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Lincoln: Tyrant, Hypocrite or Consumate Statesman? (Dinesh defends our 2d Greatest Prez)
thehistorynet. ^ | Feb 12, 05 | D'Souza

Posted on 02/18/2005 11:27:18 PM PST by churchillbuff

The key to understanding Lincoln's philosophy of statesmanship is that he always sought the meeting point between what was right in theory and what could be achieved in practice. By Dinesh D'Souza

Most Americans -- including most historians -- regard Abraham Lincoln as the nation's greatest president. But in recent years powerful movements have gathered, both on the political right and the left, to condemn Lincoln as a flawed and even wicked man.

For both camps, the debunking of Lincoln usually begins with an exposé of the "Lincoln myth," which is well described in William Lee Miller's 2002 book Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography. How odd it is, Miller writes, that an "unschooled" politician "from the raw frontier villages of Illinois and Indiana" could become such a great president. "He was the myth made real," Miller writes, "rising from an actual Kentucky cabin made of actual Kentucky logs all the way to the actual White House."

Lincoln's critics have done us all a service by showing that the actual author of the myth is Abraham Lincoln himself. It was Lincoln who, over the years, carefully crafted the public image of himself as Log Cabin Lincoln, Honest Abe and the rest of it. Asked to describe his early life, Lincoln answered, "the short and simple annals of the poor," referring to Thomas Gray's poem "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Lincoln disclaimed great aspirations for himself, noting that if people did not vote for him, he would return to obscurity, for he was, after all, used to disappointments.

These pieties, however, are inconsistent with what Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon, said about him: "His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest." Admittedly in the ancient world ambition was often viewed as a great vice. In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Brutus submits his reason for joining the conspiracy against Caesar: his fear that Caesar had grown too ambitious. But as founding father and future president James Madison noted in The Federalist, the American system was consciously designed to attract ambitious men. Such ambition was presumed natural to a politician and favorable to democracy as long as it sought personal distinction by promoting the public good through constitutional means.

What unites the right-wing and left-wing attacks on Lincoln, of course, is that they deny that Lincoln respected the law and that he was concerned with the welfare of all. The right-wing school -- made up largely of Southerners and some libertarians -- holds that Lincoln was a self-serving tyrant who rode roughshod over civil liberties, such as the right to habeas corpus. Lincoln is also accused of greatly expanding the size of the federal government. Some libertarians even charge -- and this is not intended as a compliment -- that Lincoln was the true founder of the welfare state. His right-wing critics say that despite his show of humility, Lincoln was a megalomaniacal man who was willing to destroy half the country to serve his Caesarian ambitions. In an influential essay, the late Melvin E. Bradford, an outspoken conservative, excoriated Lincoln as a moral fanatic who, determined to enforce his Manichaean vision -- one that sees a cosmic struggle between good and evil -- on the country as a whole, ended up corrupting American politics and thus left a "lasting and terrible impact on the nation's destiny."

Although Bradford viewed Lincoln as a kind of manic abolitionist, many in the right-wing camp deny that the slavery issue was central to the Civil War. Rather, they insist, the war was driven primarily by economic motives. Essentially, the industrial North wanted to destroy the economic base of the South. Historian Charles Adams, in When in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession, published in 2000, contends that the causes leading up to the Civil War had virtually nothing to do with slavery.

This approach to rewriting history has been going on for more than a century. Alexander Stephens, former vice president of the Confederacy, published a two-volume history of the Civil War between 1868 and 1870 in which he hardly mentioned slavery, insisting that the war was an attempt to preserve constitutional government from the tyranny of the majority. But this is not what Stephens said in the great debates leading up to the war. In his "Cornerstone" speech, delivered in Savannah, Ga., on March 21, 1861, at the same time that the South was in the process of seceding, Stephens said that the American Revolution had been based on a premise that was "fundamentally wrong." That premise was, as Stephens defined it, "the assumption of equality of the races." Stephens insisted that instead: "Our new [Confederate] government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man. Slavery -- subordination to the superior race -- is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great and moral truth."

This speech is conspicuously absent from the right's revisionist history. And so are the countless affirmations of black inferiority and the "positive good" of slavery -- from John C. Calhoun's attacks on the Declaration of Independence to South Carolina Senator James H. Hammond's insistence that "the rock of Gibraltar does not stand so firm on its basis as our slave system." It is true, of course, that many whites who fought on the Southern side in the Civil War did not own slaves. But, as Calhoun himself pointed out in one speech, they too derived an important benefit from slavery: "With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and the poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals." Calhoun's point is that the South had conferred on all whites a kind of aristocracy of birth, so that even the most wretched and degenerate white man was determined in advance to be better and more socially elevated than the most intelligent and capable black man. That's why the poor whites fought -- to protect that privilege.

