President Lincoln has been all but deified in America, with a god-like giant statue at a Parthenon-like memorial in Washington. Generations of school children have been indoctrinated with the story that “Honest Abe” Lincoln is a national hero who saved the Union and fought a noble war to end slavery, and that the “evil” Southern states seceded from the Union to protect slavery. This is the Yankee myth of history, written and promulgated by Northerners, and it is a complete falsity. It was produced and entrenched in the culture in large part to gloss over the terrible war crimes committed by Union soldiers in the War Between the States, as well as Lincoln’s violations of the law, his shredding of the Constitution, and other reprehensible acts. It has been very effective in keeping the average American ignorant of the real causes of the war, and the real nature, character and record of Lincoln. Let us look at some unpleasant facts.
In his first inaugural address, Lincoln stated clearly that (1) he had no legal authority to interfere with slavery where it existed, (2) that he had no inclination or intention to do so even if he had the legal authority, (3) that he would enforce the Fugitive Slave Act, returning runaway slaves escaping to the North to their masters in the South, and (4) that he fully supported the Thirteenth Amendment then being debated in Congress which would protect slavery in perpetuity and was irrevocable. He later famously stated, “Do not paint me with the Abolitionist brush.”
Although there was some opposition to slavery in the country, the government was willing to concede everything the South wanted regarding slavery to keep it in the Union. Given all these facts, the idea that the South seceded to protect slavery is as absurd as the idea that Lincoln fought the war to end slavery. Lincoln himself said in a famous letter after the war began that his sole purpose was to save the Union, and not to either save or end slavery; that if he could save the Union without freeing a single slave, he would. Nothing could be clearer.
For decades before the war, the South, through harsh tariffs, had been supplying about 85% of the country’s revenue, nearly all of which was being spent in the North to boost its economy, build manufacturing, infrastructure, railroads, canals, etc. With the passage of the 47% Morrill Tariff the final nail was in the coffin.
The South did not secede to protect slavery, although certainly they wished to protect it; they seceded over a dispute about unfair taxation, an oppressive Federal government, and the right to separate from that oppression and be governed “by consent”, exactly the same issues over which the Founding Fathers fought the Revolutionary War. When a member of Lincoln’s cabinet suggested he let the South go in peace, Lincoln famously replied, “Let the South go? Where, then, would we get our revenue!” He then launched a brutal, empirical war to keep the free and sovereign states, by force of arms, in the Union they had created and voluntarily joined, and then voluntarily left. This began his reign of terror.
Lincoln was the greatest tyrant and despot in American history. In the first four months of his presidency, he created a complete military dictatorship, destroyed the Constitution, ended forever the constitutional republic which the Founding Fathers instituted, committed horrendous crimes against civilian citizens, and formed the tyrannical, overbearing and oppressive Federal government which the American people suffer under to this day. In his first four months, he Failed to call Congress into session after the South fired upon Fort Sumter, in direct violation of the Constitution.
Called up an army of 75,000 men, bypassing the Congressional authority in direct violation of the Constitution.
Unilaterally suspended the writ of habeas corpus, a function of Congress, violating the Constitution. This gave him the power, as he saw it, to arrest civilians without charge and imprison them indefinitely without trial—which he did.
Ignored a Supreme Court order to restore the right of habeas corpus, thus violating the Constitution again and ignoring the Separation of Powers which the Founders put in place exactly for the purpose of preventing one man’s using tyrannical powers in the executive.
When the Chief Justice forwarded a copy of the Supreme Court’s decision to Lincoln, he wrote out an order for the arrest of the Chief Justice and gave it to a U.S. Marshall for expedition, in violation of the Constitution.
Unilaterally ordered a naval blockade of southern ports, an act of war, and a responsibility of Congress, in violation of the Constitution.
Commandeered and closed over 300 newspapers in the North, because of editorials against his war policy and his illegal military invasion of the South. This clearly violated the First Amendment freedom of speech and press clauses.
Sent in Army forces to destroy the printing presses and other machinery at those newspapers, in violation of the Constitution.
Arrested the publishers, editors and owners of those newspapers, and imprisoned them without charge and without trial for the remainder of the war, all in direct violation of both the Constitution and the Supreme Court order aforementioned.
Arrested and imprisoned, without charge or trial, another 15,000-20,000 U.S. citizens who dared to speak out against the war, his policies, or were suspected of anti-war feelings. (Relative to the population at the time, this would be equivalent to President G.W. Bush arresting and imprisoning roughly 150,000-200,000 Americans without trial for “disagreeing” with the Iraq war; can you imagine?)
