February 21, 2014

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

auctionslaves.jpg

Abraham Lincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley:

The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 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 save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free. Yours, A. Lincoln.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at February 21, 2014 5:44 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

And here the second greatest president of the USA* put down in writing his objective: Preserve the USA, as he swore to do. (1) Preserve and Restore the Union; (2) anything and everything else.

*George Washington was the greatest because he set the pattern that enough was enough. 'I wish to go home; please pick another president.'

Posted by: Mikey NTH at February 21, 2014 9:05 PM

Yep, as I posted in 2012, Abe Lincoln Was a Racist Bigot.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at February 22, 2014 8:53 AM

Yep, as I posted in 2012, Abe Lincoln Was a Racist Bigot.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at February 22, 2014 8:53 AM

I'll second agreement Mikey NTH's comment.
In spite of the rabid animosity of some displayed towards Lincoln, and he is a lightening rod for many,
no one who denigrates him has coherently articulated just exactly how the United States, or the world, would have been better if Lincoln had not preserved the Union.

Posted by: Tim P at February 22, 2014 12:29 PM

"Preserve the USA, as he swore to do."

Uhm, no. He swore an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Not to preserve the union.

See the difference?


And, this for Tim - it is impossible to denigrate Lincoln. His unconstitutional, illegal and immoral actions speak for themselves.

The bastard would be reviled and properly so for his actions had he not been executed for war crimes.

And we would be spared the ridiculous adulation accompanying the myth.

Posted by: itor at February 22, 2014 8:00 PM

Perhaps Lincoln believed he could not free all the slaves before securing the Union. Perhaps, he faced the same kind of dilemma that faced the Revolutionaries -- in their case, how to maintain a united front against the British without agreeing that slaves (mainly located in the South) be counted as 3/5 a person for apportioning a State's representatives.

Posted by: Famously Unknown at February 23, 2014 6:37 AM

Most of this screeching over the War of Northern Aggression happened to be about States Rights. One couldn't get the Yankees to join battle over that so the cry for Abolition would do.

Slavery never was a good and lasting form of economy; in 20 years it would have died out on it's own. Nowhere has it ever been sustainable.

Posted by: Peccable at February 23, 2014 7:15 AM

Nowhere has it ever been sustainable.

Except that it survives to this very day, perhaps there is less cotton picking and big, muscular men are not as sought after as very young and nubile girls. But still, there are house maids and field workers and it's still a moral wrong.

The piece is (to me) not about slavery, it's about duty. Without a understanding or respect for duty then it's reading would not bring Lincoln the respect he deserves.

Posted by: John the River at February 23, 2014 9:07 AM

I would urge our revisionists to actually look at some facts.
1. Slavery was not a dying institution. On the contrary, "By 1860 it was estimated that the value of all slaves in the South was worth 3 billion dollars and the gross national product for the entire country was 4 billion dollars. Slavery was 75 percent of the total gross product for the country. Obviously it was a very profitable and sensitive issue for the southerners. To get a feel for how important slavery was to South, in 1810 there were only 1 million slaves in the country and that number increase to 4 million by 1860." So please don't push the tripe that slavery was dying out, it was very profitable and was far from dying.
That being said, in all fairness, it is also true that, "75% of the Southerners did not own any slaves because many of them did not support slavery."
2. Those of you who revile Lincoln are partially correct in your opinion that much of the real underlying cause of the Civil War was states rights. However, it was more of a conflict between two different economic models. The older rural resource extraction based style of economy utilizing large amounts of slave labor versus the industrial model. The south still had what could be described as a colonial model.
The north was industrializing rapidly, "The North, being an industrialized region attracted more immigrants from Germany, Ireland and other European countries as skilled workers than the South. Between 1820 and 1860 only 400,000 immigrants settled in the South while 3.6 million of them settled in the North mainly in the New York area. As a result of this influx of immigrants, the North had 96% of the combined country’s railroad equipment, coal mines and canals."
3. It was the south who in a fit of pique after the 1860 election seceded. They further brought on their own devastation by attacking Fort Sumpter. So please stop with this war of northern aggression bullshit.
4. This conflict was inevitable regardless of who would have been elected after Buchanan.
The fact that it was Lincoln only changes the details.
So please, if you choose to engage in spittle flecked raving about a war that was over almost 150 years ago fine.
But at least get your history straight.
There are important problems that are on-going today which merit attention. All the foaming and raving about the past is only distracting from it.

