“but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it (slavery) to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States?
If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care — such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations of Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington did.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty, as we understand it.”
Knowing how evil slavery was, Lincoln was not concerned with its eradication where slavery existed. His “middle way” was the allowance that slavery would spread. Indeed, he said,
The other policy is one that squares with the idea that Slavery is wrong, and it consists in doing everything that we ought to do if it is wrong. Now, I don’t wish to be misunderstood, nor to leave a gap down to be misrepresented, even. I don’t mean that we ought to attack it where it exists. To me it seems that if we were to form a government anew, in view of the actual presence of Slavery we should find it necessary to frame just such a government as our fathers did; giving to the slaveholder the entire control where the system was established, while we possessed the power to restrain it from going outside those limits. From the necessities of the case we should be compelled to form just such a government as our blessed fathers gave us; and, surely, if they have so made it, that adds another reason why we should let Slavery alone where it exists.
His only goal was to prevent its spread,
Wrong as we think Slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States?
He would seven have allowed, if a new government was formed, slavery to still exist.
Finally, in the midst of the War Between the States, Lincoln still yet would not undue slavery. In 1862, he would write to Horace Greeley of his desire to do nothing but preserve the union, even with slavery — admitting that he would only use “the colored race” to that benefit alone.
If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. 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. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
I was saddened and ashamed to see Wesley use our ugly history with slavery in this regards. It took me several days of reflection to write this post, fearing that I would but be using slavery to my own benefit. I hope it does not come across this way. Rather, I would entreat those who would use the memory of slavery, the holocaust, or other nightmares of history in this debate to rather be quiet else you truly bring the wrath of God upon us, and our ruin in privileged humiliation.
This post is meant to engender revolution and/or comments… If you don’t leave comments, I expect you to start a revolution. Your choice. No pressure.
Through the succession of several Indian Acts, notably the Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889, Native Americans were removed from their ancestral land which they had worked for. In 1889, through and Act of Congress and with support of the President, what would become Oklahoma was taken away from the Native American tribes and redistributed. We’ve all seen the movies and read the stories of the nearly 50,000 hopeful white settlers who rushed with all their might to get 160 acres worth of land (something Abraham Lincoln signed into law). This was meant to jump start Western settlement, the American economy and create more markets for Eastern products. This was a natural way of thinking, actually, and is very much a part of the American tradition.
What if we, um, reappropriated the means of production, companies, and other items and maybe even capital up to a point from the 1% and allow a first come first served land rush type of event so that those who are enterprising enough can get a free leg up in the world?
Does this mean that the invasion of the South and its forced reintegration into the Union is wrong?
Wrong, illegal, and immoral all take on the various aspects of Lincoln’s War. I’ll leave the morality issue to those who will decide if it was a Just War or not. Was it illegal? No. It was not illegal because while the States have the right to secede, no State was given the ability to decide that for themselves. If we were to follow the guidelines of the Constitution, we would note that States were given the ability to enter the Union by a vote of Congress. Further, States may divide, which is in effect a secession, based on Constitutional rules as well which requires that both Congress and the State vote on the decision. I note that Congress has the right to admit States in a proscribed manner. I also note that the Constitution was formed only by a select numbers of States, with other States admitted to the Union. If we are to follow Constitutional thinking here, then we must admit that if Congress can place a State within the Union, it may then give leave for that State to secede. Therefore, because secession was not followed legally, then the invasion was not illegal. We must remember what Congress is – Congress was/is the representatives of the States/People assembled in Body Politick for the purposes of governing the Union. In this assembly, membership is determined on the basis of how it will affect the Whole.
Was it wrong? There could have been a better way to navigate the legal issues, for a while, before invasion, yes. The fact remains, that Lincoln purposely goaded the Confederate States into firing on Ft. Sumter so as to ignite a War and refused entreaties to cease the war.
Mitchell then goes on to note my statement that the Articles of Confederation, the First Confederacy, was weak because it gave to the States a sovereign nation status. He writes,
That’s just weakness covered in weak sauce. We need to follow the logic here. If the Articles demonstrate that their approach to government is bad because they almost lead to war, should not the Constitution be far more condemned because it produced a war?
