Skip to comments.The Lord condones Retaliation and Divorce! [Thomas DiLorenzo and the Real Lincoln]
Posted on 04/24/2002 9:22:24 AM PDT by Ditto
We are forever in debt to Dr. diLorenzo. In his efforts to show that Lincoln was actually a not-so-crypto commie, he has provided us with a new exegetical technique which sheds light on, well, on just about everything! The left wing of the Supreme Court will soon be using diLorenzian interpretation to show that the Constitution mandates ex post facto law when it states, "Ex post facto law shall be passed." (It's in there, believe us: Article I,9.3)
Now, as to our Lord and his hitherto misunderstood Sermon on the Mount, let us go to the text and look at Jesus' own words.
Matthew 5:31 -- Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.
Matthew 5:38 -- An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
No doubt expressing his frustration with the law Jesus only pretends to fulfill, He also and indisputably says, "Hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:40, King James Version)
Okay. Game's over. What was the point?
The point is that Jesus said no such things. Sure, the words left His mouth. But in the divorce and retaliation statements He put up what others had said only to contrast His teaching with theirs. The divorce statement is followed by his hard teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. The "eye for an eye" is opposed to His famous dictum to "turn the other cheek". At least that's how most of us would read the Scriptures.
But DiLorenzo is not most of us. Embedded in the following is a quote he attributes to Lincoln:
"Lincoln even mocked the Jeffersonian dictum enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. He admitted that it had become 'a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation.' But added, 'I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism.'"
[We've highlighted the words which DiLorenzo says demonstrate Lincoln's contempt for the Declaration ideas of equality.]
Now, DiLorenzo says these words were spoken in the first Lincoln-Douglas Debate. He errs. They are actually from Lincoln's 1852 eulogy to Clay. (That would be Henry, not Cassius.) And here's the full quote:
We, however, look for, and are not much shocked by, political eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But, only last year, I saw with astonishment, what purported to be a letter of a very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, containing the following, to me, very extraordinary language--
I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority All men are born free and equal .
This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism.
This sounds strangely in republican America . The like was not heard in the fresher days of the Republic.
So Lincoln dissed the Declaration of Independence just the same way Jesus taught retaliation and approved divorce.
In the article posted below, we show how diLorenzo will cherry pick words from reviews and then cobble them together to make something he then presents as a quote. Of course, one can prove anything with this technique. Above We assert that the Constitution requires ex post facto law. Of course the full article says, "No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed." And our Lord is saying that the "Law and the Prophets" derive from the commands to love God and one's neighbor. At least that's what we think He says.
But then, we're not a professor and not privy to the secret techniques of professorial gematria.
Again we have to burden you with quotes within quotes.
On page 54 of The Real Lincoln, DiLorenzo tells the reader:
Roy Basler, the editor of Lincoln's Collected Works, commented that Lincoln barely mentioned slavery before 1854, and when he did, his words lacked effectiveness.
[We'll identify our source for all this information at the end of this rant.]
Now the common, non-professorial, person would think that, if diLorenzo is telling the truth, Roy Basler is saying that when Lincoln mentioned slavery, "his words lacked effectiveness".
Here's what Basler really says:
Although the speech [that is, Lincoln's Dred Scott Speech] contains some of the most memorable passages in his writings, it lacks the unity of effect which marks his best. The truth is that Lincoln had no solution to the problem of slavery except the colonization idea which he had inherited from Henry Clay, and when he spoke beyond his points of limiting the extension of slavery, of preserving the essential central idea of human equality, and of respecting the Negro as a human being, his words lacked effectiveness.
Again, the garden variety reader, upon seeing what Basler actually wrote, would conclude that when Lincoln talked about limiting the extension of slavery or preserving the cventral idea of human equality, and of respecting the Negro his words did NOT lack effectiveness.
So Lincoln's speeches on slavery were ineffective to just the same degree that the Constitution requires ex post facto law and just as much as Jesus urged us to "Hang all the Law and the Prophets".
At this point we gratefully acknowledge that all the information above about diLorenzo's book and the sources he misquotes comes from an article by Professor David Quackenbush. Some professors evidently still know how to read.
Quackenbush and others associated with the Declaration Foundation think a very great deal of Lincoln, and their response to diLorenzo's quite extraordinary book is motivated as much by concern for defending Lincoln's memory against lies as by anything else.
