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H.L. Mencken on Abraham Lincoln
"Five Men at Random," Prejudices: Third Series, 1922, pp. 171-76. | H.L. Mencken

Posted on 06/20/2002 1:32:32 PM PDT by H.R. Gross

H.L. Mencken on Abraham Lincoln

From "Five Men at Random," Prejudices: Third Series, 1922, pp. 171-76.
First printed, in part, in the Smart Set, May, 1920, p. 141

Some time ago a publisher told me that there are four kinds of books that seldom, if ever, lose money in the United States—first, murder stories; secondly, novels in which the heroine is forcibly overcome by the hero; thirdly, volumes on spiritualism, occultism and other such claptrap, and fourthly, books on Lincoln. But despite all the vast mass of Lincolniana and the constant discussion of old Abe in other ways, even so elemental a problem as that of his religious ideas—surely an important matter in any competent biography—is yet but half solved. Was he a Christian? Did he believe in the Divinity of Jesus? I am left in doubt. He was very polite about it, and very cautious, as befitted a politician in need of Christian votes, but how much genuine conviction was in that politeness? And if his occasional references to Jesus were thus open to question, what of his rather vague avowals of belief in a personal God and in the immortality of the soul? Herndon and some of his other early friends always maintained that he was an atheist, but the Rev. Willian E. Barton, one of the best of later Lincolnologists, argues that this atheism was simply disbelief in the idiotic Methodist and Baptist dogmas of his time—that nine Christian churches out of ten, if he were live today, would admit him to their high privileges and prerogatives without anything worse than a few warning coughs. As for me, I still wonder.

Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality. Washington, of late years, has bee perceptible humanized; every schoolboy now knows that he used to swear a good deal, and was a sharp trader, and had a quick eye for a pretty ankle. But meanwhile the varnishers and veneerers have been busily converting Abe into a plaster saint, thus marking hum fit for adoration in the Y.M.C.A.’s. All the popular pictures of him show him in his robes of state, and wearing an expression fit for a man about to be hanged. There is, so far as I know, not a single portrait of him showing him smiling—and yet he must have cackled a good deal, first and last: who ever heard of a storyteller who didn’t? Worse, there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost. What could be more absurd? Lincoln, in point of fact, was a practical politician of long experience and high talents, and by no means cursed with idealistic superstitions. Until he emerged from Illinois they always put the women, children and clergy to bed when he got a few gourds of corn aboard, and it is a matter of unescapable record that his career in the State Legislature was indistinguishable from that of a Tammany Nietzsche. Even his handling of the slavery question was that of a politician, not that of a messiah. Nothing alarmed him more than the suspicion that he was an Abolitionist, and Barton tells of an occasion when he actually fled town to avoid meeting the issue squarely. An Abolitionist would have published the Emancipation Proclamation the day after the first battle of Bull Run. But Lincoln waited until the time was more favorable—until Lee had been hurled out of Pennsylvania, and more important still, until the political currents were safely funning his way. Even so, he freed the slaves in only a part of the country: all the rest continued to clank their chains until he himself was an angel in Heaven.

Like William Jennings Bryan, he was a dark horse made suddenly formidable by fortunate rhetoric. The Douglas debate launched hum, and the Cooper Union Speech got him the Presidency. His talent for emotional utterance was an accomplishment of late growth. His early speeches were mere empty fire-works—the hollow rodomontades of the era. But in the middle life he purged his style of ornament and it became almost badly simple—and it is for that simplicity that he is remembered today. The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—"that government of the people, by the people, for the people," should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism
KEYWORDS: dixielist
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To: WhiskeyPapa
Both New York and Virginia entered the United States with ratification documents that clearly reserved the right of each state to exit the United States.

Are you claiming the ratification documents are invalid?

101 posted on 06/21/2002 1:36:15 PM PDT by Triple
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To: Triple
Both New York and Virginia entered the United States with ratification documents that clearly reserved the right of each state to exit the United States.

Both say "to the people", not to the people of NY or VA.

Any reservation of a right to secede would be under natural law, not U.S. law.

Walt

102 posted on 06/21/2002 1:42:03 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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To: WhiskeyPapa
"...DO in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will,..."