Contrary to Bradford's high-pitched accusations, Lincoln approached the issue of slavery with prudence and moderation. This is not to say that he waffled on the morality of slavery. "You think slavery is right, and ought to be extended," Lincoln wrote Stephens on the eve of the war, "while we think it is wrong, and ought to be restricted." As Lincoln clearly asserts, it was not his intention to get rid of slavery in the Southern states. Lincoln conceded that the American founders had agreed to tolerate slavery in the Southern states, and he confessed that he had no wish and no power to interfere with it there. The only issue -- and it was an issue on which Lincoln would not bend -- was whether the federal government could restrict slavery in the new territories. This was the issue of the presidential campaign of 1860; this was the issue that determined secession and war.

Lincoln argued that the South had no right to secede -- that the Southern states had entered the Union as the result of a permanent compact with the Northern states. That Union was based on the principle of majority rule, with constitutional rights carefully delineated for the minority. Lincoln insisted that since he had been legitimately elected, and since the power to regulate slavery in the territories was nowhere proscribed in the Constitution, Southern secession amounted to nothing more than one group's decision to leave the country because it did not like the results of a presidential election, and no constitutional democracy could function under such an absurd rule. Of course the Southerners objected that they should not be forced to live under a regime that they considered tyrannical, but Lincoln countered that any decision to dissolve the original compact could only occur with the consent of all the parties involved. Once again, it makes no sense to have such agreements when any group can unilaterally withdraw from them and go its own way.

The rest of the libertarian and right-wing case against Lincoln is equally without merit. Yes, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus and arrested Southern sympathizers, but let us not forget that the nation was in a desperate war in which its very survival was at stake. Discussing habeas corpus, Lincoln insisted that it made no sense for him to protect this one constitutional right and allow the very Union established by the Constitution, the very framework for the protection of all rights, to be obliterated. Of course the federal government expanded during the Civil War, as it expanded during the Revolutionary War, and during World War II. Governments need to be strong to fight wars. The evidence for the right-wing insistence that Lincoln was the founder of the modern welfare state stems from the establishment, begun during his administration, of a pension program for Union veterans and support for their widows and orphans. Those were, however, programs aimed at a specific, albeit large, part of the population. The welfare state came to America in the 20th century. Franklin Roosevelt should be credited, or blamed, for that. He institutionalized it, and Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon expanded it.

The left-wing group of Lincoln critics, composed of liberal scholars and social activists, is harshly critical of Lincoln on the grounds that he was a racist who did not really care about ending slavery. Their indictment of Lincoln is that he did not oppose slavery outright, only the extension of it, that he opposed laws permitting intermarriage and even opposed social and political equality between the races. If the right-wingers disdain Lincoln for being too aggressively antislavery, the left-wingers scorn him for not being antislavery enough. Both groups, however, agree that Lincoln was a self-promoting hypocrite who said one thing while doing another.

Some of Lincoln's defenders have sought to vindicate him from these attacks by contending that he was a "man of his time." This will not do, because there were several persons of that time, notably the social-reformer Grimké sisters, Angelina and Sarah, and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, who forthrightly and unambiguously attacked slavery and called for immediate and complete abolition. In one of his speeches, Sumner said that while there are many issues on which political men can and should compromise, slavery is not such an issue: "This will not admit of compromise. To be wrong on this is to be wholly wrong. It is our duty to defend freedom, unreservedly, and careless of the consequences."

Lincoln's modern liberal critics are, whether they know it or not, the philosophical descendants of Sumner. One cannot understand Lincoln without understanding why he agreed with Sumner's goals while consistently opposing the strategy of the abolitionists. The abolitionists, Lincoln thought, approached the restricting or ending of slavery with self-righteous moral display. They wanted to be in the right and -- as Sumner himself says -- damn the consequences. In Lincoln's view, abolition was a noble sentiment, but abolitionist tactics, such as burning the Constitution and advocating violence, were not the way to reach their goal.

We can answer the liberal critics by showing them why Lincoln's understanding of slavery, and his strategy for defeating it, was superior to that of Sumner and his modern-day followers. Lincoln knew that the statesman, unlike the moralist, cannot be content with making the case against slavery. He must find a way to implement his principles to the degree that circumstances permit. The key to understanding Lincoln is that he always sought the meeting point between what was right in theory and what could be achieved in practice. He always sought the common denominator between what was good to do and what the people would go along with. In a democratic society this is the only legitimate way to advance a moral agenda.

Consider the consummate skill with which Lincoln deflected the prejudices of his supporters without yielding to them. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates during the race for the Illinois Senate, Stephen Douglas repeatedly accused Lincoln of believing that blacks and whites were intellectually equal, of endorsing full political rights for blacks, and of supporting "amalgamation" or intermarriage between the races. If these charges could be sustained, or if large numbers of people believed them to be true, then Lincoln's career was over. Even in the free state of Illinois -- as throughout the North -- there was widespread opposition to full political and social equality for blacks.

