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  • Was Lincoln the Father of Big Government?

    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), c1865.

    On February 12, America will celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s 202nd birthday, but will conservatives celebrate his legacy? Lincoln is a pivotal figure in American history, yet some conservatives are wary of him. Lincoln, the Left proclaims and the Right fears, is the father of big government.

    Conservatives shouldn’t be fooled. If big government means a permanently large and growing federal budget and a vast civil service (see William Voegeli’s Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State), then Lincoln may deny paternity for both. As Allen Guelzo explains, while the federal budget indeed ballooned to meet the cost of the Civil War (from $63.2 million in 1860 to $1.29 billion in 1865), it shrank once the war ended (back to $293 million by 1870). “If Lincoln had plans to create ‘big government,’” Guelzo concludes, “none of his successors seems to have known what they were.”  Similarly, while the federal government employed more people during the war, the number shrank once the war ended.

    In reality, big government is a Progressive invention, designed by Progressive thinkers such as Herbert Croly and John Dewey and perpetrated by Progressive presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These men embraced big government, because they held certain principles opposed to the limited government framework set forth in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

    By contrast, Lincoln held a different set of premises. He defended the Constitution and “never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.” To understand Lincoln, therefore, we must turn to the documents he held so dear.

    When Lincoln contemplated the Declaration of Independence, Ralph Lerner explains in his essay Lincoln’s Declaration—and Ours, “he saw not one document but two.”  First was the “merely revolutionary document” that enumerated the crown’s violations in order to justify to the world the colonies’ separation from Great Britain. The second was the more permanent aspect of the Declaration—“an abstract truth to the effect that all men are created equal.” Human equality would serve as the great foundational principle of America. It was this abstract truth that would carry the Declaration throughout time and guide Lincoln and later statesmen through the precarious situations of the day.

    The Constitution complements the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln described the Declaration as an apple of gold while the “Union, and the Constitution, are the picture of silver, subsequently framed around [the apple]. The picture was made, not to conceal, or destroy the apple; but to adorn, and preserve it. The picture was made for the apple — not the apple for the picture. So let us act, that neither picture, or apple, shall ever be blurred, or bruised, or broken.” That is, the core of America is the equality principle articulated in the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution exists to preserve and facilitate the equality principle by protecting it in the rule of law.

    Thus, Lincoln recognized that the Constitution set forth a framework of limited government. He could not do any and everything he desired—even abolishing the evil of slavery. Many abolitionists objected that Lincoln had not eliminated slavery: abolitionists, Lincoln noted, “seemed to think that the moment I was president, I had the power to abolish slavery, forgetting that before I could have any power whatsoever I had to take the oath to support the Constitution of the United States and execute the laws as I found them.”

    It fell upon Lincoln to guide the nation through a bloody civil war to eradicate the evil of slavery and to mold the North and the South into “a more perfect Union.” Should he have allowed the union fall apart and condemn the continent to the petty wars of confederacies (about which Publius warned the early Americans)? Should Lincoln have maintained the Union but surrendered the constitutional republic?  The true legacy of Lincoln, then, is not simply the ending of slavery.  It is ending slavery while preserving the Constitution and the Union.  Lincoln vindicated the apple of gold without smashing the frame of silver in the process.

    It is easy to look back on the Civil War era and underestimate the gravity of Lincoln’s choices. We must take the effort to understand the principles that informed Lincoln’s decisions and resist the temptation to allow arrogant hindsight to condemn the prudent application of those principles.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    33 Responses to Was Lincoln the Father of Big Government?

    1. Paul Terry Stone says:

      The South fought for States Rights and the Constitutional Right to secede. The Union fought for a strong central government and money in the form of tariffs which mostly came from the South. Slavery had nothing to do with this. Over 90% of the Confederate soldiers had no slaves, could care less about it, and fought to protect home and family. Lincoln violated the constitution many times including control of the press.

      • Jerry says:

        Rather than deriving your knowledge from the poor historical analysis of 'scholars' such as Thomas DiLorenzo, it could benefit you to read the primary sources. Take a glance at Alexander Stephens Cornerstone speech. To say that slavery was not the cause of the war is simply wrong.

