At the height of his influence, many deemed him to be one of the worst tyrants the world had ever seen. He incarcerated 15,000 of his fellow citizens because they disagreed with his war policy. He had his army shut down newspapers and destroy the presses for any papers that wrote against him. He declared martial law and arrested political opponents without a warrant or trial and kept them locked up for years. His Secretary of State bragged that he could have any citizen jailed “at the snap of a finger.” He had one Congressman who disagreed with him deported to another country. Then oversaw a war that led to 620,000 deaths…all within his own country. When half of the country sought to escape, they were forced to remain in the Nation…..or be slaughtered in mass for seeking liberty. In essence they were forced to remain citizens at the point of a bayonet. He ordered cities to be burned. Farms to be destroyed. Civilians, including women and children, to be bombed and executed. He was one of the most hated men in history…..and one of the most beloved. His name? Abraham Lincoln.
If the above paragraph shocked you, then you might consider reading a book entitled The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, By Thomas Dilorenzo.
While Lincoln is perhaps not as evil as this book presents, one can’t escape the reality that Lincoln took some very harsh and unnecessary measures during the American Civil War. Ironically, the majority of Americans in both the North and South were in favor of a peaceful secession in 1860. The North wanted separated from the South just as bad as the South did from the North. Yet Lincoln would hear nothing of it. Dilorenzo makes a rather compelling case for the economic motivations behind the war, given the fact that the South was paying roughly 80% of the Nation’s expenses through tariffs, while the North was reaping the majority of the benefits in terms of bridge and railroad construction.
Furthermore, in Lincoln’s first inaugural address, he stated clearly that he had no interest in freeing the slaves in the South and had no constitutional right to do so. When he reversed course and issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, he confided to his cabinet that it was simply a “war measure” meant to spark a slave insurrection in the South. Though most people don’t realize it, the Emancipation Proclamation only granted freedom to slaves in the South. Slaves in the North were not granted freedom because their Masters had been loyal to the Union. William Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State bemoaned at the time that the act was worthless having “freed slaves that we no longer have jurisdiction over…while keeping in bondage those slaves that we do.” Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and even parts of Louisiana were under Federal control by 1863, and were thus allowed to keep their slaves. That seems to be one of those quirks of history that has been forgotten. Or as Dilorenzo contends….glossed over by the victors.
Dilorenzo, who is an Economics Professor at Loyola College (Maryland), writes in a very readable style as he makes his case that slavery should have been abolished by compensated emancipation as done in Britain, Brazil, and many other countries during the 1800s. The forward to the book was written by Dr. Walter Williams, Economics Professor at George Mason University, and frequent fill in host for Rush Limbaugh (and incidentally, an African-American). Furthermore, he contends that the South should have been allowed to secede peacefully….as our colonial fathers did when faced with an overbearing British taxation system. Had this happened, Dilorenzo contends that the North would have been forced to change their overbearing tax structure, and eventually North and South would have reunited with a much more solid and efficient government. But what in fact did happen was the centralization of federal government power to the extent that the Constitution was repeatedly ignored leading to the Federal albatross that exists today.
The argument between a massive Federal government vs. individual state sovereignty goes back to our founders. Thomas Jefferson was famous for saying that the government that “governs best is the one that governs least.” In other words, the Federal government’s job is to protect the citizens and insure they’re given the freedom to purse life, liberty, and happiness. Jefferson’s primary opponent was Alexander Hamilton, who sought to have a strong Federal government that dictated things to the individual states and the citizens thereof. Jefferson’s followers fought against this (rightfully so), given the fact that they had just escaped tyrannical government control from Britain during the American Revolution.
As the course of our Nation progressed, the Hamiltonians, led by Lincoln, eventually gained control and vastly expanded the Federal government during the Civil War. By 1865 and the end of the Civil War, states right’s had virtually ceased to exist, and the Federal government, which was CREATED BY the states, had become the ruling King of American government. Ironically, the states had created a monster and now that monster would rule over them for the next 143 years (and counting).
The great irony in all of this is that the two predominant political parties have swapped sides in the area of government control. Today, it is the Democrat party that seeks higher taxes and more Federal control over the lives of its citizens. While the Republicans seek a smaller government with more individual liberty.
In conclusion, I would heartily recommend the reading of this book. Its insights into our Nation’s history are illuminating to say the least. You may not agree with every position taken, but the book does promise to make you think long and hard about governmental and constitutional issues. And it gives a pretty clear road map for the bureaucratic mess that we find our federal government mired in today. History kind of has a way, sometimes, of making people seem better (or worse) than they really were. I suspect this is true of Lincoln as well. While he had some admirable qualities, he was certainly not above political posturing or deceit, as is documented in this work. So check out a copy of The Real Lincoln…and prepare to be challenged.