improvidence, folly, or singular misfortune.” Ambition was not a crime to be punished. “We do not propose any war upon capital,” he insisted. Far from it: He wanted “to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else” and “leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can.” The genius of free labor, he explained to an audience of workingmen in New Haven, Conn., was that “when one starts poor, as most do in the race of life . . . he knows he can better his condition.” Lincoln wanted every “man to have the chance — and I believe a black man is entitled to it — in which he can better his condition. . . . That is the true system . . . and so it may go on and on in one ceaseless round so long as man exists on the face of the earth!”

To make this system work, Lincoln envisioned an active role for the federal government, but it was hardly that of a top-down managerial state. “The leading principle — the sheet anchor of American republicanism,” Lincoln said, is that “no man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent.” This was what guaranteed “individuals . . . the sacred right to regulate their own family affairs” and “communities . . . [to] arrange their own internal matters to suit themselves” without wanton interference by government. “The proposition that each man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively his own” was the “foundation of the sense of justice there is in me.”

So government was not a choice between an all-powerful dictatorship and an anarchistic landscape devoid of highways, traffic signs, levees, and harbor clearance. There were some things that individuals could not accomplish on their own, and it was those things that called governments into being. “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities,” Lincoln wrote. “In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.” But “in relation to . . . crimes, misdemeanors, and non performance of contracts,” and the sort of need that “requires combined action, as public roads and highways, public schools, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased,” and protection of “the machinery of government” itself, “there still would be some, though not so much, need of government.”

Lincoln’s rule was neither “big government” nor “no government” but minimal government, with that minimum confined almost entirely to the task of removing obstacles to self-improvement and the development of ambition. “To elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders — to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life” was “the leading object of the government.” And in the ultimate sense, the Civil War, by preserving the Union and eliminating slavery, was waged “in order that each of you may have through this free government . . . an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you all may have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.” Such a “nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

And fight he would: “I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me,” Lincoln wrote in 1862. But there were many places to do the fighting, and one of them was Congress (from which almost all the southern Democrats had conveniently withdrawn when their states seceded). The landmark pieces of legislation that he signed between 1861 and 1865 — the Homestead Act (1862), the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (1862), the Pacific Railway Act (1862), and the National Bank Act (1863) — together with the Morrill Tariff of 1861, which was signed into law by James Buchanan just before he turned the presidency over to Lincoln, amounted to nothing less than a repeal of six decades of Democratic dominance of the federal government. They would have made Lincoln’s presidency as controversial as Andrew Jackson’s even if there had been no Civil War. The railway act, which funded construction of the transcontinental railroad, was the ultimate version of Henry Clay’s “internal improvements,” while the tariff hiked import duties to all-time highs to protect American industry. (Lincoln backed the tariffs specifically because of the era’s whopping imbalance between European manufacturing and American manufacturing; whether he would have advocated their extension permanently is another matter.) In 1862 the Indiana Democratic state committee complained that Lincoln had struck “down at one dash all the labor of Gen. Jackson for the last four years of his administration.”

Did this amount to “big government”? Not if we measure bigness by the size of the federal budget. In 1860, federal spending amounted to a minuscule $63.2 million. Factored for a century and a half of inflation, the modern equivalent would be a federal budget of about $1.5 billion. During Lincoln’s presidency, federal spending leapt from $66.6 million in 1861 to $1.29 billion in 1865. But even with the swollen costs of war to absorb, the 1865 federal budget would translate into only about $18 billion in today’s money, using consumer-price inflation as the measure.

The bulk of that spending was war-related, and disappeared as soon as the wartime emergency was over. By 1871, the federal budget had shrunk to $293 million — only 22.7 percent of the size it had been in 1865 — and it would have shrunk even more drastically if not for the cost of servicing the wartime debt (which accounted for 44 percent of the budget) and paying pensions to wounded and injured soldiers (another 11 percent). Lincoln was dead by then, of course, but his successors and the Congress had generally followed his intentions. If Lincoln’s goal was to use the Civil War as the cloak for a permanent transformation of the federal government into an all-powerful megastate, the budget numbers certainly do not show much evidence of it.

