Take the Civil War Quiz!
1. Who said the following—Abraham Lincoln, or Confederate President Jefferson Davis?
2. Who said the following—Abraham Lincoln, or Jefferson Davis?
3. Who said the following—Union General Ulysses S. Grant, or Confederate General Robert E. Lee?
1. If you said Jefferson Davis, you guessed wrong. The author of this passage is none other than Abraham Lincoln. Contrary to what most of us were taught in school, Abraham Lincoln did not launch the war in order to make blacks equal with whites. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, he said, “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races, and I have never said anything on the contrary.” Lincoln supported the Illinois law that prohibited the immigration of blacks into that state. And his career-long position on the race issue was colonization (i.e., deportation). He advocated sending every last black person to Haiti, Central America, Africa—anywhere but here. Clearly, he didn’t care about the Negro struggle for freedom. In a famous letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, on August 22, 1862, he wrote, “My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” That was Lincoln’s position.
2. Again, the speaker defending the right of secession is none other than Abraham Lincoln. America was founded on a revolution against England, yet many Americans now believe the myth that secession was treasonable. In his book, The Real Lincoln, Thomas DiLorenzo marshals abundant evidence that virtually every political leader of the time and earlier believed that the states had a right of secession. Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, said, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it.” Fifteen years later, after the New Englanders attempted to secede, Jefferson said, “If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…to a continuance in the union…I have no hesitation in saying, ‘Let us separate.’” On the eve of the war, even Unionist politicians saw secession as the right of states. Maryland Representative Jacob M. Kunkel said, “Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.” And just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede; for example, the New York Tribune (February 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.”
3. The speaker is Union General Ulysses S. Grant. If ever proof was needed to show that the war not fought to free the slaves, this is it. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was issued well into the war with the purpose of only preventing foreign intervention. The Proclamation certainly “freed” no slaves! Slaves in the North where the federal government had legitimate authority were freed only after the war. Ironically, Confederate General Robert E. Lee owned no slaves, but many Union generals did. When Lee’s father-in-law died, he took over the management of the plantation his wife had inherited and immediately began freeing the slaves. Yet some Union generals didn’t free their slaves until the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868. Every other country in the world in the previous fifty years that ended slavery, including the British Empire and the Danish colonies, did it peacefully through compensated emancipation. The British Empire ended slavery in six years, without war and without massive deaths. Surely, if American citizens at that time had been given the option of doing what they did in England, every single slave could have been given freedom. But Lincoln never presented them with that option. The main cause of the war was not slavery but the North’s rejection of the right of peaceable secession of eleven sovereign states and subsequently the denial of self-government to the nearly eight million people living in those states. Without consulting Congress, Lincoln sent great armies of destruction to the South. The Southern people had no choice but to defend themselves from this invasion.
Lincoln’s illegal invasion of the South set in motion the elements of big government and disregard for the Constitution that we take for granted today. So much of what we lament today—unlimited taxation, corporate welfare, government intrusions in civil liberties—dates back to programs begun during the war. Today’s liberals (who are found in both major political parties) repudiate both the founding fathers and Constitutional government. Their goal is to squelch the spirit of independence from the minds and hearts of the American people.
Isn’t it time to support only those politicians who will limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries and restore the foundations of civil government back to the fundamental principles our country was founded on? Isn’t it time, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, to remove power from Washington and return it to the people, states, and local communities?
The last two centuries are littered with dead patriots from this country’s wars. The best way to honor them is to reclaim that nation of liberty for which they gave their lives.
April 4, 2003
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.