Skip to comments.The Unreal Lincoln: Loyola College Professor Flunks Out
Posted on 05/07/2002 11:31:24 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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Well, whoever wrote this speech had not yet lost the capacity for introspection.
One can disagree with the pro-Confederacy revisionists without accepting the whole Jaffaite line. "Fulfillment" is in the eye of the beholder. We know what fulfillment is for a puppy or an acorn because we see what such things tend to become. Speaking of fulfillment for a national idea is much harder because such ideas are more individual: one can't look at a whole crop of Americas and say "This one fulfilled its potential. This one didn't. And this one has developed, but not fully matured." Because the nation is sui generis, one of a kind, too much is subjective in such assessments.
If one takes the founders as a seed, one can see ways in which their work was fulfilled in Lincoln. There are ways in which the 14th Amendment, however much it may have been misused in later years, did fulfill or complete Madison's Bill of Rights and ways in which Lincoln's work carried on Washington's and Hamilton's. On the other hand, one can also see a development down to the present that looks like a perversion of the original scheme or potential in the direction of centralization. And the Civil War was one of the turning points on the way to the present. I take issue with any view that sees Lincoln as a destroyer or perverter, because that's an overly melodramatic way of thinking about our history.
Certainly, any interpretation that makes the Confederates out simply and unambiguously to be defenders of the Constitution and the Founders is wrong on its face. One can recognize that some who joined the rebellion did retain some affection for the old Constitution and felt that the Constitution and Union having broken down they would fight for their own states. But the Confederate elites and the secessionist vanguards were no friends or defenders of the Constitution, though they utilized its protections to defend their interests. They fully desired to break with the union and the Constitution of 1787 and to establish a new nation of their own.
Whether one wants to see Lincoln as a "fullfillment" of the Founders' vision or simply someone trying to pick up the pieces in an unpleasant situation is another, even more complicated question. I lean towards the latter view on the whole. The problem with Jaffa's view is that all political leaders are apt to view themselves as fulfillments of the Founders's intentions. In the end, it's hard to make objective judgements about what those intentions were. Some such claims are manifestly false. All of the founders would be appalled by modern mass democracy, but most of the framers would be sceptical of state's rights absolutism. They'd seen its effects under the Articles of Confederation.
The Founders started us on a journey in which everything would appear new and unprecedented. Change is the great constant in our history. Looking back on that history we seize on this or that thread and call it a continuity. Often enough it is one, but other threads are broken with time.
The system shattered in 1860, and the country would have to recreate it as best as it could. Had the Confederates won their independence, we would equally have regarded 1860 as the end of the Old Republic and the grave of one strand of the Founders' wishes.
A transcription of the Cornerstone speech is here The Webmaster notes on another page:
"On March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens, of Georgia, gave an extemporaneous speech at the Atheneum in Savannah. No "official" version of the speech exists, but it was transcribed by several newspaper reporters and printed in several newspapers.
So a good project for someone with time and inclination would be to track down which newspapers it appeared in, how the different transciptions read, and what the politics of the different papers was. Stephens wouldn't be the first politician to disremember what he said before reporters.
Say an explorer is taking a journey through uncharted jungle with a quarrelsome person. At every turn there is some danger. The quarrelsome person keeps telling the explorer that he should have turned the other way. The explorer can take his critic down those ways and point out other dangers that may be every bit as terrifying. Unfortunately, we can't do that with history. But we can find failed societies around the world that collapsed due to internal conflicts or because they were too weak to resist their enemies.
Recall Madison's comment in a letter to Jefferson: "It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the government have too much or too little power."
What a mess, huh?
DiLorenzo fails to even acknowledge this fact and this makes his entire work questionable.
He goes further and falsifies Lincolns record in so many instances that this response would be more prolix if I addressed every point he misconstrued.
In the face of the preponderance of the evidence, it appears DiLorenzos political agenda is clouding his judgment. Ultimately, we have to wonder whether this professor considered everything before he wrote the book, or even if he understands complex political thought.