The Italian historian Raimondo Luraghi once remarked that, unlike the Lincoln administration, the “Confederate rulers did not want a private capitalist industry” and “did not want to see a powerful industrial bourgeoisie rising in the Confederacy.” So while the Union government contracted out its wartime needs to the private sector, the Confederate government set up government-owned supply facilities “investing millions of dollars, arming and supplying one of the largest armies in the world — and all this as national property or under national control, in a kind of quasi-socialist management.” Predictably, the Confederacy’s nationalized industries did a bad job of supplying and feeding the rebel armies, so among the reasons Luraghi listed for the Confederacy’s downfall was its choice of “the way of ‘state socialism,’ a solution that is as far from capitalism as the earth is from the moon.”

But the fundamental convictions that animated the “Slave Power” — that stability is preferable to mobility, and that top-down management in the name of efficiency and fairness is the default position of human society — were not among the things surrendered at Appomattox. Half a century after Lincoln’s death, another American president would contradict every principle in political economy that Lincoln held dear by announcing that society must stop modeling itself on metaphors like “the race of life” and instead become a “family . . . where men can live as a single community, co-operative as in a perfected, coordinated beehive, not afraid of any storm of nature,” and do so “with an eye single to the standards of justice and fair play.” What a century of Woodrow Wilson’s “family” metaphor has produced, however, is the dreary reality of a government that regards citizens as miscreant children requiring constant correction of their appetites, salaries, attitudes, vocabulary, and even light bulbs.

Hurling Lincoln’s economic principles back against this present-day reality may seem like the height of futility. How many battalions, we may ask, do the economic ideas of a man dead for a century and a half command? But those inclined to dismiss these ideas should beware of Lincoln’s ditch. A generation from now, the question might seem more serious.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: abrahamlincoln; civilwar; despot; dishonestabe; economy; gaypresident; lincoln; slavery; tyrant; warcriminal
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If it's possible to have a "last word" on the Lincoln controversies here at FR, I think that this is it.

At the very least, it should put paid to those who have dared here to defend the slaveholders.

1 posted on 02/12/2011 6:06:44 AM PST by Notary Sojac
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To: Notary Sojac

Thanks for posting this.


2 posted on 02/12/2011 6:15:55 AM PST by Oratam
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To: Notary Sojac
Lincoln’s rule was neither “big government” nor “no government” but minimal government, with that minimum confined almost entirely to the task of removing obstacles to self-improvement and the development of ambition. “To elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders — to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life” was “the leading object of the government.” And in the ultimate sense, the Civil War, by preserving the Union and eliminating slavery, was waged “in order that each of you may have through this free government . . . an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you all may have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.” Such a “nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

An example of Lincoln's policy of "“To elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders"

Atlanta, 1864


3 posted on 02/12/2011 6:34:01 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Notary Sojac

Linc


4 posted on 02/12/2011 6:46:35 AM PST by KC Burke
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To: Notary Sojac

Great article. Thanks for posting!


5 posted on 02/12/2011 6:49:59 AM PST by woweeitsme
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To: Notary Sojac

Outstanding article. Thanks for posting! This offers a refreshingly new view of Lincoln and the forces that shaped him (at least I haven’t seen this view before).


6 posted on 02/12/2011 6:57:51 AM PST by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: Notary Sojac

Interesting article but it wasn’t really necessary to repeat yourself.

I am not here to defend the practice of slavery. I would point out the commentary by the Italian economist does not take into account that earlier choices in the south to avoid industrialization eventually required nationalized war industries since they had no option to outsource privately as the north did. It was not necessarily a preference but the exigencies of the moment.


7 posted on 02/12/2011 7:07:18 AM PST by T-Bird45 (It feels like the seventies, and it shouldn't.)
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To: Notary Sojac

“...those who have dared here to defend the slaveholders...”
-
Defend them from what?


8 posted on 02/12/2011 7:19:36 AM PST by Repeal The 17th
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To: central_va

Good article. This is good reading but doesn’t sway my belief that Lincoln—as truly great as he was—was somewhat of a crony Capitalist. Everyone was in those days other than, ironically, a number of free trade Southerners (who had their own evil exception to that rule for slavery). Anyone who supported the railroad land grants was no minimal government type.


9 posted on 02/12/2011 7:20:11 AM PST by Opinionated Blowhard ("The time will come when Winter will ask you what you were doing all Summer" -- Henry Clay)
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To: Notary Sojac

Excellent find Notary Sojac - it is so refreshing to see something from the Civil War era that isn’t an anti-America screed.


10 posted on 02/12/2011 8:28:51 AM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: Notary Sojac

Lincoln was a rare gift to mankind.