Lincoln handled this difficult situation by using a series of artfully conditional responses. "Certainly the Negro is not our equal in color -- perhaps not in many other respects; still, in the right to put into his mouth the bread that his own hands have earned, he is the equal of every other man. In pointing out that more has been given to you, you cannot be justified in taking away the little which has been given to him. If God gave him but little, that little let him enjoy." Notice that Lincoln only barely recognizes the prevailing prejudice. He never acknowledges black inferiority; he merely concedes the possibility. And the thrust of his argument is that even if blacks were inferior, that is not a warrant for taking away their rights.

Facing the charge of racial amalgamation, Lincoln said, "I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that because I do not want a black woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her for a wife." Lincoln is not saying that he wants, or does not want, a black woman for his wife. He is neither supporting nor opposing racial intermarriage. He is simply saying that from his antislavery position it does not follow that he endorses racial amalgamation. Elsewhere Lincoln turned antiblack prejudices against Douglas by saying that slavery was the institution that had produced the greatest racial intermixing and the largest number of mulattoes.

Lincoln was exercising the same prudent statesmanship when he wrote to New York newspaper publisher Horace Greeley asserting: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 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 do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that." The letter was written on August 22, 1862, almost a year and a half after the Civil War broke out, when the South was gaining momentum and the outcome was far from certain. From the time of secession, Lincoln was desperately eager to prevent border states such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri from seceding. These states had slavery, and Lincoln knew that if the issue of the war was cast openly as the issue of slavery, his chances of keeping the border states in the Union were slim. And if all the border states seceded, Lincoln was convinced, and rightly so, that the cause of the Union was gravely imperiled.

Moreover, Lincoln was acutely aware that many people in the North were vehemently antiblack and saw themselves as fighting to save their country rather than to free slaves. Lincoln framed the case against the Confederacy in terms of saving the Union in order to maintain his coalition -- a coalition whose victory was essential to the antislavery cause. And ultimately it was because of Lincoln that slavery came to an end. That is why the right wing can never forgive him.

In my view, Lincoln was the true "philosophical statesman," one who was truly good and truly wise. Standing in front of his critics, Lincoln is a colossus, and all of the Lilliputian arrows hurled at him bounce harmlessly to the ground. It is hard to put any other president -- not even George Washington -- in the same category as Abraham Lincoln. He is simply the greatest practitioner of democratic statesmanship that America and the world have yet produced.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
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To: Bigun
There were innumerable cultural differences between the north and south at that time! Literally innumerable!

I'll agree that there were differences, but with the exception of slavery, they were mostly superficial. How else can we explain the strong support for Lincoln and the Union in the parts of the South with insignificant slavery? In the 1860s the farmers of the Midwest and South were one people. There were slaveowners of the South and industrial interests of the North that were pitted against one another, but the common people of the whole nation were one. In 1860 as in today, the main fault line should not be North/South, but between the heartland and the mindset of the coastal elites.

In my civic identity, I am a Tennessean and an American who happens to live in the South. I am not a Southerner to the point that it separates me from my fellow Americans throughout the nation. As such I hold Abraham Lincoln in high esteem. He was not perfect in his actions, but it was a blessing to our nation that he was the man of the hour.

51 posted on 02/19/2005 9:22:31 AM PST by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: Colonel Kangaroo
Thank for the explanation. I disagree with you entirely.

Good Day!

52 posted on 02/19/2005 9:42:39 AM PST by Bigun (IRSsucks@getridof it.com)
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To: NoControllingLegalAuthority
Nobody will ever convince me the poor, young white boys of the South fought, and were willing to die, for the Confederacy to continue slavery.

There was a huge cultural difference between North and South and I think most southerners simply resented Yankees dictating the fate of southerners.


Indeed, there are a vast number of reasons for Southerners to choose to fight. Honor, youthful desire for glory, desire to emulate revolutionary war ancestors, machismo, to remain in good standing with the females, protection of their homes, constitutionalism, or even the simple fact of their duly elected state government conscripting them into service.

You even have to take into account the fact that there were differences in motivation based on background, and rank. The motivations were probably very different between the officer corps and the private soldier. But even there you can't make blanket statements when your reflect on the motivations of people like Patrick Cleburne, Robert E. Lee, or John C. Pemberton.

You also have to take into account the fact that motivations changed over the course of the war. Someone's motivation for fighting in April of 1861 can be far different than their motivation for continuing the struggle in 1864.

Those who spend their life trying to get Confederate monuments taken down, or trying to stamp out any reasonable word said about Civil War era Southerners do not make such distinctions. They refuse to account for such complexity in their formulations and pronouncements.

Truth in this instance is a grey area. Unfortunately a grey truth does not advance their particular modern political agenda as quickly as sound-bites and painting with a single broad swipe of the brush. The intellectually dishonest methods get more traction in the short run.

Sadly, many on the pro-Southern side have taken to fighting this tactic by merely reversing it and flinging it back. I can understand that, because its difficult to fight a two second simplistic and misleading soundbite with a two hour historical lecture.

The NAACP can get on television or in print and throw a two second verbal bomb. The nature of the media is such that it is impossible to take the time to explain the complex nature of why the verbal bomb is misleading. It is far easier to develop your own verbal bomb despite it being less than the full truth of the matter.