Virginia ratification document - emphasis added

103 posted on 06/21/2002 1:48:11 PM PDT by Triple
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To: WhiskeyPapa
The connections between Kennedy and Lincoln. President Kennedy and President Lincoln
104 posted on 06/21/2002 1:50:21 PM PDT by shamus11
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To: Colt .45
...the Founders expressly set up a limited government with ENUMERATED powers, and that Thomas Jefferson said "The constitutions of most of our states [and of the United States] assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press."

Abraham Lincoln
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 1861

...

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.

... All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly written in the Constitution has been denied? I think not. Happily, the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might in a moral point of view justify revolution; certainly would if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution that controversies never arise concerning them.

The Southern States fought for the right of self-determination in their affairs, slavery was not an issue of great importance at the time of the framing of the Constitution and slavery was legal.

Another quote, from the same address:

"One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

These are just tidbits to entice you to read the full address. I think you will find President Lincoln addresses your points, and I would say rather well, but I imagine you will disagree. It would not be surprising as many have given their lives on your side of the argument, as well as mine.

http://americancivilwar.com/documents/lincoln_inaugural_1.html

105 posted on 06/21/2002 2:05:43 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: Ohioan
If coming from a slaveholding State discredits thought

This is classic case of a strawman argument.

You are trying to claim that my statement about something DiLorenzo said:

"The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves."

"I find this argument laughable coming from the slave holding states."

is a statement about the thinking of slave holding states in general. Sorry, but it is not. Of course, the core of what is wrong with DiLorenzo's statement does not regard slavery, but the fact that the South, as a minority, was trying to overthrow the US Constitution. Relax, I realize you don't agree with that point of view. But this is part of the argument that Lincoln made in his inaugural speech.

106 posted on 06/21/2002 2:19:37 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: Ohioan
I'm getting my threads mixed up. Change DiLorenzo to Mencken.
107 posted on 06/21/2002 2:21:59 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: editor-surveyor
The southern states were paying 90% of the taxes, and had 10% of the population, thus no hope of correcting the problem.

Quite an assertion. Now prove it.

108 posted on 06/21/2002 2:24:47 PM PDT by r9etb
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To: TheDon
Looks like I'm getting my threads mixed up. Change DiLorenzo to Mencken.
109 posted on 06/21/2002 2:25:48 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: Rebelo3
Is it your position that Lincoln invaded the South in order to free the slaves?

It is not my position. Lincoln was quite clear that slavery was legal in the US, but he would fulfill his Constitutional obligations as President.

110 posted on 06/21/2002 2:34:47 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: A2J

DONE AND DONE!

111 posted on 06/21/2002 2:48:22 PM PDT by Colt .45
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To: TheDon

Abraham Lincoln, 1838:
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."

Straight from the horse's mouth so to speak!

112 posted on 06/21/2002 2:52:32 PM PDT by Colt .45
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To: TheDon
Hmmm..you seemed to have missed a few. We can't go painting abe as an abolitionist now because he himself was quoted as saying he didn't want to be painted with the 'abolitionist brush'.
The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.
This statement along with
I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service.
this statement as well as
There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that— I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them
all show clearly lincoln could have cared less about what went on in the states as long as they didn't leave and he and Chase got their money. This came from abe's inaugural address, or I imagine as he saw it, his acceptance of the crown of POTUS
113 posted on 06/21/2002 3:09:01 PM PDT by billbears
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To: WhiskeyPapa

"Abraham Lincoln, 1838:
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."

Then you'll say the Supreme Court says that secession was illegal -

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861:
"... the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the supreme Court, ... the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Chief Justice Marlin T. Phelps, Arizona Supreme Court:
"Nothing was further from the minds of the Framers of the Constitution, than that the supreme Court should ever make the Supreme Law of the Land."

Senator Sam Ervin:
"... judicial verbicide is calculated to convert the Constitution into a worthless scrap of paper and to replace our government of laws with a judicial oligarchy."

Thomas Jefferson, 1820:
"You seem...to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.... The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal."

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William S. Smith in 1787. Taken from Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover ed., 1939: "And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms .... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Paul Anderson (?? I think. _Not_ Poul):
"If the price I must pay for my freedom is to acknowledge that the government was granted the power to infringe on them, then I am not free."

114 posted on 06/21/2002 3:10:14 PM PDT by Colt .45
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To: Sicken Tard
There's a question of ends and means. I don't say that a people doesn't have the right to work to achieve its goals peacefully. But secession at will is the cause of much bloodshed in the world, because there are always conflicts over borders, rights, common property, and legitimacy. If it's deemed necessary for two peoples or political units to separate it should be the occasion for a long period of discussion and negotiation. Setting up a new powerful, national government and army and assaulting military installations doesn't seem to have been the right way to go.