Sent the Army to arrest the entire legislature of Maryland to keep them from meeting legally, because they were debating a bill of secession; they were all imprisoned without charge or trial, in direct violation of the Constitution.
Unilaterally created the state of West Virginia in direct violation of the Constitution.
Sent 350,000 Northern men to their deaths to kill 350,000 Southern men in order to force the free and sovereign states of the South to remain in the Union they, the people, legally voted to peacefully withdraw from, all in order to continue the South’s revenue flow into the North.
These are just a few of the most egregious things Lincoln did during his despotic presidency. He set himself up as a tyrannical dictator with powers never before utilized or even imagined by any previous administration. During this four years of terrible war he was one of the greatest despots the world has ever known, his tyranny focused against his own countrymen, both North and South. He was called a despot and tyrant by many newspapers and citizens both North and South, until he had imprisoned nearly all those who dared to simply speak out against his unconstitutional usurpations of power. Those who disagreed with him were branded as “traitors”, just as were the brave and honorable men in the states which had legally seceded from the Union over just such issues as these criminal abuses of power by the Federal government.
Four months after Fort Sumter, when Lincoln finally called Congress back into session, no one dared oppose anything he wanted or speak out against him for fear of imprisonment, so completely had he entrenched his unilateral power and silenced his other many critics. The Union army, under Generals Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and President Lincoln, committed active genocide against Southern civilians—this is difficult for some to believe, but it is explicit in their writings and dispatches at the time and indisputable in their actions. Tens of thousands of Southern men, women and children—civilians—white and black, slave and free alike—were shot, hanged, raped, imprisoned without trial, their homes, lands and possessions stolen, pillaged and burned, in one of the most horrific and brutal genocides ever inflicted upon a people anywhere; but the Yankee myth of history is silent in these well-documented matters. For an excellent expose of these war crimes and their terrible extent, see War Crimes Against Southern Civilians by Walter Brian Cisco (Pelican Publishing Co. 2007, ISBN 9871589804661).
Only after the Union had suffered two years of crushing defeats in battle did Lincoln resolve to “emancipate” the slaves, and only as a war measure, a military tactic, not for moral or humanitarian purposes. He admitted this, remarking, “We must change tactics or lose the game.” He was hoping, as his original draft of the document shows, that a slave uprising would occur, making it harder for Southerners to continue the war. His only interest in freeing the slaves was in forcing the South to remain in the Union. His Emancipation Proclamation was denounced by Northerners, Southerners and Europeans alike for its absurdity and hypocrisy; for, it only “freed” the slaves in the seceded states—where he could not reach them—and kept slavery intact in the North and the border states—where he could have freed them at once.
The Gettysburg Address, the most famous speech in American history, is an absurd piece of war rhetoric and a poetry of lies. We were not “engaged in a great Civil War, to see whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, can long endure.” The South was engaged in a War of Independence from a tyrannical North, and after having legally seceded, wished only “to be let alone.” The North was engaged in a war of empire, to keep the South involuntarily under its yoke. Government “of the people, by the people and for the people” would not have “perished from the earth” had the North lost the war; on the contrary, it perished in the United States when the North won the war; for, freely representative government, by consent of the governed, is exactly what the South was fighting for and exactly what Lincoln’s military victory destroyed.
The checks and balances of powers, the separation of powers, the constitutional constraints so carefully and deliberately put into place by the Founding Fathers, had all been destroyed in Lincoln’s first months. The Republic which the Founders gave us had been completely destroyed and a new nation-state was set up; one in which the free and sovereign States would afterward be only vassals and tributaries, slaves to an all-powerful, oppressive Federal government. This new nation-state is completely different in both nature and consequence to the original American Republic. One only has to look around today to see the end results and legacy of Lincoln’s war, his destruction of freedom, and his institution of despotic, centralized governmental power and tyranny.
In retrospect, it is a tragedy that John Wilkes Booth did not act four years earlier. Slavery would have ended naturally, as it has everywhere else (except in African and Arab states); the American Republic, liberty, and 700,000 lives would have been saved, and untold thousands of those young men would have lived to contribute their ingenuity, inventions, creativity and talents to the political, economic, literary, scientific and social legacy of our people. And the greatest despotic tyrant in American history would never have gained the foothold of power or been able to establish the oppressive and omnipotent Federal government we all suffer under today.
Originally published and written by Michael Hutchison