Posted by: Tim P at February 23, 2014 9:08 AM

"Lincoln freed the slaves" What utter BS. The so-called emancipation proclamation was directed only where Lincoln had no authority, in the South. It LEFT INTACT slavery in the north.

It is perhaps natural that products of a government run childhood indoctrination program will hold in reverence the most tyrannical within their countries history. So it was with Lenin, with Stalin, with Hussein (Sadam).

And it is my fervent hope that just as with the toppling of statues to those aforementioned so it will be with the despicable Lincoln - pulled down and smashed - replaced perhaps with a statue of a real patriot, John Wilkes Booth.

Posted by: itor at February 23, 2014 9:22 AM

itor's trolling gets 2/10.

Posted by: Eric Blair at February 23, 2014 9:53 AM

I don't know if any other president, living or dead, could have done better. Keep in mind they have all been human and as such are/were vulnerable to the same weaknesses that all of us are. Those that rise above to think and act for "the greater good" should be considered for the results rather than the methods. Truman dropping those atom bombs comes to mind. Not saying the end justifies the means, just that the results made it worth the efforts.

We have only to look at DC now. The results of years of dysfunction and mismanagement are glaringly obvious. Where is the making-sacrifices-for-the-greater-good dynamic?

Posted by: chasmatic at February 23, 2014 10:59 AM

Lincoln could not have unilaterally freed slaves in states still loyal to the Union because those states still had functioning civil governments. He would have had to work with Congress and the state governors/legislatures to get the laws changed. Could he have done it? I don't know, but he didn't. For those states in rebellion, it was a very different story. Once the federal armies occupied them, martial law was the order of the day, which included enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation.

To continue on Tim P's theme, one of the big underlying causes of the Civil War was not just slavery, but its expansion in the frontier states/territories of the West. A series of compromises sought to balance the number of slave and free states, with varying degrees of success, but the issue wouldn't stay solved for long. Far from being in its death throes, slavery was expanding into places where it had not been before. We can speculate until the cows come home whether slavery would have died out sometime before the 20th Century, but a growing number of slave states in the West argues against that outcome.

Posted by: waltj at February 23, 2014 11:22 AM

Tim, none of your points holds any water at all. You're simply parroting the programming you've been indoctrinated with all your life while ignoring the historical details and pursuing logical fallacies.

1. "Slavery was not a dying institution."

Of course it was. It simply wasn't dying at the same rate in all places. In fact, slavery is not completely dead TODAY. Is the U.S. actively pursuing war against those nations where it's still in practice? Hardly. We celebrate the moral righteousness of those who violated the U.S. Constitution in the 1800s, who incited 'servile insurrection' and refused to meet the very clear requirements imposed by the Constitution's directive, which was duly ratified by every State in the Union. We tacitly approve of one million dead and wounded in a war "to end slavery". So how is it we're not out rattling sabers and calling for war against any regime where slavery is still in practice today? Yeah. Instant cognitive dissonance.

Slavery was in fact a slowly dying institution even in 1820, and in 1830. Yet the census for both those years shows slaves widely held to service in all but a minority of States then. Why wasn't war justified to eradicate this institution then? What do you think would have happened if some other country had incited 'servile insurrection' in the United States at that time? Do you think all the States where slaves were held to service would have had that V8-moment and immediately moved to abolish the institution, forcing the immediate emancipation of all slaves? Seriously??

