Lessons from Lincoln

Olivia's picture
Submitted by Olivia on Fri, 2017-12-08 07:55

By Olivia Pierson

In 1858, when Abraham Lincoln accepted the nomination to run against the Democrat Stephen Douglas for Illinois State Senator (a race which Lincoln lost), he gave his famous “House Divided” speech drawing on a biblical metaphor to illustrate the most pressing moral and economic issue facing his country at the time - black slavery.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.” [Abraham Lincoln, June 16th 1858 - Springfield]

After his loss, Lincoln could not have had any possible inkling that in just over two years he would be elected America’s first Republican president, the one who would unite the new Republicans and the old time Whigs with the moderate Democrats into a uniquely new party with two central principles at its core:
- that the spread of slavery into new states must be halted
- and that the Union must not be dissolved.

In the months between Lincoln’s election and his taking up the reins of government, seven Southern states seceded and the Confederacy was born. Highly aware of the intense volatility of the threatened Union, and also knowing that Southern federal forts were in urgent need of being resupplied with food and reinforced with new troops, Lincoln delivered his First Inauguration speech which contained the very essence of his policy:

“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.”

The powers granted to Lincoln were, of course, constitutional powers. All governmental institutions and property were vested in his hands to preserve, protect and defend, including the institution of slavery, no matter how much he loathed it. He would leave the Southern states alone, so long as they remained peaceful in their affairs toward the Union.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it.”

Lincoln finished his speech with a profound and elevated appeal to patriotism and friendship which has yet to be bested by any orator. Knowing what we now know about the brutality of the Civil War, evidenced by Lincoln's heartfelt letter to a mother who lost five of her sons, it is a challenge for anyone who bears the noble title of 'Human Being' to read it without coming close to a tear:

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Two months later, Democratic Confederate forces bombarded Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, for 34 hours when Lincoln sent ships in to resupply the Union garrison stationed within it. Thus the four-year long Civil War was officially ignited by this gunpowder-embellished rebel yawp to Lincoln, “Not Our President!”

This week film director Steven Spielberg claimed that America is facing similar times to those leading up to the 1861 Civil War. He said:

“The gray and the blue have become the blue and the red, and it is as vast a chasm as our nation faced before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In light of Spielberg once making an absolutely riveting film about Lincoln pushing through his Emancipation Proclamation into federal law, I expected he might’ve offered at least one insight from this momentous time in history. Disappointingly, he offered instead only a parallel between President Trump and the disgraced former President Nixon, emphasising what he considers to be both men's suppression of the media. Spielberg was so taken with this false parallel that he swiftly got into gear to make a new film, titled The Post, a story about the journalists who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post - papers which detailed America’s less than heroic involvement in the Vietnam War during Lyndon Johnson's administration.

Spielberg seems to be wholly unaware that President Trump has allowed more access to himself by the media than any other president in history - especially African American President Obama. The fact that Trump likes to growl at the media in a public fashion for rank dishonesty and hostile coverage of himself and his team and policies, does not cut it as a serious criticism that he has suppressed media in any way which has affected their First Amendment rights.

Spielberg said about his new film:

“The Post follows the newspaper’s controversial decision in 1971 to report on the Pentagon Papers’ study of the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration’s attempts to restrain the media. The current climate between President Trump and the media made the story all the more relevant.”

Humbug, Mr Spielberg!

Aside from the obvious that these elite L.A lefties would cry ‘Not Our President’ if the President just waved and said “Good Morning,” I acknowledge that Spielberg’s floating anxiety about our times reflecting something similar to the times leading up to the Civil War are echoed around the media quite a lot.

David Blight, a Yale Professor, wrote a lengthy piece for the Guardian in August of this year:

“Republics are ever unsteady and at risk, as our first and second founders well understood. Americans love to believe their history is blessed and exceptional, the story of a people with creeds born of the Enlightenment that will govern the worst of human nature and inspire our “better angels” to hold us together. Sometimes they do. But this most diverse nation in the world is still an experiment, and we are once again in a political condition that has made us ask if we are on the verge of some kind of new civil conflict.”