There is also the danger of dumbing down your own self, and your own message, when you get into that kind of fight. You can come up with a cute sarcastic turn of the tables to show the futility of judging 1860's people by modern standards but you run the risk of your own supporters adopting that position as the message itself. Your own supporters can even lose sight of the complexity behind your position.

It's my opinion that we have spent the last several years concentrating too much on verbal bombs, and not enough time doing the harder work of educating ourselves, and the public about the complex nature of the event.

The average American understands there are complexities involved only the dumbest are swayed by the simplistic pronouncements we so often see from either side. People pretty much think of the NAACP pronouncements on the subject as nothing more than immature posturing and view pro-Southern soundbites of the same sort as just a little bit loony. Most people recognize demagoguery when they hear it.

Personally, I think we are better off recommending a good book in our two-second soundbite than we are trying to use it to fling a little bomb back at our detractors.
53 posted on 02/19/2005 10:18:54 AM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: Colonel Kangaroo
I'll agree that there were differences, but with the exception of slavery, they were mostly superficial.

Well, I am not one to discount the role of slavery in the conflict as the focal point and prime mover. But I, respectfully, would say that you are giving short-shrift to the effects of the other differences on that friction point.

Despite being secessionists, it was southerners who clung to the traditional concepts of federal republicanism and northerners who appealed to a "higher law". Northerners, for a variety of reasons, many economic, were moving down the road to a more centralized government with broader powers. Their views of the nature of the republic had diverged from the more traditional view held in the south. It is true that protection of slavery also had an impact on southern views, but economic needs in the north (such as in regard to infrastructure) was changing the northern view of what sort of government was needed for their economic well-being.

If the north had still retained its old agrarian nature rather than advancing rapidly toward an industrial model I believe that the frictions in regard to slavery would have been muted because the desire for centralization would have been less. I think this is one reason why the largest pockets of "copperhead" activity were where they were. Those areas, being more agrarian, had less at stake in the move toward centralization and still maintained more traditional views of the nature of the republic.

You can say that it was slavery, but the fact is that northerners had lived in union with slavery for many decades without feeling the overwhelming urge to pick up a gun and go stamp it out for the sake of morality. There was something more going on at this particular time. Slavery was the bomb, but the lighting of the fuse at this particular time has a lot to do with the other differences between the two sections.

I read an editorial out of a New Orleans paper in regard to popular sovereignty. The paper was celebrating the concept. But not because of it being a victory for the expansion of slavery. It was being lauded because the writer believed that the South was being treated as an equal member of the union. The author stated bluntly that everyone knew that the actual expansion of slavery into the territories under popular sovereignty was essentially a pipe dream due to demographic realities but that the concept finally recognized an equality of potential. An even playing field essentially.

Of course, in the north, popular sovereignty was viewed in an entirely different way. It was not seen as an abstract political compromise, but as a potential reality on the ground no matter how unlikely. An abstraction to one, a reality to the other.

The fulcrum here was slavery, but the prime issue for the Southern commentator was the abstract concept of being treated equally within a federal republic and maintaining honor while the prime issue for the northern observer was a concrete threat of having access to the west cut off, having their various interests dominated. Of course for fire-eaters and abolitionists the reasoning was much more purely a direct tie to the slavery issue. Those people, despite how loud they were, were not a majority in either region.

This is only one editorial, but it pretty clearly points out the vast disparity in how the two sides viewed the same simple concept.

Slavery was the fulcrum, but you can't dismiss out of hand the economic interests of the movers in the north and you can't discount the abstractions inherent in the Southern view either.

Cultural differences were rampant. Many of these were caused, over time, by having slavery in the South and not in the North. But not all. Some of the most important differences were caused by industrialization and immigration in the North and the resultant rise in importance of westward expansion to northerners. A strictly internal change in the North influenced very little by Southern views.
54 posted on 02/19/2005 11:35:34 AM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: Arkinsaw; Non-Sequitur
Secession was more about slavery in the deep South states, whereas it was less about slavery as you move geographically farther from the deep South areas.

But, still, the smaller the percentage of slaves and slaveowners, the less likely it was that a state would join the rebellion. That's a pretty good wholesale indicator, though of course, it can't account for everything.

You can not make the statement "The Southern states seceded over slavery" and give a clear picture of the whole.

So far as I can make out, historians tend to avoid blanket statements like that, and look at the actual details of the conflict. Nonetheless, it is quite clear that without slavery and the perceived threat to it, there woud have been no secession and no war.

It's not a black and white answer. Very few things are.

Undoubtedly. In history few things happen because of one and only one reason, but the connection between slavery and secession in starting the Civil War is clearer than the reasons for many other conflicts.

55 posted on 02/19/2005 11:47:33 AM PST by x
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To: squirt-gun

I am FAR from "Hillbilly" as you put it. I have a Masters in US and Texas History, and a bachelors in World History, so I am quite educated. The difference is, I look at the historical facts, and can look at the truth, without the "hero" worship in it. Lincoln started this country down the road to big government, and destroyed our republic, in his attempt to "save" it. The only thing good that came from his actions, was that slaves were freed. But the price to our country was NOT worth it.


