Abraham Lincoln was the best U.S. President, motivated by a patriotic and Christian desire to preserve the union of states and free the slaves. At least that is what modern textbooks suggest. There is a bigger story to the 16th President of the United States than the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. A whitewashed version of the man is all that we learned about him in school. It is what our children and grandchildren are still being taught. Public school districts and universities have been dutifully parroting that the Southern states of Lincoln's era had a perverse culture, while Northern society was superior. This became the politically-correct mantra when 'teaching' about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War for generations after the Civil Rights Movement. The identity politics is only getting worse, and more blatant.
The narrative is not only infused heavily with liberal bias, but moreover, it is entirely wrong. Far too many Americans, both current students and adults, believe that the Civil War was a war about slavery. This liberalized version of history does not chronicle the political shenanigans that were undertaken by groups to harden their centralized (federal) grasp on power, as is still the case today. Most Americans do not believe that this issue was at play during Lincoln's era, but they are so very wrong. The current political atmosphere in America is a testament to how ignorance of history forces a people to repeat it.
President Abraham Lincoln should not be revered as a hallowed figure. "Honest Abe" was a mere man; one who made mistakes and decisions based on his own self-interest. Some of his choices did benefit America, but the benefits were often a positive byproduct of his political self-interest, not benevolence.
Abraham Lincoln's Flopping Stance on Slavery
The liberal Republicans of the time, who eventually touted Lincoln as a champion of freedom, steadfastly demanded the media and citizens not "paint him with an Abolitionist brush," during his first inaugural address. Abraham Lincoln did not wish to be known as anti-slavery after putting his hand on the Bible and taking the oath of office. Also, during his first inaugural address, President Lincoln declared that he had absolutely no legal authority to interfere with the practice of slavery in states where it already existed. He then went on to boldly say that he would be enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. The federal law mandated the return of runaway slaves who had fled slave states to seek safety and freedom in the North.
Although the history textbooks tend to gloss over such facts, slavery did once exist in the North. The practice of owning human beings had ended throughout the Northern states by 1804. Even after slavery was abolished in the North, racial discrimination still heavily existed in workplaces, schools, and communities. The idea of a little white girl sitting next to a little black girl, or a black man and a white woman courting was still not accepted by the 'tolerant' North or 'freedom-loving' elites, who were hurling hateful rhetoric toward the South. Meanwhile, indentured servitude in the North, which was a big step but not a leap up from slavery, remained legal. Equally legal was the use of children as the North's virtual slave labor inside its factories. Many of whom were worked to death, and usually had a poorer quality of life than the average Southern slave.
Politics, money, and power were just as intrinsically woven during the 1860's as they are today. Some of the most fervent and vocal anti-slavery Northerners, who pushed for an end to slavery, were not doing it entirely from a human rights sentiment. Many wealthy businessmen in the North were pressuring politicians to force the South into submission over slavery, because they felt that it created unfair competition in the marketplace. With slavery existing in the Southern states, Northern businessmen were being forced to compete against free labor. Even child laborers had to be paid something, after all.
Congress was fiercely divided over the issue of slavery during the months prior to the election of Abraham Lincoln. Heated arguments over the Thirteenth Amendment occurred on a daily basis in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The furious debates continued during the early stages of Lincoln's presidency.
The Thirteenth Amendment that most Americans associate with Abraham Lincoln was passed at the end of the Civil War, in 1865. However, there was a previous version of the Thirteenth Amendment that had a polar-opposite intent. Lincoln publicly supported the former version during his swearing-in ceremony. This original version of the Thirteenth Amendment was meant to enshrine the practice of slavery as immutable. It would have amended the Constitution to pro-actively prevent any future legislature from ever attempting to outlaw the ownership of human beings. This version of what would have become the Thirteenth Amendment, if it had passed, is now often referred to as the Corwin Amendment. Thomas Corwin, an Ohio Republican Representative and a Lincoln supporter, sponsored the bill.
"I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable," Lincoln said when referencing Corwin's proposal, according to a report by Constitution Daily.