11 posted on 02/12/2011 8:54:03 AM PST by AmusedBystander (Republicans may have helped drive the economy into the ditch, but Obama is driving it off the cliff.)
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To: Notary Sojac
Lincoln was way cool!

Photobucket

A very happy 202nd birthday, Mr. President.

12 posted on 02/12/2011 9:12:04 AM PST by K-Stater
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To: Notary Sojac; 4CJ; TexConfederate1861; stainlessbanner; mstar; southernsunshine; rustbucket; ...
Mr. Guelzo is a prolific writer with a hardened agenda.

Essentially this is an essay that superficially refutes an Obama-Lincoln comparison, but underneath the argument misrepresents Lincoln and his presidency so that it appears legal and altruistic. The truth is that after April 1, 1861, the majority of Lincoln's actions were the exact opposite of Presidential behavior sanctioned by Constitutional law.

It should be noted that the author does not present any footnotes for his opinions, and sets up false authority for his assertions. He cannot know what Lincoln read or thought. Instead, he must rely on opinions and vague quotes from second and third hand sources. That is not scholarly work.

It should be kept in mind precisely who Lincoln was. He was essentially an orator that presented well polished equivocations and very little specific policy by which he stood and on which he acted.

For example, the author makes this statement which includes an undocumented Lincoln quote:

“And in the ultimate sense, the Civil War, by preserving the Union and eliminating slavery, was waged ‘in order that each of you may have through this free government . . . an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you all may have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations.’ Such a “nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”

Sounds like Lincoln was dedicated to that. But looking back a few years, he said these things:

“Cast into life where slavery was already (existing, I do not know) how it could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty itself.” (1852 eulogy of Henry Clay)

Equivocation.

Then in 1854 in a speech in Peoria, Lincoln said he looked forward to a future of a white American northwest. He called for the exclusion of slavery from the territories, but not for the commonly presumed reasons. Instead he stated in that speech that his reason was to preserve those territories as land for free whites to move to. Specifically Lincoln said,

“The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these territories. We want them for the homes of free white people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if slavery shall be planted with them.”

Equivocation.

After the Dred Scott decision, he said:

“We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. This is what we have to do.”

Mr. Lincoln varied his message.

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favour of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races”.

Those words came from the mouth of Abraham Lincoln in his debate with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.

Equivocation.

Then in March-April of 1861 he supported an amendment to the Constitution, the Corwin amendment that would legalize slavery in any state choosing to be involved in it.

This amendment was passed by both the House and Senate and said:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state."

"I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," would be Lincoln's response to this amendments passage, as said in his first inaugural address, March 4, 1861.

Equivocation.

Then in 1862 he said:

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

Equivocation.

His speeches and quotes are so widely varied, one could conclude anything one wants to. However, the one issue on which he did not equivocate was that he would preserve the revenue stream described in his first inauguration speech.

Preservation of the tariff revenue stream meant coercion and subjugation of the Southern states.

He did so, beginning with the invasion of Charleston and Pensacola in April of 1861.

13 posted on 02/12/2011 9:21:42 AM PST by PeaRidge
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To: Notary Sojac

bm


14 posted on 02/12/2011 9:53:05 AM PST by Para-Ord.45
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To: PeaRidge

Good Post, thanks!


15 posted on 02/12/2011 10:33:44 AM PST by Repeal The 17th
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To: PeaRidge
Well yea, if you pinch your face up I suppose you could see things that way. ;-)


16 posted on 02/12/2011 11:22:20 AM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: PeaRidge
Mr. Guelzo is a prolific writer with a hardened agenda.

Like you don't have a hardened agenda yourself.

It should be noted that the author does not present any footnotes for his opinions, and sets up false authority for his assertions. He cannot know what Lincoln read or thought. Instead, he must rely on opinions and vague quotes from second and third hand sources. That is not scholarly work.

You provide no footnotes yourself. Moreover, when was the last time you saw bibliographic footnotes in the National Review or other magazines of that sort, the New Republic, the Nation, the Atlantic? I'm not even going to say what that comment makes you look like.

The same with the assertion that "He cannot know what Lincoln read and thought." Why in heaven's name not? And how can you come any closer with your own selective quotes? Gabor Boritt, relying on Herndon's account, documents Lincoln's reading of the Mills, Carey and Wayland, and Lincoln left behind enough documentation of his own ideas about economics, so why do you say that Guelzo "cannot know" such things?