    2. Tim barnes says:

      This article says NOTHING. It reminds me of the Man behind the Curtain in the Wizard of OZ. Don't remind us the "Cival War" was HIS War. Don't dwell on his desecreation of individuals rights to serve his politcal purposes…Massive expantion of Executive Powers.The creation of the IRS. The disaster that was the "Credit Mobilier Scandal"…get real argue from the truth, not the cover up History about Lincoln we have been spoonfed to cover his Evil

    3. Tim barnes says:

      Prudent application of his principles….Translation ….660.000 Americans Dead!

    4. OldNorthState, Burli says:

      I would agree with Mr. Stone… I believe the stories that have been parroted regarding the nobility of the Civil War and Lincon's supposed altruism may be sadly incomplete in their telling, if not outrightly skewed… and all of this, as well as the massive losses of life, property and self esteem suffered by the South, smacks of the same brand of heavy-handed Federal government intrusion and dishonesty that we're feeling the weight of, as an entire country, today. In fact, we may very well be said to be in the midst of the "rise of the Ol' South, again"… but the "Ol' South", today, is really representative of Conservative America, at large, spanning the entire nation and her inherently varied ethnicities.

    5. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      Based on what I understood before reading Heritage Foundation’s article combined with the aforementioned article more affirms the intricacies of President Lincoln’s foundation of his understanding of the limitations of his office based upon the oath he took and its Constitutional basis. It also clearly identifies how he successfully negotiated the challenging events relative to the restrictions imposed which ended an inhumane system and kept the union while not ripping the Constitution.

      That seems to be diametrically opposed to what Obama has done since he took office.

    6. Karlton says:

      Didn't the states have the legal right to leave the Union? Therefore, wasn't fighting a war to force them to stay un-Condtitutional?

      I'm not trying to start fights, I really don't know the answer on this one. Any help?

    7. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      You will never convince most people that the Civil Was was not fought over slavery, despite what most think, Northerners had slaves as well, they were mostly house slaves, but some worked in factories as well. There are stories two I recall "North and South" and another was "Blue and Gray". As a decedent of both "Blue" and "Gray " warriors< I can assure you a lot of us today have both sides in out family trees and the South wanted to preserve their way of life, growing tobacca, cotton ,and most freed their slaves and continued to carefor them. Stories are great but you don't mistreat your bread and butter. I do not agree with slavery but it happened and now we need to put it where it belongs, in the past, just not forgotten.

    8. david says:

      First, Lincoln did not fight the War of Northern Aggression to end slavery. He specific intent was to collect the tariffs. All you have to do is read his speeches. His actions where the complete opposite of what "America" stands for. A region decided, for whatever reasons, to go its own way. That is called self determination and a basic right that the US firmly supports, only not here. He wage this war in the most brutal of methods and intended to rob the South of any wealth that it possessed, he also stole everything from free blacks in the South, many of which owned slaves themselves. Certainly slavery was a bad economic system, but it is one that continues to this day (and the US does little to stop it) and it a has been used since the dawn of man, and will continue once our technology age ends. That end may be soon with Obama as a leader.

      Lincoln was a very bad man. His leadership was flawed. Take off the blinders and look at him for what he was, not what the worshippers try to create.

    9. R A Prentice says:

      Lincoln declared an illegal war on the southern states… (it was in no way a "Civil War"). The south was standing up against an imperial tyrannical federal government who was imposing unfair trade tarriffs upon them.

      He was not even on the 1860 ballot for president in 10 of the southern states. Had he been he would have never become president. The emancipation proclamation was a war strategy injected into the war because Lincoln was in fear of the south winning their cause. The northern and border states were immune from the emancipation proclamation… (If he was so opposed to slavery then why??).

      With the invention of the cotton gin the south was on the fast track of ending slavery without all the blood shed brought on by LIncoln!

      Lincoln did not end slavery!

      He suspended habeas corpus and ignored a supreme court justice who declared his move unconstitutional.

      Yes many like to proclaim Lincoln as a great president but please…. lets get to the truth!

    10. Gary Williams says:

      I fail to see the reasoning behind the effort to paint a man who expanded government by nearly 500% over the course of his presidency as some kind of "small government" conservative. Rather, Lincoln behaved very much as though he also envisioned a "Great Society" that saw making life better for the majority of commoners as the duty of "secular priests" i.e.politicians.

      This contrasts with those promoting ideas like 'government must stay out of peoples lives. That it should only be there to defend the nation from foreign attack, to run a diplomatic corp, and to collect the money needed for an army, as well as emergency funds to keep the roadways open. (etc. etc ) This reasoning is of course to divert attention away from the real reason for wanting a small government. That being its relative ineffectualness when it comes to enforcing regulations that cut into the profit margins of those who see wealth as a tool toward personal power over others. People seeking wealth off the backs of those they presently are not allowed to exploit.