The Confederatist argument appears to be "I'm right and if you don't agree whatever happens is on your head." This is pretty much bound to produce problems. A more moderate, peaceful and pragmatic course would be advisible and produce better results for all concerned.

Given all that's happened since, secession looks to have been a bad choice. Both the means and the end of the secessionists were deeply flawed. I don't think that they had a right to secede at will, but even if they did, taking that option was a mistake, and would have been a mistake even if they had not started the war or if the Union had let them leave. There are different ways in which one can be wrong and right. Confederatists rarely question the wisdom or justice of secession. But that's something that ought to be more seriously examined.

Where there is no clearly established and accepted means of severing the Union, acting prudently and responsibly becomes important. Arguably, the union could have been dissolved constititutional amendment. This would have been a better path to take, as it would have been more generally accepted, would have allowed for an equitable arrangement of the details, and would have allowed heads to cool.

Respectfully, it was not any British attempt to stop the "secession" of the American colonies that produced the American Revolution. Rather, it was the British attempt to disarm the militia that produced a war. The Colonists stood up for their rights as Englishmen. The question of independence only came along later in the midst of war. From a practical point of view, people's opinions about the war would have been very different if the shooting hadn't been initiated by the secessionists themelves.

The Confederacy has some major moral burdens to shoulder. A lot of people today are inclined to regard questions of race and slavery as America's common heritage and burden. But when the "South is Right" school comes out portraying the Confederacy as a moral lamb innocent and justified in everything beset by the Yankee wolf, it does tend to produce ill-will. There's certainly enough blame to attach to Southern political elites both for their ends and for the means they used to attain them. One may find fault with the other side as well and also find much to praise in the courage and loyalty of Confederate troops, but the Confederatist whitewash and the anti-Unionist cult do as much to muddy the waters as any one else does.

I share your concern about globalism today. Perhaps if I'd been alive in the 19th century, I'd have had similar concerns about the growing power of the national government. Certainly, in the 20th century the federal government went too far into things that could better be handled by the state or local governments or the private sector. But how I would have reacted in 1860 would have depended much more on the specific circumstances and events of the time, rather than on what happened fifty or 100 years later. Decent and honorable people came to different conclusions in 1860, and one possible conclusion is that the Confederate leaders were overstepping their bounds and acting unconstitutionally and belligerently.

115 posted on 06/21/2002 4:47:20 PM PDT by x
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To: TheDon
Do have any specifics to back your claim that DiLorenzo is the Michael Bellisiles of Lincoln studies? DiLorenzo's book is virtually unassailable in its conclusions about Lincoln. Just as a test, could you outline Dilorenzo's view of Lincoln? This is just to see if your even familiar with his work.
116 posted on 06/21/2002 4:54:41 PM PDT by FOOTY
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To: Huck; WhiskeyPapa; Ditto; ravinson; rdf
Check out the article in the July "Liberty" Magazine entitled, "Liberty and Union, Now and Forever." It's a criticism by a libertarian of the Rockwellite enthusiasm for the Confederacy and secession. It's a long article, and I don't know what to make of the whole, but the author makes some good points. He made one of the Rockwellites livid. Unfortunately, I don't think the article is available on the Internet.
117 posted on 06/21/2002 5:28:52 PM PDT by x
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To: Kevin Curry
Mencken was a bitter, irrelevant, crusty old fart and atheist who could write well. In this he was remarkably similar to Ayn Rand, except that Rand couldn't write well.

Well put.

118 posted on 06/21/2002 7:25:12 PM PDT by Roscoe
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To: r9etb
"The southern states were paying 90% of the taxes, and had 10% of the population, thus no hope of correcting the problem." --editor-surveyor

Quite an assertion. Now prove it.

Please ping me if he ever responds.

119 posted on 06/21/2002 7:29:31 PM PDT by Roscoe
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To: Huck
--H.L. Mencken, "The Final Estimate," The Smart Set, 1919.
1919. Damned straight.
Yes, Huck, I'll go there. Thanks.
120 posted on 06/21/2002 7:38:59 PM PDT by nicollo
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To: WhiskeyPapa
"Part of Lincoln's genius was in knowing what the country would accept, and another part was helping to guide it where it needed to go.