The Political Landscape Before Lincoln's Election
To truly understand what actually caused the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln's massive flip-flop on slavery, we must understand what happened during the 10 years that led up to his election, and the split in the Democrat Party, which occurred at its convention to select a presidental candidate to oppose the Republicans.
In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. This law permitted each new state coming into the United States to decide for itself whether or not slavery would be legal inside its borders. It was sponsored by the wing of Republicans to which Lincoln belonged. The legislation overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which had banned slavery north of Maryland's northern border. This delineation is commonly known as the Mason-Dixon line.
For decades before Lincoln's election, the Southern states had been responsible for most of the federal government's revenue. The South had stringent tariffs forced upon it by Northern lawmakers, who in-turn gave about 80 percent of the funds to enhance public works in their states and bolster the struggling economy of the North. There was no income tax in the United States at that time, nor had there ever been an income tax, as it is forbidden by the U.S. Constitution. About 85 percent of the revenue that the federal government had at its disposal came in the form of tariffs that were levied on goods and services from the South. The high taxes that Southerners paid helped to build railroads, roads, manufacturing complexes, and canals in the North.
Before 1812, the tariffs levied were between 15 and 20 percent. The funds garnered by these tariffs were enough to keep the federal government fully functional, without placing an excessive burden on any specific region of the country. When the War of 1812 broke out, the tariffs upon Southern businesses were increased up to 26 percent by Congress, with the net profits being funneled to aid manufacturers in the North.
With a new tariff in 1828, the economy of South Carolina took the biggest hit and lost 25 percent of its export business in just 24 months. In the Southern newspapers, the tariff was nicknamed "Tariff of Abominations". The U.S. Congress was dominated by Whig Party members from the North, who had passed the tariff, increasing the amount that the South had to pay on exported goods up to 50 percent.
In 1832, South Carolina officials called for a state convention to nullify both the tariff of 1828 and another tariff that had been enacted earlier that same year, by arguing that the tariffs were unconstitutional. Unfair taxation was one of the premises that had sparked America's War of Independence against England, and it seemed as if the same issue was going to prompt a Civil War in the still-young nation.
On March 2nd, 1861, the Morrill Tariff was passed. Even though the tariffs being collected from the South now totaled about 87 percent of the federal government's revenue. The bill was named after Northern steel manufacturer and Republican Congressman, Justin Morrill. The legislation would progressively levy up to a 47 percent tariff on exported goods over the course of three years. The burden of this new tariff fell squarely on the shoulders of the South. The industrial businesses of the North were largely domestic sellers. The Morrill Tariff decreased the trade value of agricultural exports overseas, causing a gigantic blow to the Southern economy. Abraham Lincoln campaigned as a supporter of the tariff.
Thaddeus Stevens, a Lincoln supporter and Republican Congressman, co-authored the Morrill Tariff. During the campaign season, the iron manufacturer from Pennsylvania said that the two most important issues of the 1860 election were increasing tariffs and putting an end to slavery. Stevens also told a New York crowd that the new tariff would financially cripple the South and the West, but it would enrich the North. He claimed that it would increase the wages of Northern industrial workers and help America achieve greatness.
The Whig Party, which held the majority in Congress, was able to implement the progressive export tariff, which began increasing from 36 percent onward, in 1861. The economy of the North began to boom, due to the bulk of its industrial goods being sold domestically. The Southern economy began a downward spiral, as the vast majority of its revenue was based upon the exportation of cotton and tobacco to Europe.
Henry Clay speaking before the U.S. Congress about taxing the Southern states more.
Former Vice President and South Carolina Senator, John C. Calhoun, was able to negotiate a compromise that would roll back the tariffs to their former 15 percent range over the course of several years. Henry Clay (a man whom Lincoln greatly admired) and his Whig party were infuriated at being forced into a compromise with the South. It meant the loss of money that was to be ultimately funneled, at least in part, to their campaign supporters.
