17 Mar 2014

Tom Woods Offers a “Surprising” Fact about Lincoln the Hater of Slavery

Tom Woods 74 Comments

I think it’s safe to say that Americans are taught from a young age that Abraham Lincoln despised slavery, and had no choice but to wage a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people. In that context, then, it’s rather surprising that his Administration continued to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law even after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued. (HT2 Bob Roddis)

74 Responses to “Tom Woods Offers a “Surprising” Fact about Lincoln the Hater of Slavery”

  1. Major_Freedom says:

    If the Feds returned escaped slaves to Louisiana, then that would mean the Feds returned escaped slaves to the “south”.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      Yes, but was that Napolitano’s intention? If so, why would it even be worth mentioning the word “South”? I think what he was trying to say was that Lincoln was so pro-slavery that he was willing to send slaves back to the Confederate states, even though they were at war with the US. And that claim is incorrect.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Actually I was thinking about some claims being made in a previpus post that slaves being returned to the “south” was wrong, and claims that Woods is a liar because he allegedly deliberately left that word out.

  2. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Tom Woods seems to be mistaken about what the claim was that Andrew Napolitano made that led the panel of historians to shout “That’s not true.” This is what Napolitano said:
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-11-2014/the-weakest-lincoln (at the 5:15 mark)
    “The president used federal marshals to chase down slaves that had escaped and return them to the South during the Civil War!”
    The claim wasn’t about enforcement of the fugitive slave law in general, it was about enforcement of the law for slaves from the South.

    • Major_Freedom says:

      That is Woods sais, isn’t it?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Sorry, meant to write

        That is what Woods said, isn’t it?

        • Keshav Srinivasan says:

          No, he didn’t mention that Napolitano was talking about returning slaves to the South.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            He mentioned Napolitano mentioning returning slaves to their masters.

            Who cares if it was North or South?

            Geez. Ken B got into a hissy fit because Napolitano said “South” when he allegedly shouldn’t have.

            You’re now claiming the issue that Napolitano said south but Woods didn’t explicitly say “south”.

            WHO CARES whether it was north or south? The issue is slaves being returned by federal marshals to their masters AT ALL.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            I mean, should we quibble over the fact that Woods didn’t say what Napolitano said using Napolitano’s accent? Or that he “failed” to explicitly mention he meant negro slaves?

            Who cares if Woods said slaves returned to their masters while Napolitano said slaves returned to their masters in the south, or vice versa? You guys are totally missing the big picture here, which is returning slaves in the first place.

            • Bob Roddis says:

              The issue at hand is the MOTIVATION and STATE OF MIND of Lincoln and the North during the war.

              The undeniable evidence was that Union courts in Lincoln’s D.C. were ordering NORTHERN slaves returned to NORTHERN slaveholders after the Emancipation Proclamation.

              Splitting hairs on that one is just another win for the good guys.

              • Ken B says:

                So are you conceding that your original statement was false? I’m not asking you to concede the substantial point. I’m asking do you concede that what you said was false?

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Did you concede you were wrong to claim Napolitano was wrong to say “returned slaves to the south

          • Ken B says:

            Right. The pilot title made inflammatory and untrue claim. The historians said “that’s not true”. That is all they had time to say. Woods portrays them as saying that the fugitive slave act was not enforced during the war, a position not of them stated & which I doubt any of them have ever held. Woods does this in an attempt to discredit them, by misrepresenting what they actually said.

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

              Ken B,

              When the historians said “That’s not true,” do you believe their intent was to clarify that the fugitive slave act WAS in fact still enforced and fugitive slaves WERE inf act still returned to Kentucky, but they were NOT returned to “the south” as in, Mississippi, and that they would have clarified this if only Jon Stewart allowed them more time?

              • Ken B says:

                I believe it is impossible to say with certainty that they meant to imply the fugitive slave act was not enforced. I expect all historians of the period know the fugitive slave law was enforced during that time period. I know it and i’m not a professional historian.
                I am about 99.99% certain that at least two of the historians new it. I am 100% certain that it is unfair and inaccurate and misleading to replace Napolitano’s claim with one he did not make and assert blandly that those same historians contradicted that one.

              • Ken B says:

                Lokk Matt. Had Woods said “well the exchange was brief and confused. But there’s a really important point here. Lincoln had this fugitive slave act enforced in areas under his jurisdiction to return slaves to loyal slaveholders and he did it up until 1863.” Then we would not be having this discussion. That’s what Woods would’ve said Hedy wanted to make substantial point. What he wanted to do was to play the old game of oh let’s discredit the critics. And incidentally in so doing indirectly support Napolitano’s inflammatory but incorrect claim for rhetorical purposes.

