26 Mar 2014

HL Mencken on Lincoln

Libertarianism 192 Comments

I dug this up for something I wrote about Judge Napolitano, and wanted to make sure all of you knew about it. The following is HL Mencken reflecting on the Gettysburg Address:


The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost child-like perfection—the highest emotion reduced to one graceful and irresistible gesture. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

But let us not forget that it is oratory, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it! Put it into the cold words of everyday! The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — “that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i. e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all. Am I the first American to note the fundamental nonsensicality of the Gettysburg address? If so, I plead my aesthetic joy in it in amelioration of the sacrilege.

192 Responses to “HL Mencken on Lincoln”

  1. Jonathan Finegold says:

    I think the right to self-determination card is hard to apply, because the Confederates were denying that right to about 40% of the South’s population: slaves.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Excuse me, but not every southerner owned slaves.

      Your right to self-determination is not eradicated just because your neighbor is a criminal.

      • Bothered says:

        What about when you take up arms in defense of your neighbor’s criminal enterprise?

        • Andrew' says:

          You mean the crime that was still legal?

          • Andrew' says:

            Why does one have to point out the glaringly obvious logical holes in the zeitgeisty BS.

            The South thought the North might continue their self-interested advances against The South, including slavery.

            The North was not executing a no-knock warrant.

            Slavery was not illegal. It was very legal, and enforced by the North well into the war, just as Andrew Napolitano told the hack historians.

            • Ken B says:

              No, not ‘just as Andrew Napolitano’ said but quite differently from what Napolitano falsely claimed.

              What is with you people? There is a substantial point here, but you can’t just make it. You seem to think you have to defend false and inflammatory statements for the good of the team.

              • Andrew' says:

                You are wrong, Ken.

                Napolitano was correct.

                If you really think about it you will know.

                And I am 100% correct. And you are completely wrong.

        • guest says:

          Lincoln threatened the South; which wanted to be left alone.

          Dragnets are violations of individual liberty, so non slave owners had a right to defend themselves from that.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          What if you take up arms for your own right to self determination?

          • Benjamin Cole says:

            My only complaint about the Union’s prosecution of the Civil War was that Robert E. Lee was not horsewhipped to death after capture.

            How should we treat traitors, seditionists and foul tools of slave-owners?

            • Bob Murphy says:

              Imagine that, a pro-Lincoln guy in favor of torturing people to death.

              • Ken B says:

                So Bob, is that licence to say of JimS’s remark, “Imagine that, an anti-Lincoln guy who denies there even was slavery.”

              • Bob Murphy says:

                Ken B. wrote:

                So Bob, is that licence to say of JimS’s remark, “Imagine that, an anti-Lincoln guy who denies there even was slavery.

                If he said, “I deny there was slavery” then yes it would be fair. Just like I’m relying on what Ben Cole literally said.

              • Ken B says:

                You agree with JimS all the CSA states had constitutional bans on slavery? Because that’s what he said.

              • Benjamin Cole says:

                Okay, I retract the horsewhipping, but Lee should have been swiftly hung.

      • Jonathan Finegold says:

        The Confederacy seceded mainly over the slave issue, not because non-slave owning southerners thought that they were being oppressed by Washington D.C.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Excuse me again, but there were individuals in the soith who had the right to self-determination who did not own slaves.

          Self-determination is an individualistic activity. It does not mean “If enough people have slaves, then screw everyone’s right.”

          • Jonathan Finegold says:

            You’re missing the point. There were non-slave owning Southerners, sure, and they have a right to self-determination (we’ll assume everyone does). But, they’re not the main interest that launched the secession movement. The war wasn’t over their interests, it was over the interests of slave owning southerners.

            • Bothered says:

              Yup. And, unfortunately, war is nonexcludable in attack as it is in defense. There’s no way to attack only the vicious, violent criminals when they can raise an army of stupid young non-slaver-but-slavery-endorsing men to take up arms for a cause that’s harmful to themselves even apart from the massive costs of war

              • Ben B says:

                When is war ever about “attacking the vicious, violent criminals” from the perspective of those who have the power to actually initiate war?

            • guest says:


              But, they’re not the main interest that launched the secession movement.

              Any reason is sufficient for a secession movement, because the federal government merely has delegated powers.

              Any amount of slave-keeping motivation is irrelevant to the right to secede at any moment (same for individuals).

            • Ben B says:

              You mean “the secession wasn’t over their interests”, right?

              You said war as if it were the Confederate States that invaded the Union.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              That’s also wrong. Non-slave owning southerners also had an “interest” in seceding.

          • RPLong says:

            So then you must have no beef with any union soldier who was fighting specifically for abolitionism and not to deny southerners a right to self-governance.

            Right?

            • guest says:

              A dragnet is not “fighting specifically for abolitionism”.

        • Dan (DD5) says:

          I presume you already know that most here strongly object to that, so what’s the point of just asserting that as if it was self-evident or something?

        • knoxharrington says:

          That is just plain wrong. The South seceded because of the economic policies of the Whig/Republican Party which favored high tariffs and “internal improvements” among other things. Essentially the “Civil War” was yet another in a long line of battles between Federalists/Centralizers and Ant-Federalist/Decentralizers. I’m not saying slavery wasn’t a part but it was not the cause of the war. If you would have asked any of the northern soldiers if they were fighting to end slavery or preserve the union, well, you know what the answer is to that question. Lincoln himself was an inveterate white supremacist who said slavery, I’m paraphrasing, could last a thousand years as long as the union was preserved. The vast majority, as MF points out, did not own slaves but were fighting for the sovereignty of their respective state governments. We can argue over whether or not that was a good thing but making the war about slavery is a post hoc rationalization and no where near the truth. Lincoln was a Henry Clay guy all the way and supported the corrupt policies of the Whigs all the way. Lincoln was a hack and a scumbag – Mencken is spot on.

          • Ken B says:

            American politics for 40 years was about slavery. The high feelings were about slavery. John Brown and Dred Scot were about slavery. Sumner was caned over slavery, Kansas was bloody over slavery, states were created over slavery, printing presses smashed over slavery. But the war was about … Tariffs.

            Free Advice claims another victim.

            • knoxharrington says:

              “I’m not saying slavery wasn’t a part but it was not the cause of the war.”

              Ken B – just read Tyranny Unmasked which is southern representative critique of the report on manufactures and you will see that southern economic life depended on the ability of the south to export cotton and agricultural goods while the north wanted protected tariffs to engage in import substitution industrialization. Lincoln was a follower of Henry Clay and the Republican Party succeeded to the Whigs and the Hamiltonian view of the economy. I didn’t say slavery was not a part of causation but, rather, that the overarching concern of the south was their economic lifeblood. I don’t subscribe to a Manichean worldview here but Lincoln’s own statements concerning slavery indicate that he would have allowed it to continue as long as the south stayed in the union. Hell, he didn’t sign the Emancipation Proclamation until he was was sure the war would be won and he didn’t free slaves in loyalist areas of the south – read the proclamation in it’s entirety – it is breathtaking in its mendacity.

            • MR says:

              Sir do you differentiate slavery from slave power?

              John Brown killing Hayward Shepard seems like an odd way to advance the cause of black rights.

              As does the decision by Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis to abandon the black pioneers at Ebenezer Creek.

              As does Lincoln’s support of re-colonization.

