Lincoln. The Bastard.
Lewis J. Goldberg
I know - you're thinking "C'mon, Goldberg...tell us what you really think. Don't hold back." And that's what I intend to do here, by taking on some of our common American cultural myths:
The legacy of freedom and liberty established at the nation's founding ran through the laws and traditions of the Confederate States of America, not Lincoln's bastardized 'union.' "And what about that little slavery thing?" you say: Okay...I'll see your slavery and raise you Indian Massacres [more on that later.] Now let's take those two issues off the table and see what we've got:
"But, didn't Lincoln have to send in the troops to put down the rebellion?" No. What rebellion, anyway? If there was a rebellion, we'd have seen State Capitols sacked and Washington marched upon. The secessions of 1860-61 were done through the duly-elected officials of the respective states in a lawful and controlled manner - and not without a lot of discussion. In the U.S. Congressional Record, the Southern states are referred to as the "States in Rebellion," leaving one to guess who it is they are talking about - no lawful institutions of government having been overthrown in any quarter.
It is a matter of official record that Lincoln resisted every overture of peace given by President Davis' Government. "But didn't the South start it all by firing on Fort Sumter?" Technically, yes, the South fired the 'first shot,' but it was a shot that came with a warning prior: that any attempt to restock the fort with additional munitions or troops would be met with resistance. Lincoln promised he'd just re-supply their kitchen, and upon discovering that he lied, South Carolina proved true to their word. Simple as that.
Fact is, Lincoln couldn't accept peace on anyone's terms but his, because anything otherwise would mean independence for the South. The only road to peace for Lincoln was by conquest, and the only way to do that is to send in the troops - and send them he did.
The 'End' of Slavery
But wasn't the eradication of slavery worth it [as Chamberlain said in Gods & Generals?] The answer to that is no. It was not worth it - which is entirely different from saying that slavery wasn't worth eliminating, because it was. The global trend being against slavery, it would have been eradicated without a bloody war. We, of all nations, were the only one to allegedly have warred over this issue. The nasty secret is that we didn't. Our War was no more started to eradicate slavery than W.W.II was fought to give Eastern Europe to the Soviets. It's as crass an assertion as a kid who is joyful that his brother died so he can have his own bedroom. It all just sort of happened that way, and any attempt to link the War and Slavery serves only to whitewash the fact that nearly two-thirds of a million people had to die to keep Washington swimming in tax revenue. Institutionalized slavery started with politics, and was ended by politics - coincidentally at the conclusion of the most oppressive bloodbath this land has ever known.
That the end of slavery was Providential - by whatever means - is unavoidable.
But that's a different debate. We're talking here about individuals who must
bear responsibility for the misery and death they executed on a free people
- even their own flesh and blood. Pharaoh was used by God to show his glory,
but that doesn't mean that Pharaoh was not an evil man.
"Well, so what ... the North was the savior of the Black man anyway, wasn't it?" Sure...except for all the Northern states that had laws either prohibiting the entry of free Black men or limiting the amount of time they could stay within their borders. Of course, those laws had to be repealed, come the 14th Amendment. "Well, that just reflects the primitive attitudes of the people...Lincoln's government was surely sympathetic, right?" Right. Check out this gem from the Congressional Record:
Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full one hundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks; thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause, and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men. [Page 31 House Journal, Wed. 9 Dec. 1863 - emphasis mine.]
Modern translation: better them die in this thing than us. Yep. Real compassion.
The only good Indian is a dead Indian. --Gen. Phillip Sheridan 1868
No one stops to think about how ironic it is that we easily envision a nation of 22 million people putting their all behind elimination of the involuntary servitude of a race of primitives brought across the ocean, while at the same time massacring with glee the primitives who lived next door. If the shoes were on the other feet during the War, the South may have gloated "we fought to end Indian Massacres." But alas, history was not so kind to the Red Man.
Lets put all this in perspective: imagine herding all the blacks into a several thousand-acre tract in, say, Idaho. Tell them they have 'their own nation now,' but keep them enslaved to all but a few federal laws [just to make them feel 'free.'] Make sure there are no natural resources available, lest they actually make a good go of it. Is that Justice? Substitute any group - Jews, Christians, Italians...it doesn't smell very good with any other word but Indian in it, does it? Why was/is this tolerated?
Learning from History
There are many people, in the media and otherwise, making a good living trying to come up with the answer to fixing the ills of our dying republic. I have editorialised in the past that the search for solutions is fruitless if one does not recognise when and with whom the problem began. Truly, this nation began its descent during the War of 1812 - a time when, due to the limits of biology, the Founding Fathers were becoming increasingly unavailable to defend the 'original intent' of the documents and policies they crafted. The weaknesses in political theory and national policy promoted by men like Webster and Clay were later taught as doctrine and exploited by Lincoln at the very time that the vision of Clay's 'American System' was most threatened - with the secession of the Southern States.
Until we educate the masses as to the truth of what became of the nation founded
on July 4, 1776, nothing will ever change - and may in fact get a lot worse,
as we march further away from anything resembling the truth. But that is all
in God's hands, to work out for His glory. May He have mercy on us.