A Look at Lincoln

2003-4-16 06:40:00

The Question
What are the three ways that Lincoln altered the course of history for the better?

The first and obvious one is slavery. There are two groups that want to deny Lincoln any credit on this issue.

The first is the politically correct crowd who are rewriting texts books which teach the rising generation. Some of them only have a paragraph on Lincoln and give credit to the freeing of the slaves to anyone but him. If he is quoted they use a quote out of context that make it sound like his only goal was to save the union.

The second is a residual anti-Lincoln group which has never completely disappeared. These are joined by a few strong constitutionalists who adhere to states rights with little or no deviation. These also quote his few statements about saving the union as a prime goal and ignore his many arguments for freeing the slaves and making them equal with the whites.

Both of these groups judge Lincoln's words with the politically correct standards of the present. As I said, we could do this with any white person of more than a century ago and make him sound racist.

What is the truth?

Yes, it is true that his prime goal was to save the union because he believed that if the union were not saved then we would wind up with a country that would not be free or worth living in for blacks or whites. Therefore, this was first in his mind.

Let me quote from a previous post:
"Lincoln had publicly stated a number of times, even from his youth, that he had a desire to eliminate slavery and would do so if he ever had the opportunity. His most famous stance was made during the Lincoln Douglas debates where he stated that the United States was a house divided and as such cannot stand. It cannot exist half free and half slave. This famous debate brought him to national attention in a significant way for the first time.

"The South remembered his views when he became President and this was the main reason they seceded from the union, causing slavery to be a strong underlying cause of the war.

"During the war Lincoln made many comments, wrote many letters and had many debates with individuals about slavery and he definitely expressed a strong desire to eliminate the problem.

"As far as the Emaciation Proclamation goes. He took this step as far as was possible. He had the wisdom to realize that you can't make major change in one giant leap so he always did what he could one step at a time.

"The next major step was taken in his second bid for the presidency, and keep in mind this was done during the heat of the war. At his urging the Republican platform supported the complete abolition of slavery and the introduction of the thirteenth Amendment.

"The platform stated that the President's Proclamation aimed a "death blow at this gigantic evil" and that a constitutional amendment was necessary to "terminate and forever prohibit it."

"Lincoln was thus reelected on this platform making slavery a main issue of the continuance of the war during his second term.

"While Lincoln was still alive the 13th Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification. Ratification by the states was a sure thing at his death."

So how about the argument that slavery would have naturally gone away if the civil war was not fought? After all, other nations freed their slaves without war. What is left out of this idealism is that the majority of the states of the U.S. also freed their slaves without war. So why were the North and other nations able to do this? It is simple. The percentage of black slaves in the Northern States, Britain, France and other nations was low compared to the Southern States. At the time of the Civil War there was a slave population of 3,500,000 out of a total of 9,000,000 people in the South. This was a total of about 39% of the population who were slaves. Unlike other nations who were considering the freeing of slaves, the South sought to expand upon it and wanted slavery extended to western territories. The South was so dependent upon their slaves that without a war it could have existed another hundred years. Without the Civil War I believe the civil rights era of the 1960's would have been over slavery rather than the rights of the black man.

The second way Lincoln altered history for the better was in the preservation of the Union and holding intact the Country of the United States.

Now, many think it would have been better to allow all states their right to secede and in normal times this may have been the right thing to do. But the reason the South wanted to secede was so they could practice slavery undisturbed (among other things). If therefore slavery was so perpetuated and secession was used for such a foul purpose, this would set a precedent for a further break up of the union for all kinds of lower purposes.

Consider the past and what happened to Rome when it started to break up. They lost all vestiges of good government and, even though Rome was not perfect, what followed was a period of the darkest hue with a loss of knowledge, education and technology unprecedented in history.

Could the break up of the union have been followed by a loss of the Constitution and all truths that were held self evident? Lincoln thought so and this was one reason he fought with all he had to preserve the union. Lincoln was an astute student of history and did not want to see it repeated in his country.

I personally believe he received a revelation from the Hierarchy on the importance of preserving the union.

There is a time and place for all things. The time of Lincoln was the time to increase central control. Now is the time to work toward the opposite.

The third way that Lincoln changed history was in the example he set by the force of his own character. He was known as "honest Abe." Now answer me this. How many politicians in our era would the public who know him place the word honest before his name?

When he ascended to the presidency the whole world felt that a buffoon had taken office, but by the time he was killed all but a few wept in sorrow feeling that they had lost one of the great souls of all time.

DK expressed it well when he said Lincoln came forth "from the very soul of a people."

If you have not read a positive book on Lincoln there are many out there that reveal parts of his great character. Perhaps the best is the six volume set by Carl Sandburg who dedicated his life to his work and interviewed many people who actually knew him. I have read the whole set and after digesting it I am saddened to see him unjustly criticized by those who did not understand his motives, which I believe to be as pure as any politician that ever lived.

The scripture says "By their fruits ye shall know them."

What are the fruits of Lincoln?

The freedom of the slaves, the preservation of the union and an example of character and achievement, that few can match.

One more important point to consider.

What if the United States were fragmented at the start of World War II? Is it possible that we could not have united to fight Hitler? That perhaps the South would have been happy to see Pearl Harbor bombed? You never know.

On a different line of thought, Susan asked when the Walk-in occurred in Lincoln's life.

I believe it was in 1854 when he re-entered politics opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This was his first major effort to stop the spread of slavery. From this point on people began to pay serious attention to him. Four years later he blossomed in the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.
Abraham Lincoln