      "Small Government" is in fact double-speak for implenting a system wherein the now-powerful can quickly assert local control over all they can manipulate, bring to ruin, or use to hire locals who will become dependent on their own business practices for their own survival. This is always the case whenever there's an absence of more powerful regulators, sheriffs, ombudsmen, or others who are not part of the local autocrats area of influence.

      The Getty's, Duponts, Dodges and Rockefellers all engaged in these very same practices, but whose power back then was enough to compel the federal and State governments to leave "business in the hands of businessmen!". Of course this also leaves the rules to be rewritten by the very people who profit most from a government that fails to adjudicate fair wages or safe working conditions for employees. "No!", they tell themselves. This is America,….Where the common-born man can rise to exert power that had always been the exclusive domain of the noble-born only.

      They of course miss the entire point of why American represesents "freedom" to the world's "huddling, broken masses". It wasn't so those oppressed common folk had a chance of rising to a level of power that would enable them to finally be the one doing the abusing of others the way royalty had long done to people like him….rather it was to build a society where men could rest the fear of ever being abused by nobility in that way again. America was to be a nation where power and authority are earned based on merit and ability to weild it constructively, and not merely for ones own agrandizement.

      Yet I get the feeling that many here really do feel that Darwinian social ordering (eg. survival of the fittest, cruelest, most powerful, most wealthy, etc) really is the best way of determining how a particular locale/feifdom chooses who will become the de facto ruler of each area where their influence extends. Of course, these are also people who can tell themselves that Lincoln's 500% increase in government really means he's a small government shill because he shrank it's size after the Civil War's end brought the end of a need for government to manage and maintain an army.

      Heh! That kind of logic reminds me of very young children who think that because a glass of juice is bigger, there HAS TO BE more juice in it as well, despite an equal measure being poured into it right in front of them a second ago.

    11. Don, Bakersfield, Ca says:

      Lincoln's contribution to big government is symbolic and unintentional. The steps he took to preserve the union and mobilize the power of the federal government such as blockading southern ports, suspending habeas corpus in the arrest and detention without trial of suspected southern sympathizers, distributing funds to the army without congressional appropriation, and establishing the first income tax were unpopular and controversial to say the least. If not for George McClellan being even worse at politics than he was as commander of the Army of the Potomac, Lincoln may not have been re-elected in 1864. At wars end, in the normal course of events, he would have had to account for and defend his actions. When Lincoln was assassinated not only did he not have to answer for any of the controversial steps, but they were romanticized by a grieving nation. Pick up any history text and you will find a comparison of the "bold" and "necessary" actions of Lincoln and how Jefferson Davis failed to fully mobilize southern industry and resources because of his belief in states rights and limited government. I am not saying those things were not necessary, or that Lincoln took action lightly. I am saying, that since Lincoln, the first play in the liberal playbook is to create an emergency (TARP, stimulus, health care) in order to justify the expansion of the federal government into every corner of our lives and to defend the perpetrators of those intrusions by comparing them to Lincoln. It is an unfair comparison, but part of Lincoln's legacy that cannot be avoided. As long as there are politicians who desire greater power they will continue to use any excuse to deflect criticism, and describing their actions as "Lincolnesque" works.

    12. John Heckel from Pen says:

      Being educated formally in the North but self-educated later in my adult years by the writings of many, including Thomas DiLorenzo and Walter Williams, I have to agree with Paul Terry Stone. Slavery, while inherently evil, was not the primary cause and would have died of its own accord. It is also interesting to note that Grant did not give his slaves up until forced to do so by the 13th Amendment in 1865. Also interesting to note is that the 10th Amendment has never been the same.

    13. David, Commonwealth says:

      The Civil War WAS about slavery, but slavery was not the ONLY reason for it. State's rights was a factor, and perhaps the initial factor, but ultimately slavery was an issue as well.

      If you look at the Constitution of the Confederacy, you can see that slavery was very much on the minds of its framers, who patterned it after the Union's but made significant changes.

      And if you read history, you'll see that Democrats all over the country were determined to preserve slavery, put forth THREE candidates to insure the defeat of Lincoln and were the primary ones to resist civil rights acts in Congress. They were the ones calling for secession, not Republicans.