“Cast into life where slavery was already (existing, I do not know) how it could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty itself.” (1852 eulogy of Henry Clay)

Equivocation.

Bullsh#t. Look at the actual quote:

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery so frequently already, I am unwilling to close without referring more particularly to Mr. Clay's views and conduct in regard to it. He ever was on principle and in feeling, opposed to slavery. The very earliest, and one of the latest public efforts of his life, separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in favor of gradual emancipation of the slaves in Kentucky. He did not perceive, that on a question of human right, the negroes were to be excepted from the human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into life where slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it could be at once eradicated, without producing a greater evil, even to the cause of human liberty itself. His feeling and his judgment, therefore, ever led him to oppose both extremes of opinion on the subject. Those who would shiver into fragments the Union of these States; tear to tatters its now venerated constitution; and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all their more halting sympathisers, have received, and are receiving their just execration; and the name, and opinions, and influence of Mr. Clay, are fully, and, as I trust, effectually and enduringly, arrayed against them.

He's talking about Clay, a slaveowner who thought slavery wrong but didn't know how it could quickly -- "at once" -- be eliminated without creating even more problems.

He's right about Clay, and right that a prudent, thoughtful statesman would avoid the extremes of justifying and encouraging slavery on the one hand and demanding immediate emancipation on the other.

Now whether one ought to be a prudent and thoughtful statesman, rather than an agitator and activist for immediate change, come what may, is a question that people will argue about, but accept the premise that politicians try to negotiate between evils and its hard to disagree with Lincoln in this matter.

After the Dred Scott decision, he said:

“We shall lie down pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State. To meet and overthrow the power of that dynasty is the work now before all those who would prevent that consummation. This is what we have to do.”

No equivocation there.

Mr. Lincoln varied his message.

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favour of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races”.

Those words came from the mouth of Abraham Lincoln in his debate with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.

Equivocation.

By no means. These were two different questions: 1) the expansion of slavery against the right to freely sell one's labor and 2) social and political equality between the races. And Lincoln was unequivocal on both. That may not be to our taste today, and he may have changed his mind over time, but it would have been quite clear to people of his own time where he stood.

Moreover the idea that he "varied his message" is also a little silly. In a debate you deal with the charges and attacks that are thrown at you. Lincoln was dealing with the attacks Douglas had made on him. You may regard his comment as contemptible (though maybe more because of the fact that he said it, rather than what he said, which reflected the belief of the vast majority of Americans -- North, and especially South), but in other forums, where he didn't have Douglas breathing down his neck he may have expressed himself differently. Is that equivocation? Only to the extent that politicians don't always use the same tone and words with every audience.

Come clean on this: if you were alive in 1850 or 1860 you'd be pro-slavery, a defender of the Southern way of life. Certainly people who wail as much as your friends do about the wrongs done to the South would be. Maybe I would too. Almost everybody accepted the existence of slavery where it already was established. In that context, Lincoln was ahead of the country in seeing the wrong of slavery and looking forward to its eventual demise.

17 posted on 02/12/2011 11:38:53 AM PST by x
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To: central_va

Atlanta was burned by the Confederates (so the Union troops couldn’t make use of it) on their way out of town.


18 posted on 02/12/2011 11:55:06 AM PST by Moonman62 (Half of all Americans are above average. Politicians come from the other half.)
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To: Notary Sojac

Substitute “illegal alien” for slave and you have an up to date news story.


19 posted on 02/12/2011 11:58:41 AM PST by Moonman62 (Half of all Americans are above average. Politicians come from the other half.)
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To: central_va

No matter how they try to dress up Lincoln, the simple matter of what he did, the people he effectively murdered, can never be forgotten. Lincoln was a Tyrant plain and simple and she should either be remembered as such, or forgotten in the ashbin of history’s tyrants.

No matter his views on government, the fact that he would uses the sword to force them upon others makes them impalpable to any truly freedom loving man.


20 posted on 02/12/2011 1:46:20 PM PST by Monorprise
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To: Monorprise

Bump

21 posted on 02/12/2011 2:11:49 PM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Monorprise
No matter his views on government, the fact that he would uses the sword to force them upon others makes them impalpable to any truly freedom loving man.

You could be talking about Washington or any of the Founders in that statement as well.

Are you a pacifist? Is there anything worth fighting for?

22 posted on 02/12/2011 3:07:50 PM PST by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: x
It is not surprising that this comment should draw you out.