56 posted on 02/19/2005 11:54:58 AM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: pawdoggie

First:

Do not presume that you know my parents mind. They are historians, as am I, and we call it for what we see it.
My ancestor 3 times removed cursed Lincoln to the grave, for the treatment received in a Yankee Prison Camp.

Your Lincoln wasn't fit to lick Robert E. Lee's boots, and
Lee lived to regret his decision to surrender, when he saw his people subjegated to Yankee occupation and cruelty.

I have a feeling you are not at all Southern, (since you don't post your home state flag.) So kindly lecture somone else with your sanctimonious defense of America's greatest Tyrant. I repeat, he deserved what he received, to the sorrow of the South, it didn't happen sooner.


57 posted on 02/19/2005 12:05:24 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: x
Nonetheless, it is quite clear that without slavery and the perceived threat to it, there woud have been no secession and no war.

Sure. Don't get me wrong, its my opinion that slavery was the fulcrum, the prime mover.

But I think its fairly meaningless to use the criteria of "the war would not have happened if"....as the determinant of causation. I would posit that if the program of industrialization and resultant immigration in the north had not occurred that northern sentiments would have been damped as they had been for decades before living with slavery as a neighbor. Thus no war and no secession. Just because I believe this is true does not lead me to say "industrialization and immigration is the ultimate cause".

I can say that turning on a faucet is the cause of water running in my sink. It is true in the immediate sense. But I am discounting the fact that there are people at a pumping station somewhere without whom my faucet turning wouldn't matter much.

The only thing I am advocating here is a holistic view. Just because we live in a world where everything has to be explained in a thirty second soundbite on tv does not mean that we must boil the most complex political and social event in our history into a soundbite within our own minds. It leads to stupid "yes it is", "no it isn't" arguments that really have little meaning.
58 posted on 02/19/2005 12:28:34 PM PST by Arkinsaw
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To: churchillbuff

Already posted here over a week ago. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1336973/posts


59 posted on 02/19/2005 12:41:46 PM PST by GOPcapitalist ("Marxism finds it easy to ally with Islamic zealotism" - Ludwig von Mises)
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To: TexConfederate1861

I see you display that great Southron Patriot J.W. Booth's motto, does that make you an assassin?


60 posted on 02/19/2005 12:47:03 PM PST by pawdoggie
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To: Arkinsaw
I've read hundreds of books and articles on the war from all sorts of points of view. My fundamental conception of the war is vastly different than it was when I first started studying it. I still find new facts that alter my views of the event from time to time. But the rate of change in my views has declined steadily as time has gone by.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the Civil War and plenty of abuses on both sides. Those who continually try to place blame on one side or the other in these threads will simply fail. It is sad to see facts ignored because they don't fit the propaganda of one side or the other. Those who engage in it are doing a disservice to the memory of both Lincoln and Lee who, despite any other flaws, desired an honorable reconciliation and reunion with malice toward none.



Damn, man. That's the most well-reasoned, well-thought, and refreshing take on this subject that I've read in a long time.



Its not a black and white answer. Very few things are.


Didn't catch your pun, did you? ;-) Next time you're in Forrest City, honk your horn 3 times for me.


61 posted on 02/19/2005 12:55:47 PM PST by rdb3 (The wife asked how I slept last night. I said, "How do I know? I was asleep!")
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To: Arkinsaw

When I teach Civil War, I offer five probable options as to cause:
Irrepressible conflict, slavery, sectionalism/nationalism, and competing economies. That said, I announce,"You have paid your money. Now take your choice. Personally, I favor irrepressible conflict as will most people who pass this course."


62 posted on 02/19/2005 1:02:51 PM PST by basque (Basque by birth. American by act of God)
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To: x
But, still, the smaller the percentage of slaves and slaveowners, the less likely it was that a state would join the rebellion. That's a pretty good wholesale indicator, though of course, it can't account for everything.

...or it could just be a spurious correlation that hasn't been demonstrated under reputable statistical scrutiny.

63 posted on 02/19/2005 1:06:01 PM PST by GOPcapitalist ("Marxism finds it easy to ally with Islamic zealotism" - Ludwig von Mises)
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To: mhking; cyborg
The only thing good that came from his actions, was that slaves were freed. But the price to our country was NOT worth it.


Mike, Renee, mark this statement. #56

Of course, this great5-grandson of slaves was not asked.


64 posted on 02/19/2005 1:09:07 PM PST by rdb3 (The wife asked how I slept last night. I said, "How do I know? I was asleep!")
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To: Iris7

Interesting.

I guess Lincoln was for ending slavery, but not having them live among us.


65 posted on 02/19/2005 1:13:01 PM PST by rwfromkansas ("War is an ugly thing, but...the decayed feeling...which thinks nothing worth war, is worse." -Mill)
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To: churchillbuff

Great article.