My faith in human reason is restored!
Bully for the Washington Times for publishing the truth.
I don't know who Mr. Metcalf is, but if he were a younger man than his picture suggests he is, I could more readily forgive the ease with which he condemns Lincoln for conduct he describes as "specifically designed to abrogate, eviserate and destroy [the Constitution]." In the most peaceful and anemic of times, I cannot imagine a president of even modest energy completing a term of office without his administration causing some offense to the Constitution. Nor can I imagine a member of the Supreme Court looking back on his judicial career and concluding, "I batted 1.000 and I never hit any fouls." And I don't even want to get into the kind of things that never find a place between the covers of the memoirs written by most legislators.
I just don't think that anyone can sensibly look at the circumstances surrounding the Lincoln Administration and measure it by the same standards that might be appropriate for say, the Coolidge Administration, which like most had some problems of its own. All in all, my judgment is that Lincoln did what he thought he had to do to protect and defend the Constitution against the most serious assault that it has ever faced. And I think he succeeded.
I think a lot of what pushes this debate beyond the bounds of courtesy and reason is the sense some of us have that the other side is deifying or demonizing someone.
I have the impression that Lincoln liked Stephens -- at least for a while. We can imagine that maybe he saw something good there. Why not?
I know that among people with whome I disagree about some important things, there is much to like and even to admire. And among people many of whose opinions and actions strike me as excellent, there is usually at least something to reprehend, sometimes a LOT that is troubling.
Stephens could be wrong about a lot and still be right about a lot. Lincoln could be right about a lot and still wrong about a lot. It's kind of silly to have to say this, but I hope it will tend to soften that accusations that one group is deifying Lincoln while another is demonizing the South.
I think the issues are too big for that kind of simple-mindedness.
Bless your heart, Mad Dawg, I know that you're absolutely right, but I've probably already violated all your rules of decorum here and here by expressing my utter disgust for the southern politicians whose incompetence wreaked so much havoc. I really just can't imagine how they could have possibly made worse choices than they actually made.
I've seen contradictory reports regarding Stephens' views and initial advice on the wisdom of "secession" and so I don't know where he actually fits into the idiotic decisions that were being made at that time. I've been trying to learn more about how the southern politics actually played out in December of 1860 when the Secession Convention was held in South Carolina. From what I've seen thus far, it looks like there may have been less than a couple of dozen delegates in attendance. Any help you can give me in that regard will be appreciated.
You have a good heart, Mad Dawg.
As opposed to those times where deification is warranted.
Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Now I'm confused. I would have thought the so-called Lincoln deifiers and the so-called South demonizors were the same group. What gives???
And yes, Lincoln did destroy the decentralized Republic the founders envisioned.
You know you?re doing something right when you are the object of cheap shots, lies, and smears by a paid agent of the state whose job is to make up excuses and "justifications" for all the state?s wars and other military misadventures. A case in point is a dishonest and quite hysterical " review " of my book, The Real Lincoln , by one Mackubin Thomas Owens, in the May 4 Washington Times. Owens identifies himself as a professor of defense economics at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
He begins his "review" by charging that my book is based on "Marxist economic analysis," revealing a deep ignorance of economics on his part. For one thing, for more than twenty years I have been associated with the Austrian and Public Choice Schools of economics, the two most consistent anti-socialist schools of thought that exist. In my book I describe the seventy year economic debate between the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians, with the former group lobbying relentlessly for protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare, and inflationism through central banking. They wanted centralized government in order to enact their central plan and accumulate political power by handing out patronage to protectionist and subsidy-seeking industries. Lincoln was the political heir of Alexander Hamilton and spent most of his twenty-eight year political career prior to becoming president promoting this economic agenda.
