In a previous post I made reference to mass murders—not the John Wayne Gacys and Charles Whitmans of the world, but the truly great among mass murderers: Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, et al. I assume not a few readers might have stumbled when they read Abraham Lincoln’s name included among those luminaries. Gacy killed at least 33 boys; Whitman claimed 15 killed and 32 injured. They operated on their own, mana a mano. But to be really productive at murder you have to have a national government and an army at your disposal. The mass murderers who stand out in history number their victims in the millions. Our sainted Lincoln was only responsible for 650,000 military dead on both sides and enough civilian casualties from disease, malnutrition, and starvation to bring that number to the one million range. If that’s not mass murder, I don’t know what is.
I know, it was a war. But those who instigate war are held responsible for its consequences. But didn’t South Carolina start the war by firing on the USS Harriet Lane? There is a sufficient body of evidence that Lincoln not only knew that U.S. supply ships approaching Charleston Harbor would be fired upon, but that this was exactly his intention. (See this article by Joe Ryan.) Lincoln used the excuse that he only wanted to bring food to the U.S. troops still stationed there, but merchants of Charleston had already been supplying food to the troops and had stated that they would continue doing so until an agreement and arrangements for their removal could be made.
When a president wants to start an unpopular war, he needs someone else to take the first shot. So we have the Confederates firing on the “defenseless” ship in Charleston Harbor, the Vietnamese firing on a U.S. ship in the Golf of Tonkin, and some would still say the “unprovoked” attack by the Japanese on U.S. ships at Pearl Harbor. We could also include Mr. Bush 41 using Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait to launch his war against Iraq, even though in a meeting between Mr. Hussein and the U.S. envoy to Iraq, April Glaspie, the U.S. government let it be known that we had no opinion on the matter and virtually gave Iraq the go-ahead for annexing Kuwait. Then there was the ingenious propaganda campaign leading the American public to believe that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 incident, which whipped up support for the second attack on Iraq by Mr. Bush 43.
Lincoln’s intent, at all costs, was to maintain The Union. This, even though he stated some years
earlier, “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.” (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. 1, p. 438). But when the southern states attempted to leave the Union, Lincoln sang a different tune. He saw his “American System” in danger. The import and export duties and other taxes taken from the southern states were financing his plan for a plutocracy in these United States of America. I suppose the operative phrase in his words was, “and having the power.” He would see about that.
The party of Lincoln is actually the party of Alexander Hamilton who, even though he was a signatory to the Constitution, began trying to dismantle the principles in that document from virtually the first day after its ratification and create a mercantile system modeled after Great Britain’s. Hamilton was the first to refer to this as “The American System.” His vision of the United States included a central bank, nationalization of the (fiat) currency, an income tax, perpetual government debt, a standing army, and collusion and cooperation between government and business. Henry Clay continued fighting for this during his entire political career, then passed the standard to Lincoln.
From Lincoln the Man (Edgar Lee Masters. The Foundation for American Education (December 1, 1997)). “Clay was the champion of that political system which doles favors to the strong in order to win and to keep their adherence to the government. His system offered shelter to devious schemes and corrupt enterprises… “He was the beloved son of Alexander Hamilton with his corrupt funding schemes, his superstitions concerning the advantage of a public debt, and a people taxed to make profits for enterprises that cannot stand alone. His example and his doctrines led to the creation of a party that had no platform to announce, because its principles were plunder and nothing else.”
Lincoln said all of his political thoughts flowed from the politics of Henry Clay.
The question of slavery had been a sticking point between northern and southern states throughout much of the first half of the nineteenth century. The final nail in the coffin, the issue that finally drove the southern states to secede was the taxes, levies, and import and export duties being charged to southern commerce to finance the north’s internal improvements—government financed roads, canals, railroads, and other infrastructure that were primarily being built in the northern states but funded by the south. Protectionist tariffs were designed to help northern manufacturers, but they hurt the economy of the southern, mostly agricultural states. The tariff bills also included subsidies, bailouts, and cheap credit to politically well-connected businesses.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s the result of the party of Lincoln that’s continued to this day and has become a “corrupt system of government of the plutocrats, for the plutocrats, by the plutocrats. (DiLorenzo. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/02/thomas-dilorenzo/the-regime-celebrates-its-birthday/)
Let’s say that all that is true. Still, the war ended slavery, didn’t it? If that’s the case, then all the death and destruction were worth it.