So what was the "drop-dead date" on slavery? And who gets to make that call? Every other civilized nation where slavery was abolished managed to figure that out without a war. Even if you buy into the demonstrably false claim that the "Civil" War was caused by slavery, what made 1861 the magic date by which it had to be ended in the U.S.? Answer: nothing. Slavery did not cause the war.


2. "...it was more of a conflict between two different economic models."

No. That conflict had existed for decades. The tension between agrarian and industrial society, in and of itself, is not what caused the war.

In fact, that juxtaposition of varying social organization within the same confederacy of sovereign States was precisely the sort of (true) diversity a properly functioning Free Marketplace of Ideas was intended to facilitate, via the Republican Form of Government guaranteed by the Constitution. Furthermore, the institution of slavery upon which agrarian society was reliant was both recognized and protected in the text of the Constitution itself. Short of a duly passed Amendment, no State had any legal basis for failing to comply with the constraints and obligations that text imposed.

As with Free Speech, where the very point of the right is to protect speech you might deem abhorrent, so did ratification of the Constitution affirm the power of the various sovereign States to pursue institutions under their own jurisdiction that the citizens of other States might deem abhorrent.

This is key to understanding why the U.S. was the only civilized nation (ostensibly) unable to bring slavery to an end without war. Because the legal aspects had already been settled by the ratification of the Constitution, the debate over continued existence of the abhorrent institution of slavery was a moral one, no different in its substance from the current debates over abortion-on-demand, the wanton destruction of this nation’s security, solvency and identity invited by shamnesty, the devaluation of traditional marriage, or the ongoing destruction of our economy and prosperity through punitive taxation, hyper-regulation, “affirmative action lending”, union thuggery and “quantitative easing”. Each of those is abhorrent to anyone committed to a society that values the principles of liberty which motivated the Constitution. Yet we're not at war in an effort to resolve them. Why?

As seen from a vantage point outside the simplistic, historically distorted box our publicly-diseducated forebears have constructed for the discussion of this issue, where 'slavery' is the only topic allowed, the process in the 1850s was no different from what's happening today, where the federal government plays both ends against the middle, leveraging the moral debates of the day for its own ends. From this higher vantage point, identifiying the real cause of the war is easy: it was an overweening, revenue-seeking federal establishment which abandoned the principles of Republican government, first by economically punishing one region for the benefit of the other (and itself) and then, when its usurped primacy was threatened, by intentionally provoking a military conflict between the two regions for its own benefit.

This is hardly different from the way working people are economically punished by the federal government today, for the benefit of a dependent majority (and itself) who support them politically.

The organized attacks on the institution of slavery - outright violations of the clear content of the Constitution short of an Amendment, despite their moral rectitude - ultimately worked to the benefit of the federal government, providing political support for the extraction of Southern wealth in the form of federal revenue via the tariff. But instead of working to change minds, and the Constitution, abolitionists leveraged all the same appeal to emotion and moral relativism fallacies and hypocrisy we see in today's "progressive" ideologues' attacks on the "1%" and "white privilege", aimed at circumventing the limits of the Constitution to fight "income equality", guarantee "social justice" and benefit the so-called "poor". We know the feds don't care about the "poor"; they care about the power they can usurp via programs they claim benefit the "poor".

So it was in 1860. Lincoln's rhetoric is replete with this same hypocrisy, where he denigrates blacks as inferior in one sentence and declares their civil equality in the next, oblivious that his diatribe started out with the declaration that they should all be "colonized" back to Africa. He didn't care about the slaves - the rhetoric Gerard has quoted here states this outright - what Lincoln cared about was maintaining the "national order", i.e., the control of the federal government over the individual States and their wealth. Harboring any doubts that the imperial federal government he left us will have any problem at all with the idea of provoking a class-based civil war if it feels its primacy threatened? I don't.


3a. "It was the south who in a fit of pique after the 1860 election seceded."

