There are many times I have heard conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin, a man for whom I have much admiration, refer to many of the so-called “libertarian thinkers” as neo-confederates, and that they loathe Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. I have never paid much mind to this accusation, as I saw it as something that never deserved much time or thought. If people want to dislike certain presidents, I am okay with that. I, too, have certain presidents that have little appeal to me. However, I can say that I do not invent things or twist facts to make a case against these men who have served the republic.
It has come to my attention that this is not so with the “libertarian thinkers.”
I have a few friends who are of the libertarian persuasion, and they are ardent Ron Paul supporters. I have discussions with them which sometimes feel a bit heated, but both sides mostly keep in mind that either of us love liberty.
While perusing Facebook, I happened to see a link to a video that bore the name ‘The Abraham Lincoln Myth Serves The Purpose of the U.S. Regime,’ while the friend in question attached a less-than witful sentence to it that read, “Is Abraham Lincoln your favorite president? You might change your mind on that….”
Here is the video, before I go on:
I found this, to somewhat recall the very first image in the video, fascinating.
To be sure, I have not the time to research every allegation that has been made at President Lincoln in this video. By day, I am a father. By night I don my Superman cape and become a heroic janitor. My sons may believe the heroism is presented moreso in the former, however. As it is, there is much to do, and not enough time.
Look at this quote towards the beginning of the video, which yes, is part of what Abraham Lincoln said, once upon a time:
whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do…
You can read this yourself. There is a bit more context to put into a sliced down sentence that is also a portion of an entire paragraph. The creator of the video is being wholly dishonest.
On to the meat of it all.
Judge Napolitano, someone that I have always had a deep respect for, makes this accusation:
… his famous Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves only in those states that were fighting against the union and permitted slavery elsewhere.
When one reads the first paragraph of the aforementioned proclamation, it could be thought true:
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free
The problem with the charge made by the honorable gentleman, Judge Napolitano, lies in a speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln that is recognized as The Cooper Union Address, the aim of which was to prove that slavery was not to be had in the Northwestern Territory or any other new federal jurisdiction, and that the founders and framers set up precedent for the words he spoke. It is a long and quite eloquent idiom; he speaks as if being a lawyer before a judge and jury. As it were, with slavery having already been abolished in the states not mentioned during the Emancipation Proclamation, and having proven that the founders and framers would have been on the side of the Republicans in regard to the territories, it was only necessary to abolish slavery in those states that rebelled against the Union.
Judge Napolitano goes on:
… in fact [Abraham Lincoln] said that if keeping slavery legal would keep the union together, he would have kept slavery legal.
Indeed, Lincoln did say this, though there is of course more to wrap around it. I present here for you the entirety of the letter he wrote to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune:
Washington, August 22, 1862.
Hon. Horace Greeley:
I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” 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 shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.
Yes, President Lincoln’s main concern was to save the union of the States. He was for the status quo, which was slavery still allowed in the southern states, but he still, along with his fellow Republicans, spoke out openly against the practice. As you can see from the correspondence, he was taking action because he felt he needed to in order to preserve the union. This argument smells like the same that says, “People only donate to charity to get a tax break.” To which my reply is, “But doesn’t the charity still receive a donation?”
Enter into the video, Tom DiLorenzo and Tom Woods. At the one-minute mark, DiLorenzo is put forth by Napolitano to “make the case against the mythology that surrounds Abraham Lincoln.” DiLorenzo delivers thusly:
In Lincoln’s first inaugural address he pledged to support, to enshrine slavery in the Constitution, forever. And at the same speech he used the words “force,” “invasion,” and “bloodshed” to describe what would happen to any state that failed to collect the federal tariff tax, which had just been doubled two days before his inauguration.
He shut down over 300 opposition newspapers.
Most importantly, you know, Article III Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason as levying war against the states, or giving aid and comfort to their enemy. And that of course is what Lincoln did; levying war against the states.
I have trimmed out the things I don’t have the time to look in to.