          • Gene Callahan says:

            “The South seceded because of the economic policies of the Whig/Republican Party which favored high tariffs and “internal improvements” among other things.”

            Historical events never have A cause. But slavery was a huge part of the multi-faceted cause here.

            • skylien says:

              “Historical events never have A cause. But slavery was a huge part of the multi-faceted cause here.”

              Right. I think it would be much easier if libertarians would generally admit that part. As well as it would be much easier if those arguing against libertarians would also admit that with or without slavery in the south, the north would never have accepted secession.

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                Slavery was definitely one of the major contributing factors of the war.

                What do I win?

              • Ken B says:

                You win the “Finally, geez its like pulling teeth but you’re just one” grudging admission award.

              • skylien says:

                Ken B,

                Can I pull a teeth from you too? Can you admit the second of my claims above?

              • skylien says:

                *tooth*..

              • Ken B says:

                Skylien,
                when have I denied it? I have repeatedly said that abolition became a war aim only later in the war. It was not an intial *war aim*.
                Are you asking, had the south seceded and abolished slavery in one fell swoop would the north have accepted it? Almost certainly not.

              • skylien says:

                Not denying it is not the same thing as admitting it. It can spare you lots of futile discussions.

              • Ken B says:

                There’s nothing to ‘admit’ skylien. I have repeatedly say the north responded to the south’s lawless acts and aggressions initially with just the goal of restoring the union.

              • Ben B says:

                Ken B thinks that secession was unlawful because he thinks that it’s lawful for a handful of people to get together and create a “contract” that binds everybody not in the room as well as every person who does not yet exist into a particular system of law.

                Ken B, of course, in no way thinks that this forced monopoly is itself an act of “lawlessness and aggression”. Go figure.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B

                “Responded” huh?

                Like a thief who “responds” to would be victims who dare refuse to pay him.

                The north’s “response” was unjustified, because wanting to secede is not a violation of anyone’r rights in the north.

              • skylien says:

                Ken,

                “responded to the south’s lawless acts and aggressions ”

                doesn’t sound like

                “the north would have never accepted secession, no matter for what reason”

              • Major_Freedom says:

                skylien:

                It’s “aggression” to want to opt out of a contract signed by people 100 years earlier for lands they had no right to in the first place.

                Roddis is right. Ken B and his ilk have a completely warped and muddled understanding of intervention versus non-intervention, violence and non-violence.

                It’s like in their subconsciousness they are purposefully deluding themselves. I wonder if they even believe their BS.

                Wanting out of a relationship with people you never agreed to deal with in the first place is “aggression.” What a looney tune.

              • Ken B says:

                Skylien
                I’ll chalk it up to English being your second language but ‘responded’ is preterite not subjunctive ( konjunctive in German).
                It is simply a fact that the south aggressed first, and illegally. Lincoln responded. We can debate how well or appropriately, but not the chronological sequence.

              • knoxharrington says:

                “Aggressed first” by firing on Fort Sumter which the north had no right to following the legal secession of South Carolina. As stated, I think by Learned Hand in another context, “the Constitution is not a death pact.” MF (echoing Spooner) hit it right on the head – past generations can’t bind future generations to a contract to which they did not consent. Ken B – bust out some A. John Simmons in Moral Principles and Political Obligations and you will get all the information you need.

              • skylien says:

                Ken B,

                I have never argued about any chronological order. I have made a clear statement which I argue you don’t like to make. And obviously you like to emphasize a point about legality which I do not make as well.

                If you don’t see a fundamental difference in what I say and you say, and how my phrasing would spare you lots of discussion while yours provokes it literally (not to mention that you also make additional points about legality and who is the aggressor), then I can’t be of any further assistance.

                And I also really have no problems with your usage of “responded”.

              • skylien says:

                MF,

                That is what I think is so strange. It is one thing to think anarchy can’t work and therefore thinking a little bit of “enslavement” by the state which needs to be a democratic republic with lots smart checks and balances is necessary, and a completely different thing to think there is no aggression by the state at all and only those who want to withdraw are the true aggressors…

              • skylien says:

                I of course mean withdraw from the state to form their own state or no state at all…

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      Prior to the civil war, in which Northern States were free blacks allowed to vote?

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Right Jonathan, just like no one in the US ever approvingly quotes the Declaration of Independence, since the colonists owned slaves.

      • Jonathan Finegold says:

        Okay, but that is a hypocrisy that is usually slammed. And it’s a hypocrisy that was beginning to correct itself…in the North, not in the South.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          That is a textbook case of ad hominem tu quoque.

          Why do you fall for that Jonathan?

          • Bob Murphy says:

            MF wrote:

            Why do you fall for that Jonathan?

            MF why do you fall for having a “debate” with Ken B. on anything at all? What do you hope to accomplish?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Meaning the whole thread, not just that comment.

      • Ken B says:

        The Stephens speech I quote below is a direct explicit repudiation of that declaration.

    • Jonathan Finegold says:

      And a criticism of the defense of the South’s secession is not a defense of the Union’s policies. There is a conceivable “middle ground” that the civil war was a war between two governments that fell considerably short of the libertarian ideal of voluntary governance. But, that the North was “evil” is no reason to defend the South.

      This is a much more extreme (and charged — but, that’s not the point) example, suppose Bavaria has a right to do as they wish with their local Jewish population and they decide to kill them. Germany is expanding, and Bavaria is interested in expanding their Jew-killing policy to new territories, especially so that these new territories don’t strengthen the national vote against all Jew-killing policies. Germany is not interested in allowing that to happen, so Bavaria secedes so that it can protect Jew-killing. Is that really a secession based on the right to self-determination?

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        Nobody here has “defended” the south’s policies regarding slavery.

        What was defended was their right to secede from the union and form their own political association.

        Those are two different issues. The fact that they owned slaves does not automatically deprive them of the right to leave a political association that they entered into voluntarily with the express understanding that they COULD leave whenever they wanted.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          “Those are two different issues. The fact that they owned slaves does not automatically deprive them of the right to leave a political association…”

          Why not?!

          ” that they entered into voluntarily with the express understanding that they COULD leave whenever they wanted.”

          Both the federalist and the anti-federalists saw the new Constitution as denying this right. So: nonsense.

          • Hank says:

            The federalists and anti-federalists did not ratify the Constitution.

            Why are the ratifying conventions irrelevant to you?

        • Max says:

          The Confederacy was formed to militarily defend slavery from an anti-slavery President. It doesn’t make any sense to say they had a right to form a government to violently defend slavery, unless you also think they had a right to practice slavery.

          • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

            They had a right to self-determination. They did not have a right to slavery.

            Is it okay for a policeman to brutally torture you if you commit petty theft? Does committing one moral wrong automatically cause you to waive all other rights you would otherwise enjoy? And, as has already been mentioned, what about all the people who didn’t own slaves? What about the women and children who were raped, beaten, and forcibly starved to death in Atlanta?

            • Max says:

              “They had a right to self-determination. They did not have a right to slavery.”

              Slavery was not incidental. It was the reason for the Confederacy’s existence.

              • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

                The reason doesn’t really matter.

                Let’s say I have a right to a trial by a jury of my peers.

                But at the same time, you have a right not to be assaulted by me.

                I decide to assault you. Is it then fair for the government to deny me my right to a trial by jury? After all, the only reason I’m demanding that right is because I assaulted you, which I didn’t have a right to do. Therefore my other rights are now suddenly gone? Vanished?