“It should be noted that the author does not present any footnotes for his opinions, and sets up false authority for his assertions. He cannot know what Lincoln read or thought. Instead, he must rely on opinions and vague quotes from second and third hand sources. That is not scholarly work.”

Despite the faith that Lincoln supporters engender, it is true that sometimes you don't know what you think you know. And that seems to be the case with you

Your misinformation continues to be focused on the contention that you and others seem to know what Lincoln was thinking, and that the speculative comments of others can be accepted in whole as absolute truth.

Consider your attempts to refute the irrefutable...that the author cannot know Lincoln's reading habits or true thought patterns. But in truth, that construct is essentially a contrivance, a red herring, that superficially supports the author's agenda of creating another Lincoln myth.

One of your most favorite methods of attack is the “where is the documentation” argument, which you now abandon with great surety, citing publications that you claim do not engage in documentation, and imploring that that is acceptable.

How silly! Most here may have not seen your repeated demands for documentation, but it is your hallmark of authenticity. Conversely, I have even seen you posit obscure, undocumented term papers as full evidence of your position, and defend that with great certainty.

Opinions aside, it is only by his behavior, primarily verbal behavior by which we “know” him. And it is the repeated vacillations by which we know him best.

You do not address important contradictions in the context of each other.... his house divided speech, his comments to Greeley, or his support of the Thirteenth Amendment (1861). Nor do you admit any irregularities between Guelzo’s “war rationale” quote and the long passage you introduced from Clay's eulogy.

No, you seem to be perfectly comfortable with his contradictions and offer amazing acceptance:

“...but in other forums, where he didn't have Douglas breathing down his neck he may have expressed himself differently. Is that equivocation? Only to the extent that politicians don't always use the same tone and words with every audience.”

So you do admit to his equivocations, and offer up the same explanation as I did, all the while using denial that you were doing so.

Nor, and most importantly do you contrast any of those equivocations and his repeated promises to retain the tariff flow, followed by his invasion of Ft. Sumter and Pensacola.

23 posted on 02/12/2011 3:23:59 PM PST by PeaRidge
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To: Monorprise
Lincoln was a Tyrant plain and simple and she should either be remembered as such, or forgotten in the ashbin of history’s tyrants.

Lincoln won two open elections, dealt with a sometimes fractious Congress, and had his actions reviewed by an independent judiciary. That's hardly the definition of a tyrant.

24 posted on 02/12/2011 3:37:36 PM PST by K-Stater
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To: Moonman62
The city of Atlanta was burned on November 15, 1864.

The city had fallen to the Union army invasion on September 2, 1864, and was intact at the time of its capture.

General Sherman gave the order to burn all public buildings, machine shops, depots, and arsenals which obviously caused a massive engulfment of the entire city. The residents were not able to prevent the burning of between 3200 and 5000 buildings, with only about 400 surviving.

25 posted on 02/12/2011 3:42:04 PM PST by PeaRidge
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To: Notary Sojac

*bump*

The more I learn about Lincoln, the more I like him.


26 posted on 02/12/2011 4:37:48 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Monorprise
the fact that he would uses the sword to force them upon others

May be, may be not. It is clearly fair to say that the slaves had the right to take up the sword to win their own freedom.

27 posted on 02/12/2011 5:05:12 PM PST by Notary Sojac (We have had three central banks in America's history: two of them failed and so will this one....)
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To: Notary Sojac
May be, may be not. It is clearly fair to say that the slaves had the right to take up the sword to win their own freedom.

There were no slave revolts during the Civil War. None.

Most manumitted slaves stayed on the old plantations as sharecroppers post-bellum. Loyalty to the beatings and whippings I guess.

28 posted on 02/12/2011 5:11:26 PM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed, and I do not give a damn.)
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To: x
Come clean on this: if you were alive in 1850 or 1860 you'd be pro-slavery, a defender of the Southern way of life.

Come clean on this: You're a huge admirer of Theo Bilbo ..... his oratorical style, at any rate, which consisted of fixing on one word and ranting it over and over.

You throw the word "slaver" around as if you thought it had a Velcro backing.

29 posted on 02/12/2011 5:24:16 PM PST by lentulusgracchus (Concealed carry is a pro-life position.)
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To: x
Like you don't have a hardened agenda yourself.

"So's your old man, and you're another!!" <sigh>

I take it back -- Theo Bilbo wouldn't touch a "retort" like that with a seven-foot pole.