(I just wish he had been more careful in his use of the term "the right." He seems to imply it is racist and pro-slavery.)


66 posted on 02/19/2005 1:23:52 PM PST by djreece
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To: TexConfederate1861

Not worth it???I don't get it.


67 posted on 02/19/2005 1:37:15 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: Petes Sandy Girl

Do you have a source for that quote?


68 posted on 02/19/2005 1:40:15 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: libertarianben

Question: "What shall we do about those who seek our total annihilation?"


69 posted on 02/19/2005 1:41:13 PM PST by 1iron ("Let not your heart be troubled ... this, too, shall pass.")
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To: TexConfederate1861
Lincoln started this country down the road to big government...

I keep hearing you Southerners say that, and I suppose we're just supposed to accept that as true, but I would be interested in hearing you expound on that claim a bit more.

70 posted on 02/19/2005 1:42:08 PM PST by Drennan Whyte
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To: cyborg

Someone already posted this on another Lincoln thread, but I'm stealing it anyway lol. It was a good point.

We are not one country today due to abolishing slavery but rather due to the fact that a firm and costly precedent has been established by Lincoln that attempts to separate by any section will be suppressed. I am also of the belief that this has produced undesirable consequences, particularly in that liberal regions of our country (new england and the northeast for example) have been able at times to exercise control of the U.S. Government and enact policies that were not desired by the more conservative regions of the country.


71 posted on 02/19/2005 1:43:00 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: Iris7
All through the war Lincoln talked about and worked toward deporting every last black in the United States.

Considering how impossible it would have been to forcibly deport 4 million people against their will, and given that while Lincoln may have been may things he was not a stupid man, would you have anything to support that he advocated such a ridiculous scheme?

72 posted on 02/19/2005 1:44:20 PM PST by Drennan Whyte
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To: 1iron

Question: "What shall we do about those who seek our total annihilation?"

Answer: "Send them to hell!"


73 posted on 02/19/2005 1:45:59 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: libertarianben

Thanks for posting that but it leaves me especially unnerved and unconvinced.


74 posted on 02/19/2005 1:47:19 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: cyborg

Thanks for posting that but it leaves me especially unnerved and unconvinced.

Unconvinced of what, may I ask?

Here's some quotes by Lincoln I think people might find interesting:

"Any People anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing governement and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right - a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit." Speech by Lincoln in Congrees January 1848.

Here's the punch line:

"No state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union. Plainly, the central idea of sucession, is the essence of anarchy." Lincoln speech made some time later.

I believe this known as a flip-flop.

How does he explain that other states thought of leaving the union long before the "Civil War?" Mass. for example.


75 posted on 02/19/2005 1:52:43 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: libertarianben

I believe this is known as a flip-flop is what I meant to say.


76 posted on 02/19/2005 1:54:54 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: libertarianben

All this armchair theorizing at the expense of black people. Besides I want to hear Texconfederate explain why 'it wasn't worth it' hisself! You don't make such assinine statements without some backup. Very interesting how when coming to blacks it's never worth it but somehow other foreign wars and intervention are worth it.


77 posted on 02/19/2005 1:56:58 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: TexConfederate1861

One of the great things about being both a Southerner and a Republican is that I can hold Lincoln up as hero or villain, depending upon which hat I'm wearing.


78 posted on 02/19/2005 2:00:17 PM PST by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
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To: TexConfederate1861
But the price to our country was NOT worth it.

Your statement is sickening.

Personally, I believe the horror of the Civil War was the high price our country had to pay for tolerating the evil of slavery at all. The founders should not have compromised on the issue. It was a fatal flaw.

79 posted on 02/19/2005 2:01:38 PM PST by djreece
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To: Arkinsaw
There doesn't seem to be much point in arguing "It was all about ...," "It wasn't all about ..." Historians take it for granted that there's rarely one reason why anything happens.

But it looks like you're playing a slippery game. You say: "Sure. Don't get me wrong, its my opinion that slavery was the fulcrum, the prime mover." And then, 'But I think its fairly meaningless to use the criteria of "the war would not have happened if"....as the determinant of causation. I would posit that if the program of industrialization and resultant immigration in the north had not occurred that northern sentiments would have been damped as they had been for decades before living with slavery as a neighbor. Thus no war and no secession. Just because I believe this is true does not lead me to say "industrialization and immigration is the ultimate cause."'

If something is "the fulcrum, the prime mover," it's likely that the event caused couldn't have happened without it. Of course any unique event results from a particular combination of unique events, but it looks like you are trying to equate various kinds of causes and not distinguishing between those that are more and less important.

According to Aristotle there are formal, material, efficient, and final causes. Something like state's rights may be a formal or material cause -- part of the general situtation that made the war possible -- without being an efficient or a final cause. Industrialization, and the invention of the cotton gin fall in a similar category. They helped to make possible secession and war, but they seem to be more contributory than primary factors. "Fulcrum" can be a pretty slippery term, but if slavery was in some way "the prime mover" that means it was more important than other contributory or secondary causes.