                That’s not how it works in ANY other circumstance.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Not every Confederate owned slaves.

                Not every Confederate who wanted to secede and had a right to self-determination owned slaves.

                People owning slaves is no reason to prevent everyone else, including the unborn, from self-determination.

          • Hank says:

            How can the president be anti-slavery when he said he would allow the South to reinstate slavery if they rejoined the union?

            • Max says:

              Lincoln thought that slavery was an evil, said so repeatedly, and was firmly against the expansion of slavery.

              • Ben B says:

                Lincoln thought slavery was evil, yet he was willing to ignore it by supporting the Corwin Amendment?

              • Ben B says:

                Lincoln hated slavery so much that he legally defended a slave owner who was trying to get his “property” back.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                You didn’t answer the question.

            • Ken B says:

              It’s pretty easy actually. He accepted the rule of law.

              • Hank says:

                Except he failed to recognize the legal right for states to secede from the union.

              • Ben B says:

                Lincoln was so against secession and respecting the rule of law that he wanted to reunify the States, and then reunify all of the States with Great Britian. Geez, he was even willing to return his presidential powers to the British Parliament! That’s how much Lincoln respected the rule of law.

              • Ben B says:

                …and *For* respecting the rule of law…

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Not constitutional law, and certainly not NAP law.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            A criminal should be punished and/or sent to prison.

            The response of denying every individual’s right to secede is unjustified.

    • JimS says:

      I believe all of the CSA state constitution forbade slavery. The north, when it declared war did not prohibit slavery.

      Did youread the Mencken piece?

      • JimS says:

        Furthermore, what this really was about were the high tariffs the North were placing on Southern exports. They were economicaly strangling the South.

        It was never about slaves. You don’t risk your life for something that is 3/5ths of what you are (allegedly). All wars are over money. Money is the root of all evil.

        • Gene Callahan says:

          “Furthermore, what this really was about were the high tariffs…”

          BS: Look at what the southerners actually said at the time: Slavery!

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Not all fought to protect slavery. Lincoln offered to the southern secessionist states that they could keep slavery if they onky joined the Union.

            And yet they still fought.

            What does that tell you?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            And more importantly, any reason why a person or group of people want to defend themselves does not necessarily have to be the same reason why the attackers would attack.

            Possible:

            The North invaded the south for selfish reasons, i.e. high tariffs and control.

            The South defended itself for selfish reasons, i.e. to keep slavery.

            You’re talking like any reason why the South would defend and fight, MUST equal the reason why the North invaded.

      • Ken B says:

        Is this satire? You believe all the CSA state constitutions did what?

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        “I believe all of the CSA state constitution forbade slavery.” I don’t think that’s true at all. Slavery was legal in the south, and even guaranteed as a right in the Confederate constitutions. So how could it have been forbidden in the state constitutions? Do you have a source for that?

        • Keshav Srinivasan says:

          right in the Confederate constitution*

          • Ken B says:

            See also Bob’s obiter dicta on this, above.

            • Anonymous says:

              Bob just said “if”, so I’m not sure he actually saw JimS’s comment.

            • Keshav Srinivasan says:

              Bob just said “if”, so he may not have even read JimS’s comment.

              • Ken B says:

                Had Krugman said such a thing, what would Bob have said about the “if”?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                He would have been more fair than you?

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    Holy crap is Mencken a good writer.

    • guest says:

      I know, right?

      I mean, what the hell does the last sentence even mean?

      #mindblown

      (Seriously, I don’t understand the last sentence.)

      • guest says:

        OH!

        He’s saying he hopes his criticism of the Gettysburg Address will be a little better received by its admirers if he says he likes the way it sounds.

        I couldn’t figure out what he was referring to when he mentioned “sacrilege”.

      • knoxharrington says:

        It means the joy he has in pointing out the stupidity embodied in the Address is tempered by the fact that everyone should already know what drivel Lincoln trolled out and that Mencken shouldn’t have been the first.

        Obviously, a brilliant writer and I can’t even approximate his prose.

    • guest says:

      Are he and Mary Shelley related?

      Cuz they’re both show offs. Heh.

      • Rick Hull says:

        You should read Sean Corrigan. He’s delightful.

        • guest says:

          This part was awesome:

          Make Ourselves Miserable Now
          by Sean Corrigan
          http://mises.org/daily/3075/Make-Ourselves-Miserable-Now

          … though we all routinely suffer wants that far exceed our means to satisfy them, most of us have reluctantly come to accept that it is our earthly lot to have to forego some delights in order to sample a range of others — an epiphany we reached somewhere between becoming fully toilet trained and realizing that Santa Claus was only a figment of a toy salesman’s fertile imagination.

  3. Bothered says:

    “What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg?”

    …Besides ending slavery?

    • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

      It ended the slavery of blacks and implemented slavery (by ending self-determination) on white southerners. Emancipated slaves and enslaved free men. Sounds like a good book title!

      • Bothered says:

        The white southerners were poor, stupid, and easily manipulated by the wealthy slave-owning elite, harshly constrained by an oppressive and severely immoral set of social norms that left then disenfranchised, unemployed, and marking blacks as acceptable targets for their rage and shame.

        The Confederate government banned secession for obvious reasons. It instituted a draft in 1862, throwing away lives for the sake of maintaining the slave society that enabled a few to live like kings at the expense of the rest. The average white southerner was not fighting for the right to self-determination, he was fighting because he had been whipped up by ideologues, his uneducated mind assaulted by propaganda, and, of course, because his friends were doing it. Look at how sedate Republicans were when GWB was in power, and then when Barack Obama was elected to carry on his legacy, they turned bitterly against the same policies they had once cheered for. There’s no consistency, no rhyme nor reason to political battle. It is a matter of group decision-making in a way that might escape a narrow-minded and half-educated type of libertarian, and the idea of attributing to the Confederate soldiers the mindset of defending self-determination is about as sensible as saying that the warfare- and welfare-addicted Republicans are opposed to Obama on the grounds of individual liberty and small government.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          “The white southerners were poor, stupid, and easily manipulated by the wealthy slave-owning elite, harshly constrained by an oppressive and severely immoral set of social norms”

          Good thing that can never happen to you.

          But feel free to ignore the point I’m making, which is that BOTH SIDES can be wrong, especially if we’re dealing with two different issues.

          The fact that slavery is wrong has nothing to do with the fact that secession is a moral right.

          The fact that the Confederacy explicitly prohibited secession is irrelevant. It’s the difference between being drafted (which most of the soldiers on BOTH sides were, BTW) and joining the military voluntarily.

          Let me be as clear as I possibly can about this:

          The Confederacy was evil. Slavery is morally reprehensible. In addition to slavery, they supported a lot of the same anti-freedom policies the North did, including a military draft, protectionist tariffs, and a command-and-control economy.

          But that doesn’t mean the union side is automatically good. They were evil too. They engaged in conscription on a large-scale, were also quite racist, and engaged in open total warfare on the civilian population of the south. Their policies led to decades of poverty in the South, as well as the creation of the Imperialist American state which itself has been responsible for countless evils in the century and a half since.

    • guest says:

      Ending slavery by enslaving everyone?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Free range slavery for everyone and the unborn forever is justified if it means ending some people’s non-free range slavery on others today…

        I guess.