    14. John, Rhode Island says:

      "If big government means a permanently large and growing federal budget and a vast civil service"

      What if big government means the Federal Gov violating the 10th Amendment and states rights? What if it means violating the Constitution by restricting the 1st Amendment? If so, Mr. President definitely fits those molds, does he not?

      "even abolishing the evil of slavery."

      What seems to get lost in the shuffle is that The 13th Amendment wasn't necessary. Slavery was already in violation of the the people's right to their life. Mr. President didn't need to abolish it as the work was already done for him.

      Mr. President is not the champion of limited gov't that people make him out to be. He was his own form of big gov't before the progressive form of big gov't took hold in this country.

    15. Jim Dick, Missouri says:

      The Civil War was most definitely about slavery. The neo-Confederate view that is being perpetuated by various organizations, some of which are definitely white supremist, is trying to white wash what actually happened. The Kennedy twins and the Ludwig Von Mises Institute are promoting a racist view of the South's struggle and deny the truth while twisting primary sources to suit their viewpoint. There was and is no Constitutional right of secession therefore Lincoln and the North are vindicated in that aspect. While many of the Confederate soldiers did not have slaves, they still fought for the right to own slaves because that's the system they knew. You have to remember the planter elite class controlled the newspapers and the entire political apparatus in the South. They broke the Constitution left and right to protect slavery, yet now we see the howls of outrage that the South was only fighting for their rights. The South denied those rights to millions of slaves, and at the same time they denied rights to the white southerners as well.

      Saying that the Civil War was about state's rights is to believe in a lie. It's been proven time after time that the war was about slavery, yet many people don't want to accept the truth because of the moral implications.

    16. Michael Frisbee says:

      The above article is simply more of the "Lincoln Heritage As Union Savior" baloney.

      Try reading the truth they don't want you to read on Lincoln.

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo112

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/w-williams1.html

    17. Tea Dumper says:

      Lincoln defended the Constitution??? Are you mad, Ms. Shaw? We can argue back and forth over whether Lincoln should or should not have waged war against the Confederacy but Lincoln was anything but a defender of the Constitution. The man used it for toilet paper!

      He illegally suspended the sacrosanct writ of Habeas Corpus THREE TIMES

      He engaged in illegal conscription of the militias

      He IMPRISONED dissenters and even considered arresting Supreme Court justice Roger Taney

      He CLOSED Northern newspapers that criticized his war

      While he may have had good intentions, we all know what the road to Hell is paved with. Lincoln's canonization began the day he was assassinated and the PR program continues to this day. I would love to walk past his monument with a feeling of solemn respect but I can't. He shredded the Constitution by neutering the sovereign states and initiating the consolidation of American political power in Washington.

    18. Mac Worley says:

      Lincoln defended the Constitution? You can't be serious? The right of secession was a guaranteed Constitutional right and the defense of that right (implied threat to make use of it) was made FAR more times by northern states between the nation's founding and The War of Northern Aggression. Your implication that the war was started and fought explicitly to end Slavery is embarassing and strongly suggests that you are either ignorant of factual history or are determined to "rewrite it" as so many others have. Paul Terry Stone is exactly right in his review. I implore you, please read Thomas DiLorenzo's, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. It is very well supported/cited.

    19. Gary, New Hampshire says:

      Lincoln is a man that I admire to be sure but I cannot overlook the fact that his actions most certainly increased the power and reach of the Federal Government (and it was not to free slaves … the Emancipation Proclamation came 2 years later).

      Whether one wants to label his role in taking the country to war to preserve the union a precursor to "Big Government" or not likely depends on his view of state's rights within the Republic. Before Lincoln, the bulk of the power still resided with the states as the framers intended when they penned the 10th Amendment. By preventing the Southern states from seceding, Lincoln set a precedent that shifted power from the states to the federal government by imposing the will of the centralized government on the states, a trend that has continued since that time.

      Another big step further stripping State power was the 17th Amendment which essentially turned our two house legislative branch into a modified parliamentary one comprised of representatives and "super" representatives but that is getting off the question we are discussing here …

      I firmly believe that Abe Lincoln acted in good faith in pursuing the course he thought best for the country. It is impossible to know how things would have been different had he not taken those actions but one thing is clear; the rise of the empowered federal government began with President Lincoln.

    20. Dennis Cahal , Erlan says:

      if Civics was still taught in our schoools than maybe we wouldn't have such a progressive movement. People who become Natulized Citizens know more about the Constituion than many of those born her in the US.