30 posted on 02/12/2011 5:28:37 PM PST by lentulusgracchus (Concealed carry is a pro-life position.)
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To: x; PeaRidge
I'm not even going to say what that comment makes you look like.

He looks like a man who has an honest question about the reliability of the quote, and its provenience. There are plenty of bogus quotes floating around the Internet; and the passage cited would seem to be sufficiently trenchant, that anyone who's read David Donald, Wm. Herndon, Bruce Catton, or Carl Sandburg might reasonably wonder why he hadn't seen the quote before, if it had any power to illuminate Lincoln and his policies. That is why we all recognize the "House Divided" quotes instantly. So why not this one?

It's a fair question.

31 posted on 02/12/2011 5:35:24 PM PST by lentulusgracchus (Concealed carry is a pro-life position.)
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To: Notary Sojac

Thank you for posting!


32 posted on 02/12/2011 5:44:16 PM PST by fortheDeclaration (When the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn (Pr.29:2))
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To: PeaRidge
Hood conducted the remainder of the Atlanta Campaign with the strong aggressive actions for which he had become famous. He launched four major attacks that summer in an attempt to break Sherman's siege of Atlanta, starting almost immediately with an attack along Peachtree Creek. All of the offensives failed, with significant Confederate casualties. Finally, on September 2, 1864, Hood evacuated the city of Atlanta, burning as many military supplies and installations as possible.

Woodworth, Steven E. Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990.

Sherman did indeed burn significant portions of Atlanta, starting on November 11 after ordering its evacuation and agreeing with a truce towards that end. He also rescinded that order of evacuation and modified his plans after the mayor and clergymen pleaded with him.

I found a fascinating document here: http://www.civilwarhome.com/atlantaevacuation.htm

This page recreates correspondence between General Sherman and General Bell.

33 posted on 02/12/2011 6:50:31 PM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: Notary Sojac

“the fact that he would uses the sword to force them upon others”

May be, may be not. It is clearly fair to say that the slaves had the right to take up the sword to win their own freedom.”

I would agree the slaves did indeed have that right, the Sword is only legitimately used against what you might call tyrants or oppressors.

Which is just to say someone else who would uses the sword to impose their will upon you. The slaves would most certainty fall into the category where the sword was a legitimate recourse.

This fact of course left the south living in a state of perpetual military readiness and fear, and made the cost of slavery extraordinary.

So much in fact that the institution was dieing state by State, and would not have made it past the 1940’s(In union), much sooner had the south achieved its independents. This is due to both the greatly diminished ability of the south to put down slave revolts and keep slaves from fleeing to the United States (who would no longer return them).


34 posted on 02/12/2011 7:48:33 PM PST by Monorprise
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To: Notary Sojac

Great article!

It is amazing how similiar this battle between Lincoln and the democrats still is today.

The Confederate democrats played the same class warfare games then that the Progressive democrats do today.

Of course the Progressive democrat Wilson mentioned in the article was the first democrat after the Civil war elected President and was supported by the Confederate socialists known as the ‘People’s party’. Wislon also brought on many Confederate democrats into his administration and heavily supported the KKK.

The Confederate democrats were always very anti-capitalism and anti-Wall Street just as the Progressive democrats still are today.

The Progressive democrats stil also practise ‘Slavery economics’ as well just as their predeccesors the Confederate democrats did.


35 posted on 02/12/2011 8:01:10 PM PST by TheBigIf
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To: TheBigIf

Also as a side note -

The very first actions geared towards an agenda of ‘Seperation of Church and State’ was also started by the Confederate democrats as well. Confederate democrats began boycotting religious ceremonies in the Congress because Republicans were inviting black Americans to participate.

For me that was the begininng of the Progressive democrat agenda for ‘Seperation of Church and State’ which is a Progressive policy of Marxist ideology.

This left-wing agenda started with the Confederate democrats and then was championed by the Progressive democrats.


36 posted on 02/12/2011 8:24:44 PM PST by TheBigIf
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To: Notary Sojac
If it's possible to have a "last word" on the Lincoln controversies here at FR, I think that this is it.

Not at all. This is just another Ivy League screed defending the Northeast's champion and benefactor, Lincoln, on all points against all comers -- another Marble Man snowjob.

Guelzo is a triple-dipped Ivy Leaguer (Harvard, Penn, and Princeton) who holds a chair at Gettysburg College endowed in honor of Henry Luce III and a Lincoln Society regular, and an honoree of the Abraham Lincoln Institute (for Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, 1999).