Our concern is more general. We think academics and academies ought to at least pretend to have some concern for the truth and to "do that thing they do," which is to practice some kind of scholarship.
WE think there are only two possible explanations for diLorenzo's remarkable book. He may intend to mislead, perhaps to curry favor with a group of Lincoln bashers who will reward him by buying his book.
Or he may have had a boat payment due or something and thought that a cult book would sell. so he got a graduate student or two and told them "find anything you can that makes Lincoln look bad." Then he took the index cards with quotes and citations the poor students had assembled, and based a likely story on them.
That is, diLorenzo was dishonest, irresponsible, or incompetent. If there is another construction that can be placed on the kind of work we have cited, we'd like to know what it is.
The diLorenzo book has, deservedly, been under assault since before its general release. The response of the Lincoln bashers is, generally, to say that the objections raised do not bear upon the conclusions diLorenzo draws.
Now this may be so. We can envision a universe in which both Lincoln AND diLorenzo are scoundrels. But why are sympathetic reviewers of the book calling it meticulously researched? Our beloved Walter Williams says
DiLorenzo does a yeoman's job in documenting Lincoln's ruthlessness and hypocrisy
to which we can only say "yeoman's job" -- maybe, scholar's job -- certainly not. If there are facts to show that Lincoln was a tyrant, why don't they stick to the facts? Why the necessity to cobble together this chimera?
We, personally, confess a fondness for a "states rights and the heck with the union" attitude. But if the scholars to whom we look for support can only come up with proofs like this, that position looks weaker and weaker.
And this reflects sadly on our polity. The responsibilities of Freedom include wisdom and discretion. If the great arguments about this great country are going to be nothing but exchanges of insutls and lies, it does not bode well for the republic, nor, we hasten to add, for any state which might someday successfuly secede. If they are going to erect the structure of their secessionary polities on a foundation as weak as that provided by DiLorenzo, how can they expect to stand?
So Ditto trots out another acquaintance/friend(?) of Ferrier, Quackenbush, and the Declaration Foundation to trumpet the notion that Di Lorenzo is a shoddy scholar and a liar while admitting that his only source of information is an article from, lo and behold, Quackenbush himself.
With such sourcing, just how is anyone supposed to take him seriously?
Oh well, another day, another Lincoln was a saint/tyrant thread.
Listen closely guys, that is the sound of your one hand clapping.
To help you or anyone confirm the most egregious error, I provide the following sources.
1] You may find the quotation from Lincoln in Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings, ed. by Roy Basler, pg. 275. It is easy to find Lincoln's speeches on the internet, if you don't own a copy of the book.
2] DiLorenzo's garbled citation is found on pg. 12 of The Real Lincoln. You will see there that DiLorenzo falsely cites pg. 444 of Basler in his footnote 9, pg. 282.
DiLorenzo's writings are not generally on the internet at present, except for his columns and some articles. But "Aurelius" here at FR owns the book, and you could ask him to check for you. I happen to have the DiLorenzo book before me as I write, but perhaps you won't take my word.
I will be glad give you the other sources to prove the other errors, if you will be so good as to promise to read them.
In an earlier thread I read of an assertion by Di Lorenzo that "nearly every speech from 1854 to 1859, Lincoln described his desire for Whig/Mercantilist economic policy".
If Lincoln did so, then I can look forward to Mssrs. Ferrer, Jaffa, and Quackenbush's hari-kiri. If Lincoln did not do so, then Di Lorenzo had better have some other compelling evidence (votes in Congress, letters, legal cases etc.) to support his assertions.
These threads have been enlightening and entertaining (mostly). I have learned much from the debates. Most certainly is that Mr. McPherson must wear knee-pads as much as Di Lorenzo loves shotguns.
On the fourth day of July, 1776, the people of a few feeble and oppressed colonies of Great Britain, inhabiting a portion of the Atlantic coast of North America, publicly declared their national independence, and made their appeal to the justice of their cause, and to the God of battles, for the maintainance of that declaration. That people were few in numbers, and without resources, save only their own wise heads and stout hearts. Within the first year of that declared independence, and while its maintainance was yet problematical -- while the bloody struggle between those resolute rebels, and their haughty would-be-masters, was still waging, of undistinguished parents, and in an obscure district of one of those colonies, Henry Clay was born. The infant nation, and the infant child began the race of life together. For three quarters of a century they have travelled hand in hand. They have been companions ever. The nation has passed its perils, and is free, prosperous, and powerful. The child has reached his manhood, his middle age, his old age, and is dead. In all that has concerned the nation the man ever sympathised; and now the nation mourns for the man.