    21. Pam says:

      "These are the times that try mens soul" Thomas Paine I am sure President Lincoln had to have repeted these words to himself.

    22. Bill Bailey says:

      This is so true. I have never read a better description of President Lincoln. But this also disspells any notion that Obama is a Lincoln-like president. Rather, Obama is a Wilson-like president

    23. Marc M says:

      Sorry but this is one time I have to disagree with you Heritage, usually I do not.

      Lincoln and the Civil War are a passion of mine and this article simple doesn';t portray reality.

      Whether he understood the idea of limited government is irrelevant when he stripped away the states constitutional right to secede. You can't have both.

    24. R King, Illinois says:

      I appreciated the background and perspective of Julia Shaw's article. But I would like to see her address the historical facts, and her opinion, surrounding the rights of individual states versus dictat by the federal government. In that regard, I believe that Lincoln was indeed the Father of Big Government. Is declaring war on a state better than allowing it to sucede over substantive differences?

    25. Tim, Melbourne FL says:

      Under what Constitutional authority did Lincoln have to wage war without congressional approval? Under what Constitutional authority did Lincoln have to shut down newspapers that opposed his view? Under what Constitutional authority did Lincoln have to suspend the legislature of the State of Maryland? And as Lincoln was giving his Emancipation Proclimation, northern slaves were building the Capitol in D.C. So how exactly can the author of this article claim that Lincoln defended the Constitiution and fought a war to end evil slavery?

    26. Bruce Johnson, Phila says:

      What makes it tough to counter the anti-Lincoln myth is that it is supported both by the liberals' re-write of history *and* the ancient "Lost Cause" mythology, key points of which Mr Stone, sadly, simply repeats, though the evidence against them is overwhelming… and freely available to anyone who cares to read the major public documents and speeches of the folks involved (not just bits of them, but reading through to make sure you take things in context).

      Sorry, the evidence doesn't support it

      1) Many of those leading in secession explicitly stated at the time (as they had warned for many years) that slavery *was*their central reason. Anyone who bothers to read the official "Declarations of Causes" of South Carolina, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia (issued just after they seceded), or Jefferson Davis's farewell to the Senate can hardly miss that their concern was *not* some abstract theory of a state's rights but the very *specific*issue that they believed the North (esp with a Republican President) endangered slavery.

      In fact, the "it was more about tariffs" argument is put to bed by Georgia's declaration, which mentions the old tariff dispute and proclaims that is *no longer* an issue!!

      2) In fact, one didn't have to own slaves to support the South's social & economic *system*. And we again have mountains of statements from *non*-slave owners, including many common soldiers, who fought yes, 'for hearth and home' but *also* to defend the overall system they were part of, which they make very clear, includes slavery. (Take a peak at Chandra Manning's recent book *What this War was Over*, based on reams of letters.)

      3) The assertions about Lincoln's "violating the Constitution" are likewise, based on a lot of misinformation, popularly repeated in anti-Lincoln and pro-Confederate publications for the past 150 years.

      a) The one *major* issue was the suspension of habeas corpus – which the Constitution mentions *only* in connection with noting that it *could* be suspended in the case of insurrection! One can debate exactly who was empowered to suspend it (the Constitution didn't say, and the courts had never yet discussed this question) or whether Lincoln's *specific* decisions made amidst the dangers of war, not in the ivory tower were warranted… Of course, debating that point, and disagreeing at times (esp in hindsight!) is *no* evidence that the President was blithely disregarding the Constitution.

      b) The notion that Lincoln widely curtailed the press is absurd. Have you ever read the scathing anti-Lincoln editorials or viewed the vicious cartoons opposing him?? The question, of course, is what to do if a newspaper prints information that compromises security, endangers the troops, etc.

    27. Joe, Boston says:

      The civil war was all about centralization of power. Talking simply about big government in terms of the budget at the time misses the point. He began the process which led to the problems we face today. There is no doubt he is the father of big goverment and a primary cause of many ills that we face today.

    28. Thor H. Asgardson says:

      "I have two great enemies, the southern army in front of me and the financial institutions in the rear. Of the two, the one in the rear is the greatest enemy. The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes."

      - Abraham Lincoln

      "The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Government's greatest creative opportunity. By the adoption of these principles…the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest [by not having to borrow from privately-owned corporate banks]…Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power."