I could almost agree with Blight that America is still an experiment, but for the fact that the experiment was so staggeringly successful it also provided the world with a proof; its conditions have been adopted by every single Western country alive and well today - from Europe to Hong Kong to New Zealand. The experiment starts to break down only when nations fall shy of their founding principles of upholding national sovereignty and protecting the individual rights of citizens, as we are now seeing in America itself where a citizen like Kate Steinle can be murdered by an illegal immigrant, Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, because the constitutional laws which would have kept this sick felon out of America were not upheld in San Francisco. Mayor Edwin Lee likes to flatter his city by naming it a “Sanctuary City” - as if it is something noble and protective. It’s obviously neither, and I find myself wishing that it were he on the receiving end of Zarate’s fatal bullet instead of a beautiful, innocent American girl in the prime of her flowering youth.

If people really want to draw real parallels between our unravelling times today and the lead up to the Civil War, I submit that despite the raging Cultural War that we are watching as Globalist Liberalism dies a messy death since the election of President Trump, the only thing that could ignite an actual civil war is a blatant disregard of the Constitution.

Sanctuary cities thumb their noses at federal law - which is a gross act of rebellion against the Constitution. Also, court justices who thumb their noses at President Trump’s Travel Ban are not recognising his constitutional right as President to ban anyone whom he deems unfit to enter the very country he has taken an oath to protect. The President has been vindicated this week by the Supreme Court which has upheld his right to enforce his Travel Ban.

To ignore the President's constitutional authority in these matters is truly dangerous ground for Democrats to occupy. If they don’t find it in themselves to move on down the road, they may very well find themselves once again on the wrong side of history, as they were when their Confederate soldiers fired upon Fort Sumter. This was flagrant rebellion against Lincoln’s duty to uphold constitutional law, and he took pains to make this clear in his Inauguration speech of 1861.

At the beginning of this year President Trump took the same oath that Lincoln did, ‘to preserve, defend and protect’ the institutions and property of the United States government, and he damn-well meant it.

The narcissistic dominance of identity politics has enslaved people to its silly dogmas since the liberal Baby Boomers, no doubt high on more than just their civil rights victories, entered their respective midlife crises and tried to colour the Brave New World they governed in hallucinogenic emotional kitsch. After 30 years of mawkish babble coming from Democrats about radical feminism, the patriarchy, gender pay gaps, male oppression and white privilege (i.e: white male privilege, diversity, gender diversity, workplace diversity, inclusion, workplace sensitivity, cultural sensitivity, transgender sensitivity, transgender bathrooms, multiculturalism, multicultural friendly, sexual diversity, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, trans-gender-phobia, white supremacist nationalist fascist deplorables… the list that never ends) in 2016 their pompous vanity prevented them from seeing that such conditions in America might bring forth a leader who would stake his life and reputation on brashly emancipating the culture from such tyrannical vacuity - Democrats have a bad habit of coming down on the side of shackles.

It is the older grandchildren of these peecee Baby Boomers who now give the finger to the American flag on UCLA Berkeley - “Fuck America,” they mumble as they walk by, “God fuck this country.” When an ISIS flag is waved on the same campus, they smile and call out - “Good for you Man, good for you.” “I love that you’re saying that.”

This is the result of the self-involved, liberal Baby Boomers trying their level best to breed a doctrine of anti-American Exceptionalism into the generations who came after, training them to be utterly indifferent to the once great history and culture that was so fiercely fought for by the parents the BBs have now mostly buried. The cultivated indifference that they sought to pass down was so astonishingly successful, that many of them complain that their youngies now stuff head phones in their ears and stare at their cellphones all day, when they’re not staring in open scorn at their national flag. That's the very same national flag Abraham Lincoln eventually welcomed newly emancipated African-Americans from the South to fight under, on paid wages, as they began their lives anew as free men of the Republic.

If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"

The Anti-Secessionists Are No Friends of Liberty

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Brant -- You're exactly right about the Unionists' hideous "rationalizations" for war. Why do so few Objectivists get this? I had a private conversation with Objectivist war-expert John David Lewis about this issue maybe 15 year ago, plus some follow-up emails, and he had pretty much not a clue what I was talking about. Basically he assumed I was advocating or justifying black slavery! Shocked

I think Lincoln focused like a zealot upon "saving the Union". One result was a horrifying advance in gov't tyranny from 1861 to 1865. If slavery had been allowed to peter out in the Confederacy over the next generation or two (at most!) the result might have significantly changed world history for the better. Maybe the two North American civilized states would have competed with each other in liberty, and improved each other, and the world, quite a bit.