Walt"

Careful there walt. "Where it needed to go" tells me that he wasn't interested in "saving", but in "creating" something new. All you Lincoln-lovers insist that he saved what was. That, as you nearly let slip that you know, is balderdash.

The nation we live in now, structurally, is quite different from the one most of you Lincoln-lovers credit him with saving. Most of the problems we have now - with empire building and judicial activism, are a result of living in that structure which fosters less justice than the ones the Founders created.

The Yankees couldn't handle a true Republic, with consent- of-the-governed as a principle in its fabric. I will give Lincoln the benefit of the doubt though, becuase he didn't guide the Nation after the war, when these destabilizations really took place.

Had he lived during Reconstruction, he indicated in his words prior to and during the war that he'd have preserved more of the just, original structure than we have now. For example, I don't think Lincoln would have allowed the 14th Amendment to have been 'ratified', and I use that word generously.

http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a38ae1fc86628.htm

Lincoln didn't "guide the Nation" when it was most malleable. Radicals did. Lincoln was killed by a madman from Maryland, a week after Lee had surrendered.

It's the radicals, Walt. Be they republicans, abolitionists, abortionists, anti-abortionists, populists, Lincoln-lovers, egalitarians, or Islamic whackos. Radicals are the danger. Their excesses open the door for exploitation, e.g., affirmative action, and busing.

121 posted on 06/21/2002 8:40:51 PM PDT by H.Akston
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To: Constitution Day
King is good at times, but I think that Mark Steyn is today's answer to Mencken. Steyn has the gimlet eye for the hypocrisy in politicians and the absolute lack of respect for the profession of the poseurs who presume to rule us today, just as ol' Henry had when he was poking at them in the 20's and 30s.

To comment effectively on politicians a writer must be an absolute cynic with a finely developed sense of the ridiculous, and a strong stomach as well. He must also be absolutely unimpressed with the alleged virtues of the political class.

I think Steyn is our modern supplier of the kind of devastating commentary that Mencken once delivered.
122 posted on 06/21/2002 9:01:34 PM PDT by Twodees
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To: WhiskeyPapa
> Instead we chose to slaughter a million people and discard the original vision of the republic. This is a persistant part of the neo-reb myth.

You won't find much difference between what Washington and Madison thought and what Jackson thought right down to what Lincoln thought. Their ideas were the same.

Washington urged an "immovable attachment" to the national union. So did Lincoln. The changes I bet you don't like came later.

Jefferson advocated the right of secession, from England in the Declaration of Independence and from the Union in subsequent writings.

123 posted on 06/21/2002 9:24:50 PM PDT by chkoreff
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To: Colt .45
1838? You needn't go back so far.

Abraham Lincoln
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS
MONDAY, MARCH 4, 1861

...

"I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself."

...

124 posted on 06/21/2002 10:03:11 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: FOOTY
Let me know your thoughts on this thread.

http://www.freerepublic.com/fo cus/news/703307/posts
125 posted on 06/21/2002 10:05:38 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: billbears
Yes, it is plain from his inaugural address that he did not want a war with the South, and he was willing to bend over backwards to prevent it. But he was not willing to relinquish his Constitutional duties as President.
126 posted on 06/21/2002 10:15:34 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: chkoreff
Jefferson advocated the right of secession, from England in the Declaration of Independence and from the Union in subsequent writings.

Quote?

Walt

127 posted on 06/21/2002 10:37:46 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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To: WhiskeyPapa
I wonder how you'd handle, being the liberal you seem to be, the concept of Aztlan, which movement is gaining lots of ground. I can't do blockquote yet, but here's an excerpt from another thread re. secession of a number of US states with large Hispanic populations:

"Several professors at the University of New Mexico and a prominent local Hispanic activist were contacted for comment on UNM Professor Charles Truxillo's (a guest on Hannity & Colmbs just yesterday) concept for a new Hispanic nation called the Republic of the North. The professors were asked in particular about Truxillo's contention that U.S. states retain the right to secede. Truxillo said the states had that right under the Articles of Confederation of 1777, in which each state retained its own "sovereignty, freedom and independence." He said the Articles of Confederation were not superseded in that regard by the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and added that, although the North's victory settled the question of secession militarily, it was never resolved by court ruling. "The bottom line: What's possible is what people want to be possible. If five states wanted to secede and the rest of the country wanted to let them go, it could happen." ( Daniel Feller, professor of history) ***END QUOTED TEXT***

Would you let 'em go, because in this PC world, we wouldn't want to offend anyone with 'nationalism', would we? Would you shoulder a weapon and fight against them like your forbears presumably did in 1861?