No. Lincoln's election (if one can even call 40% an electoral victory) was seen as the last straw in a long string of abuses and usurpations - no different from the similar sequence of events that led the colonies to declare their independence. It was hardly a fit of 'pique' that motivated secession.

Lincoln had already clearly voiced his acquiescence on the slavery issue, where it existed, and it was as yet still a legitimate, constitutionally recognized institution. Furthermore, Congress passed a Joint Resolution protecting slavery in perpetuity - a resolution that was actually ratified as an Amendment to the Constitution by Ohio and Maryland! There was absolutely no threat to the institution of slavery, per se, presented by Lincoln's election. And he made this clear, again, with his open endorsement of the above-mentioned amendment during his first inaugural address.

What the South objected to primarily was the refusal of Northern States to comply with their constitutional obligations regarding fugitive slaves and, more egregiously, being simultaneously beaten into submission by Northern interests which - via federal legislation - renewed the economic attack on the South (i.e., via the Morrill Tariff). Just as Obama would never have been elected Senator, much less President, were he not black, Lincoln would never have been elected President were he not a vocal protectionist. His support for the tariff in 1860 is what got him the nomination and the critical support of Pennsylvania, whose steel magnates preferred the cover of a tariff over the hard work of creating an industry that was actually efficient and competitive in its own right.

In response to these attacks against her interests, which were sure to accelerate under Lincoln's leadership (so-called), South Carolina separated herself from a corrupted government that clearly no longer felt constrained to promote the General Welfare. Hardly a "fit of pique" by any definition. Certainly not "rebellion" by any stretch of the imagination.


3b. "They further brought on their own devastation by attacking Fort Sumpter."

Again, no. South Carolina seceded in December of 1860. Major Anderson and his company seized control of the fort almost immediately, without orders to do so. His company was, in fact, provided with food and supplies via trade with merchants in Charleston for months, while South Carolina sought in good faith to negotiate a settlement for the property with the U.S. This was the status quo right up until Lincoln - violating an agreement established by the previous administration, and ignoring Anderson's written warning that, based on his understanding of the agreement, it was guaranteed to PROVOKE war with the Confederacy - sent a fleet of warships and a company of Union Troops to reinforce the fort and seize control of the harbor itself.

South Carolina didn't attack Sumter; that fort had stood unmolested by the Confederacy for months. What South Carolinians did was defend themselves against an invading naval force sent by Lincoln without the consent of Congress and in clear violation of the Constitution's definition of Treason. But of course those details have all been airbrushed from the "official" account. Americans are left with the ridiculous impression that South Carolina seceded in the morning and opened fire on Ft. Sumter, unprovoked, that very afternoon.

Meanwhile, the same basic sequence of events occurred at Ft. Pickens: Lincoln violated the existing agreement not to pursue military reinforcement (claiming it was a "quasi-armistice" and implying that it wasn't binding on his person). When the Senate later requested detailed memoranda of that operation, Lincoln refused to comply, citing... executive privilege.


4. "This conflict was inevitable regardless of who would have been elected after Buchanan."

This is risible, unsupportable nonsense. Any administration that exhibited the same willingness Jackson ultimately had, i.e., to roll back a destructive tariff and to continue the search for a viable compromise on the fugitive slave issue, could have avoided secession and, certainly, the ensuing conflict. That conflict was never guaranteed even after the secession. It was guaranteed when Lincoln sent warships to Charleston, just one more example of the arrogance and incompetence pursued by the ONLY national leader of his time so completely in over his head that he couldn’t bring slavery to an end in his country without rendering a million of his countrymen either dead or wounded.


"There are important problems that are on-going today which merit attention. "

Yes, there absolutely are. And the root cause of almost ALL of those problems can be found in the fundamental transformation that occurred in 1865, when the formerly voluntary union was converted into an empire ruled by D.C. via the threat of military force.

Posted by: goy at February 23, 2014 1:12 PM

Goy nails it!!!

