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Tags: Abraham Lincoln, Border States, Confederate States, Delaware, history, human rights, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, society, United States, Walter Williams
Abraham Lincoln is arguably the most mythologized of all U.S. presidents. The following editorial, by Syndicated Columnist Walter Williams, includes some surprising revelations about the real Lincoln.
Does Civil War need a new name?
We call the war of 1861 the Civil War. But is that right? A civil war is a struggle between two or more entities trying to take over the central government. Confederate President Jefferson Davis no more sought to take over Washington, D.C., than George Washington sought to take over London in 1776. Both wars, those of 1776 and 1861, were wars of independence. Such a recognition does not require one to sanction the horrors of slavery. We might ask: How much of the war was about slavery?
Was President Abraham Lincoln really for outlawing slavery? Let’s look at his words. In an 1858 letter, Lincoln said, “I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists.”
In a Springfield, Illinois, speech, he explained: “My declarations upon this subject of Negro slavery may be misrepresented but cannot be misunderstood. I have said that I do not understand the Declaration (of Independence) to mean that all men were created equal in all respects.”
What about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation? Here are his words: “I view the matter (of slaves’ emancipation) as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.” He also wrote: “I will concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition.” When Lincoln first drafted the proclamation, war was going badly for the Union. London and Paris were considering recognizing the Confederacy and assisting it in its war against the Union.
Lincoln did articulate a view of secession that would have been heartily endorsed by the Confederacy: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government and form a new one that suits them better. … Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people can revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.” Lincoln expressed that view in an 1848 speech in the U.S. House of Representatives, supporting the war with Mexico and the secession of Texas.
Why didn’t Lincoln share the same feelings about Southern secession? Follow the money. During the 1850s, tariffs amounted to 90 percent of federal revenue. Southern ports paid 75 percent of tariffs in 1859. What “responsible” politician would let that much revenue go?
Let me add that Lincoln’s admission of the true motive behind his Emancipation Proclamation (as a “practical war measure”) was clearly demonstrated in its application. Lincoln is considered the Great Emancipator, but facts prove otherwise. The most damning is this: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation applied only to the Confederate States. It did not apply to the Border States. The Border States were four slave states that had not seceded from the United States: Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. Under the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery continued in the Border States, even after the slaves in the Confederate States were freed. Slavery was ended in Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware only as each of those states’ governments abolished it.