Every other country in the western world ended slavery without a war. Slavery may have ended with the war, but that wasn’t the goal according to its instigator. There was high energy in the abolition movement and it was only a matter of time before that and the industrial revolution put an end to slavery in the last country in the western world to allow it, an end that could have come without not only the loss of life and property, but the heritage of extreme racism and violence caused by the politics of Reconstruction and its concomitant scapegoating and resentment.
Why was a war that cost a million lives and tens of billions of dollars’ worth of property destruction the only way out here in the land of the free and home of the brave? Northern society in the U.S. has made a fine art of demonizing southerners. But racism doesn’t end at the Mason Dixon Line: Blacks were not allowed in Lincoln’s Illinois, and it was only a short time prior to the war, historically speaking, that slavery was abolished in the northern states. There was still segregation in (previously) northern states in the 1960s. Does anyone remember that Brown vs Board of Education was a law suit from Kansas?
It must be taken into account that between ninety and ninety-four percent (records are inexact) of all southerners owned not a single slave. Disregarding the moral question, if we only consider the practical and economic situation, it is obvious that slavery was economically detrimental to white labor and landowners who could not afford slaves or for moral reasons chose not to use them. And there were plenty of landowners who refused to take part in the institution. The abolition movement in the United States started in the south. Further, the industrial revolution would soon make slavery uneconomical even for the minority in the south that still supported it. The CSA (Confederate States of America) leadership supported ending slavery well before the end of the war. This included not only Jefferson Davis, but Generals Robert E. Lee and Joseph Johnston and others. (Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, Hattaway and Beringer, University Press of Kansas; (June 13, 2002).
Even Lincoln himself said that the war was not about slavery. While I believe, based on what I have read, that Lincoln abhorred slavery, still, he was a politician, and like all politicians, his principles were somewhat less than solidly planted beneath him. What was important to him was preserving the union and increasing the power of the national government. He said that if he could preserve the union by abolishing slavery, he would do it; if he could preserve the union by keeping slavery, he would do that. Whatever his personal views on the “peculiar institution,” the higher priority was a strong, national, plutocratic government based on a mercantile economic system.
From one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates: “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. And more:
“I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” (Abraham Lincoln, August 21, 1858, Ottawa, IL)
Dec 22, 1860: from a private letter – “Do the people of the south really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, there is no cause for such fears.”
“Free them [slaves] and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of them” (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (CW), Vol. II, p. 256).
“What I would most desire,” Abraham Lincoln also declared, “would be the separation of the white and black races” (CW, Vol. II, p. 521). “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races… I am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” (CW, Vol. III, p. 16).
“Senator Douglas remarked…that…this government was made for white people and not for negroes. Why, in point of mere fact, I think so too,” (CW, Vol. II, p. 281).
These and numerous other comments concerning slavery can leave no doubt that the war to prevent southern independence was never predicated on the question of slavery.
Lincoln is also famous for having the first meeting with a group of black men in the White House in 1862. What is less well known is the topic of “discussion.” In point of fact, records show there was no discussion; Mr. Lincoln lectured his guests then invited them to leave. He explained to them that, because of the inherent differences between the white and black races, they could never live together, and so he urged them to lead by example and colonize themselves in Liberia.
Lincoln supported the Illinois Constitution that prohibited the emigration of black people into the state, and also supported the Illinois Black Codes that stripped the small number of free blacks in the state of virtually any rights of citizenship.
Professor Campbell quotes an August 27, 1858 speech by Lincoln in which he said, “I have never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of Southern States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave Law” (p 189).