Posted by: Revernd Idaho Spud at February 23, 2014 1:47 PM

Goy,
You say, "none of your points holds any water at all. You're simply parroting the programming you've been indoctrinated with all your life while ignoring the historical details and pursuing logical fallacies."
Well the slavery and economic numbers are derived from the US Census.
I suppose they are in on this too?
You go on to say, "As with Free Speech, where the very point of the right is to protect speech you might deem abhorrent..."
How would you know what I, or anyone else thinks is abhorrent?
I don't find anything you say abhorrent.
I find it wrong. Pure & simple.
Reasonable people can argue the point.
The fact that you seem unable to argue your point without verbally attacking those who disagree with you says more about you than I think you intend.

Posted by: Tim P at February 23, 2014 3:01 PM

Sorry Tim. I think you need to take a little breath and quit assuming anyone's attacking you. I'm not.

I cited the census. I'm perfectly familiar with what the numbers show. In fact it's part of the argument I presented.

Per Popper, I could have been more clear, but the "you" I referred to in my comment about free speech was the general "you", not you (Tim), personally. It didn't occur to me that you'd be so defensive about it. I'll be more careful in future.

Yes, Tim, reasonable people absolutely can argue a point. Here's the thing: I did argue the point - every one of them - quite reasonably, IMHO.

But again, as before (i.e., when you claimed, baselessly, that I "impugn[ed] anyone who fail[ed] to agree with [me]"), your reply here actually does exactly what you're accusing me of doing... all without addressing a single one of the points I raised.

Posted by: goy at February 23, 2014 3:17 PM

First when you respond to someone and say "none of your points holds any water at all. You're simply parroting the programming you've been indoctrinated with all your life while ignoring the historical details and pursuing logical fallacies."
You are not simply disagreeing with what they say. You know it, I know it, and anyone reading your statement knows it. So don't attack me and call me defensive for, gasp, defending myself.
Next you say, "I cited the census.
Really? Where?
You go on to say, "Slavery was in fact a slowly dying institution even in 1820, and in 1830."
Here's some figures from the census in my first comment, " in 1810 there were only 1 million slaves in the country and that number increase to 4 million by 1860." More exact numbers from the census are 1,191,362 and 3,950,000 slaves in 1810 and 1860 respectively.
You call that slowly dying?
You then say, Yet the census for both those years shows slaves widely held to service in all but a minority of States then."
Here are the state by state census stats for 1860.
A quick look shows that the vast majority of slaves were concentrated in... wait for it, the south.
So how do you square your statement?
You further go on to say, "This is key to understanding why the U.S. was the only civilized nation (ostensibly) unable to bring slavery to an end without war."
I will make an assumption here that by civilized, you mean European. Correct me if I'm wrong.
However, the only reason the US was the only 'civilized' country that went to war over slavery is because the US was the only 'civilized' country that had slavery legally within its borders.
You then go on to say, "The organized attacks on the institution of slavery - outright violations of the clear content of the Constitution short of an Amendment,..." What organized attacks? Do you refer to the leveraging of public opinion?
"...despite their moral rectitude - ultimately worked to the benefit of the federal government, providing political support for the extraction of Southern wealth in the form of federal revenue via the tariff." What? Explain how that was happening, if you can, specifically.
"..But instead of working to change minds, and the Constitution, abolitionists leveraged all the same appeal to emotion and moral relativism fallacies and hypocrisy we see in today's "progressive" ideologues' attacks on the "1%" and "white privilege",..Moral relativism?? The abolitionists were if anything moral absolutists. They had no middle ground on this issue. Good God man!
Abolitionists were not lying and making up propaganda to trick the public as the so-called progressives are today. They were serious people who were morally compelled to do everything they could to abolish slavery. A very real and evil condition that actually existed. Many of these people, unlike the socialist ilk of today, were devout Christians.
"...aimed at circumventing the limits of the Constitution to fight "income equality guarantee "social justice" and benefit the so-called "poor".",
Where have you or anyone ever read anything about the abolition of slavery in the US being related to income inequality?
You attempt to conflate modern socialist terminology with anti-slavery of the mid-19th century in the service of your argument.
I could go on, but I'll cut to the chase here.
You say,"And the root cause of almost ALL of those problems can be found in the fundamental transformation that occurred in 1865, when the formerly voluntary union was converted into an empire ruled by D.C. via the threat of military force."
If you think that 1865 was the year the United States, as you say, was converted into an empire, I suggest you read up on the Mexican War.
Lastly you said," I did argue the point - every one of them - quite reasonably, IMHO."
Reasonably? No, not reasonably and you know it. You were called on it and tried to dissemble out of it. Fortunately, it's written above and can be looked at to see what you really said.
For what it's worth.
Here's how I try to disagree with someone if I want to discuss it...
I say I disagree on X, y, or Z points and then state my reasons, which I try to either back up with facts, or if simply an opinion, with some form of coherent suasion.
Try it sometime, you might end up having a interesting exchange which might be beneficial to yourself AND perhaps the other party. If that's what you're looking for.