On his first point, we will encounter the most disingenuous revisionism I have seen since I debunked parts of a Bill Maher video, in which he took quotes out of extreme context, or did not follow up with what was said afterward. But, in this instance, DiLorenzo outright lies. Let us take a look at Lincoln’s first inaugural address. Let us look at how many times these words “force,” “invasion,” and “bloodshed” are used in the speech.
- Force: 4
- Invasion: 2
- Bloodshed: 1
As a matter of fact, he used those words as encouragement that he would not do the things that DiLorenzo says. A total opposite of his statement. Of defending the Union, which he clears up exactly what that is in the Cooper Union Address (the United States), he said, during the inaugural address:
In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.
It’s not difficult to notice that during each use of the words “bloodshed,” “invasion,” and “force,” in this paragraph, they are preceded by “no,” “no using of,” or “no attempt to.” The final sentence itself shows reservation in using such means.
To the point of enshrining slavery in the Constitution forever, no such claim is made. As I said earlier, he wanted to keep the status quo of the institution, but we know how history changed that.
In regard to the shutting down of newspapers, I found very quickly one instance in which a paper was forging the name of the president. This I deem to be a necessary move made by the Lincoln administration, as it would undermine the United States during a time of war. Let’s keep that in mind for what comes next, also: The United States.
DiLorenzo offers up Article III Section 3 as meaning a war against the states themselves, and not as the United States. The article clearly states:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
It is clear that it is the United States, and not just “the states”.
At this point in the video, the Judge says that the “facts” DiLorenzo put forth can’t be denied.
I believe, of the pieces I picked out that I had time to look into, I have thoroughly put a blisteringly big hole in the side of DiLorenzo’s ship.
We will now ignore the next segment that Tom Woods takes part in, because it doesn’t really put forth much of substance. He makes mention that “the Lincoln myth” allows big government to exist, and then talks about Walmart. However, I ask that you remember his mention of Jefferson.
As much as I wish I could research the entire civil war before pasting this critique of the video on the Internet, I cannot. There are other issues they mention that I would like to look into someday. But the very last words spoken by Tom Woods must be addressed, as he seems to either not know, or cherry picks what he is talking about:
We now know that contrary to the myth-makers, Lincoln, to his dying day, was looking for ways to deport the freed slaves somewhere in the world. We’re told that he had abandoned that and he had changed his mind because he was the great humanitarian; he wouldn’t have had a view like that.
I cannot attest to whether or not it has been taught that he decided deportation for freed slaves would be improper later in life. I do not know. One thing I do know is that he isn’t the only person that held this view. On the contrary, it is amazing to me that many libertarians look to Thomas Jefferson as the exact example of what America was to be, but they leave out anything that would tarnish their narrative in this “Lincoln myth” video even after mentioning the “Jeffersonian foundation” of America. Thomas Jefferson once wrote:
The bill on the subject of slaves was a mere digest of the existing laws respecting them, without any intimation of a plan for a future & general emancipation. It was thought better that this should be kept back, and attempted only by way of amendment whenever the bill should be brought on. The principles of the amendment however were agreed on, that is to say, the freedom of all born after a certain day, and deportation at a proper age. But it was found that the public mind would not yet bear the proposition, nor will it bear it even at this day. Yet the day is not distant when it must bear and adopt it, or worse will follow. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them. It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peaceably and in such slow degree as that the evil will wear off insensibly, and their place be pari passu filled up by free white laborers. If on the contrary it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors. This precedent would fall far short of our case.
It is not my intention to show the great Thomas Jefferson as a racist. Nor is it my intention to prove in the affirmative or negative of the great Abraham Lincoln. Why I dug that tidbit up is to show that Lincoln was not the only one to view things this way, and that the great hero of libertarians, who use it to paint Lincoln in a different light, also thought that way.
A few thoughts.
This whole affair is disappointing to me. Many libertarians that I am in acquaintance with like to say they are more enlightened than myself. That I am not well-read enough. I do not know where that comes from as it seems to me that they don’t know my personal habits, but the charge has been made in my direction. I know also that the libertarians like to pride themselves on a fact of having done extensive research on matters, and not listening to the talking heads on the tele. Apparently this is not so. Otherwise, how am I to account for this video being posted and submitted as fact if there are gross misrepresentations within?