The Jeffersonians opposed all of this, and their opposition was ended during the War Between the States, when all of the previously-debated policies were adopted (in the first eighteen months of the Lincoln administration). The whole classical liberal tradition is one of condemning interventionist economic policies precisely because they are a means of "legally plundering" one group of citizens at the expense of another. This kind of analysis has its roots in Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham (who spoke of "sinister interests), Frederic Bastiat, the British Manchester Schoool, and above all, the Austrian School of economics. It has nothing to do with Marx?s defunct theories of class warfare.
This is what many Southerners were complaining about for decades preceding the war ? that they were especially being plundered by the protectionist tariff, which Lincoln and the Republican Party tripled as soon as he took office. There is no Marxian class analysis here, only traditional Public Choice analysis rooted in the classical liberal tradition.
Owens also tells several outright lies of the sort that, one would hope, would get any Naval Academy cadet kicked out of the Academy for violating its Honor Code. He writes that I say in my book that "slavery had nothing to do with the war." I unequivocally do not; I say just the opposite. This is a lie.
He is also deceptive and deceitful by quoting his hero, Harry Jaffa, as once remarking that the late Mel Bradford?s discussions of all of Lincoln?s many racist remarks -- and there were many -- were also highlighted by white supremacist "White Citizens Councils." He is implying that Bradford must have agreed with these characters, as must I. But these people quoted Lincoln?s racist remarks ("I . . . am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary," Ottawa Ill., Aug. 21, 1858) because they approved of them. I quoted them because they are an ugly side of Lincoln that has been well hidden from public view by state propagandists like Owens. That is the deceit that Owens attempts to perpetrate.
Owens says that I claim that John C. Calhoun was the architect of the doctrine of state sovereignty, which I do not. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, authors of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 that enunciated the doctrine of nullification, came first, as did myriad other members of the founding generation. Since Calhoun defended slavery, Owens is dishonestly trying to make it appear that only such people as Calhoun ever spoke of states? rights.
Owens doesn?t marshal any real arguments other than to quote his hero, Harry Jaffa. He notes that I quote an 1848 speech Lincoln made in Congress on the topic of the Mexican War in which he defended the right of secession. Owens invokes Jaffa, who has tried to explain this away with the silly semantic game of pretending that the founders distinguished between revolution and secession. Of course, the American Revolution was a war of secession from England. Such word games are a pathetic and unconvincing attempt to rewrite history in Clintonian fashion.
After beginning his article by calling me a Marxist, Owens ends it by labeling me a libertarian. He assumes that Lincoln was a champion of Lockean liberalism, and therefore thinks it odd that I would criticize Lincoln. But Lincoln was always perfectly content to allow Southern slavery to exist, as long as the Southern states remained in the Union. When the deep South first seceded and the upper South ? Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas ? did not, Lincoln was happy to have these slave states as part of the Union. He orchestrated the secession of western Virginia (unconstitutionally, according to his own attorney general) to bolster his electoral college vote in 1864 and again, was not opposed to the existence of slavery there.
He opposed the extension of slavery in the new territories, but the reasons he gave for this were that he and the Republican Party wanted to preserve these territories for white labor (which would then vote Republican), and that because of the Three-Fifths clause of the Constitution, slavery in the territories would have artificially inflated the level of congressional representation by the Democratic Party. What kind of Lockean is it who supports slavery, promises to uphold it "where it exists" and to even strengthen it by enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act?
And what kind of Lockean is it who: Launches a military invasion without the consent of Congress, unilaterally and unconstitutionally suspends the writ of habeas corpus and imprisons more than 13,000 Northern dissenters (i.e., political prisoners), censors all telegraph communications, shuts down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisons their editors and owners, orders federal troops to interfere with Northern elections, confiscates private property, including firearms, establishes a secret police force to round up and imprison political dissenters, tortures civilian prisoners by hanging them by their wrists and with water torture (see Mark Neely?s Fate of Liberty ), and wages a four-year war on civilians as well as combatants? I suppose that would be Owens?s definition of a "Lockean liberal."