                So, Bob Murphy, had Woods stuck to the facts there be no issue here. He did not.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Your flailing about is an absolute tragic joy to watch.

              • Major_Freedom says:

                Ken B:

                You’re only upset with how Woods said it.

                What you claimed he should have said, would not have changed the point he did make.

                The critics on the game show were wrong. They said “That’s not true” to Napolitano’s correct claim that Lincoln’s fed marshals returned slaves to their masters.

                Flail, flail, come flail away, come flail away with me…

            • Major_Freedom says:

              No, Woods is rightly claiming that Napolitano’s point was correct, which makes the “That’s not true” knee jerk reaction false.

              Are you going to admit you were wrong and that slaves were indeed returned to the south?

              • Bala says:


                You are asking for too much.

          • jamhandle says:

            The border states are all “the south”, except for missouri.

            So yeah, if you’re returning slaves to them, you’re returning them to “the south”.

    • Ken B says:

      Exactly. And that was wrong so Foner et al were right.

    • andrew' says:

      Lincoln said he wouldn’t attack slavery. The south didn’t believe him. They should have.

      Lincoln thought the secessionist rhetoric was election posturing. He didn’t believe it. He should have.

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

    Honestly, the amount of evidence that Lincoln didn’t give a crap about slavery is so abundant and overwhelming that it doesn’t make any sense for us to even bother having this debate. “The science is settled” so to speak.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      So then what was the reason that the South seceded when Lincoln won, and why did he support the Thirteenth Amendment?

      • Major_Freedom says:

        I think it was a combination of reasons, all under the umbrella of “we do not want you to control us”

        • Ken B says:

          “Or how we treat Negroes.”


          • Major_Freedom says:

            The North were full of racist slave owners too.

            You’re deluding yourself Ken B.

            Anyway, glad you can at least tacitly admit that the invasion was about economic and political control, and not abolishing slavery.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            Ken B:

            I think a good lesson you need to learn is this:

            What the southern state leaders might have thought was a good reason to defend themselves against invasion from the north, is not necessarily the reason the northern state leaders invaded the south.

        • andrew' says:

          Because the South was economically dependent on slavery and the North recently wasn’t. That’s all.

          The Republicans wanted to hurt the South and the South said they would prefer to be independent and thought Lincoln’s election was the last straw and their last chance. They seceded and Lincoln invaded.

      • Tel says:

        Lincoln was smart enough to understand that men would fight for the opportunity to be free. Thus his army was swelled and he won the war.

  4. Bob Roddis says:

    I think it’s a much worse indictment of Lincoln and the North that these slaves were returned to their “owners” in Union states pursuant to court orders of Union states and D.C., all after the Emancipation Proclamation (which only applied to areas NOT under Union control).

    Again, the central point should be that the North was racist to the core and the main reason the Union government INVADED the seceding states was to keep the south from engaging in free trade with European suppliers who could/would undercut Northern suppliers absent a 50% tariff. The abolition of slavery was a war measure employed to undermine the southern resistance.

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

      Also – transforming the war from a struggle over local self-government to a crusade against slavery was a big deal in STOPPING the European powers from actively supporting the South during it.

    • andrew' says:

      His slavery motions were to bribe border states or calculatwdcto hurt the south but measured not to offend allies. The moral crusade emphasis was adopted after he was in a war because he was in a war so he could motivate troops and leaders. It’s understandable. I don’t understand why some people don’t understand. It was war. You do what it takes. That is what makes war bad. That’s why you don’t do it just because you have a moralistic bug up your ass. And they didn’t
      He did it to “preserve The Union” also known as destroying the union.

  5. joe says:

    Lincoln never used federal marshals to return slaves to the South. Woods is relying on a discredited book by Stanley W. Campbell written 40 years ago. Dilorenzo did not even use this book in his anti-Lincoln book (The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850-1860).

    You can try to take Lincoln’s “pro slavery” statements into a modern day context and perhaps convince a few idiots that Lincoln was not anti-slavery. However, the fact is that the slave states opposed Lincoln during the election and left the Union when it was clear that Lincoln was going to be the President of the United States.

    Here is the irrefutable fact. Slavery was legal before Lincoln was president and it was illegal when he was assassinated by someone who resented Lincoln for freeing the slaves. The 13th Amendment was ratified shortly after Lincoln was murdered. Lincoln freed the slaves.

    • joe says:

      just to be clear (The Slave Catchers: Enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law, 1850-1860). is Campbell’s book.

    • Ben B says:

      “…the fact is that the slave states opposed Lincoln during the election and left the Union when it was clear that Lincoln was going to be the President of the United States.”

