Lincoln

Hero or Traitor?


 

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    Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America, has been revered in history as one of the greatest Presidents who ever lived.  His humanitarianism, his piety, and his love for the people are known to all who have ever studied American History.  His efforts to eliminate slavery should place him in the top 10 List of Great Leaders of the 19th Century.

But some say Lincoln was Not the great man we have read about in our American History classes.

Let us look at some of the facts concerning Lincoln as a person.

    It is written that Lincoln was self educated, learning to read by the light of the fireplace in his parents log cabin.  While this may be true and such determination should be applauded, could anyone who was completely self educated have the balance necessary for a well rounded education?  The fact is that such an education would have numerous gaps and weak areas since such a person would read those subjects that were of personal interests, neglecting many other fields that were necessary, but of little interest.

    In his early political career it is possible that Lincoln was strongly motivated by a sense of fair play for all, and used every means at his disposal to become the champion of the common people, but it is far more believable that he created this image in an attempt to gain popularity to help further his political career. 

 

    As a student of this period of History,  I have studied this subject extensively and believe I am qualified to make an objective judgment on this issue.

 

    When the Presidential Campaign of 1860 was underway, Lincoln was not even on the ballot in most Southern States.  He was not considered to be a serious contender for the Presidency and therefore his campaign was not even deemed worthy of notice.  When he gained the nomination in the Northern States, the Southerners felt that he was a "regional" champion and that his goals would not be in the best interest of the South.

    Since he had not been considered as a possible candidate in the South, the populace considered him a Northern candidate and felt his election would be detrimental to their interest and this, based on previous political efforts from the North, would result in further hardship to the Southern livelihood.  So strong was the opposition that many southern leaders threatened to secede if Lincoln was elected.

    Upon his election, Lincoln entered Washington, in disguise and under cover of darkness, since he feared Southern sentiment was so vehemently opposed to his assuming the office of President, that a possible assassination attempt was likely.

 

Fort Sumter

    Upon his election, the Southern States made good their threat to secede and ordered all personnel to withdraw from US government installations in the seceded areas.  Two locations declined to comply and the eyes of both sides were drawn to Fort Pickens in Pensacola, Florida and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.

    These Forts were in the harbors of two of the South's largest and busiest ports, and it was felt that they could cripple trade arrangements for the Southern States by holding the harbors and effectively blocking imports necessary to the South's survival.  For the South, there were only two possible courses of action, to convince to government to withdraw, or take the Forts by force.

    Delegates from the newly formed Confederate States of America were dispatched to President Buchanan in hopes that bloodshed could be avoided, but Buchanan was reluctant to make a decision that could lead to the official recognition of the Confederate Government.  An uneasy truce was maintained up till the time of Lincoln's Inauguration.

    After assuming the Office of President, the Southern Ambassadors, once again attempted to set up a meeting with the new President.  Once again, as had his predecessor Buchanan,  Lincoln refused to recognize the Southern ambassadors.  It was suggested by Lincoln's advisors that he meet with them as representatives of their individual States.  The Ambassadors agreed to these conditions, but Lincoln refused this advice.

    Realizing that further attempts at negotiating a peaceful co-existence were impossible, the Southern Ambassadors informed their leaders of the failure of their mission and arrangements were made to take Sumter and Pickens by force, if necessary.

    Despite the Warnings of his cabinet and advisors, Lincoln determined that it was necessary to reinforce Forts Sumter and Pickens.  Not only did he conceive this action against  all advice, but he began preparations for Navel vessels to begin a mission for these Forts relief, bypassing his own Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, who strongly opposed any action that could be determined as an act of war against the newly seceded States.  When these plans became known it was correctly determined that such an act would lead directly to the Southerners decision to take these forts by force.  Lincoln was again urged to meet with the Southern Ambassadors, in hopes of a peaceful settlement.  This suggestion was again refused.

    This left the Southerners no choice.  Guns were placed at the entrance of Charleston Harbor to prevent the fleet from reaching Sumter and orders were issued to Sumter's Commander to surrender or the Fort would be fired upon.

    The rest, as they say, is history.  Confederate General P.T. Beauregard's assault was successful and Major Robert Anderson surrendered on April 14, 1861.