Even after he started the war, Lincoln was adamant that the fight had nothing to do with the question of slavery. When Union Army General Benjamin Butler offered to allow runaway slaves to remain free Lincoln insisted they be returned to their owners. Lincoln revoked orders given by Union generals to free slaves. For example, early in the war General John Freemont took Missouri, declared martial law, and declared that all slaves of owners who supported secession were free. Lincoln reversed the order. The following year Union General David Hunter issued an order that all slaves in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina were free. Again, Lincoln reversed the order.
Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, “runaway” slaves from those states not affected by The Great Emancipator’s famous proclamation were returned to their “owners.” Twelve days after its issue, four black women and three children were arrested in Maryland and returned by federal marshals to their “owner.” Six months later this was repeated with two black men. Remember, only slaves in rebelling states were “emancipated.” The proclamation didn’t affect slaves in non-rebelling states—those states over which Lincoln actually had some authority, even if unconstitutional.
It’s well-known that Lincoln eviscerated the Constitution during his presidency. Even Lincoln apologists admit as much. More, they praise him for it. Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus. He arrested tens of thousands of political enemies. He shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisoned their editors and owners without due process. Yet he continued to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. From Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, by Stanley W. Campbell (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1968/2011).
A fugitive slave named Harris, his wife, and two children were apprehended in Chicago on April 3  and sent to Springfield [Lincoln’s home town] for a hearing before a United States commissioner. Harris was owned by one man, his wife and children by another, both residents of St. Louis County, Missouri. After the hearing, the slaves were remanded to their owners and quietly returned to Missouri (p 188).
And for this the commander-in-chief was willing to unleash the dogs of war. Not to end slavery, but to maintain a union for the benefit of government and business plutocrats. The war wasn’t constrained to combatants, although most of those were conscripts. No, this was total war against the entirety of the people of the southern states.
From U.S. War Department publication, War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, as discussed in Walter Brian Cisco’s outstanding work of scholarship, War Crimes Against Southern Civilians: “Colonel Adin Underwood of Massachusetts described Sherman’s gratuitous bombing and burning of Atlanta after the Confederate Army had left the city as having burned to the ground “37 percent of the city” according to Sherman’s military engineers. This included many private homes and even churches.”
The Official Records also record how federal soldiers extorted money from Southern civilians by
demanding “insurance” payments to avoid having their homes ransacked and burned down. Because of this, southerners were hiding their valuables. “Let them do it if they dare. We’ll burn every house, barn, church, and everything else we come to; we’ll leave their families homeless without food; their towns will all be destroyed and nothing but the most complete desolation will be found in our track. “-Major James Austin Connolly (Lee Kennett, Marching Through Georgia, p. 279).
From Merchant of Terror: General Sherman and Total War, John Walters, p. 137). “Bothered by his inability to apprehend Confederate snipers who had been shooting at his railroad trains, he sent the following order to a General Louis D. Watkins: ‘Cannot you send over about Fairmount and Adairsville, burn ten or twelve houses of known secessionists, kill a few at random, and let them know it will be repeated every time a train is fired on?’”
Lincoln’s brutality extends well beyond the borders of the War for Southern Independence. As Commander-in-Chief, Lincoln was responsible for the actions of his Generals and armies in the wars against Native Americans to clear the way for White folk and the coming trains, from which Lincoln would profit handsomely. (He purchased land in Council Bluffs, Iowa where the Transcontinental Railroad would later have its eastern terminus.) The 1864 forced march of Navajo—more than 300 miles during the winter—resulted in the deaths of hundreds. They were then placed in a concentration camp (reservation) far from the ancestral lands. In the next four years over 10,000 would be placed in that camp and over 3,500 would die.
And this from John Toland’s biography of Adolf Hitler, “Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much , so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history.” Hitler was “very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations.”
And with all of this, Abraham Lincoln is the closest thing the United States has to a patron saint. It’s been said of him, “Lincoln died on Good Friday and died for America’s sins just as Christ died for the world’s sins.”