Mitchell’s logic is flawed. Under his logic, we should dispense with our criminal code because it produces criminals and then calls for the punishment of those criminals. The Constitution didn’t produce a war. The Constitution was meant to prevent the weaknesses of the Confederacy, but when it was violated, the Constitution had to be preserved. The Oath of Office, of the President of the United States of America, demands that when the Constitution is threatened, it must be protected. The Southern States, leaving in the illegal manner in which they did, produced a heinous crime which threatened the Constitution. The Articles of Confederation, however, allowed for wars to commence. The Articles of Confederation, a precursor to the League of Nations, allowed to States to overrule the ‘perpetual union’ and to protect their own interests over that of the national whole.
I follow the logic of the Federalist Papers and the second group of Founding Fathers. A strong central government is needed to prevent what Europe saw for centuries and what was threatening to break out in this country. A strong federal government is the barrier between conflicts which arise, necessarily, between even the closest of siblings. Rodney is correct, I feel, in his assessment of the vision of a strong, central government. We have had two confederations upon this continent, within our boarders, and neither worked. One failed during peace time, while the other failed horribly in war time. Don’t get me wrong – Lincoln was an evil man, a corrupt politician, and more than a centralizer; he was a dictator. Lincoln’s administration served to show that during times of crisis, the U.S. Constitution matters little more than the paper upon which it was written. Yet, we must have a national government which is not undermined by the States. If it is not a strong government, then the various States will always have the option of doing as they wish, and this mentality necessarily leads to the idea that what really exists between the States is a gentleman’s agreement where in any State may of it’s own choosing follow, or not follow, the laws as laid out by Congress. The Federal Government must be limited to those issues of Federal Concern, and it is the duty of the people to secure that wall, but a lack of a centralize government gives us 50 sovereigns.
Mitchell’s swipe about the preamble will have be passed over for now, as I am trying to remain friendly in this conversation. The preamble does not have the force of law, but we must remember that it sets the goals of the document.
Jefferson Davis’s Inaugural Address
Montgomery, Alabama, February, 1861
Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederate States of America:
Called to the difficult and responsible station of Executive Chief of the Provisional Government which you have instituted, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned me with an humble distrust of my abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in the wisdom of those who are to aid and guide me in the administration of public affairs, and an abiding faith in the patriotism and virtue of the people. Looking forward to the speedy establishment of a provisional government to take the place of the present one, and which, by its great moral and physical powers, will be better able to contend with the difficulties which arise from the conflicting incidents of separate nations, I enter upon the duties of the office for which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to the enjoyment of that separate and independent existence which we have asserted, and which, with the blessing of Providence, we intend to maintain.
Our present position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that government rests upon the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish a government whenever it becomes destructive of the ends for which it was established. The declared purposes of the compact of Union from which we have withdrawn were to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, to provide for the common defence, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity; and when in the judgment of the sovereign States now comprising this Confederacy it had been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and had ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, an appeal to the ballot box declared that so far as they were concerned the government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted a right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 defined to be inalienable. Of the time and occasion for its exercise, they, as sovereign, were the final judges each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct, and He who knows the hearts of men will judge the sincerity with which we have labored to preserve the government of our fathers, in its spirit and in those rights inherent in it, which were solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the States, and which have been affirmed and reaffirmed in the Bills of Rights of the several States. When they entered into the Union of 1789, it was with the undeniable recognition of the power of the people to resume the authority delegated for the purposes of that government whenever, in their opinion, its functions were perverted and its ends defeated. By virtue of this authority, the time and occasion requiring them to exercise it having arrived, the sovereign States here represented have seceded from that Union, and it is a gross abuse of language to denominate the act rebellion or revolution. They have formed a new alliance, but in each State its government has remained as before. The rights of person and property have not been disturbed. The agency through which they have communicated with foreign powers has been changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.
Sustained by a consciousness that our transition from the former Union to the present Confederacy has not proceeded from any disregard on our part of our just obligations, or any failure to perform every constitutional duty — moved by no intention or design to invade the rights of others — anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations — if we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that posterity will acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it. We are doubly justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of others. There can be no cause to doubt that the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States will be found equal to any measure of defence which may be required for their security. Devoted to agricultural pursuits, their chief interest is the export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country. Our policy is peace, and the freest trade our necessities will permit. It is alike our interest, and that of all those to whom we would sell and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon interchange of commodities. There can be but little rivalry between us and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northwestern States of the American Union.