If Southern officials had tried to resist the tariffs, they would have been herded up and hanged as enemies of the state. Thaddeus Stevens was a powerful leader within the Republican party, and by some accounts, he ran the nation after Abraham Lincoln's assassination. His open hostility toward the South and vindictiveness explains the North's punitive tone during the Reconstruction Era.
The 1860 Presidential Election
Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election, but the why and how have been left out of most history books, and this is causing the mis-education of millions of Americans.
The Democrat Party split along geographical lines during its presidential convention. A northern faction and a southern faction emerged. The convention ended without the nomination of a candidate to run on the ticket. When the Democrats met in Charleston, South Carolina to hold their convention in April, tensions swirled and boiled over rather quickly. Northern party leaders felt that Stephen Douglas was their best chance to defeat the "Black Republicans" seeking to end or limit slavery. Southern Democrats largely deemed Douglas to be unfit, because he believed that the federal government had no right to determine the legality of slavery. Douglas maintained that the issue should remain a state decision. Six weeks after the Southern Democrats walked out of the convention without a vote being held, Stephen Douglas was nominated during a second convention that was held in the North. Southern Democrats also held a second convention and nominated the sitting Vice President, John Breckenridge, to lead the ticket.
With the Democrat Party split in half and in chaos, Republicans felt that they would have an edge in the presidential race during their convention, which they held in Chicago the following month. Republicans needed a candidate who would garner the Electoral College votes of the North. Such a scenario would require carrying Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, and Indiana.
After intense debate over a slew of possible candidates, Abraham Lincoln, after three votes were taken, received the nomination. During his one term in the U.S. Congress, as a member of the House, the press had cast Lincoln as a strong all-American man, with an inspiring pull-yourself-up by the bootstraps story. He had become the darling of the Northern press during his bitter debates with Stephen Douglas earlier the same year. News coverage of the debates was spread nationwide at a time when the telegraph was still in its infancy.
When a 3-way race for the presidency turned into a 4-man contest, Abraham Lincoln's party felt that their candidate would be a shoe-in, if given the right press coverage. John Bell, a wealthy Tennessee plantation owner, was nominated as the candidate for the newly-created Constitutional Union Party. The political group was largely composed of community pillars and former politicians. They described themselves as moderates. They believed that the best way to calm the nation and win the election was to avoid the issue of slavery altogether.
As a presidential candidate, Lincoln supported the deportation of all Negroes to an unpopulated zone outside of America. This was euphemistically described as a policy of "colonization". As late as December of 1862, Lincoln was continuing to promote his idea of ridding the U.S. mainland of all Negroes, even as the Civil War raged on. This stance, which was one that was taken by some of the most conservative members of his political party, did not endear him to either abolitionists or Southern voters.
When Lincoln ran for the highest office in the land in 1860, it was the first time that "sectional" (regional) parties were involved in a presidential race. It was also the first time that the South was not represented on either the top or the bottom of a winning presidential ticket. Abraham Lincoln did not win a single Electoral College vote from either a Southern or a border state. In fact, he won the election with only 39 percent of the popular vote. The message was clear to Southerners: the North, and only the North, would determine the president.
"I will say then, that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters of the Negroes, or jurors, or qualifying them to hold office, of having them to marry with white people. I will say in addition, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races, which I suppose, will forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social and political equality, and inasmuch, as they cannot so live, that while they do remain together, there must be the position of superior and inferior, that I as much as any other man am in favor of the superior position being assigned to the white man."
-- Abraham Lincoln, 1858, Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Abraham Lincoln's Early Months in the Presidency
Southerners perceived the election of Abraham Lincoln as the solidification of Northern dominance over nearly every aspect of their lives. It took only a day for Americans in South Carolina and multiple Gulf Coast states to call for secession.
Despite the mounting tensions between the North and South, Lincoln did not have a single man who lived below the Mason-Dixon line on his cabinet as an adviser, nor did he take a meeting with any Southern lawmakers from the time that he was elected up through the beginning of the Civil War.