      • Bothered says:

        Because not being able to leave the plantation is exactly like not being able to declare a patch of ground no longer the sovereign territory of the government.

        • guest says:

          A patch of ground can never be the sovereign territory of any government.

          Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, for one.

          But second, if I don’t own something, I can’t delegate ownership to a third party. So the concept of any kind of “public good” – including land – is unjust on the basis that it violates individual rights.

          • Bothered says:

            Ok.

            I wonder if you were given a choice between being a “slave” in the antebellum sense of the word and a “slave” in the modern libertarian sense of the word, you would find yourself indifferent, content to flip a coin to decide?

            • Ken B says:

              Bothered, you what they hate here evewn worse that the Gettysburg Address? The 14th amendment. Just ask them about it, and see.

              • guest says:


                Just ask them about it, and see.

                A black man’s view on Ron Paul being racist Part 1
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6sYZxZi4qQ

                The Squalid 14th Amendment
                http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig/healy1.html


                Though the Northern states ratified the Fourteenth Amendment, it was decisively rejected by the Southern and border states, failing to secure the 3/4 of the states necessary for ratification under Article V.

                As one Republican described the situation: “the people of the South have rejected the constitutional amendment and therefore we will march upon them and force them to adopt it at the point of the bayonet.”

            • guest says:

              Southern Slavery: Two Systems of Management
              http://www.garynorth.com/public/12193.cfm

              One hundred and sixty miles down the Red River lived the richest slave owner in Louisiana. He was the most beloved slave owner in America — beloved by his slaves, not his peers. His name was John McDonogh.

              THE FORGOTTEN MAN

              He alone among all the slave owners in the South for over 200 years devised a system that made his slaves incomparably efficient. They were so efficient that he ceased to have any responsibility for managing his plantation, including all of the rental properties that he owned. The slaves did everything. They worked like maniacs. They literally ran from job to job. Another slave owner wanted to buy one of them. He was willing to pay $5,000 — in the range of $100,000 in today’s money. McDonogh refused to sell. He had a secret.

              McDonogh went public with his system in 1842. He published an account of how he did it in a local New Orleans newspaper. After two decades of secrecy, he decided he might as well share the secret. The secret was simple: he offered his slaves a way to buy their freedom. It took about 14 years. They had to work hard. They had to be reliable. He discovered that they became so efficient that, at the time that he released one of them, he could afford to buy two more from the added income he gained.

              He did not sell that slave for $5,000, because the slave was not his to sell. There was a lien on the slave. That lien was held by the slave.

              McDonogh found a way to free his slaves, and get phenomenally rich by doing it. He did this at the same time that the author of Twelve Years a Slave was living up the Red River.

              … he taught them to read. He taught them basic accounting. Then he showed them, one by one, how their capital was building. They could see how much longer they would be slaves. They could see deliverance in the numbers.

              In 1857, the state of Louisiana made this illegal. It passed a short law.

              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Rspresentatives [sic] of the State of Louisiana in General Assembly Convened, That from and after the passage of this act no slave shall be emancipated in this state.

  4. scineram says:

    The Confederates went into battle an absolutely free people; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and vote of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that vote was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely any freedom at all.

    Rich. He was a nut, just like the Judge.

    • Andrew' says:

      I’ve changed my mind. Your articulate argument has convinced me.

  5. Andrew' says:

    This isn’t that hard. Slaves were not considered full peoples. The 3/5ths part might be your first hint. Then they gradually became considered thus. Unfortunately, wars don’t happen as gradually as zeitgeist.

    It was awfully convenient for the North to make the transition faster, considering they needed tariff protectionism and were not dependent on slavery, because the reason they needed tariff protectionism and the reason they didn’t need slaves was their burgeoning industrialization.

    So, certainly, NOW it is easy to fault slave owners for hypocrisy in desiring self-determination, it would have been harder in 1860 and nearly impossible a few years before that for darn near obvious reasons that we have to keep pointing out to tenured history professors at ivy league universities.

    • guest says:

      Just a friendly observation:

      Understanding the 3/5 compromise…
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxoV9q3UPbc

      • Andrew' says:

        The point is that if they were assumed equals they wouldn’t be slaves in the first place and would have had a full vote.

        There wasn’t much in the way of non-race-based slavery.

        • guest says:

          The 3/5 compromise was about the States’ representation in Congress, not about the relevance of the opinions of the individual voters, black or white.

          Representation is based on the number of people in the State. If the South had no slaves, but also no more people than were not slaves, they still would have had a problem with ratification, since they didn’t have as many people living in their States.

  6. Andrew' says:

    The goal-posts are moving even faster here than they have for extreme weather events.

    Now we are down to “but hey, at least the slaves were kind of sort of free after the war Lincoln didn’t turn down.”

  7. Ken B says:

    ” it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. ”

    This is moral idiocy on stilts.

    Another politician of that error, one whose vision is embraced by too many in the “Libertarian” fringe, gave a speech on this question:
    “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

    • Andrew' says:

      A wonderful example of whiggishness. Bravo!

      • Ken B says:

        Tell me again Matt M that ‘no-one here’ defends the South in it’s views on blacks and slavery.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          Who here has defended slavery? Please name names.

          Saying that the confederates fought for the right of people to govern themselves is not the same as saying “The Confederacy was morally justified to implement slavery.”

          Blacks weren’t allowed to “govern themselves” in the North for the most part either. Were conditions for blacks better in the North than in the South? Sure. But I’m not sure what that has to do with anything we’re talking about here.

          • RPLong says:

            Every side of every conflict fights for “the right of people to govern themselves.” The question is FOR WHICH people do they fight?

            For the South, it obviously wasn’t the SLAVES’ right to govern themselves, and this is the whole point. Tyranny comes in many shapes and sizes. Why in the world does anyone think the south had a more authentic claim to self-governance?

            • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

              If the North’s primary objective was to ensure that black people could govern themselves, why didn’t they invade Brazil?

            • guest says:


              For the South, it obviously wasn’t the SLAVES’ right to govern themselves, and this is the whole point.

              Then TARGET the slave owners. Leave other people alone.

              • RPLong says:

                Or target anyone in a grey uniform pointing a gun at someone in a blue uniform. That’s how war works. I agree that it sucks, but how naive can you be?

              • RPLong says:

                Also, you missed my point. If the north is wrong not to target the slave owners, then whatever southerner who fought on the side of the slave owners is also wrong for exactly the same reason. This is the whole point. You fight alongside racists at the expense of slaves and guess what: you’re defending slavery.

                It doesn’t matter what other noble causes you think you’re attached to.

              • RPLong says:

                And sorry to pull a Daniel Kuehn here by posting three times in succession, but I really want you to think about this.

                Lincoln’s critics often accuse him of using the trappings of racial equality to justify a power-grab. Why does that same criticism not apply to southerners who used the language of self governance to justify their crimes against humanity?

                You simply can’t have it both ways. This debate is as stupid as it always has been and always will be. Ken B’s right.

              • guest says:

                The non slave-owning Southerners had a right to target the North’s army because it was a dragnet.

                You don’t have to support slavery to have a legitimate reason to band together with those who do, in defense of a State’s right to secede.