The day after his death, one of the public Journals, opposed to him politically, held the following pathetic and beautiful language, which I adopt, partly because such high and exclusive eulogy, originating with a political friend, might offend good taste, but chiefly, because I could not, in any language of my own, so well express my thoughts--
"Alas! who can realize that Henry Clay is dead! Who can realize that never again that majestic form shall rise in the council-chambers of his country to beat back the storms of anarchy which may threaten, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled billows as they rage and menace around? Who can realize, that the workings of that mighty mind have ceased -- that the throbbings of that gallant heart are stilled -- that the mighty sweep of that graceful arm will be felt no more, and the magic of that eloquent tongue, which spake as spake no other tongue besides, is hushed -- hushed forever! Who can realize that freedom's champion -- the champion of a civilized world, and of all tongues and kindreds and people, has indeed fallen! Alas, in those dark hours, which, as they come in the history of all nations, must come in ours -- those hours of peril and dread which our land has experienced, and which she may be called to experience again -- to whom now may her people look up for that counsel and advice, which only wisdom and experience and patriotism can give, and which only the undoubting confidence of a nation will receive? Perchance, in the whole circle of the great and gifted of our land, there remains but one on whose shoulders the mighty mantle of the departed statesman may fall -- one, while we now write, is doubtless pouring his tears over the bier of his brother and his friend -- brother, friend ever, yet in political sentiment, as far apart as party could make them. Ah, it is at times like these, that the petty distinctions of mere party disappear. We see only the great, the grand, the noble features of the departed statesman; and we do not even beg permission to bow at his feet and mingle our tears with those who have ever been his political adherents -- we do [not?] beg this permission -- we claim it as a right, though we feel it as a privilege. Henry Clay belonged to his country -- to the world, mere party cannot claim men like him. His career has been national -- his fame has filled the earth -- his memory will endure to `the last syllable of recorded time.'
"Henry Clay is dead! -- He breathed his last on yesterday at twenty minutes after eleven, in his chamber at Washington. To those who followed his lead in public affairs, it more appropriately belongs to pronounce his eulogy, and pay specific honors to the memory of the illustrious dead -- but all Americans may show the grief which his death inspires, for, his character and fame are national property. As on a question of liberty, he knew no North, no South, no East, no West, but only the Union, which held them all in its sacred circle, so now his countrymen will know no grief, that is not as wide-spread as the bounds of the confederacy. The career of Henry Clay was a public career. From his youth he has been devoted to the public service, at a period too, in the world's history justly regarded as a remarkable era in human affairs. He witnessed in the beginning the throes of the French Revolution. He saw the rise and fall of Napoleon. He was called upon to legislate for America, and direct her policy when all Europe was the battle-field of contending dynasties, and when the struggle for supremacy imperilled the rights of all neutral nations. His voice, spoke war and peace in the contest with Great Britain.
"When Greece rose against the Turks and struck for liberty, his name was mingled with the battle-cry of freedom. When South America threw off the thraldom of Spain, his speeches were read at the head of her armies by Bolivar. His name has been, and will continue to be, hallowed in two hemispheres, for it is--
`One of the few the immortal names
That were not born to die,'
"To the ardent patriot and profound statesman, he added a quality possessed by few of the gifted on earth. His eloquence has not been surpassed. In the effective power to move the heart of man, Clay was without an equal, and the heaven born endowment, in the spirit of its origin, has been most conspicuously exhibited against intestine feud. On at least three important occasions, he has quelled our civil commotions, by a power and influence, which belonged to no other statesman of his age and times. And in our last internal discord, when this Union trembled to its center -- in old age, he left the shades of private life and gave the death blow to fraternal strife, with the vigor of his earlier years in a series of Senatorial efforts, which in themselves would bring immortality, by challenging comparison with the efforts of any statesman in any age. He exorcised the demon which possessed the body politic, and gave peace to a distracted land. Alas! the achievement cost him his life! He sank day by day to the tomb -- his pale, but noble brow, bound with a triple wreath, put there by a grateful country. May his ashes rest in peace, while his spirit goes to take its station among the great and good men who preceded him!"