If the preservation of the Union was a top priority for Lincoln, he should have attempted to prevent the mounting hostilities, addressed the concerns that the South had been battling against for more than a decade, and tried to prevent the fever pitch from growing louder. But he did not. Lincoln ignored the South's economic and states' rights worries repeatedly, so their distrust of the new president increased dramatically.
Instead of attempting to meet with Southerners to calm their fears over continued tariff increases, or working toward eventually ending slavery peaceably, Lincoln signed the Morrill Tariff into law. Taking his power a step further, the new president vowed that he would ensure enforcement of the high tariff on Southern states that seceded from the United States. It signaled to the Southern states that they were trapped in a position of perpetual servitude to produce federal revenue.
President Lincoln was essentially calling the South out, but Southerners were not bluffing. They had lost patience in having taxation without representation for the sole benefit of the North, and so they seceded, with South Carolina being the first state to exit the Union. Northern members of Congress began preparing for a military campaign, as their Southern peers were packing up their Washington, D.C. offices for train rides home.
James Buchanan alongside other current and former politicians of the time reached out to the South, as well as the incoming administration to engage in a constitutional convention that was to be followed by a direct-vote national vote on the divisive issues threatening to tear apart the country. It was a Kansas Senator, John Crittenden, not Abraham Lincoln, who took bold steps to preserve the Union and prevent a Civil War that would ultimately take more than 650,000 American lives. Modern history books ignore the Kansas Senator's noble efforts, as well as the decision by Lincoln and his party to embrace bloodshed.
The Crittenden Compromise called for immediate legislation to create a far more permanent solution, by way of constitutional amendments, for the issues dividing the nation. The compromise called for extending the slavery boundaries established by the 1820 Missouri Compromise, which had been terminated by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. This was the North's proverbial fig leaf, which was being offered to appease Southerners, in the hope that friendly relations could be renewed. The act, which did get some support from powerful senators in the North, was sent to a special committee. However, it died when some of Lincoln's most staunch supporters quickly rejected the Crittenden Compromise. "History is to record us," the Kansas Senator cautioned Congress when presenting his bill. "Is it to record that when the destruction of the Union was imminent, we stood quarreling?"
When elected officials from Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida received no communication from President Lincoln to assure them that the fiscal attacks on the South would come to an end, they also voted to secede. North Carolina was the last to leave, and it ultimately lost the most men to the war.
President Lincoln's War
Every newspaper in the country ran headlines about the South's secession. Neither the press nor the Northeastern public disputed the right of the states to legally and peaceably withdraw from the United States, at least not initially. When a member of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet suggested that they just let the South leave peaceably, the president has been quoted as replying, "Let the South go? Where, then, would we get our revenue!" Respect for the South's right to secede soon vanished, not because of a more in-depth look at our Constitution, but because wealthy Northern business leaders suddenly realized that they would soon be competing in a truly free market (sans high tariffs) against the South. This fact, on top of worries about the massive loss of annual revenues resulting from lost tariffs, soon caused saber rattling of epic proportions.
President Lincoln finally took a meeting, a covert one, with a Southerner. He met with Virginia Secession Convention delegate Colonel John Baldwin. The colonel, like many of his peers, preferred for his state to remain a part of the United States if a compromise could be reached. During the April 4th, 1861 meeting, Colonel Baldwin learned that the president was already plotting a military assault against the South at Fort Sumter. The Virginia delegate tried to convince Lincoln that any such action would force the Southern states into an all-out war with the North. The colonel also told the president that if the South were permitted to leave the Union peaceably, economic and historical ties would ultimately bring the two geographical factions back together again.
Another point of fact that modern history textbooks omit is why Fort Sumter was the place that Lincoln chose to make a stand. It was not merely a military fort. Fort Sumter was a tariff collection facility. The president's attempt to terrorize the South into submission by assaulting Fort Sumter was an epic and very bloody failure.