                Besides, it’s CENTRALIZATION that tends toward slavery, to begin with – not a free’er market:

                Jim Crow: Government Against Market Forces
                http://archive.mises.org/13502/jim-crow-government-against-market-forces/


                From page 111 of the 1918-1919 Negro Year Book, published by the Tuskegee Institute and edited by Monroe N. Work:

                Railroads Attack Validity
                Separate Car Laws.
                The Supreme Court of Tennessee in a decision rendered in March, 1918, relative to white and Negroes being served in dining cars upheld the validity of the separate car laws of the United States, providing separate cars for white and Negroes. In December, 1918, the validity of the Kentucky law for the separation of races on trains was attacked in appeals to the Supreme Court by the South Covington and Cincinnati Street Railroads and the Covington and Erlanger Railway Company. These companies had been convicted in the lower courts for failing to provide separate coaches or compartments for Negroes.

                Racism and discrimination can be expensive, and one of the only ways they can be maintained successfully is if bigots have access to political institutions that allow them to impose enormous costs on others at relatively trivial costs to themselves.

              • guest says:


                Why does that same criticism not apply to southerners who used the language of self governance to justify their crimes against humanity?

                I never said that it didn’t apply.

                But the right to secession is a separate issue.

              • Ben B says:

                Unfortunately, the blue uniforms didn’t just shoot at the grey uniforms. They shot at anything and everything from Atlanta to Savannah.

              • guest says:


                Unfortunately, the blue uniforms didn’t just shoot at the grey uniforms.

                I am not familiar with that. Please continue.

        • Andrew' says:

          You are 100% wrong again Ken.

          • Andrew' says:

            Hey everyone else, how does Ken’s lack of understanding of his own Whiggishness have anything to do with my opinions on the matter?

    • guest says:

      The Lincoln-Douglas Debates 4th Debate Part I
      September 18, 1858
      http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1048


      … and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

      – Abraham Lincoln

    • Eduardo Bellani says:

      “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 white and black 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 which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
      — Lincoln, Abraham; http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/american-authors/19th-century/abraham-lincoln/the-writings-of-abraham-lincoln-04/

      A manichean world view is a very poor lens to view history. The confederacy was an evil organization, in the sense that an organization can be evil. So was (and is) the Union. The libertarian case is for neither. It is for the right to change your mind, and to not abide for nonexistent contracts, and to secede from said evil organizations.

      Every state needs its myths to survive, since the state is nothing more than a huge con operation, as LaBoetie has already shown so long ago. Lincoln is one of the major global myths, since politicians from around the globe use his examples and his aura in order to empower their own myths. We should keep that in mind whenever this topic comes up.

      • Ken B says:

        Interesting that you guys keep bringing up this quote as if it were relevant. Let’s stipulate that Lincoln was a stone racist. So what?

        Fact it appears he was not. The quote that you trot out endlessly is a carefully crafted politicians answer given while he was running for office. Notice it does not say that blacks are inherently inferior. But as I noted above, it doesn’t really matter whether Lincoln was a racist or not. He believed in principles of the Declaration of Independence, and he was antislavery.

        • Richie says:

          “He believed in principles of the Declaration of Independence, and he was antislavery.”

          No he didn’t.

        • Hank says:

          “Fact it appears he was not. The quote that you trot out endlessly is a carefully crafted politicians answer given while he was running for office.”

          I think its extremely interesting that, even with faced with direct evidence, you still cannot concede he was racist. If I were to say those words, you would without a doubt call me a racist, and rightly so.

          Abolishing slavery was good. Of course Abe stated that he would allow the South to keep slavery if they rejoined the union. Obviously, following this, Abe’s interests were outside of slavery. Abe was plainly interested in anti-secessionism. That is all. How a person can believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and be against a State’s movement for independence is beyond me.

        • Eduardo Bellani says:

          “Interesting that you guys keep bringing up this quote as if it were
          relevant. Let’s stipulate that Lincoln was a stone racist. So what?”

          So it makes the motives of the man clearer. That is one of the ways
          history is practiced, by understanding motives through evidence.

          “Fact it appears he was not. The quote that you trot out endlessly is a
          carefully crafted politicians answer given while he was running for
          office. Notice it does not say that blacks are inherently
          inferior.”

          He makes it clear that he thinks blacks are inferior. You must have
          read a different quote than the one I posted. And please, do read up
          on cognitive dissonance. I believe you are experiencing it regarding
          this subject because of the way you try to create a complicated
          scenario to explain what is better explained by a simpler scenario.

          “But as I noted above, it doesn’t really matter whether
          Lincoln was a racist or not. He believed in principles of the
          Declaration of Independence, and he was antislavery.”

          It matters to the discussion of this whole thread, which is partially
          about Lincoln’s motives and beliefs.

          And by the way, you did not addressed any of the points I made on my
          comment. I must say I’m not surprised, unfortunately.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Ah yes, when Lincoln’s racist quotes are cited, he was lying for political power. When his non-racist quotes are pulled, that’s when he was honest.

          Lincoln was not anti-slavery. He was pro-union.

          “… and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

          – Abraham Lincoln

          Lincoln believed blacks to be inferior to whites. Physical differences that preclude equality is Lincoln saying blacks are inferior.

    • Tel says:

      This is moral idiocy on stilts.

      Hey Ken, just remind me how the voting situation worked under Lincoln. While we are talking about “government by the people” who did Lincoln regard as “people”… exactly?

      I want to sort out a few of these details.

      • Ken B says:

        Hey Tel, remind where I discussed that. I selected a claim and called it moral idiocy. Did you read that claim?

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Punts!

        • Tel says:

          Something about the quote “the right of their people to govern themselves” makes me think voting is relevant.

          And there’s another quote too, “government of the people, by the people, for the people” which came from some famous speech… the sort of speech that might be a blog topic.

  8. kay says:

    The Gettysburg Address had no crypto-coding embedded within it. It was straightforward and needs no revisionism, thank you very much.

  9. joe says:

    The states gave up sovereignty when they ratified the US Constitution. The Constitution is not merely a treaty between sovereign states. Self-determination was surrendered when the slave states voted to join the Union. Many concessions were made to the slave states. The 3/5ths clause gave the southern voters more power than the northern voters (as defined by ratio of those eligible to vote and representatives in the House and electoral college).

    The problem with HL Mencken’s critique is that he is accepting as true the argument that Lincoln knew to be false which is that the Constitution permitted unilateral secession.

    • guest says:


      The states gave up sovereignty when they ratified the US Constitution.

      The problem with HL Mencken’s critique is that he is accepting as true the argument that Lincoln knew to be false which is that the Constitution permitted unilateral secession.

      That’s just false:

      Declaration of Independence
      http://www.constitution.org/us_doi.htm


      That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

      But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

      The Federalist No. 28
      http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa28.htm


      If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. The usurpers, clothed with the forms of legal authority, can too often crush the opposition in embryo. The smaller the extent of the territory, the more difficult will it be for the people to form a regular or systematic plan of opposition, and the more easy will it be to defeat their early efforts. Intelligence can be more speedily obtained of their preparations and movements, and the military force in the possession of the usurpers can be more rapidly directed against the part where the opposition has begun. In this situation there must be a peculiar coincidence of circumstances to insure success to the popular resistance.

      The Federalist No. 46
      http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa46.htm


      But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm. Every government would espouse the common cause. A correspondence would be opened. Plans of resistance would be concerted. One spirit would animate and conduct the whole. The same combinations, in short, would result from an apprehension of the federal, as was produced by the dread of a foreign, yoke; and unless the projected innovations should be voluntarily renounced, the same appeal to a trial of force would be made in the one case as was made in the other.

      Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes.

      • Gene Callahan says:

        Not one of these quotes has ANY bearing on the fact that the Constitution eliminated the states as sovereign entities.

        • Hank says:

          Not according to the understanding of those who signed the Constitution. Look at the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

        • skylien says:

          Gene,

          If slavery of black people would have been written into the constitution would you argue the same thing? “Sorry blacks, as a matter of fact it is in the constition now.. And no, it doesn’t matter that you didn’t sign it yourself, and not ANY quote of ANY black man has ANY bearing on it…Your sovereignitiy is with you masters”

          • skylien says:

            *is with your masters*

          • skylien says:

            omg.. *Constitution* of course..

  10. RPLong says:

    You guys have GOT to stop talking about the Civil War. The North fancied itself liberators of the negro and the South fancied themselves defenders of small government. Both sides were deeply morally flawed.

    Imagine yourselves living through that period of time. Better yet, imagine it were happening right now, and Nancy Pelosi were on one side and John Boehner on the other. Who do you think would be right? Who do you think you’d like to go down in history as a supporter of?

    If you choose ANYONE, ANY politician, then you’re a fool. This revisionist history fantasy that some of you hold involves the fatal flaw of assuming away the deep moral flaws of one group of people so that you can either laud or lambaste the other side, as the case may be.

    It’s politics, folks. It was ugly then and it’s ugly now. By choosing sides with politicians, you’re only lowering yourselves to their level.

    • guest says:

      John Boehner is a boob.

      And so is Rand Paul:

      EPJ’s Rand Paul Resource Page
      http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2013/03/epjs-rand-paul-resource-page.html

      Regarding your scenario, though, it IS kind of happening now, and BOTH Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner support the policies that enable it:

      Race and Economics
      http://archive.lewrockwell.com/williams-w/w-williams95.1.html


      During the 1930s, there were a number of federal government interventions that changed the black employment picture. The first was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which mandated minimum wages on federally financed or assisted construction projects. During the bill’s legislative debate, the racial objectives were clear. Rep. John Cochran, D-Mo., said he had “received numerous complaints … about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.” Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., complained: “Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. … That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.” Rep. William Upshaw, D-Ga., spoke of the “superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor.” American Federation of Labor President William Green said, “Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.”

      The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 broadened the number of workers covered by minimum wages, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries. Good intentions motivate most Americans in their support for minimum wage laws, but for compassionate public policy, one should examine the laws’ effect.

      Both Democrats AND Republicans support the Minimum Wage.

    • Ken B says:

      They cannot Ryan. Witness Roddis’s long pointless extracts below. They just cannot. Bob will be back at in a new posting before you can say “deranged obsession.” I have theories why, as I expect you do, but there’s little point in mentioning them. It’s just worth noting again how little such “Libertarians” care about the actual liberty of anyone else.

      • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

        Wrong again. Libertarians care about the liberty of EVERYONE else. That means two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • Dan says:

        ‘Bob will be back at in a new posting before you can say “deranged obsession.”’

        You’re such a loser. You comment constantly on any post that has anything to do with the Civil War, and you want to talk about a “deranged obsession.” There’s something seriously wrong with you, man.

        • Richie says:

          “You comment constantly on any post that has anything to do with the Civil War…”

          Actually, he comments constantly on anything, usually with some stupid, lame attempt at humor. He interjects incessantly.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        LK provides a useful service in finding poorly worded statements [all of them] by libertarian masters. I fail to see any useful service provided by Ken B and wonder why anyone bothers to respond to his harassment.

      • Richie says:

        “It’s just worth noting again how little such “Libertarians” care about the actual liberty of anyone else.”

        Projection alert!

        • Bob Roddis says:

          how little such “Libertarians” care about the actual liberty of anyone else.”

          Other than striving for the end of all violence against every innocent person on the planet, we’re heartless to the core. What’s the point of engaging this guy? Really?

  11. skylien says:

    Can we all agree that there would have been better more subtle and less brutal ways to deal with southern slavery? At least as first steps? War isn’t the first measure that comes to my mind at least..

    And can we also all agree that it doesn’t matter what would have been the reason for secession of the south? The north wouldn’t have accepted secession not even if the south had stopped slavery instantly by itself and seceded anyway…

    • guest says:


      The north wouldn’t have accepted secession not even if the south had stopped slavery instantly by itself and seceded anyway…

      True:

      Letter to Horace Greeley by Abraham Lincoln
      August 22, 1862
      http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1057


      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.

      • Andrew' says:

        Bullshit.

        We can’t actually believe the horse’s mouth.

  12. Bob Roddis says:

    I just received my copy of “The Slavecatchers” by Stanley W. Campbell, pp. 189-190:

    The nation had been engaged in Civil War less than three months before the Union government was forced to find some solution to the problem created by fugitive slaves. As early as May 27, General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding general at Fortress Monroe, reported to the War Department that slaves worth sixty thousand dollars had come within his lines. Three of the slaves were the property of a Confederate colonel in command of the rebel forces in the region, and, under a flag of truce, Butler was asked if he did not feel bound by his “constitutional obligations to deliver up fugitives under the Fugitive Slave Act.” Butler replied that the Fugitive Slave Law did not apply to “a foreign country, which Virginia claimed to be,” and refused to give them up.

    The matter was reported to Washington, and Secretary of War Simon Cameron sent explicit instructions to General Butler with regard to the disposition of fugitive slaves. Cameron said:

    It is the desire of the President that all existing rights, in all the States, be fully respected and maintained. The war now prosecuted on the part of the Federal Government is a war for the Union, and for the preservation of all constitutional rights of States and the citizens of the States in the Union. Hence no question can arise as to fugitives from service within the States and Territories in which the authority of the Union is fully acknowledged. The ordinary forms of judicial proceedings, which must be respected by military and civil authorities alike, will suffice for the enforcement of all legal claims.

    *******************

    Finally Butler was ordered neither to “authorize or permit any interference, by the troops under your command, with the servants of peaceful citizens, in house or field, nor will you, in any way, encourage such servants to leave the lawful service of their masters; nor will you, except in cases where the public safety may seem to require it, prevent the voluntary return of any fugitive to the service from which he may have escaped.”

  13. Bob Roddis says:

    Realizing the importance of the problem to the border states, President Lincoln was forced to intervene when one of his generals exceeded his authority. On August 30, 1861, General John C. Fremont instituted martial law throughout the state of Missouri and declared that the property of all persons taking up arms against the United States would be confiscated and their slaves freed. In a letter to General Fremont on September 2, Lincoln overruled the proclamation and requested that the order be made to conform to existing law. The Slavecatchers p. 191

  14. Bob Roddis says:

    It soon became apparent to many of the fugitive slaves residing in the Union that they were by no means free from arrest as fugitives from service or labor. On January 23, 1861, a fugitive slave girl named Lucy, arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, was remanded to her owner and returned to Virginia. A fugitive slave named Harris, his wife, and two children were apprehended in Chicago on April 3 and sent to Springfield 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. The reaction of the Negro communities in Illinois to these arrests was not quiet. As a result of the arrests in Chicago, a veritable stream of fugitives laves headed for the Canadian border. On April 8, 106 fugitive slaves were counted boarding the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad. Their destination was Canada and freedom from arrest. About three hundred Negroes passed through Detroit the same day, most of them from Illinois. In Cincinnati, a Negro named George Lee was arrested by a United States marshal and taken before the United States commissioner without opposition. Following the hearing, he was remanded to the custody of his claimant and taken across the river to Covington, Kentucky to await return to his owner in Clarksburg, Virginia [April 10, 1861]. Despite the fact that the states of the Deep South had seceded from the Union, and confrontation between the North and South was imminent, the Fugitive Slave Law was still being enforced by the federal marshals. The Slavecatchers p. 188