      - Abraham Lincoln

      "I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people (e.g., by pitting the cooperation-oriented political left against the competition-oriented political right), until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of the war."

      - Abraham Lincoln

      "Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are not Government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders."

      - Congressman Louis T. McFadden, 1932

      The Real Father of Big Government:

      "Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes the laws."

      - Mayer Amschel Rothschild, founder of the Rothschild international banking dynasty, 1790

      The United States of America will secede from the Yankee Nation of the international bankers. The South has risen, to form a more perfect Union.

    29. Frank, Rhode Island says:

      I have to agree with Marc M (above) on this. Lincoln's actions during the War Between the States cast him far from the limited government crowd, most especially in his pursuit to re-affiliate the Southern states with the USA and his denial of those states' independence.

      Also, since Lincoln's death was so sudden and close on the heels of the War, using the facts that both federal employment and spending went down after the War could really only be a feather in the caps of his successors. It would have been better if Mr. Lincoln never, "had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied" in the actual Constitution.

      I love the Heritage Foundation and I think that it's a vital resource; but this time around, I disagree with its contribution to the popular beatification of Lincoln as a national saint.

    30. Ross writes from Flo says:

      Lincoln was pushed by the Radical Republicans of the northeast (now call the liberals and leftist Democrats of the northeast) and the bankers of the northeast(they are now the Federal Reserve Bank today).

      Being born a Southerner by the Grace of God, I've never been a fan of Lincoln and having family from both sides of the Mason-Dixson line, I have taken great interest in the War-Between-the-States(also the War of Northern Aggression, or better known as, The Civil War). Taxation, tariffs, and states rights were the issue and the Radical Republicans used the dying institute of slavery as the catalyst for overt political aggression on states rights. The south took the only course open, secede. South Carolina, always a hot bed of political passion, fired the open rounds of the uncivil war.

      Now the "if" game. Had South Carolina waited until Great Britain had recognized the CSA, the war may never had happened.

      As far as the Emancipation Proclaimation, Lincoln committed a strictly political move. The proclaimation only applied to the "states in rebellion" in hopes of "slave uprisings." It never happened.

      By the end of the war, Davis' CSA had taken on and looked like Lincoln's USA.

      If only we Americans argued as passionally about the Constitution and the workings of our government as we do about the War-Between-the-States/Civil War, we would have a more stronger union. To me, it starts with local schools, non-union competent teachers, engaged parents and communities. History is history and has many points of views and prejudices. That is what makes it alive, passionate, and never ending.

    31. John says:

      Lincoln invoked fictional war powers to pioneer the expansion of executive power in disregard for Constitutional parameters. Fellow Republican Teddy Roosevelt pioneered executive disregard for the Constitution in peace time. The GOP has to contradict its Hamiltonian Federalist founding every time we hear the talking points of limited government from Republican politicians. The historical precedent of Lincoln and Roosevelt opened the way for the federal government to become fascist and socialist, and is why the feds today think nothing of ignoring the Constitution, confident that the courts will protect them.

      If the vote of each state legislature to ratify the Constitution bound the citizens to uphold the Constitution, then a vote of the same legislature for secession bound the citizens to defend the newly independent state.
      This is basic 101 consent of the governed through elected representatives.

      Waging war on the states is the Constitutional definition of treason. By this Constitutional definition, Lincoln and his senior command all deserved to be hung.

      The Union prevailed by waging total war on civilians. Particularly reprehensible for individual liberty was the collective responsibility policy of Sherman when he burned Randolph, Tennessee to the ground in retaliation for Confederate snipers. Lincoln micromanaged this scorched earth policy on women, children and the elderly. After the war Sherman, Sheridan, and other Union officers practiced total war on the plains Indian tribes to open the way for the railroads. Lincoln's corruption can be seen in the many scandals his people developed under the Grant administration.

    32. @LordMegaMan says:

      Lincoln didn't chance the "petty wars of confederacies" he led the War, broke the Union and led a Northern Confederacy of States united against the South in Civil War. Lincoln's emancipation proclamation is nothing new to history either, particularly during times of war as Lord Dunmore emancipated Virginia slaves in 1775 to fight for the king. Much could also be said of the antislavery movement that peacefully pre-dated Lincoln too. Lincoln is best viewed as a benevolent tyrant, but the office of President was not intended for tyrants of any sort. He usurped military power, raped the constitution and physically distorted half the country.

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