He most assuredly has a culturally-bound and affiliation-bound point of view about Lincolniana.

[Article] His embrace of classical-liberal economics was the force that moved all his achievements.....

And yet so many of Lincoln's associates, such as Ben Butler, were engaged not in "Randite" classical-liberal economics, but in access capitalism and crony capitalism, which was the actual model of the Gilded Age.

37 posted on 02/12/2011 8:26:38 PM PST by lentulusgracchus (Concealed carry is a pro-life position.)
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To: lentulusgracchus

There’s nothing “screed” about it.


38 posted on 02/12/2011 8:35:52 PM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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To: rockrr; PeaRidge
Interesting link you provided. Thanks. Here is some more Union correspondence with regard to Atlanta found in the Official Records:

General Sherman to General Schofield, August 1, 1864: "You may fire from ten to fifteen shots from every gun you have in position into Atlanta that will reach any of its house. ... Thomas and Howard will do the same." [rb: This confirms General Hood's comment on your link that Sherman fired into the homes of women and children.]

General Sherman to General George H. Thomas, November 11, 1864: "… Last night we burned Rome, and in two or more days will burn Atlanta ..."

General William D. Whipple to General D. S. Stanley, November 13, 1864: "General Sherman left Kingston yesterday morning; camped at Allatoona last night; will probably reach Atlanta to-morrow, whence he starts on his trip south. He has already burnt Rome, and says he is going to burn Atlanta and other towns south."

Here is a short description of what happened to Atlanta from the following web site about the Atlanta fire [Sherman in Georgia]

Under Sherman's orders Capt. O. M. Poe "thoroughly destroyed Atlanta, save its mere dwelling-houses and churches." The destruction was by fire purposely applied to buildings, and permitted to spread, as was expected, from house to house until the defenseless city was almost entirely reduced to ashes. No efforts were made to prevent the spread of the conflagration, and scarcely any structure was designedly spared. Only about 450 buildings escaped this ruthless burning, among them many churches, which in those days generally stood apart from other buildings. The thoroughness of the destruction can be realized, when we consider that by the census of 1860 Atlanta had a population of 10,000, which in 1864 had increased to 14,000. More than 4,000 houses, including dwellings, shops, stores, mills and depots were burned, about eleven-twelfths of the city.

Contrast Atlanta with Confederates in Pennsylvania in 1863:

A Rebel Address: Gen. Early to the Citizens of York [Source: Southern Confederacy, Atlanta, Georgia, July 11, 1863]:

York, Penn, June 30, 1863
To the Citizens of York:

I have abstained from burning the railroad buildings and car shops in your town, because, after examination, I am satisfied that the safety of the town would be endangered, and acting in the spirit of humanity which has characterized my Government and its military authorities, I do not desire to involve the innocent with the same punishment of the guilty. Had I applied the torch without regard to consequences, I would have pursued a course that would have been fully vindicated as an act of just retaliation for the unparalleled acts of brutality perpetrated by your army on our soil. But we do not war on women and children, and I trust that the treatment you have met with at the hands of my military will open your eyes to the [can’t read two or three words] under which it is apparent to all you are groaning.

J. A. Early,
Major General, C.S.A.

True, General Early had extracted food and money from York under the threat that he would burn the town if they didn't pay and provide food. They paid, and thus Early received some compensation for Union damage down South.

From The Yankee Gazette, Westietown, PA, July 1, 1863:

Reports from our friends in York state that a "seedy looking lot of armed men proceeded into York with the intent of capturing the city last Saturday, followed closely by a long column of Virginia soldiers clad in butternut and gray flying the red Confederate battle flag. Their commander was the general Early, the same fellow who raided Adams County last week. After securing the city his troops marched to the fairgrounds where they encamped for the night. The following morning they set out early leaving a terrified civilian population behind and unmolested. It is curious that the Confederates do not raid private homes and stores, but an officer of a North Carolina regiment informed our correspondent that General Lee had issued orders banning such activity and any culprit 'caught in the act of theft from Yankee citizens would be tried and shot for defiance of this order.'"

That is not to say that some Confederate troops did not plunder homes, but it apparently was not nearly as widespread as looting and burning by Union troops in the South.

39 posted on 02/12/2011 11:38:41 PM PST by rustbucket
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To: lentulusgracchus
Guelzo is a triple-dipped Ivy Leaguer (Harvard, Penn, and Princeton)

Leper, outcast, unclean, eh??