128 posted on 06/22/2002 3:19:14 PM PDT by Treebeard
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To: TheDon
He corrected the major errors in the latest printing. None of them have any great bearing on his thesis, which you haven't demonstrated you even know.
129 posted on 06/22/2002 4:02:24 PM PDT by FOOTY
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To: FOOTY
He corrected the major errors in the latest printing.

Got anything to back that up with? :)

130 posted on 06/22/2002 4:40:04 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon
"I find this argument laughable coming from the slave holding states."

The argument isn't coming from "the slave holding states", Idiot. And anyone on FreeRepublic who wants to disassociate himself from the idiots won't ally himself with FreeRepublic's supreme idiot, WhiskeyPapa.

131 posted on 06/22/2002 7:11:05 PM PDT by Aurelius
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To: Aurelius
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about Walt.
132 posted on 06/22/2002 8:48:38 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon; WhiskeyPapa; Colt .45
(This is a general address - it was just simpler to append the last post than start scratch....) A whole lotta' yadda yadda here....Lots of quotes from founders on both sides of the divide, but, curiously, no one here has asked the questions ( & I do not have the impression the questions remain unasked due to their highly rhetorical nature...),that lies at the heart of the entire debate: were the anti-federalists correct in their suspicions of the federalists' motives; were they correct in their predictions of the adverse implications that would ensue if the federalist agenda were to be adopted; were they correct that appending a bill of rights to the constitution would prevent the adverse implications...? The answers are yes,yes, & no. The Lincoln-worshippers fall squarely ito the federalist camp, and without irony, fully support consolidated, centralized, 'federal' power (the exact opposite of what 'federal republic' is supposed to mean... but we are all used to dishonest appropriations of terms & their definitions by now, right?). Its also amusing that so many of this ilk populate a forum which calls itself 'free republic'...is the forum merely hosting the bloviated blather of liberty's adversaries, or is it yet another nest of neo-con connivers?

By the way, Colt .45, I like that CSA flag insert. How would I go about adding my favorite, the battle flag, to my posts?
133 posted on 06/23/2002 1:21:39 PM PDT by budo
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To: budo
Well said. While not on this thread, the questions that you ask have been covered in part and in whole on other lincoln threads. However I have found it hard to get a federalist to admit that as a point of view.
134 posted on 06/23/2002 1:30:35 PM PDT by billbears
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To: H.R. Gross
The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address is actually better, even though teachers don't require their students to memorize it.

135 posted on 06/23/2002 1:47:08 PM PDT by 537 Votes
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To: budo
It is an ongoing experiment, but as the wealthiest, most powerful, and, dare I say it, freest nation on earth, so far, I think we are doing rather well. Our nation is not perfect, but I don't think anyone can point out a better one. That is not to say we can't work to make it better.
136 posted on 06/23/2002 2:06:15 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon
I think honesty requires the admission that the 'experiment' you mentioned certainly did exist, but that even in its earliest fledgling state, it had many slippery opponents with publicly unspoken agendas who were much more interested in maintaining historical status quo, shall we say, with themselves - of course - at the oligarchical top. And that the experiment reached its zenith very early on, shifted trajectory 'south', and has been increasing in velocity ever since; nadir is still in front of us. So, the experiment is long-dead, replaced with the same old might-makes-right empire-building model that has never acquitted itself as a moral & tenable process for human beings in the whole of our collective history. I also say that comparisons between America and the rest of the world in this context are especially odious because America remains the only place where the experiment was even attempted, which means the only valid comparison is between America as it is, and America as it once was. With THAT comparison, the contrast is stark & inescapable. Countering your observations directly:the unique concept of decentralization - not massing - of power was the goal of the experiment; Americans were once free, now they are not, & comparisons to other peoples who are even MORE subject to tyranny should be of no comfort; and as for wealth, I like Jefferson's take: "I place economy among the first & most important virtues & public debt among the greatest dangers; we must make our choice between economy & liberty, or profusion & servitude. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy."
137 posted on 06/23/2002 5:40:35 PM PDT by budo
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To: billbears
A necessary component of the federalist heart is dishonesty...they are political animals of the (merely) highest pragmatism. Unfortunately, every Hamilton does not have his Burr.
138 posted on 06/23/2002 5:47:12 PM PDT by budo
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To: budo
It is perhaps hard to accept that people may choose a more centralized government than you would like, I too would prefer a less statist government than currently exists. But, the experiment is still in full force, and "this government of the people, by the people, and for the people" is still very much in the control of the people. It is unfortunate you cannot appreciate living in the greatest nation of man to ever grace this world.
139 posted on 06/23/2002 6:01:02 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon
Ah, yes...the kum by yah gloss. And sleight-of-hand, too. Are you contending that the people of the southern states chose 'more centralized govt', rather than having it rammed down their throats, via fire & sword? If so, then it follows that every people in history who were overrun, conquered & stiched into whichever megalomaniac's patchwork empire chose those fates as well. Pretty funny definition of 'choice'. Isn't it plainly evident that the last vestige of the experiment we have been discussing expired at Appomattox? And is the ability to appreciate the relative diffrentiation of America &, say, a yurt in outer Mongolia, apropos of anything? Or, is the description of my 'unfortunate' lack of 'appreciation'an example of the oh-so-short & placidly contented perspective of the thoroughly domesticated bovine who would urge all to capitulate overrated liberty & join the herd? Not me, brother.