While it is customary, and proper, upon occasions like the present, to give a brief sketch of the life of the deceased, in the case of Mr. Clay, it is less necessary than most others; for his biography has been written and re-written, and read, and re-read, for the last twenty-five years; so that, with the exception of a few of the latest incidents of his life, all is as well known, as it can be. The short sketch which I give is, therefore merely to maintain the connection of this discourse.
Henry Clay was born on the 12th of April 1777, in Hanover County, Virginia. Of his father, who died in the fourth or fifth year of Henry's age, little seems to be known, except that he was a respectable man, and a preacher of the baptist persuasion. Mr. Clay's education, to the end of his life, was comparatively limited. I say "to the end of his life," because I have understood that, from time to time, he added something to his education during the greater part of his whole life. Mr. Clay's lack of a more perfect early education, however it may be regretted generally, teaches at least one profitable lesson; it teaches that in this country, one can scarcely be so poor, but that, if he will, he can acquire sufficient education to get through the world respectably. In his twenty-third year Mr. Clay was licenced to practice law, and emigrated to Lexington, Kentucky. Here he commenced and continued the practice till the year 1803, when he was first elected to the Kentucky Legislature. By successive elections he was continued in the Legislature till the latter part of 1806, when he was elected to fill a vacancy, of a single session, in the United States Senate. In 1807 he was again elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, and by that body, chosen its Speaker. In 1808 he was re-elected to the same body. In 1809 he was again chosen to fill a vacancy of two years in the United States Senate. In 1811 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives, and on the first day of taking his seat in that body, he was chosen its speaker. In 1813 he was again elected Speaker. Early in 1814, being the period of our last British war, Mr. Clay was sent as commissioner, with others, to negotiate a treaty of peace, which treaty was concluded in the latter part of the same year. On his return from Europe he was again elected to the lower branch of Congress, and on taking his seat in December 1815 was called to his old post -- the speaker's chair, a position in which he was retained by successive elections, with one brief intermission, till the inauguration of John Q. Adams in March 1825. He was then appointed Secretary of State, and occupied that important station till the inauguration of Gen. Jackson in March 1829. After this he returned to Kentucky, resumed the practice of the law, and continued it till the Autumn of 1831, when he was by the legislature of Kentucky, again placed in the United States Senate. By a re-election he continued in the Senate till he resigned his seat, and retired, in March 1848. In December 1849 he again took his seat in the Senate, which he again resigned only a few months before his death.
By the foregoing it is perceived that the period from the beginning of Mr. Clay's official life, in 1803, to the end of it in 1852, is but one year short of half a century; and that the sum of all the intervals in it, will not amount to ten years. But mere duration of time in office, constitutes the smallest part of Mr. Clay's history. Throughout that long period, he has constantly been the most loved, and most implicitly followed by friends, and the most dreaded by opponents, of all living American politicians. In all the great questions which have agitated the country, and particularly in those great and fearful crises, the Missouri question -- the Nullification question, and the late slavery question, as connected with the newly acquired territory, involving and endangering the stability of the Union, his has been the leading and most conspicuous part. In 1824 he was first a candidate for the Presidency, and was defeated; and, although he was successively defeated for the same office in 1832 and in 1844, there has never been a moment since 1824 till after 1848 when a very large portion of the American people did not cling to him with an enthusiastic hope and purpose of still elevating him to the Presidency. With other men, to be defeated, was to be forgotten; but to him, defeat was but a trifling incident, neither changing him, or the world's estimate of him. Even those of both political parties who have been preferred to him for the highest office, have run far briefer courses than he, and left him, still shining high in the heavens of the political world. Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Polk, and Taylor, all rose after, and set long before him. The spell -- the long enduring spell -- with which the souls of men were bound to him, is a miracle. Who can compass it? It is probably true he owed his pre-eminence to no one quality, but to a fortunate combination of several. He was surpassingly eloquent; but many eloquent men fail utterly; and they are not, as a class, generally successful. His judgment was excellent; but many men of good judgment, live and die unnoticed. His will was indomitable; but this quality often secures to its owner nothing better than a character for useless obstinacy. These then were Mr. Clay's leading qualities. No one of them is very uncommon; but all taken together are rarely combined in a single individual; and this is probably the reason why such men as Henry Clay are so rare in the world.
Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many fine specimens of eloquence does [do], of types and figures -- of antithesis, and elegant arrangement of words and sentences; but rather of that deeply earnest and impassioned tone, and manner, which can proceed only from great sincerity and a thorough conviction, in the speaker of the justice and importance of his cause. This it is, that truly touches the chords of sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay never failed to be moved by it, or ever afterwards, forgot the impression. All his efforts were made for practical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard. He never delivered a Fourth of July oration, or an eulogy on an occasion like this. As a politician or statesman, no one was so habitually careful to avoid all sectional ground. Whatever he did, he did for the whole country. In the construction of his measures he ever carefully surveyed every part of the field, and duly weighed every conflicting interest. Feeling, as he did, and as the truth surely is, that the world's best hope depended on the continued Union of these States, he was ever jealous of, and watchful for, whatever might have the slightest tendency to separate them.
Mr. Clay's predominant sentiment, from first to last, was a deep devotion to the cause of human liberty -- a strong sympathy with the oppressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their elevation. With him, this was a primary and all controlling passion. Subsidiary to this was the conduct of his whole life. He loved his country partly because it was his own country, but mostly because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its advancement, prosperity and glory, because he saw in such, the advancement, prosperity and glory, of human liberty, human right and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to the world that freemen could be prosperous.
That his views and measures were always the wisest, needs not to be affirmed; nor should it be, on this occasion, where so many, thinking differently, join in doing honor to his memory. A free people, in times of peace and quiet -- when pressed by no common danger -- naturally divide into parties. At such times the man who is of neither party, is not -- cannot be, of any consequence. Mr. Clay, therefore, was of a party. Taking a prominent part, as he did, in all the great political questions of his country for the last half century, the wisdom of his course on many, is doubted and denied by a large portion of his countrymen; and of such it is not now proper to speak particularly. But there are many others, about his course upon which, there is little or no disagreement amongst intelligent and patriotic Americans. Of these last are the War of 1812, the Missouri question, Nullification, and the now recent compromise measures. In 1812 Mr. Clay, though not unknown, was still a young man. Whether we should go to war with Great Britain, being the question of the day, a minority opposed the declaration of war by Congress, while the majority, though apparently inclining to war, had, for years, wavered, and hesitated to act decisively. Meanwhile British aggressions multiplied, and grew more daring and aggravated. By Mr. Clay, more than any other man, the struggle was brought to a decision in Congress. The question, being now fully before congress, came up, in a variety of ways, in rapid succession, on most of which occasions Mr. Clay spoke. Adding to all the logic, of which the subject was susceptible, that noble inspiration, which came to him as it came to no other, he aroused, and nerved, and inspired his friends, and confounded and bore-down all opposition. Several of his speeches, on these occasions, were reported, and are still extant; but the best of these all never was. During its delivery the reporters forgot their vocations, dropped their pens, and sat enchanted from near the beginning to quite the close. The speech now lives only in the memory of a few old men; and the enthusiasm with which they cherish their recollection of it is absolutely astonishing. The precise language of this speech we shall never know; but we do know -- we cannot help knowing -- that, with deep pathos, it pleaded the cause of the injured sailor -- that it invoked the genius of the revolution -- that it apostrophised the names of Otis, of Henry and of Washington -- that it appealed to the interest, the pride, the honor and the glory of the nation -- that it shamed and taunted the timidity of friends -- that it scorned, and scouted, and withered the temerity of domestic foes -- that it bearded and defied the British Lion -- and rising, and swelling, and maddening in its course, it sounded the onset, till the charge, the shock, the steady struggle, and the glorious victory, all passed in vivid review before the entranced hearers.