      All the slave states left the union?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “Lincoln never used federal marshals to return slaves to the South.”

      So the newspaper was lying then?

      “Woods is relying on a discredited book by Stanley W. Campbell written 40 years ago. ”

      Discredited by whom? How?

    • Bob Roddis says:

      Discredited by whom? The complete lack of online reviews is generally circumstantial evidence of powerful evidence against statist orthodoxies.

      I just found an old copy online for $15 including shipping so I ordered it.

      The only “review” of the book I could find was this:

      I used this book as the basis for my book on my book analysis for AP American History, and it helped. The book was a little difficult to read BECAUSE OF THE LARGE NUMBER OF EXAMPLES PUT INTO THE TEXT, but besides that, it was put together into well defined sections and was very useful.


    • Major_Freedom says:

      Lincoln was not anti-slavery.

      “Slavery was legal before Lincoln was president and it was illegal when he was assassinated by someone who resented Lincoln for freeing the slaves.”

      Here’s fact. Personal home computers did not exist before the Summer of Love. Personal home computers existed after. Think about it.

      • Ken says:

        The internet did not exist after Al Gore was born. The internet did come into existence after Al Gore was born. Therefore, Al Gore is the inventor of the internet! It finally makes sense!

        • Major_Freedom says:

          Terrorism was less of a problem before joe was born.

          Terrorism is more of a problem after joe was born.

          This game is fun.

      • Keshav Srinivasan says:

        “Lincoln was not anti-slavery.” Major_Freedom, are you really denying that Abraham Lincoln supported the Thirteenth Amendment?

        • Ben B says:

          Lincoln was pro-political power more than he was anti-slavery.

          Lincoln was also pro-Corwin Amendment which would have allowed the States to constitutionally protect themselves from the dissolution of slavery in these States.

          The thirteenth amendment was part of a series of amendment called the “Reconstruction Amendments”. One could “support” the amedment without being against slavery, but pro-reconstructing the South according to ones own political and cultural vision. I’m not saying that Lincoln want anti-slavery, but supporting legislation that is anti-slavery doesn’t mean one is necessarily against slavery.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          There is no evidence that Lincoln had any significant assistance in getting the 13th amendment of 1865 passed.

          In fact, there is evidence that Lincoln did assist in getting an earlier 13th amendment passed in 1861, now known as the Corwin amendment, which would have barred the Feds from ever intervening in southern slavery.

          Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, noted:

          “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 . . . . [H]olding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable“.

          Lincoln then later instructed New York Senator William Seward, who would become his secretary of state, to get the amendment through the U.S. Senate.

          Lincoln also instructed Seward to get a federal law passed that would repeal the laws in some of the Northern states that were used by those states to nullify the Fugitive Slave Act, which by the way Lincoln strongly supported.

          Keshav, your knowledge of the history of Lincoln is a sham. You’ve been duped. We were all duped in school. we were duped the same exact way North Koreans are duped into believing Kim Jong Il once shot a perfect game in golf.

          It’s called state sponsored social engineering. Incentives. Moral hazard. Power.

        • Ivan Jankovic says:

          Do you know that Lincoln supported before the war the first version of the 13th amendment,which was to constitutionalize slavery FOREVER, by making any subsequent abolition impossible (that kind of protection has only one provision of the US Constitution – equal representation in the Senate).

    • andrew' says:

      Joe doesn’t understand the topic.

      Slavery did not require moralistic military crusades for abolition.

      Slavery lasts longer in places where slavery is more endemic to the economy.

      The north and england were totally fine with it as long as it benefitted them. Then they weren’t when it didn’t.

  6. 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

  7. Major_Freedom says:

    Off topic, but I found a video of thugs hired by rich people storming into a dorm room:


    This is what Ken B has been claiming he’s afraid of the most.

  8. Gamble says:

    I thought the Civil War was about abusive taxes and the right to secession?

  9. Max says:

    Why do you say that Lincoln “wage[d] a war that killed hundreds of thousands of people”? If one side is clearly in the wrong, it’s customary to attribute the war to that side. The rule is that you blame the bad guys for wars, not the good guys. The South were the bad guys.

    • Ben B says:

      Why can’t they both be the bad guys?

    • Ben B says:

      Did Sherman’s march to the Sea only involve attacks against the bad guy slave owners?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      Sometimes wars have two sides of bad guys, and the good side is the third side.

      The South were bad guys. The North were bad guys.

      The innocent people caught in the cross fire, were the good guys.

    • andrew' says:

      Because Lincoln was the bad guy.

      You are saying the south had no right to secede. They had that right, just not enough troops.