Colonel Baldwin responded to a letter that was sent by a Northern politician asking what would become of Union men in Virginia after the battle of Fort Sumter. "There are now no Union men in Virginia. But those who were Union men will stand to their arms, and make a fight which shall go down in history as an illustration of what a brave people can do in defense of their liberties, after having exhausted every means of pacification."
After losing the early battles of the Civil War, Lincoln and his supporters, both in industry and the Senate, began to anguish over the possibility that England and European nations would send military support to the South, since his administration was viewed throughout the world as a despotic regime. There was concern that the Republican leadership would be tried like war criminals. Threats and a naval blockade ensued to preemptively thwart interventions by other nations. Lincoln even threatened war against any nation that sought to provide humanitarian aid.
Author Charles Dickens penned a now obscure but relevant opinion piece about the Civil War in a London newspaper during the final weeks of 1861. "The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States."
Infamous socialist Karl Marx also saw the Civil War for exactly what it was. He wrote, "The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war, is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for power."
During his first four months as President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln trampled the U.S. Constitution to create the military dictatorship that was necessary to wage and win a war against his own people.
Abraham Lincoln's Unconstitutional Acts and High Crimes
- Lincoln circumvented Congress when calling up the United States Army -- 75,000 men initially.
- He refused to call Congress back into session after ordering military action at Fort Sumter.
- Ordered the Navy to blockade Southern ports, a direct act of war. Such an act could only be undertaken by an order of Congress. It was a diabolical tactic to prevent food imports, in order to starve the Southern states.
- In an escalation of Lincoln's starvation strategy, he ordered General Sherman to begin a military campaign against civilians, cities, and hospitals. Women and children were not spared. General Sherman was nicknamed "Burning Sherman", because he randomly burned entire cities, even in the middle of winter. Lincoln ordered Sherman to terrorize the South by pillaging and plundering at a level that surpassed even the ancient Roman armies. As America's first war criminal, General Sherman is one of the main reasons why disease and starvation killed significantly more people in the Civil War than combat.
- Suspended the writ of habeas corpus, yet another act that is a function of Congress. The suspension of habeas corpus gave Lincoln the power to arrest Americans without filing a criminal charge and permitted him to have them held indefinitely without either a charge or a trial.
- Lincoln violated the Constitution once again when he refused to comply with a Supreme Court order to immediately restore the right of habeas corpus. Our Founding Fathers added the habeas corpus protection into the Constitution specifically so tyranny would never again reign in America, as it had in Europe and when the "New World" was under British control.
- Lincoln had the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court arrested after receiving a court order to restore habeas corpus protections. Upon receiving the ruling by the high court, the president sent a federal marshal to arrest the Chief Justice.
- There has never been a more substantial threat to a free press in the history of our country than the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln sent soldiers to destroy printing presses and related newspaper publishing tools at outlets which did not support his handling of the Southern secession. In response to negative editorials about the military invasion of the South and his overall war policy, Lincoln also commandeered, and then closed 300 Northern newspapers.
- President Lincoln did not stop at just destroying private property and commandeering newspapers, he also arrested and imprisoned many of the editors and publishers of those same press outlets.
- Before the end of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had ordered the arrest of approximately 20,000 Americans without charging them with a crime or permitting them to have their day in court. The citizens who were unconstitutionally detained had spoken out against Lincoln personally, the Civil War, or were merely suspected of harboring anti-war sentiments.
- The 16th President illegally took it upon himself to create a new state. West Virginia quickly came into existence after Lincoln declared war on the South, as a North-friendly region within the South.
- Lincoln arrested and imprisoned the entire Maryland state legislature to prevent them from holding a debate and taking a vote on secession. The elected officials were never charged with a crime, or granted a trial.
Concluding the War of Northern Aggression
What occurred in 1861 still festers to this day, and almost all of it has been cloaked in politically-expedient lies. A tyrannical, centralized government that was hell-bent on dominating the Southern states was coalesced by the election of Abraham Lincoln. What was known as the War of Northern Aggression throughout the world gave birth to an overbearing federal government that is answerable to no one, a false supremacy of the federal government over the states, a government that cannot control its own growth or spending, the principle that agents of the federal government are above the law, a government that does not obey its own Constitution, and it spawned a perpetual cycle of servitude for all Americans in the form of income tax. That national tax system requires the tracking of everything that every American does. They did it for the money and it was only the money.