     Lincoln made his plan clear when he said, "The plan succeeded.  They attacked Sumter--it fell, and thus did more service than it otherwise could.(to Senator Orville Browning)

    The issue is not that Lincoln chose the course of action most likely to lead to bloodshed.  It is especially notable that he not only refused the advice of his cabinet, he proceeded with his plans without the knowledge of the proper authorities, the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War.  He usurped their authority and proceeded as if he was in sole command of the United States military forces.  This, in my opinion is the action of a dictator, who considers himself to be above the law of the land.

The Maryland Incident

    During this time, other States were attempting to determine where their loyalties should be placed.  The Border State of Maryland was a controversial area.  Many of the Marylanders felt strongly aligned with the Southern States and the disputes in their Congress were extremely heated.  The populace was divided as to whether to remain in the Union, or follow the Southern States lead and to secede and join the Confederacy.

    If Maryland left the Union, it put Washington in an impossible position, with Virginia to the south and Maryland to the north, making the seat of the United States government an island, surrounded by hostile neighbors and virtually indefensible.  Lincoln's handling of this situation, logistically makes perfect sense, but his methods are more than questionable.

    Lincoln had gathered lists of the most ardent and vocal Southern sympathizers in the State.  He ordered their arrest and many were confined in Fort McHenry, in Baltimore Harbor, without benefit of Legal Counsel and many without even having charges filed against them.  Most of these arrested were not guilty of any crime.  They were deemed guilty by Lincoln of being southern sympathizers and therefore dangerous to his plans.`

    Francis Key Howard, the editor of the Baltimore Exchange,  was held in Fort McHenry for  fourteen months.  When he awoke, the morning after his imprisonment, he was struck by the irony that he was imprisoned under the same flag that forty-seven years earlier had inspired his Grandfather, Francis Scott Key,  to pen the "Star Spangled Banner" after witnessing the bombardment of this same Fort McHenry by the British, during the War of 1812.

    Though many have judged his actions as logistically sound, Lincoln nevertheless ordered the imprisonment of thousands of civilians by a military tribunal, had them held without benefit of Legal Counsel, and suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus without even consulting his own Judicial Department.  The fact that many of those imprisoned were subsequently released after the danger of Secession had passed, but had never been specifically charged with any crime, was in direct violation of the United States Constitution.  Three guarantees of the US Constitution are (1) that you may not be held without evidence of a crime being committed, (2) That you shall have the benefit of Legal Counsel and (3) that the accused shall have the right to a speedy trial.  All three of these privileges, specifically mentioned by the Constitution, were violated in the Maryland incident.  This provides proof that Lincoln considered himself above, even the Constitution of the Country of which he was President.

    Is this the action of a Patriot who would take any action necessary to preserve the Union...or the action of a Dictator who considers himself above the Laws of his Country?

 

 The Great Emancipator

    Much has been made of Lincoln's efforts to free the slaves and the fact that he waged a long and bloody war to secure their freedom.  This is unfortunately, a myth perpetrated after his assassination.  Lincoln was never responsible for the freeing of any slaves, except, perhaps, for those owned by his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

    In an 1858 political debate, he stated;

"I will say, then, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races -- that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold Office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say, in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races. . . . I as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

    In a letter to Horace Greeley he stated;

"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, 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."
 

    In his inaugural address, Lincoln stated that he would not interfere with the institution of slavery where it exists in the United States.

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

    Later in his Address he spoke of the proposed Constitutional Amendment that would perpetually protect the right to own slaves.

"I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution . . . has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose, not to speak of particular amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable."

    Here is the wording of that proposed Amendment to the Constitution.  It clearly states that slavery would continue to be lawful but, furthermore, stated that no amendment could be passed prohibiting slavery.  According to these words, Had this amendment been passed slavery could be lawful in these United States today.

ARTICLE THIRTEEN
AKA: The Corwin Amendment

No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

 

    How, then did Lincoln become known as the great Emancipator?

    In 1863 when it became necessary and politically expedient to justify his invasion of the South, Lincoln issued the controversial "Emancipation Proclamation".  On the surface it appears this document is a step forward for humanity, but on a closer reading it becomes apparent that it is simply a ploy to justify the war.

    It clearly states that it's purpose if to give freedom to all slaves held in those areas in conflict with the United Sates.  In other words, it frees the slaves in the areas that had seceded and considered themselves no longer bound to the United States or their laws.  This is as binding as if he had issued a proclamation freeing all the slaves in the Country of Mexico.  These States had seceded and the laws Lincoln had put forth had no bearing, nor were they binding on them.

