With Abraham Lincoln’s birthday just passed on February 12th the media was replete with praise for him. Unfortunately, this whitewashed view of him is misguided. Rather than being the honest and resolute knight in shining armor that he is made out to be, on closer inspection he turns out to be one of the worst politicians Illinois has produced.
Lincoln the Racist
On this subject his own words condemn him. During the Lincoln-Douglas debates in Ottowa, Illinois on August 21, 1858 he said:
I have no disposition to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their living together on terms of respect, social and political equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there should be a superiority somewhere, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position;
He repeated the same idea at Charleston, Illinois on September 18, 1858:
I will say then, that I am not nor have ever been in favor of bringing about in any way, the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor have I ever been in favor of making voters of the negroes, or jurors, or qualifying them to hold office, or having them to marry with white people...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.
His idea of what to do with freed blacks was to have them leave the US. He stated so very plainly on August 14, 1862 in "Address on Colonization to a Committee of Colored Men, Washington, D.C."
He was obviously no friend of the black race.
Lincoln the Corporatist
Much is made of a false quote, which I will not repeat here, in which Lincoln warns of the dangers corporations pose to the country. Our friends at Snopes debunk it.
Lincoln was the Illinois Central Railroad Company’s lawyer right up to his taking office as president. His whole career in politics revolved around serving the northern industrialists' and bankers’ interests. From the beginning of his time in the Illinois legislature he lined the railroad companies pockets with taxpayer money. The details can be read here and here.
Lincoln the Mass Murderer
The question then comes up of why did Lincoln wage the Civil War? It wasn’t to end slavery, he said so himself, "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...". So, he wanted to preserve the Union. To many that may seem a lofty goal, but is it?
A clause allowing the use of force against states by the federal government was deliberately left out of the Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention James Madison opposed it:
Mr. MADISON, observed that the more he reflected on the use of force, the more he doubted the practicability, the justice and the efficacy of it when applied to people collectively and not individually. -A union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force agst. a State, would look more like a declaration of war, than an infliction of punishment, and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound. He hoped that such a system would be framed as might render this recourse [FN12] unnecessary, and moved that the clause be postponed. This motion was agreed to nem. con.
Since the Constitution doesn’t prohibit the states from seceding and it also doesn’t empower the federal government to stop them from doing so, it would seem that given the 10th Amendment states can secede.
Secession was not unheard of in Lincoln’s time. There had already been secessionist movements in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. They considered that they had such a right. So why not the South?
Ultimately, Lincoln waged the Civil War to keep the South as a captive market and as taxpayers to loot. The North’s intentions were obvious starting with the 1828 "Tariff of Abominations". That and Lincoln’s history of subsidizing his corporate buddies with taxpayer money gave the South every reason to fear being ravaged by the new Republican administration.
Slavery was an issue too, of course. While Lincoln was no abolitionist, the South no doubt saw a threat to that horrible institution in the stronger federal government that the Republicans promised. So while ending slavery was a great thing the loss of one million lives to do so was unnecessary. Slavery was everywhere in retreat, and with few exceptions peacefully so. All of the Northern states had abolished slavery by 1858. Most other countries ended the practice peacefully. There is every reason to think that slavery could have been completely ended here peacefully too.
That is why the title of this section is Lincoln the Mass Murderer. He got all those people killed to stop the South from doing what they had a right to do, secede from the Union. He was not interested in ending slavery as the mythology about him says.
It is important to understand the true meaning of Lincoln’s presidency. He marked the end of the republic of the Founders. After the Civil War no longer was "the consent of the governed", to quote the Declaration of Independence, necessary. As the abolitionist Lysander Spooner put it in 1867 in No Treason:
The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.
No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it really be established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle --- but only in degree --- between political and chattel slavery. The former, no less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of his labor; and [*iv] asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
Let’s remember Lincoln for what he really did, destroy the republic and one million lives in the process.