140 posted on 06/23/2002 7:50:27 PM PDT by budo
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To: budo
As some in the South attempted to overthrow the US Constitution, I don't think they were concerned about centralized gov't, as they set up one for themselves. If they wanted out, they should have followed cooler heads, and done so using the US Constitution and the law, rather than the musket. By resorting to the sword, they contributed to making the federal government more centralized. Just the opposite of their hopes.
141 posted on 06/23/2002 8:01:16 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon
Her writing style aside (some have mentioned in this thread), as Ayn Rand used to say: check your premises. First, after 40 years of trying to to gain fair treatment on tariff issues - they managed to get the average rate down to 15% by 1857, but the southern states were STILL paying 80% of the total, & were seeing precious little in return for all the loot being sent north - in the 1859-60 congressional session the house of reps passed the Morrill tarriff, followed by the Senate in the next session of early 1861, just before Lincoln's inauguration. The Morrill tarriff raised the average rate to 47%! So, they triple the rate, Lincoln comes in, gives his first inaugural address, & says its his duty to collect the tarriff, and as long as that happens, there will be no invasion. Second, while the above was unfolding, the CSA constitution was drafted & it outlawed protectionist tarriffs altogether (they were trying to rectify weaknesses that had been designed into the US constitution by the federalists - NOT create their own mercantilist good-old-boy network...). Until the north became aware of this, there was no hue & cry for the euphemistic 'preservation of the union' - many in the north, including opinion-makers (editorialists & such), were indifferent-to-supportive of southern secession - but when they realized that most trade would flow away from high-tarriff northern ports to low tarriff southern ports, thats when the jingoism began. Third, 7 states seceeded initially; the final 4 joined them later only as the result of Lincoln's unconstitutional invasion. Maryland would have seceded too, but federal troops managed to get there quickly, throw the state government into jail, & garrison the state. Oh, and by the way, merely walking away from a voluntary compact is not 'overthrow' (which is why it is incorrect to refer to the hostilities as a 'civil war'...). The only contribution the south made to centralized government was trying, for far too long, to make a system work in which they obviously had no real input. If they had refused to be the north's sharecroppers much sooner, there may have been a chance for federal republicanism.
142 posted on 06/23/2002 9:51:05 PM PDT by budo
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To: budo
merely walking away from a voluntary compact is not 'overthrow'

An interesting, albeit incorrect, POV. Of course, you are only stating it. The soldiers of the South believed it enough to die for it.

143 posted on 06/23/2002 10:27:02 PM PDT by TheDon
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To: budo
Lots of quotes from founders on both sides of the divide, but, curiously, no one here has asked the questions ( & I do not have the impression the questions remain unasked due to their highly rhetorical nature...),that lies at the heart of the entire debate: were the anti-federalists correct in their suspicions of the federalists' motives; were they correct in their predictions of the adverse implications that would ensue if the federalist agenda were to be adopted...

Apparently the anti-feds were opposed to becoming the most powerful nation on earth.

No one is suggesting -unlimited- power by the federal government. It is hard to imagine how anyone could oppose the government having enough power simply to maintain its existance in the face of domestic foes too weak to control administration by organic means.