Jeffrey Tucker has said (http://dailyreckoning.com/lincoln-uncensored/):
Lincoln emerges as the consummate politician, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Political power was his driving principle. All else was malleable, words and rhetoric formulated as means to an end, and that end was centralization of the state. This is sadly true of his late-life sympathies to the abolitionist cause. They served his purposes well.
Americans only know the Lincoln presented in official histories or Hollywood movies. In these accounts, he is a champion of democracy, an apostle of racial equality, and a paragon of social justice. These are tales, however, of a man who never was.
Lincoln did not establish liberty in America; he unleashed terror on Americans. Lincoln shredded the Constitution; ignored the courts; obstructed free and fair elections; criminalized speech; outlawed dissent; refused to honor existing treaties with Indian nations; proclaimed women and children, the sick, and the elderly legitimate military targets; and waged an unprovoked and illegal war, which killed more than 600,000 Americans.
Edmund Wilson, quoted by Thomas DiLorenzo (http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/02/thomas-dilorenzo/the-regime-celebrates-its-birthday/): “It was Lincoln, Lenin, and Bismarck who did more than any other individuals in their respective countries to introduce highly centralized governmental bureaucracies. Lincoln did this in America by destroying the system of states’ rights and federalism that was created by the founding fathers by destroying the rights of secession and nullification. He destroyed the original American union and replaced it with a Soviet-style coerced union held together by mass murdering literally hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens for simply asserting the truth of the founders that the original union was voluntary, as described in Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution.”
Some people, even recognizing all this about our national saint, the one it is forbidden to criticize or even consider under the light of historical reality, still cling to the idea that he held the union together and ask where the world would be if the United States had remained a loose confederation of independent states, united only for their own security and self-defense as the Constitution designed.
To that, I’ll let Thomas DiLorenzo* reply:
Without U.S. entry into World War I, financed in part by the new national bank of the sort that Lincoln longed for his entire adult life, the European powers would have eventually settled their disputes, as they always had done in the past. There would have been no Versailles Treaty that pushed Germany into the hands of Hitler, and the Russian communists would have been much weaker. Consequently, there would not likely have been a World War II and a 45-year long Cold War that followed.
As a decentralized, federal system that had long ago abolished slavery peacefully, as all the rest of the world did in the nineteenth century (including New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc.) America would have been a counter-example to all the world compared to the centralized, socialistic bureaucracies that dominated the 20th century (especially Russia and China and all the other socialist countries).
America may well have not been transformed from a constitutional republic to an empire with military bases in more than 150 countries. Presidents and their propagandists would not have repeated the Lincolnian mantra that “all men everywhere are created equal” to “justify” foreign military intervention in hundreds of places in the name of “spreading democracy and freedom” (but in reality for the purpose of confiscating resources or imposing mercantilism on foreign lands by military force for the benefit of American corporations).
This is not “capitalism” but corporatism or neo-mercantilism. Real capitalism is a system of mutually-advantageous, voluntary trade and does not require imposition at the barrel of a gun.
The Confederate States could have formed their own government to manage their affairs and deal peacefully with the United States as does Canada, Mexico, and any other country.
If there had been a war needing the support of the Americas, the model of the United States working with England, France, Canada, and other allied countries could have worked just as well in partnership with the CSA. The USA and CSA could have had trade relations just as the United States does today with other countries. Had the south prevailed we might still have had some semblance of the Constitution and the government the founders envisioned. We might have seen World War I end after two years instead of being drawn out an additional two by U.S. blood and money. And we probably would not have experienced part two of that same conflict after a twenty-year respite. It’s all conjecture, but one can’t help wondering, what if…
One thing is certain, though: There was no reason for Mr. Lincoln’s unnecessary, murderous war.
* To Mr. DiLorenzo I owe much gratitude; his articles on Lew Rockwell.com have led me to most of the information cited in this article. My history education until well past university was one hundred percent “government approved.” It wasn’t until later that I began widening my horizons and Mr. DiLorenzo has been one of my main sources of information concerning nineteenth century U.S. history.