Posted by: Tim P at February 23, 2014 6:20 PM

"You are not simply disagreeing with what they say."

Didn't claim I was "simply disagreeing", Tim.

"...state by state census stats for 1860."

Didn't mention 1860, Tim.

"...the only reason the US..."

No. That wasn't the reason, Tim.

"Do you refer to the leveraging of public opinion?"

No, Tim. That's not what I was referring to.

"A very real and evil condition that actually existed."

Poverty, "income inequality" & "social injustice are "very real and evil" to some folks, Tim.

"...related to income inequality? "

Didn't say it was, Tim.

"...I suggest you read up on the Mexican War."

Sorry Tim, I don't do Wikipedia.

"...not reasonably..."

Yes, quite reasonably, Tim.

Again, take a little breath. This isn't about you. It's about your programming, and how that programming has given us several generations of an electorate which doesn't seem to see anything odd about a President who behaves more like a King.

Posted by: goy at February 23, 2014 8:27 PM

As with any cult member, there is no reasoning to be had with lincoln worshipers.

He was a LIAR, a RACIST, a MURDERER, a USURPER, a TYRANNICAL POS.

Yet his acolytes will murmer - look at the results! He did what he did! We can't judge him for his actions, for he was human!!

Sic semper tyrannis - oh how beautiful it would be to see this spray painted on the bastards statue, as reminder and caution to those who would follow in his steps.

Posted by: itor at February 23, 2014 9:45 PM

Slavery is quite alive and well in the US. No, there are no whips or physical chains, no bending over in the sun scrabbling in the dirt.

But The slaves are toiling for the betterment of the idle. The chains and whips now are taxes and the threats of IRS punishment for not supporting the welfare state.
You work, they lay about with food stamps, big TV's, housing, health care, ObamaPhones and with some sleight of hand cigarettes and booze. You pay for it!

If that isn't wage slavery, I don't know what else to call it.

If you don't toil in the wage fields, we'll see how long it is before the Gummint Overseer visits you.

Posted by: Peccable at February 24, 2014 4:34 AM

Boys, boys. Play nice. We're all in this together, right?

BTW I noticed in that photo, it looks like a nice rifle.

Posted by: chasmatic at February 24, 2014 4:39 PM

Lincoln needed the south to preserve his revenue base. He couldn't let it leave the union, so he trampled the Constitution. When ratified it was done only when all 13 states agreed to the specifications of three states that they would only ratify the Constitution if they were allowed to leave the union for any reason. By supporting these three all 13 acknowledged the right to leave the union unmolested-for any reason.

Yet the despot Lincoln went to war against other Americans. He who said the south couldn't leave the union allowed West Virginia to leave the state of Virginia.

Lincoln didn't fight the war over slavery, he fought the war against the Cosntitution and the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

Posted by: Veritas at February 28, 2014 2:31 PM
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