The Northern troops were enraged and their army began experiencing increased desertions when, in the middle of the war, the Northern politicians reinvented the war as a crusade against slavery, for political capital, and as a means to further punish the South. Northern soldiers were deeply disturbed by this new narrative, which stated that they were expected to continue killing their own countrymen for the sole benefit of the Negroes. It was not what they had enlisted for. Meanwhile, many (if not most) of the freed slaves had to be driven from their plantations by Northern soldiers, for they were afraid to leave the only places that they knew to be their homes. Most of the slaves had come to consider their owners as family and this feeling was often mutual. Allowing the slaves to voluntarily remain looked terrible politically and the press would have had a heyday if the overwhelming majority had remained. So, slaves were driven into the wilderness with very few options for their survival, other than crime. In response to the rampant crime by former slaves (who sadly had no other way to survive) the Ku Klux Klan was formed as a vigilante organization, but it quickly spiraled out of control with the growing racial tensions. At no point in this catastrophe was genuinely helping the "colored" a goal of the North's war machine.
America's Founding Fathers labored over what might be the most important document that will ever be written by man, only to be gutted less than 100 years later, by a president who is falsely revered. Lincoln may have taken actions that ultimately brought the broken Union back together, but the aftermath of his role as a despot and military dictator marks him as the worst enemy that the United States has ever known. Lincoln came closer to completely destroying the United States than anyone else. The institution of slavery would have ended soon, with or without a war. If Lincoln had chosen the without option, or if the South had been allowed to participate in the presidential election, then America would not have had its cultural and economic base obliterated. The U.S. would have advanced centuries beyond where it is now, and race relations would be good. Instead, most of America was sent back to the Stone Age, and the flames of racial hatred were fanned in a way that may never be truly quenched. Lincoln never expressed remorse for any of it. He was, by every definition, a sociopath. He would be at home in today's 'liberal' politics.
Lessons to Be Learned
The history of the American Civil War ought to provide us with some important lessons, and it is easy to understand why the lessons are avoided by today's leftist educators. The American Civil War was a dire warning about the destiny of any welfare state. In the early stages of the disease, the U.S. political system was brought to its knees by class warfare. Eventually, as the class system ever polarized, one group became entirely responsible for financially supporting another. America became the first welfare state, with the South providing the welfare benefits to the North. The North was the South's ungrateful and jealous welfare child. Eventually, the North shifted from simple ingratitude to full-fledged resentment against the hand that fed it. This irrational resentment is the eventual consequence of all welfare systems, whenever they are continued for long enough. The solution to the North's jealousy and resentment was violence, which it justified through rationalizations of injustices by the very people whom it had developed a parasitic relationship with. Everything collapsed once the North ran out of other peoples' money. It had behaved as if there had been no need for thriftiness, since more money could always be taken, but there isn't always more. Compare this to the politics of today. Very little has actually changed. Between all the political correctness, socialist movement, race baiting, and identity politics of liberalism today, we still find that we destroy the character and spirit of a people whenever we are too generous. Through our excessive generosity, we encourage the beneficiaries of our philanthropy to develop a sense of entitlement and a belief in the righteousness of theft.
|Tara Dodrill is a proud conservative Christian woman and homesteader from Appalachia. Dodrill is an author, radio show host, and online journalist with a background in the education and real estate fields. She is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother who is dedicated to living a self-reliant lifestyle and aiding others along their preparedness journey.|
Abraham Lincoln and the Two 13th Amendments, Constitution Center
The Terrible Truth About Abraham Lincoln and the Confederate War, Snap Out of It, America!
True Causes of the Uncivil War: Understanding the Morrill Tariff, The Tribune Papers
The Crittenden Compromise, U.S. Senate Archive