Important and exciting as was the war question, of 1812, it never so alarmed the sagacious statesmen of the country for the safety of the republic, as afterwards did the Missouri question. This sprang from that unfortunate source of discord -- negro slavery. When our Federal Constitution was adopted, we owned no territory beyond the limits or ownership of the States, except the territory North-West of the River Ohio, and east of the Mississippi. What has since been formed into the States of Maine, Kentucky, and Tennessee, was, I believe, within the limits of or owned by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina. As to the North Western Territory, provision had been made, even before the adoption of the Constitution, that slavery should never go there. On the admission of the States into the Union carved from the territory we owned before the constitution, no question -- or at most, no considerable question -- arose about slavery -- those which were within the limits of or owned by the old states, following, respectively, the condition of the parent state, and those within the North West territory, following the previously made provision. But in 1803 we purchased Louisiana of the French; and it included with much more, what has since been formed into the State of Missouri. With regard to it, nothing had been done to forestall the question of slavery. When, therefore, in 1819, Missouri, having formed a State constitution, without excluding slavery, and with slavery already actually existing within its limits, knocked at the door of the Union for admission, almost the entire representation of the non-slave-holding states, objected. A fearful and angry struggle instantly followed. This alarmed thinking men, more than any previous question, because, unlike all the former, it divided the country by geographical lines. Other questions had their opposing partizans in all localities of the country and in almost every family; so that no division of the Union could follow such, without a separation of friends, to quite as great an extent, as that of opponents. Not so with the Missouri question. On this a geographical line could be traced which, in the main, would separate opponents only. This was the danger. Mr. Jefferson, then in retirement, wrote:
"I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or to pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened, and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, co-inciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived, and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. The cession of that kind of property, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general emancipation, and expatriation could be effected; and, gradually, and with due sacrifices I think it might be. But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."
Mr. Clay was in congress, and, perceiving the danger, at once engaged his whole energies to avert it. It began, as I have said, in 1819; and it did not terminate till 1821. Missouri would not yield the point; and congress -- that is, a majority in congress -- by repeated votes, showed a determination to not admit the state unless it should yield. After several failures, and great labor on the part of Mr. Clay to so present the question that a majority could consent to the admission, it was, by a vote, rejected, and as all seemed to think, finally. A sullen gloom hung over the nation. All felt that the rejection of Missouri, was equivalent to a dissolution of the Union, because those states which already had, what Missouri was rejected for refusing to relinquish, would go with Missouri. All deprecated and deplored this, but none saw how to avert it. For the judgment of Members to be convinced of the necessity of yielding, was not the whole difficulty; each had a constituency to meet, and to answer to. Mr. Clay, though worn down, and exhausted, was appealed to by members, to renew his efforts at compromise. He did so, and by some judicious modifications of his plan, coupled with laborious efforts with individual members, and his own over-mastering eloquence upon the floor, he finally secured the admission of the State. Brightly, and captivating as it had previously shown, it was now perceived that his great eloquence, was a mere embellishment, or, at most, but a helping hand to his inventive genius, and his devotion to his country in the day of her extreme peril.
After the settlement of the Missouri question, although a portion of the American people have differed with Mr. Clay, and a majority even, appear generally to have been opposed to him on questions of ordinary administration, he seems constantly to have been regarded by all, as the man for a crisis. Accordingly, in the days of Nullification, and more recently in the re-appearance of the slavery question, connected with our territory newly acquired of Mexico, the task of devising a mode of adjustment, seems to have been cast upon Mr. Clay, by common consent -- and his performance of the task, in each case, was little else than, a literal fulfilment of the public expectation.
Mr. Clay's efforts in behalf of the South Americans, and afterwards, in behalf of the Greeks, in the times of their respective struggles for civil liberty are among the finest on record, upon the noblest of all themes; and bear ample corroboration of what I have said was his ruling passion -- a love of liberty and right, unselfishly, and for their own sakes.
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. But I would also, if I could, array his name, opinions, and influence against the opposite extreme -- against a few, but an increasing number of men, who, for the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter of freedom -- the declaration that "all men are created free and equal." So far as I have learned, the first American, of any note, to do or attempt this, was the late John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its way into some of the messages of the Governors of South Carolina. We, however, look for, and are not much shocked by, political eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But, only last year, I saw with astonishment, what purported to be a letter of a very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, containing the following, to me, very extraordinary language--
"I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority, 'All men are born free and equal.'
"This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism."
This sounds strangely in republican America. The like was not heard in the fresher days of the Republic. Let us contrast with it the language of that truly national man, whose life and death we now commemorate and lament. I quote from a speech of Mr. Clay delivered before the American Colonization Society in 1827.