      A union is foremost for national defense from invasion. Not a protection racket threatening invasion BY the union.

  10. andrew' says:

    Napolitano gets a B+.

    Racial Slavery is the worstest thing in the ever, except a lot of other things like civil war, oppression, loss of the American experiment, etc.

    A B+ is good.

  11. andrew' says:

    Why did the north wait so long to invade to stamp out the scourge of slavery? If it was such a moralistic crusade?

    Ask some questions folks. Brains are a thing.

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

      Indeed. If the purpose of the war was to eradicate the moral evil of slavery, why on Earth would they wait for the South to secede to do that? Wouldn’t it have been easier while the South was still part of the union and hadn’t undertaken significant preparations to support itself as an independent nation?

      • Andrew' says:

        I know how Scott Sumner feels now.

        We were past this nonsense.

        • Andrew' says:

          As in, of course you are right.

          And freeing the slaves in the south in the war is like closing the barn door with the horse gone in more ways than one.

          He didn’t do it for the North at that time. Awfully convenient for a guy whose primary objective was freeing slaves.

          Odd to free them where he no longer has authority, but leave them alone where he did.

          Of course, some of us mulled this over a decade ago and some people are hearing this for the very first time and have to update their 7th grade understanding of history.

      • Ken B says:

        Since no-one has ever argued that was the purpose of the war …
        No matter how many times you guys repeat your strawman they remain straw.

        • Andrew' says:

          Wrong. Again.

          Lincoln attacked when the south seceded. Not before. Not later. Then.

          Lincoln had not freed the slaves on inauguration day.

          You are wrong. Dead stop.

          Make any argument. You’ve made none.

          • Ken B says:

            Are you kidding? Because your comment is so completely unrelated to mine yet is clearly intended as a rebuttal. No-one argues that the North fought the civil war for the “purpose” of abolishing slavery. That eventually became a war aim, but not at first, and no-one here has argued otherwise. It’s Matt M’s strawman.

            • Andrew' says:

              Rebuttal of what? You made no comment.

              I still can’t tell what you mean.

              • Andrew' says:

                Okay, let me get this exactly straight.

                You are saying that noone is claiming that Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves?

                This might be even easier than I thought.

                The original Daily Show contention was that the civil war was a requirement to end slavery.

              • Richie says:

                I believe what Ken B. is arguing is that while slavery may not have been the cause of the war, slavery would still exist today without it.

              • Ken B says:

                Saying it was a ‘requirement to end slavery’ (your words) does not imply the original *purpose* was to end slavery.

                “The spread of sysphills tthroughout Europe would not have happened without Atlantic crossings.”
                “SO, you’re saying the purpose of Atlantic crosings was to spread syphilis?”

              • Ken B says:

                Yes, or at least it would have lasted a long time and not just vanished quickly.

              • Andrew' says:


                Noone would argue something that asinine, except maybe that history professor on that panel.

              • Andrew' says:

                That’s speculative.

                And what you are calling a strawman is the entire reason this debate is happening.

                So you are creating your own strawman by trying to make the debate about some vague definition of how long slavery would have lasted.

                Why did end very quickly in places that were not invaded? Cuba- 1867?

                Again, yes, because Europe and the North specialized in the non-slave parts of the economy, the south found it harder to eliminate slavery on the North’s preferred timeline. So the what?

  12. Andrew' says:

    I just watched their stupid game show and I have good news.

    Professional historians at major universities may be more horrible than certain commenter here!

    They were wrong in either the facts or the spirit on every single question, including the one mentioned here.

    The one dufus compares the civil war deaths to the centuries long slave trade. That’s dumb.

    The other dufus says that basically since slaves had babies that slavery couldn’t be phasing out…tell the North that one.

    Clearly Napolitano, on a game show, meant Virginia or other border states. It would be both silly and irrelevant to return slaves to someone you are at war with. The point of the debate was how much abolition was the direct cause of the war. Returning slaves to anyone undermines that just fine.

    I just remembered why I gravitate to economics.

    Are we really arguing over a gotcha on a taped live fake game show?

    • Andrew' says:

      Oh, and then the one guy says “and the $3B to buy the slaves was more than some such was willing to pay.”

      He doesn’t address the part where, oh by the way, the war cost double that.

      Economists > Historians

      • Andrew' says:

        As if you’d have to buy them all lump sum. Are tenured professors really this dumb? Seriously?

      • Brian says:

        I forgot about that part. That was ironic to say the least. “It would have cost $3B… but no one was willing to sell (at that price)…”

        Maybe Ken B could at least agree that statement from the eminent prof makes no sense. If no one was willing to sell at that price, then the $3B figure isn’t corrent (the number would need to be higher).

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