    Even more telling was the fact that this document specifically exempted areas in the South that were at that time under Union control.  If Lincoln truly wanted to free the slaves, why did he exempt the entire northern portion of the Country?  (see "The Emancipation Proclamation")

 

Lincoln the Executioner

    In 1862 a group of American Indians in Minnesota rebelled against the cruel policies of the United States Government.  Lincoln sent General John Pope to quell the uprising,  After the hostilities, General Pope sent a message to Lincoln that after a fair and impartial trial, he had sentenced over three hundred Indians to death by hanging.

    Minnesota residents were clamoring for the immediate execution of these prisoners.  Knowing that the "Trial" had most likely been a sham, but recognizing the necessity of carrying the State in the next election, Lincoln ordered the executions to proceed but reduced the number to thirty-nine prisoners whom he personally chose.  Thus Lincoln had the dubious honor of becoming the first US President to order a mass execution and hand-picked the victims.

 

Lincoln the Humanitarian

 

    From the time the War for Southern Independence began, there were reports of misconduct of the Union forces, during their campaigns in the South.

    As early as July 16, 1861 there were reports from Senior Officers that the command of Colonel John B. Turchin was behaving in a most unsoldierly manner.  On this date Brig. General Stephen A. Hurlbutt notified Colonel Turchin that some of his troops..."violated private rights of property and of persons".

    The following year the incidents became too much to ignore, following the pillage of Athens, Alabama by troops under the command of Colonel Turchin.  General Don Carlos Buell, Commander of the Army of Ohio  issued orders to have Colonel Turchin Court Martialed.  His findings were published on August 6, 1862.

"[He} allowed his command to disperse and in his presence or with his knowledge and that of his Officers to plunder and pillage the inhabitants . . . . They attempted an indecent outrage on a servant girl . . . destroyed a stock of fine Bibles and Testaments . . . . Defaced and kicked about the floor and trampled under foot . . . . A part of the Brigade went to the Plantation . . . . and quartered in the Negro huts for weeks, debauching the females . . . . Mrs. Hollingsworth's house was entered and plundered . . . . the alarm and excitement occasioned a miscarriage and subsequently her death.  . . . . Several soldiers . . . . committed rape on the person of a colored girl.  . . . . The Court finds the accused [guilty as charged] . . . . and does therefore sentence . . . . Colonel J.B. Turchin . . . to be discharged from the service of the United States . . . It is a fact of sufficient notoriety that similar disorders . . . have marked the course of Colonel Turchin's command wherever it has gone."

    How did Lincoln respond to the Court Martial of one of his Officers?  After Colonel Turchin was dismissed from the Army for war crimes against innocent civilians, Lincoln promoted Turchin to the rank of Brigadier General of the United States Volunteers, on August 5, 1862.  You may notice that this was but one day before General Buell's publication of  the results of the court Martial.  Turchin continued his new command until October 4, 1864.

    It is beyond belief that Lincoln did not know of the action taken against Colonel Turchin and it can only be supposed that He was not only aware of the conduct of Turchin's command, but approved of such activities.

    This is but one of many incidents attributed to Union Forces in the South.  Perhaps the best known is Sherman's March to the Sea.

    After the Fall of Atlanta and the destruction of the Confederate Forces in Georgia, General William T. Sherman planned a campaign that would take his Army on a course through Georgia, from the ruins of Atlanta to the coastal seaport of Savannah.  He vowed to cut a swath Forty miles wide and to destroy and burn anything in his path.

    Since the Confederate Army in Georgia was, by now, non-existent, Sherman's only opponents were the women, children, the aged, and the infirm.  Sherman made good his plan, burning and pillaging everything in his path.  Homes of innocent non-combatants were burned and their means of livelihood were destroyed or confiscated by the troops.  Crops were burned and any cattle found were either slaughtered to feed his command or taken along by the Army, leaving widows and children with nothing left for their own survival.

    Yet Sherman's campaign was highly praised by Lincoln.

    The list of wartime atrocities is virtually endless but I feel the point has been made.  These facts paint a very different picture of Lincoln than the one that is publicly taught in our Schools.  From these facts can be seen that Lincoln was a harsh, vindictive autocrat, who felt that any action was justified as long as it was done for the purpose of preserving the Union.