"We are reproached with doing mischief by the agitation of this question. The society goes into no household to disturb its domestic tranquility; it addresses itself to no slaves to weaken their obligations of obedience. It seeks to affect no man's property. It neither has the power nor the will to affect the property of any one contrary to his consent. The execution of its scheme would augment instead of diminishing the value of the property left behind. The society, composed of free men, concerns itself only with the free. Collateral consequences we are not responsible for. It is not this society which has produced the great moral revolution which the age exhibits. What would they, who thus reproach us, have done? If they would repress all tendencies towards liberty, and ultimate emancipation, they must do more than put down the benevolent efforts of this society. They must go back to the era of our liberty and independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual joyous return. They must renew the slave trade with all its train of atrocities. They must suppress the workings of British philanthropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of the unfortunate West Indian slave. They must arrest the career of South American deliverance from thraldom. They must blow out the moral lights around us, and extinguish that greatest torch of all which America presents to a benighted world -- pointing the way to their rights, their liberties, and their happiness. And when they have achieved all those purposes their work will be yet incomplete. They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate the light of reason, and the love of liberty. Then, and not till then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can you perpetuate slavery, and repress all sympathy, and all humane, and benevolent efforts among free men, in behalf of the unhappy portion of our race doomed to bondage."
The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Mr. Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members; and he died, as for the many preceding years he had been, its President. It was one of the most cherished objects of his direct care and consideration; and the association of his name with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support. He considered it no demerit in the society, that it tended to relieve slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his estimation. In the same speech from which I have quoted he says: "There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion, civilization, law and liberty. May it not be one of the great designs of the Ruler of the universe, (whose ways are often inscrutable by short-sighted mortals,) thus to transform an original crime, into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate portion of the globe?" This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the African race and African continent, was made twenty-five years ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May it indeed be realized! Pharaoh's country was cursed with plagues, and his hosts were drowned in the Red Sea for striving to retain a captive people who had already served them more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall us! If as the friends of colonization hope, the present and coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means, succeed in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery; and, at the same time, in restoring a captive people to their long-lost father-land, with bright prospects for the future; and this too, so gradually, that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And if, to such a consummation, the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have contributed, it will be what he most ardently wished, and none of his labors will have been more valuable to his country and his kind.
But Henry Clay is dead. His long and eventful life is closed. Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay? Such a man the times have demanded, and such, in the providence of God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler.
If Lincoln did so, then I can look forward to Mssrs. Ferrier, Jaffa, and Quackenbush's hari-kiri. If Lincoln did not do so, then Di Lorenzo had better have some other compelling evidence (votes in Congress, letters, legal cases etc.) to support his assertions.
My father, God rest his soul, was at the Japanese surrender in '45, and our family has a Samurai sword. It won't be needed.
The speeches are almost obsessively about slavery in the Territories, "Popular Sovereignty," the principles of the Declaration, and the like. There is no trace of a secret Whiggish ambition in the letters. That is not to say that he changed his economic views, just that they were not high on his, or the country's mind in the '50's. Kansas, John Brown, the Fugitive slave law, Abolition, the Territories, and, in short, slavery, were. Also, to a lesser degree,immigration, Catholicism, and Temperance [alcohol]
Lincoln was not serving in a legislature, Federal or State, in this period, [he resigned a seat, prior to the session, in the IL state house in order to be a candidate for the '54 US Senate seat] though Dilorenzo falsely states he was a "member of the Illinois legislature in 1857." This was the period of his legal career, and the demise of the Whigs and his work organizing the new Republican Party, esp.after 1856.
I am less sure of the range of legal cases he took, though they are said to have covered the gamut, and the mores of the bar at the time called for a firm adherence to the case of one's client, whatever ones politics might have been.
Thanks for your post,and your kind words about the discussion here.
If so I can certainly see why the South felt so threatened.
Many thanks. I shall return to FR this evening when my eyeballs are rested.
Sustantially, yes. There is a lot of back and forth in the Lincoln/Douglas Debates about Illinois partisan questions, mostly about truth-telling and various politicians' alliances, and, of course, Lincoln always said he had no intention to force emancipation on the Slave states. The nature and authority of Court decisions came up often, in relation, note well, only to the Dred Scott case.
But, yes, you do understand me correctly.
It's amazing how the author can cut a sentence in half to change the meaning. The actual verse says, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Obviously the author can't be trusted with anything.
Be sure to check out pp 12-3 on the Fugitive Slave law. It's a classic DiLorenzoism. The real source is given in footnote 11. Take care to let Lincoln finish his sentence.
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