40 posted on 02/13/2011 6:04:29 AM PST by Notary Sojac (We have had three central banks in America's history: two of them failed and so will this one....)
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To: rockrr; Moonman62

Thank you for that post. That corrects the comments on Atlanta, and shows that Sherman continued his war upon the citizens of the South.

Incidentally, I did some research several years ago which showed that if the Atlanta campaign is taken as a whole, it was the costliest aggregate battle of the war.


41 posted on 02/13/2011 6:25:34 AM PST by PeaRidge
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To: Notary Sojac

600,000+ dead.

10th Amendment de facto repealed.

A centralized, oppressive federal government.

A marxist president trying to turn America into a European socialist state.

That’s Lincoln’s legacy.


42 posted on 02/13/2011 6:32:05 AM PST by cowboyway (Molon labe : Deo Vindice : "Rebellion is always an option!!"--Jim Robinson)
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To: central_va
There were no slave revolts during the Civil War. None.

A fair point. Had I been President in 1861, I would have let the South secede, and thereafter treated it as a foreign country.

I would have done everything possible to encourage "regime change" from within the South, peaceful if possible, not if not.

Certainly the raw material was there for the making....


43 posted on 02/13/2011 6:43:09 AM PST by Notary Sojac (We have had three central banks in America's history: two of them failed and so will this one....)
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To: PeaRidge
You do not address important contradictions in the context of each other.... his house divided speech, his comments to Greeley, or his support of the Thirteenth Amendment (1861).

They are only contridictions if you take his quotes totally out of context to set up straw man arguments.

44 posted on 02/13/2011 6:43:18 AM PST by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: cowboyway
One can make an argument that the South had the right to secede. In fact I agree with that.

One can also make the argument that Lincoln did a number of things which were unconstitutional. I can respect that argument.

But one can't make a valid argument on a site called "Free Republic" that slavery is acceptable or that its continuance should have been tolerated.

45 posted on 02/13/2011 6:46:43 AM PST by Notary Sojac (We have had three central banks in America's history: two of them failed and so will this one....)
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To: central_va
There were no slave revolts during the Civil War. None.

Over 100,000 slaves joined the Union army and fought bravely. They didn't need to revolt with pitchforks and axes like in the past. They were issued muskets and cannon.

46 posted on 02/13/2011 6:50:46 AM PST by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: Notary Sojac

Don’t you know the south was planning to do away with slavery...

Just as soon as they figured out how to do away with all the slaves.....


47 posted on 02/13/2011 7:49:49 AM PST by usmcobra (.Islam: providing Live Targets for United States Marines since 1786!)
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To: usmcobra

Just as soon as they figured out how to do away with all the slaves....
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Didn’t Monroe have that solved, by offering FREE PASSAGE to the homeland and even had a country for them, Liberia, with the Capital being Monrovia (eventually).
Apparently the greater majority figured they had it ‘better’ here.
Of course I am sure the Irish, Italian etc immigrants would have felt the same way if offered ONE WAY passage to a ‘new world’.


48 posted on 02/13/2011 7:55:22 AM PST by xrmusn ((6/98))
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To: Notary Sojac

“...make a valid argument on a site called “Free Republic” that slavery is acceptable...”
-
“Is” acceptable or “was” acceptable?
“Acceptable”?
Acceptable to whom?
The federal government?
-
“...its continuance should have been tolerated...”
-
Tolerated?
Tolerated by whom?

People, and the governments they create, “tolerate” a lot of things; and lots of things change with time.
((What is “moral”? What is “legal”? What is “acceptable”? What is “tolerated”?))

Take a snapshot of what people “tolerate” and “accept” at one point in time
and compare it to a snapshot of “toleration” and “acceptance” at another point in time
then attempt to understand the morality and character of those in the snapshot.

You can do this over and over again all through out the history of man.

Lincoln did with cannon and gun what he could never have accomplished through legislation.
He personally seized upon an opportunity to force his personal view of what was “moral” and “acceptable” to end a “legal” practice,
and he did so at the cost of 600,000 lives.


49 posted on 02/13/2011 8:01:17 AM PST by Repeal The 17th
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To: rustbucket

War is hell, ain’t it?


50 posted on 02/13/2011 8:09:02 AM PST by rockrr ("I said that I was scared of you!" - pokie the pretend cowboy)
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