Discussions here tend to focus more on guilt and sin, good and evil, purity and impurity, rather than on what happened and why. Very often people are trying to get a "directed verdict." They assume that slavery was wrong and the South couldn't have been wrong, therefore slavery couldn't have been an important part of what the war was about.

So these discussions tend to be of limited use as history, and we get long pointless arguments about whether the war was "all about" slavery or not. If you recognize the importance of slavery, then you can also admit the significance of other factors without playing the chump's "it was all about"/"it wasn't all about" game.

80 posted on 02/19/2005 2:10:57 PM PST by x
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To: basque
When I teach Civil War, I offer five probable options as to cause: Irrepressible conflict, slavery, sectionalism/nationalism, and competing economies. That said, I announce,"You have paid your money. Now take your choice. Personally, I favor irrepressible conflict as will most people who pass this course."

Wouldn't an irrepressible conflict have to be about something? Wouldn't there have to be some ground or reason why things couldn't be reconciled or repressed?

81 posted on 02/19/2005 2:13:48 PM PST by x
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To: pawdoggie

No, but I approve of Lincoln's Demise, but then you know that....

And to educate you just a little: "Sic Semper Tyrannis"
(Thus be it ever to TYRANTS) is the state motto of Virginia..........


82 posted on 02/19/2005 2:16:04 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: cyborg

Explain your meaning?


83 posted on 02/19/2005 2:17:26 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: Drennan Whyte

My Pleasure:

Lincoln was the first President to rule by virtue of Executive Order.

Lincoln destroyed the government of the states, and replaced it with a Centralized Government, no longer subject to the states.


84 posted on 02/19/2005 2:19:19 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: TexConfederate1861

I asked you what you mean by 'not worth it'. What would have been the alternative? Please explain.


85 posted on 02/19/2005 2:19:39 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: PLMerite

Hehehe! :)


86 posted on 02/19/2005 2:20:03 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: djreece

It wasn't worth it.
Slavery would have died out on it's own.


87 posted on 02/19/2005 2:20:47 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: cyborg

The South would have seceded, slavery would have died out for economic reasons, eventually, for common defense reasons, both countries would have rejoined, stronger, more united, without hatred or bias, or sectional conflict.

(My belief anyway)


88 posted on 02/19/2005 2:26:10 PM PST by TexConfederate1861 (Sic Semper Tyrannis!)
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To: TexConfederate1861

One could have the same kind of argument about this country at the time of the Revolution don't you think?


89 posted on 02/19/2005 2:33:32 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: TexConfederate1861; rdb3; cyborg; Jim Robinson
Lincoln started this country down the road to big government, and destroyed our republic, in his attempt to "save" it. The only thing good that came from his actions, was that slaves were freed. But the price to our country was NOT worth it.

"Not worth it?"

You mean to tell me that it would have been better for the country for my forefathers to remain in bondage? And what about subsequent generations?

90 posted on 02/19/2005 2:39:39 PM PST by mhking (Do not mess with dragons, for thou art crunchy & good with ketchup...)
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To: mhking

So you still believe the civil war was about slavery?


91 posted on 02/19/2005 2:41:50 PM PST by NMC EXP (Choose one: [a] party [b] principle.)
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To: TexConfederate1861

That was the belief at the time of the Revolution -- that slavery was a dying institution. But economic forces and developments had brought about a resurgence of slavery, thus leading to the conflict.

Putting up with slavery for even one day in the United States is what was not worth it.

Slavery is still practiced in some parts of the world. If half of the United States had continued to embrace it by becoming a confederacy, there is no telling where we would be today in terms of slavery's acceptance in the civilized world. It is also likely that the North would have been economically ruined and then taken over by the South, and slavery may have continued to this day.


92 posted on 02/19/2005 2:49:06 PM PST by djreece
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To: PeaRidge

Had not the South taken up arms to protect their "peculiar way of life" enslaving other human beings, Lincoln would not have had to defend the Union and the Constituation against the attack. But Lincoln himself regretted with blood-laced sweat that Thomas Jefferson didn't take care of the immoral slave issue at the start.


93 posted on 02/19/2005 2:50:00 PM PST by Californiajones ("The apprehension of beauty is the cure for apathy" - Thomas Aquinas)
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To: NMC EXP
So you still believe the civil war was about slavery?

Completely? No.

But my question was regarding the freedom of the slaves.

94 posted on 02/19/2005 2:50:40 PM PST by mhking (Do not mess with dragons, for thou art crunchy & good with ketchup...)
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To: cyborg

Well the North didn't exactly have the best of love for black either. I'm not texconfederate.


95 posted on 02/19/2005 3:17:40 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: libertarianben

I know about the north and agree.


