Abraham Lincoln: The facts

From my point of view as someone whose ancestors came to Australia chained up in the holds of sailing ships, America's two civil wars -- the war of independence being the first -- are quite appalling. Australians achieved all the same ends without a drop of blood being spilt. We were just more patient and less driven by religiously-based absolutism. The excerpts below are from the editor of America's "Patriot Post"

The Founding Fathers established the Constitutional Union as a voluntary agreement among the several states, subordinate to The Declaration of Independence, which never mentions the nation as a singular entity, but instead repeatedly references the states as sovereign bodies, unanimously asserting their independence. The states, in ratifying the Constitution, established the federal government as their agent -- not the other way around. At Virginia's ratification convention, for example, the delegates affirmed "that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to injury or oppression." Were this not true, the federal government would not have been established as federal, but instead a national, unitary and unlimited authority. Notably, and in large measure as a consequence of the War between the States, the "federal" government has grown to become an all-but unitary and unlimited authority.

Our Founders upheld the individual sovereignty of the states, even though the wisdom of secessionist movements was a source of great tension and debate from the day the Constitution was ratified. Tellingly, Hamilton, the greatest proponent of centralization among the Founders, noted in Federalist No. 81 that waging war against the states "would be altogether forced and unwarranted." At the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton argued, "Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself?"

Yet Lincoln threatened the use of force to maintain the Union in his First Inaugural Address, saying, "In [preserving the Union] there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority." Lincoln may have preserved the Union geographically (at great cost to the Constitution), but politically and philosophically, the concept of a voluntary union was shredded by sword, rifle and cannon.

In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln employed lofty rhetoric to conceal the truth of our nation's most costly war -- a war that resulted in the deaths of some 600,000 Americans and the severe disabling of over 400,000 more. He claimed to be fighting so that "this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." In fact, Lincoln was ensuring just the opposite by waging an appallingly bloody war while ignoring calls for negotiated peace. It was the "rebels" who were intent on self-government, and it was Lincoln who rejected their right to that end, despite our Founders' clear admonition to the contrary in the Declaration....

The second of Lincoln's two most oft-noted achievements was ending the abomination of slavery. It has come to be understood that this calamitous war was the necessary cost of ridding our nation of slavery, yet no other nation at the time required war to do so. In fact, the cost of the war itself would have more than paid for compensatory emancipation, giving each slave 40 acres and a mule -- all without bloodshed....

Little reported and lightly regarded in our history books is the way Lincoln abused and discarded the individual rights of Northern citizens. Tens of thousands of citizens were imprisoned (most without trial) for political opposition, or "treason," and their property confiscated. Habeas corpus and, in effect, the entire Bill of Rights were suspended. In fact, the Declaration of Independence details remarkably similar abuses by King George to those committed by Lincoln.

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