    What many do not know is that Lincoln was almost defeated for his second term.  One of the chief methods he used to ensure his re-election was the use of fictitious States.  Lincoln promised that "whenever a tenth part of the people of a State came back [into the Union] he would recognize them as a State".  Under this plan Unionist governments were instituted in Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas, allowing them voting privileges in the 1864 election and even seated their members in congress, despite the fact that these States were still part of the Confederacy and the Unionist politicians were little more than a puppet government owing their positions to their allegiance to Lincoln.

 

 

 

   

Can the picture of Lincoln be any plainer?  It is my opinion that he was a consummate politician, mouthing whatever rhetoric was needed to gain votes.  The present image of Lincoln, was a creation of the media and the politicians who needed to consolidate the opinions of the world to justify their invasion of the South.  Their campaign to deify "Saint Abraham" worked well after his assassination.  Who could speak ill of our martyred President?

In an 1862 article, an author for a British publication, "The Quarterly Review", noted the following – an opinion which many still hold:

"There is no Parliamentary (congressional) authority whatever for what has been done. It has been done simply on Mr. Lincoln's fiat. At his simple bidding, acting by no authority but his own pleasure, in plain defiance of the provisions of the Constitution, the Habeas Corpus Act has been suspended, the press muzzled, and judges prevented by armed men from enforcing on the citizens' behalf the laws to which they and the President have sworn." 

    Should we Glorify a President who, during his first year in Office, violated most of the first ten Amendments to the United States Constitution as well as the Constitution itself?  The very amendments known as the "Bill of Rights"?  This proves conclusively that the fears of our Southern Fore-Fathers were well founded, and they were more than justified in their secession.  (See Constitutional Amendments)

Lincoln ordered that an Army of 75,000 men be raised to put down the "Rebellion".
            This is a function of Congress and NOT that of the President (ARTICLE 1, SECTION, 8, CLAUSE 11). 
UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Lincoln ordered these troops to invade Virginia.
            The President does not have the Authority to order troops into combat.  This is again, a function of Congress (ARTICLE 1, SECTION, 8, CLAUSE 12)
UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Lincoln ordered several newspapers in Maryland closed after they printed articles denouncing his actions.
Lincoln also had several Ministers arrested after speaking out against his policies.
            VIOLATION OF THE 1ST AMENDMENT
            Also a violation of ARTICLE 1, SECTION 9, CLAUSE 2.  Maryland was NOT in rebellion.

Lincoln ordered members of the Maryland Legislature arrested and held without charges against them, and without bond, by a military tribunal.
            VIOLATION OF THE 4TH, 5TH, 6TH & 8TH AMENDMENTS

Lincoln allowed the division of the State of Virginia, creating the State of West Virginia without the consent of the mother State.
            VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 4, SECTION 3, CLAUSE 1

Lincoln waged war against the Southern States who wished to peacefully leave the Union.
            VIOLATION OF THE 10th AMENDMENT

   These from a man who had sworn an oath (at his inauguration) to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America

    His actions and policies forever changed our Government, from a Constitutional Republic to the Imperialist, highly centralized government of today.  It is essential to remember that before 1860, the States were considered Sovereign entities and the Federal Government was the servant of the individual States.  Lincoln's misuse of the Constitution and his "Executive Powers" reversed this order making the States subservient to the Federal Government.  Within less than One Hundred year, the worst fears of our founding fathers (especially Washington and Jefferson) were realized.  Our form of government was perverted, under Lincoln, to a form much worse then the Monarchy they, themselves, had seceded from.  The Whig/Mercantilist form of Government adopted by Lincoln  set the stage for excessive spending without any system of organized opposition from the individual states.   His "Internal Improvements" policies have led directly to Government interference by large corporations.  The last remnants of self government, "of the People, by the People, and for the People",  died at Appomattox, Virginia.

    Even people who knew him well, from his early days in politics, to his ascendancy to the Presidency, spoke of him as a "Crude, vulgar, ill-mannered backwoodsman".  As one political acquaintance commented years later,  "I knew well, Abraham Lincoln, the Man, but this Lincoln I read about, I did not know".

 

Bibliographical Resources

"The Real Lincoln" by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
"Lincoln Takes Command" by John Shipley Tilly

"The Real Lincoln" by Charles L.C. Minor
"The Uncivil War - Union Army and Navy Excesses in the Official Records" by Thomas Bland Keys
"First Blood - The Story Of Fort Sumter" by W.A. Swanberg
"The South Was Right" by James Ronald Kennedy & Walter Donald Kennedy

 

 

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