96 posted on 02/19/2005 3:20:13 PM PST by cyborg (http://mentalmumblings.blogspot.com/)
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To: Drennan Whyte

I can't put my hands on my own source, having not thought about this subject in over twenty years. However, there are several hits on Bennet's recent "Forced Into Glory"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/ref=s_sf_b_as/002-0798763-4442408




"ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the American president revered as "The Great Emancipator" for leading the war to abolish slavery, was really a racist who used offensive language to describe black people and wanted all Afro-Americans deported, according to newly published research which has prompted controversy in the United States.

Far from being the willing forefather of today's multicultural America, President Lincoln advocated reserving the west of the country for whites, supported a law forbidding black people to settle in his home state of Illinois and was fond of racist jokes. He used two State of the Union addresses to call for the deportation of black people and shortly before his assassination in 1865 said of the thousands of slaves to be freed at the end of the Civil War: "I believe it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate which they could have to themselves."

He also habitually used the word "nigger" to describe black people, something which would have shocked and dismayed the hundreds of thousands of civil rights activists in the Sixties who made the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC the focus of some of the biggest demonstrations the city has seen.

The assault on President Lincoln's character and record in a book called Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream, was produced over seven years by Lerone Bennett Jr, the executive editor of Ebony, a magazine aimed at black Americans. Mr Bennett regards what he calls the "Massa Lincoln myth" as a 135-year-old problem, "one of the most extraordinary efforts I know to hide a whole man and a whole history, particularly when that man is one of the most celebrated men in American history".

The evidence of Lincoln's true racial beliefs is easily found, he says, in his writing and speeches. Lincoln blamed black people for the Civil War, declaring: "But for your race among us there could not be a war, although many men on either side do not care for you one way or another."

Although in popular history he is given the credit for the Emancipation Proclamation - which itself did not directly call for the elimination of slavery - he only issued it under pressure from other Republicans in Congress, Mr Bennett said. However, Lincoln was seized upon by progressive Americans following his assassination, which came soon after the Confederate surrender. There was "an explosion of emotion" in the North and Lincoln was "appropriated, he was used", Mr Bennett said.

By the late Sixties Lincoln's death was put in the same bracket by civil rights campaigners as the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the black Church leader. The book has prompted controversy among academics with one black professor calling it "a compelling critique" of the revered president's life. But Lincoln's defenders are infuriated by the attack."




"In the latter part of 1999 a book was released whose publisher made the bold claim that it would set history on its ear.

The book is entitled Forced Into Glory - Abraham Lincoln's White Dream and its author, Lerone Bennett, Jr., has made headlines by challenging our current thinking about Abraham Lincoln and his image as The Great Emancipator.

Far from being a racial egalitarian, Mr. Bennett portrays Lincoln as a white supremacist whose real objective as President was the "ethnic cleansing" of America. According to Mr. Bennett's book, "[Lincoln} did everything he could to deport Blacks and to make America a Great White Place. If Lincoln had his way, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Sr., Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, and even Clarence Thomas would have been born in slavery. If Lincoln had his way, there would be no Blacks in America at all. None."

Mr. Bennett sums up his view of Lincoln writing, "Unlike [Martin Luther] King, unlike [Wendell ]Phillips, unlike [Frederick] Douglass, but like [Thomas] Jefferson, Lincoln dreamed of an all-White nation, governed by White people, only for White people."

To accomplish this all-White nation, Lincoln sought to use a plan, which Mr. Bennett describes throughout his book as "DEPORTATION," more commonly known to historians as "colonization."

According to Mr. Bennett, Lincoln's real policy as President was the implementation of the age-old plan of establishing colonies in foreign lands where America's Blacks could be shipped; thus, in Mr. Bennett's words, "cleansing America of both free and freed Blacks."

Mr. Bennett is not an aberration on the historical scene. He and his thesis are real. He has become a highly sought-after speaker on the Lincoln circuit. Since publication of his book, Mr. Bennett has appeared in nearly every major publication in the country and more important, he has been invited as the featured speaker at the most prestigious Lincoln conferences throughout the country."




Bennett, who is black, has really stirred up a hornet's nest. Bennett calls the conventional view held mostly in the North "mythic", and I find this true. Myself, I pretty much forget that this stuff is not common knowledge.


97 posted on 02/19/2005 3:22:55 PM PST by Iris7 (.....to protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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To: djreece
The South never wanted to take over the North. Where did you get that? The South wanted to be its own nation. This was not a Civil War, a civil war is a war between parties seeking to take over one government. This was the second american revolution, war between the states, war of rebellion or the war of northern aggression are much better titles. Choose whatever you like. Why wasn't a war fought before 1861 to end slavery if the north hated slavery so much?
98 posted on 02/19/2005 3:22:57 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: Iris7

Walter Williams, who is black as well, also doesn't hold Lincoln up to a pedestal either.


99 posted on 02/19/2005 3:26:21 PM PST by libertarianben (Looking for sanity and his hard to find cousin common sense)
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To: NMC EXP; mhking
So you still believe the civil war was about slavery?


Did he say that?


100 posted on 02/19/2005 3:40:15 PM PST by rdb3 (The wife asked how I slept last night. I said, "How do I know? I was asleep!")
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