It must follow, therefore, that mutual interest would invite good will and kindness between them and us. If, however, passion or lust of dominion should cloud the judgment and inflame the ambition of these States, we must prepare to meet the emergency, and maintain, by the final arbitrament of the sword, the position we have assumed among the nations of the earth. We have now entered upon our career of independence, and it must be inflexibly pursued.
Through many years of controversy with our late associates, the Northern States, we have vainly endeavored to secure tranquillity and obtain respect for the rights to which we were entitled. As a necessity, not a choice we have resorted to separation, and henceforth our energies must be devoted to the conducting of our own affairs, and perpetuating the Confederacy we have formed. If a just perception of mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our separate political career, my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled. But if this be denied us, and the integrity and jurisdiction of our territory be assailed, it will but remain for us with a firm resolve to appeal to arms and invoke the blessings of Providence upon a just cause.
As a consequence of our new constitution, and with a view to meet our anticipated wants, it will be necessary to provide a speedy and efficient organization of the several branches of the executive departments having special charge of our foreign intercourse, financial and military affairs, and postal service. For purposes of defence, the Confederate States may, under ordinary circumstances rely mainly upon their militia; but it is deemed advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be a well instructed, disciplined army, more numerous than would be usually required for a peace establishment.
I also suggest that for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas, a navy adapted to those objects be built up. These necessities have doubtless engaged the attention of Congress.
With a constitution differing only in form from that of our forefathers, in so far as it is explanatory of their well known intents, freed from sectional conflicts which have so much interfered with the pursuits of the general welfare, it is not unreasonable to expect that the States from which we have parted may seek to unite their fortunes with ours under the government we have instituted. For this your constitution has made adequate provision, but beyond this, if I mistake not the judgment and will of the people, our reunion with the States from which we have separated is neither practicable nor desirable. To increase power, develop the resources, and promote the happiness of this Confederacy, it is necessary that there should be so much homogeneity as that the welfare of every portion be the aim of the whole. When this homogeneity does not exist, antagonisms are engendered which must and should result in separation.
Actuated solely by a desire to protect and preserve our own rights and promote our own welfare, the secession of the Confederate States has been marked by no aggression upon others, and followed by no domestic convulsion. Our industrial pursuits have received no check; the cultivation of our fields has progressed as heretofore; and even should we be involved in war, there would be no considerable diminution in the production of the great staple which constitutes our exports, and in which the commercial world has an interest scarcely less than our own. This common interest of producer and consumer can only be interrupted by external force, which would obstruct shipments to foreign markets — a course of conduct which would be detrimental to manufacturing and commercial interests abroad. Should reason guide the action of the government from which we have separated, a policy so injurious to the civilized world, the Northern States included, could not be dictated even by the strongest desire to inflict injury upon us; but if otherwise, a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, and the suffering of millions will bear testimony to the folly and wickedness of our aggressors. In the meantime there will remain to us, besides the ordinary remedies before suggested, the well known resources for retaliation upon the commerce of our enemy.
Experience in public stations of subordinate grade to this which your kindness has conferred on me, has taught me that care and toil and disappointments are the price of official elevation. You will have many errors to forgive, many deficiencies to tolerate, but you will not find in me either a want of zeal or fidelity to a cause that has my highest hopes and most enduring affection. Your generosity has bestowed upon me an undeserved distinction, one which neither sought nor desired. Upon the continuance of that sentiment, and upon your wisdom and patriotism, I rely to direct and support me in the performance of the duties required at my hands. We have changed the constituent parts, not the system of our government. The constitution formed by our fathers is the constitution of the “Confederate States.” In their exposition of it, and in the judicial constructions it has received, it has a light that reveals its true meaning. Thus instructed as to the just interpretations of that instrument, and ever remembering that all public offices are but trusts, held for the benefit of the people, and that delegated powers are to be strictly construed, I will hope that by due diligence in the discharge of my duties, though I may disappoint your expectations, yet to retain, when retiring, something of the good will and confidence which welcome my entrance into office. It is joyous in perilous times to look around upon a people united in heart, who are animated and actuated by one and the same purpose and high resolve, with whom the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor, right, liberty and equality. Obstacles may retard, but cannot prevent their progressive movements. Sanctified by justice and sustained by a virtuous people, let me reverently invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by HIS blessing they were able to vindicate, establish and transmit to their posterity, and with the continuance of HIS favor, ever to be gratefully acknowledged, let us look hopefully forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.
Source: Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. I. Richmond, Virginia., January, 1876