We need a popular novel or t'v' series along these lines! Think Man in the High Castle! Cool

The RIGHT to Secession

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Bruno -- I'm a Dixie man too! Smiling This "New California" sounds kinda great! Big City California seems pretty much like a fascist, socialist, Third World hellhole. Sad

The ultimate answer, however, is to allow for libertarian micro-states worldwide. Also fascist, socialist, religious, politically correct, etc. If ten thousand utopian dreamers of some stripe, or even just five hundred, wish to secede and set up a new political system, let 'em!


Bruno's picture

News: A new California law will automatically register illegal immigrants to vote... and it all begins on April Fool's Day!


It's no secret I am a Dixie man, but if we are to not allow secession, then it is time for California to be put back in line with full federal government force. I'd prefer they just be made to secede and build a wall around it.

Exception made for "New California", they can stay with us: http://www.businessinsider.com...


Brant Gaede's picture

Lincoln was all about stopping succession. Everything else was rationalized justification.

700,000 dead

Nonsense on steroids!

Olivia's picture

And for the record: If the North didn't launch an unprovoked invasion of the South, there never would have been a "civil war". Declaring independence and trying to gain control of your own land isn't an act of provocation.

Unprovoked? What?? The South's intention was not to just gain control of its own lands, their agenda was to spread slavery into the new states, Latin America and the Caribbean. That's what Lincoln put a stop to. It worked but at a great cost. Good for him.

A Demand, Not a Request

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

For a government to be truly free and libertarian, it must have clear, simple, non-onerous provisions for both succession and self-destruction. The American Constitution failed that test. No nation or group of people requires the permission of others to secede. South Carolina had zero obligation to persuade Northern states to let them exit the union in 1861 -- other than the most terrible guns and bombs they could find.

And for the record: If the North didn't launch an unprovoked invasion of the South, there never would have been a "civil war". Declaring independence and trying to gain control of your own land isn't an act of provocation.


Olivia's picture

thanks for the compliment regarding Pam Geller - I'm not sure I completely deserve it, but I do know that women have a tendency to grow balls when men exhibit the horrible spectacle of losing theirs.


Olivia's picture

The points you raise have been debated from both sides until the cows come home.

Two things:
Lincoln considered that there was a way to secede from the Union - with the legal consent of other member states or by revolution, which meant the overthrow of the whole government, as prescribed by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. South Carolina took neither of these paths, but instead resorted to quite a thunderous act of war, hence Lincoln calling the Confederacy a rebellion and not a second revolution.

Second, slavery could not continue to go unaddressed by those who rightly believed African Americans were 'men' and not just 'property.' Morally, Lincoln and the abolitionists were in the right on this, above and beyond what the Constitution technically made provision for. On this, Lincoln was far-seeing in my book, and of course knew that the Constitution required an amendment. That would never have come about without a war.

You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors," was very disingenuous. The damage President Lincoln and his allies did to America and world liberty was considerable.

I don't think Lincoln was even capable of being "disingenuous." Perhaps you have grown too accustomed to modern day people and politicians.

Olivia Pierson Is Another Pam Geller

Lindsay Perigo's picture

To quote myself:

The virtue most lacking in public life is courage. Cowardice is universal; the craven fear of social opprobrium makes lickspittles of almost everyone. Never has this been more true than now, when the dictates of Islamo-Marxism hold sway, manifested in a suffocating Political Correctness and the relentless advance of Sharia Law.

Why is it that almost the only people with balls nowadays are women?

Freedom is More Important than Unity

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Great essay. Nevertheless, I dispute one small, but important, point: the North was the aggressor in the 1861-1865 American Civil War (or War Between the States), just as Britain was the aggressor in the American Revolution, just as Spain is the aggressor in their current dispute with Catalonia. Nations have a right to secede and declare independence. President Lincoln above called the Confederate nation "my...fellow-countrymen" after they declared independence and when he had no such right. Lincoln attempted to restock Fort Sumter when, by right, it belonged to South Carolina and the Confederate States. The Union was the aggressor in word and deed. Lincoln's statement: "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors," was very disingenuous. The damage President Lincoln and his allies did to America and world liberty was considerable.

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