  15. Bob Roddis says:

    In his inaugural address, President Lincoln once again disclaimed any intention of interfering with slavery in the states. The president had not changed his mind with regard to the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the states, nor had his views about the Fugitive Slave Law changed. On August 27, 1858, Lincoln had expressed his view of the Fugitive Slave Law. Although he wished that some of the more controversial features of the law had been amended, 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.” Congress took a similar position about interference with slavery on July 22, 1861 when it adopted, “almost without dissent,” the Crittenden resolution. In that resolution, the Congress declared that “this war is not waged . . . in any spirit of oppression or for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, or . . . of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established institutions” of the states which had seceded from the Union. Rather the purpose of the war was “to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all the . . . rights of the several States unimpaired.” The Slavecatchers pp. 188-189

  16. Bob Roddis says:

    Secession may not have been explicitly about tariffs but the northern invasion was. Lincoln’s first inaugural address:

    I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and, to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself.

    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.

    http://www.ushistory.org/documents/lincoln1.htm

  17. Bob Roddis says:

    Lincoln, March 1861:I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen, 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.

    • Dan says:

      Is this the “must read” book for Lincoln haters that Tom Woods was cherry picking his data from?

      • Bob Roddis says:

        It’s from the “must read” Lincoln inaugural address given after the first 7 states seceded and before he pissed off the 4 that refused to secede the first time by an unconstitutional presidential call for troops to go and collect tariffs.

        http://www.ushistory.org/documents/lincoln1.htm

        My quotes have put to rest the “cherry picking” idea.

    • Ken B says:

      Roddis leaves out context, of course with hsi bolding. Lincoln is discoursing on his intentionas as president. He is not listing his policy ‘drothers. He is talking about what as presiedent he will object to and oppose or accede to. Here is a bit more context ahn Roddis provided, but read the whole thing.

      “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember, or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy, and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor, rather than oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.

      I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject, propositions, originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such, as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution — which amendment, however, I have not seen, 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.

      The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this also if they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor.”

      It’s clear that he menas that whatever decision is constitutionally made re slavery he will enforce, but he has earlier said in this speech that unilaterl secession is unconstitutional.

      A lawyer who ran for the supreme court of Michigan should be able to read that aright and must know he’s twisitng. Dan Kuehn is right about Roddis I think.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        “I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor, rather than oppose, a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it.”

        Lincoln’s actions contradict the content of this passage.

        • Matt M (Dude Where's My Freedom) says:

          Come on MF, we all know that George W. Bush was not an imperialist warmonger. Don’t you remember during the Presidential debates when he SPECIFICALLY SAID he didn’t want the troops to be used for nation building? Does it GET any clearer than that, you idiot?

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Ah, the Ken B logic. Like the kind typically found in software during electrical storms.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        Does the “B” in Ken B stand for “Black Knight”?

        The Corwin Amendment, when viewed through the lens of the plain meaning rule (literal rule), would have, had it been ratified by the required number of states prior to 1865, made institutionalized slavery impervious to the constitutional amendment procedures and immune to abolition or interference by Congress.

        ************

        Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, said of the Corwin Amendment:

        I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—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….holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

        Just weeks prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Lincoln sent a letter to each state’s governor transmitting the proposed amendment [so I guess that Lincoln finally SAW it], noting that Buchanan had approved it.

        ****************

        On May 13, 1861, the Ohio General Assembly became the first to ratify the amendment. Next was the Maryland General Assembly on January 10, 1862. Later that year, Illinois lawmakers—sitting as a state constitutional convention at the time—also endorsed the amendment.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corwin_Amendment

        • Major_Freedom says:

          “I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.”

          B-b-b-but Lincoln was against slavery!

          • Bob Roddis says:

            What should we think about these present day people who, without any basis whatsoever, so vociferously deny the undisputed racism of the Union states?

      • Bob Roddis says:

        So that Ken “Black Knight” B does not accuse me of taking things out of context, here is a big blown up copy of the Corwin Amendment passed by a Congress which no longer contained the original seven seceding states:

        http://tinyurl.com/k3zz6m5

        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.

  18. Bob Roddis says:

    When Lincoln took the presidential oath in 1861, letting the lower South secede in peace was a viable antislavery option. At the moment of Lincoln’s inauguration the Union still retained more slave states than had left. Radical abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, had traditionally advocated northern secession from the South. They felt that this best hastened the destruction of slavery by allowing the Free states to get out from under the Constitution’s fugitive slave provision. Passionately opposing slavery and simultaneously favoring secession are therefore quite consistent. Yet hardly any modern account of the Union’s fiery conflagration even acknowledges this untried alternative.

    Revisionist Civil War historians at one time argued that slavery was economically doomed. Economists have subjected that claim to searching scrutiny, discovering in fact that American slavery was profitable and expanding. But as Eric Foner [on Jon Stewart’s panel] has perceptively noted, “plantation slavery had always been both a political and economic institution. It could not have existed without a host of legal and coercive measures designed to define the status of the black laborer and prevent the emergence of competing modes of social organization.” In the United States these measures included restrictions on manumission, disabilities against free blacks, compulsory slave patrols, and above all fugitive slave laws.

    Slavery was doomed politically even if Lincoln had permitted the small Gulf Coast Confederacy to depart in peace. The Republican-controlled Congress would have been able to work toward emancipation within the border states, where slavery was already declining. In due course the Radicals could have repealed the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. With chattels fleeing across the border and raising slavery’s enforcement costs, the peculiar institution’s final destruction within an independent cotton South was inevitable.

    Even future Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens had judged “slavery much more secure in the Union than out of it. Secession was a gamble of pure desperation for slaveholders, only attempted because the institution clearly had no political future within the Union. The individual runaway both helped provoke secession—northern resistance to fugitive recapture being a major- southern grievance—and ensured that secession would be unable to shield slavery in the end. Back in 1842, Joseph Rogers Underwood, representing Kentucky in the House of Representatives, warned his fellow Southerners that “the dissolution of the Union was the dissolution of slavery.” Why? “Just as soon as Mason and Dixon’s line and the Ohio River become the boundary between independent nations, slavery ceases in all the border states. How- could we retain our slaves, when they, in one hour, one day, or a week at furthest, could pass the boundary?” Once across, the slave could “then turn round and curse his master from the other shore.” Nor would the peculiar institution’s collapse stop at the border states. “Do you not see that sooner or later, this process would extend itself farther and farther south, rendering slave labor so precarious and uncertain that it could not be depended upon; and consequently a slave would become almost worthless; and thus the institution itself would gradually, but certainly, perish?”

    Just such a process later accelerated the demise of slavery in Brazil.

    Jeffrey Rogers Hummel

  19. Bob Roddis says:

    For example, a large number of contraband Negroes had fled to Cairo, Illinois. Seeking help for them, Brigadier General T. W. Tuttle wrote to Mayor Sherman of Chicago, saying: “I have a large number of applications from your city for negro servants. Will you appoint a committee to see that they are properly put out to work? Will send as soon as the committee is appointed and I am notified.”