Here are some references that describe all these offenses and more: Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln by James G. Randall; Freedom Under Lincoln by Dean Sprague; Fate of Liberty by Mark Neely, Constitutional Dictatorship by Clinton Rossiter; and The Hard Hand of War by Mark Grimsley. This is part of the vast literature that does exist on the real Lincoln that state propagandists like Owens never mention other than to dismiss it.
May 7, 2002
You're embarrassing your friends.
Stephens' speech appeared in the Augusta, Georgia, Daily Constitutionalist, on March 30, 1861 - BEFORE the traitors fired on Old Glory at Fort Sumter.
Miloitary occupation? What are you smoking?
There's no money or notoriety in bashing Jefferson Davis.
Davis advanced some of the same positions as Lincoln, but he gets a free pass from the CSA apologists on FR because he was a slave holder.
There is no doubt whatever that he gave it, and that he called subordination ... in '61 that could only have been, and been called, "slavery," the cornerstone of the new, separate society being erected in the South.
Reflections on the "Cornerstone Speech"
Stephens was briefly imprisoned after the war, at Fort Warren, in New York. While there he kept a diary in which he wrote (among other things) these reflections on what came to be known as "the Cornerstone Speech."
As for my Savannah speech, about which so much has been said and in regard to which I am represented as setting forth "slavery" as the "cornerstone" of the Confederacy, it is proper for me to state that that speech was extemporaneous. The reporter's notes, which were very imperfect, were hastily corrected by me; and were published without futher revision and with several glaring errors.
The substance of what I said on slavery was, that on the points under the old Constitution out of which so much discussion, agitation, and strife between the States had arisen, no future contention could arise, as these had been put to rest by clear language. I did not say, nor do I think the reporter represented me as saying, that there was the slightest change in the new Constitution from the old regarding the status of the African race amongst us.
(Slavery was without doubt the occasion of secession; out of it rose the breach of compact, for instance, on the part of several Northern States in refusing to comply with Constitutional obligations as to rendition of fugitives from service, a course betraying total disregard for all constitutional barriers and guarantees.)
I admitted that the fathers, both North and South, who framed the old Constitution, while recognizing exsisting slavery and guaranteeing its continuance under the Constitution so long as the States should severally see fit to tolerate it in their respective limits, were perhaps all opposed to the principle. Jefferson, Madison, Washington, all looked for its early extinction throughout the United States.
But, on the subject of slavery -- so called -- (which was with us, or should be, nothing but the proper subordination of the inferior African race to the superior white) great and radical changes had taken place in the realm of thought; many eminent latter-day statesmen, philosophers, and philanthropists held different views from the fathers.
The patriotism of the fathers was not questioned, nor their ability and wisdom, but it devolved on the public men and statesmen of each generation to grapple with and solve the problems of their own times.
The relation of the black to the white race, or the proper status of the coloured population among us, was a question now of vastly more importance than when the old Constitution was formed. The order of subordination was nature's great law; philsophy taught that order as the normal condition of the African amongst European races. Upon this recognized principle of a proper subordination, let it be called slavery or what not, our State institutions were formed and rested. The new Confederation was entered into with this distinct understanding.
This principle of the subordination of the inferior to the superior was the "corner-stone" on which it was formed. I used this metaphor merely to illustrate the firm convictions of the framers of the new Constitution that this relation of the black to the white race, which existed in 1787, was not wrong in itself, either morally or politically; that it was in conformity to nature and best for both races. I alluded not to the principles of the new Government on this subject, but to public sentiment in regard to these principles. The status of the African race in the new Constitution was left just where it was in the old; I affirmed and meant to affirm nothing else in this Savannah speech.
Taken from: Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens: His Diary kept when a prisoner at Fort Warren, New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1910., pp 172-174. Entry for 5 June 1866. My thanks to Allen Sullivant of Brentwood, TN, for providing me with this.
This pretty much speaks for itself. Though it is interesting to see how Stephens, after the war, squirms a bit on the word, "slavery."
Best to all,
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