Walt

144 posted on 06/24/2002 5:30:47 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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To: budo
The Lincoln-worshippers fall squarely ito the federalist camp, and without irony, fully support consolidated, centralized, 'federal' power (the exact opposite of what 'federal republic' is supposed to mean...

George Washington supported the consolidation of the federal government, calling it the goal of every true American. It seems hard to blame Lincoln for adopting the stance of Washington.

But it comes down to the defintion or degree of consolidation. Washington would certainly agree that what we see today is totally beyond the pale. So would Lincoln. You are trying to make a bad thing out of a good thing. It has got to be a -good- thing that we have reasonable stability and security. Those two conditions are directly related to the preservation of the government that George Washington wanted.

"What stronger evidence can be given of the want of energy in our government than these disorders? If there exists not a power to check them, what security has a man of life, liberty, or property? To you, I am sure I need not add aught on this subject, the consequences of a lax or inefficient government, are too obvious to be dwelt on. Thirteen sovereignties pulling against each other, and all tugging at the federal head, will soon bring ruin to the whole; whereas a liberal, and energetic Constitution, well guarded and closely watched, to prevent encroachments, might restore us to that degree of respectability and consequence, to which we had a fair claim, and the brightest prospect of attaining..."

George Washington to James Madison November 5, 1786

Would you be happy if the states could print their own money again?

Whatever -you- personally own is more stable and more secure because of the stable and secure situation that you have now in contrast with the unstable situation that Washington saw in 1785.

You'd think common sense would tell you that.

Walt

145 posted on 06/24/2002 5:41:19 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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To: budo
Two problems with your arguement. The first one is that in the year prior to the Civil War about 95% of all tariff revenue was collected in three ports - New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. So it can be safely said that the North was paying the lion's share of the tariff, not the south. Second, if tariffs were such a bone of contention for the south then why was one of their first actions the implementation of a tariff which taxed virtually anything and everything imported (except slaves) and at rates some of which were higher than the rates imposed by the federal tariff they were supposed to be rebelling against?
146 posted on 06/24/2002 5:54:50 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: TheDon

'As some in the South attempted to overthrow the US Constitution, I don't think they were concerned about centralized gov't, as they set up one for themselves. If they wanted out, they should have followed cooler heads, and done so using the US Constitution and the law, rather than the musket. By resorting to the sword, they contributed to making the federal government more centralized. Just the opposite of their hopes.'

This statement shows how little you know about what happened. The South was trying to peacefully secede. They voted on it in each state, it passed referendum, they wrote out the reasons for secession and presented them to Washington. Lincoln had moved troops down to Ft. Sumter in anticipation of just such a move by the South, however when the South had seceeded Ft. Sumter was no longer a friendly fort, it was being occupied by "foreign invaders". Lincoln also made the unprecedented move of basically starting a war by calling up troops to go and fight.

The South didn't want to overthrow anything! They didn't want to be a part of the Union anymore and wanted the right of self determination guaranteed to them under the intent of the Founding Fathers, and Lincoln et al said "Nope you can't go anywhere and we (the Federal Government) will decide what is good for you!".

147 posted on 06/24/2002 10:12:44 AM PDT by Colt .45
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To: Colt .45
The South was trying to peacefully secede. They voted on it in each state, it passed referendum, they wrote out the reasons for secession and presented them to Washington.

Unfortunately, this is not a Constitutional way to leave the Union. You conveniently gloss over that fact.

148 posted on 06/24/2002 10:59:06 AM PDT by TheDon
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To: TheDon
"Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel about Walt."

Actually, I have considered that but have chosen to hold back. I'm basically a kind-hearted person and don't like to hurt people's feelings, not even those of people like Walt.

149 posted on 06/24/2002 12:48:36 PM PDT by Aurelius
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To: TheDon

And you seem to try to apply the Constitution for an illegal war that was waged outside of Constitutional limits. You "gloss over" Lincoln's culpability for an illegal war of aggression, and seem to want for the only people that understand the real reason for Southern secession to see it your way. Once again I reiterate, the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence are (key words here) fundamental American beliefs ... you know ... 'and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ... that governments are created by consent of the governed, and when a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT'. Now you will say that these beliefs are not expressed in the Constitution, and I say that they are the bedrock foundation of our American liberty, and comes from a higher authority than the US Constitution just as the Founder's believed they were.

150 posted on 06/24/2002 12:53:06 PM PDT by Colt .45
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