    Mayor Sherman seemed to be horrified at such a suggestion, and to Tuttle’s letter he quickly replied: “Your proposition to send negroes to Chicago to work would be ,in violation of the laws of this State, and a great injustice to the laboring population. I cannot give my consent by appointing a committee as you propose, or in any other way.” The Slavecatchers p. 193

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I think war could have easily been avoided, the north could have offered sanctuary to the runaways slaves, the northern economic juggernaut would have buried the slave south with their prosperity and 100+ years of Jim Crow might have been avoided.

  20. Benjamin Cole says:

    Oh, P.U.

    My only complaint is the Robert E. Lee was not stripped and horsewhipped to death after capture. The guy was a traitor, a seditionist, and foul tool of slave-owners.

    Some causes are stupid and unjust. That was the Confederacy.

    • Bob Roddis says:

      I think that the “Confederacy” was stupid and unjust. The issue is what should have been done about it.

      • Mark Bahner says:

        “I think that the “Confederacy” was stupid and unjust. The issue is what should have been done about it.”

        Absolutely. And here’s what should have been done:

        1) Lincoln should never have invaded the South. He should have given up all federal government forts in the South, and demanded compensation for them.

        2) He should have asked Congress to come up with a payment scheme for slave owners in all of the states, It would be based on ownership as reported in the 1860 Census.

        3) He should have encouraged Congress to come up with a payment scheme for slaves in states remaining in the Union of something like: 5x market value for 1 slave; 3x market value for each additional slave up to 4 slaves; 1.5x market value for slaves 5-20, and 0.3 times market value for slaves above 20.

        4) He should have encouraged Congress to come up with a payment for the *secession* states, provided they rejoined the Union, of something like: 3x market value for owners of 1 slave, 2x market value for each additional slave up to 4 slaves, 1x market value for slaves 5 to 10, 0.1 times market value for 11 to 20, and zero for any slaves over 20.

        The offer to pay those who only owned less than 5 slaves much more than price, whereas hugh slaveowners nothing or almost nothing, would have turned those who owned few or no slaves against large slave owners. And those who owned no slaves would also have been against large slaveowners.

        • Richie says:

          This would have also encouraged slave owners with many slaves to free them.

        • guest says:

          Unintended consequences of government intervention in the form of taxing others to subsidize those with 5 or less slaves:

          Either:

          More people enslaving 5 people,

          Or:

          Those who enslave more than 5 people making their slaves work for those who get subsidies for having less than 5; And the more slaves you have, the more likely you’re going to get offered the project.

          It would be better to have the government out of the economy, altogether.

          • Mark Bahner says:

            “Unintended consequences of government intervention in the form of taxing others to subsidize those with 5 or less slaves:

            Either:

            More people enslaving 5 people,”

            That couldn’t be an unintended consequence, because the payout would be based on slaves as counted in the 1860 Census.

            “Or:

            Those who enslave more than 5 people making their slaves work for those who get subsidies for having less than 5.”

            It’s a one-time payment made to buy the freedom of slaves. (Except slaveholders in Secessionist states don’t gat anything for slaves over 20 in number.)

            So it’s not a continuing “subsidy” for slaves.

            “It would be better to have the government out of the economy, altogether.”

            So what is your solution? The southern states have seceded. You’re President Lincoln. What do you do?

            In my proposed solution, slaves in both the South and the North are freed fairly quickly, hundreds of thousands of people on both sides don’t die, and the union is brought back together without resentments. Except on the part of the owners of large numbers of slaves…who are the scum of the earth, and so who the hell cares about their resentments?

  21. Ivan Jankovic says:

    Karl Marx to Abraham Lincoln:
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/iwma/documents/1864/lincoln-letter.htm

    Sir:

    We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.

    From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver?

    Lord Acton to Robert E. Lee:
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/828843/posts

    “I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. The institutions of your Republic have not exercised on the old world the salutary and liberating influence which ought to have belonged to them, by reason of those defects and abuses of principle which the Confederate Constitution was expressly and wisely calculated to remedy. I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”

  22. Bob Roddis says:

    Both Indiana and Ohio adopted new state constitutions in 1851. Indiana adopted the harshest and extensive racial restrictions on free blacks of any state constitution at that time. The 1851 Constitution continued to withhold the right to vote from free blacks. Article 2, Section 5:”No Negro or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”

    Nor could free blacks serve in the Indiana militia. Article 12, Section 1 restricted militia service to “able bodied white male persons.” Nor could free blacks enter into contracts; and white people who employed free blacks were subject to fines. Article 13, Section 2:

    “All contracts made with any Negro or Mulatto coming into the State, contrary to the provisions of the foregoing section, shall be void; and any person who shall employ such Negro or Mulatto, or otherwise encourage him to remain in the State, shall be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.”

    But it didn’t end there. The money collected from those fines was to be used only for colonizing free blacks to some other part of the world. Article 13, Section 3:

    “All fines which may be collected for a violation of the provisions of this article, or any law which may hereafter be passed for the purpose of carrying the same into execution, shall be set apart and appropriated for the colonization of such Negroes and Mulattoes, and their descendants, as may be in the State at the adoption of this Constitution, and max be willing to emigrate.”

    And the most severe restriction of all was the blatant prohibition that forbade blacks from entering Indiana. Article 13, Section 1 states, “No Negro or Mulatto shall come into or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution.”

    There was no welcome mat for free blacks in prewar Indiana. The free black man could not settle in Indiana; he could not work in Indiana; he could not enter into a contract in Indiana; he could not vote in Indiana; and he could not serve in the militia in Indiana. The only thing he could do was leave. Moreover, the 1851 Constitution made provision to finance his departure.

    “Lincoln Uber Alles – Dictatorship Comes to America” by John Avery Emison pp. 57-58

  23. Bob Roddis says:

    Oregon also adopted its state constitution in 1857. This was submitted to and approved by Congress and signed into law by President Buchanan in 1859. It contained numerous blatant discriminatory provisions.

    Article II, Section 2 restricts the franchise to “white male” citizens. If the meaning of this language is not plain enough, there is another section of the same article that leaves no doubt. Article II, Section 6: “No Negro, Chinaman, or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”

    Article XV, Section 8 further limits the rights of Chinese:

    “No Chinaman, not a resident of the State at the adoption of this Constitution, shall ever hold any real estate, or mining claims or work any mining claims therein.”

    However, it is Article I, Section 35 that contains the most sweeping, restrictive language in the history of state constitutions:

    “No free Negro, or Mulatto, not residing in this State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this State, or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; and the Legislative Assembly shall provide by penal laws, for the removal, by public officers, of all such Negroes, and Mulattoes. and for their effectual exclusion from the State, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ, or harbor them.”

    In Oregon, by constitutional restriction, free blacks could not visit, settle, work, own property, enter into contracts, or have access to the courts. These restrictions are for the “effectual exclusion from the state” of free blacks. This is what the Constitution of Oregon said when it was approved by Congress for statehood. It was the only state ever admitted to the Union that had a raced-based exclusion law in its constitution at the time of admission.

    “Lincoln Uber Alles – Dictatorship Comes to America” by John Avery Emison pp. 59-60

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