Lincoln Versus the South: Who was the more correct?

(1997)

 

I have been reading the key speeches of Abraham Lincoln. I have always believed the south had a right to secede, but I do not believe in slavery. As I read Lincoln’s speeches, I find some good things, but some flaws in his arguments.


1. Lincoln said: The country can not exist half slave and half free. Furthermore, the founding fathers intended the nation to eventually be totally free.

Two points for Lincoln

Slavery is such a big philosophical issue, that a nation can not exist half one and half the other. One point for Lincoln.

The founding fathers stopped slave trade to the United States. The principles of America include equality. Therefore, I too believe that the fathers intended the country to be totally free at some time. Point for Lincoln.



2. Lincoln said: (addressing the south who had seceded): do not worry, I do not intend to alter things. (so please rejoin the union)

 

Two points for the south, one point for Lincoln.

 

a) Point for the South. Lincoln lied.

In a previous speech, Lincoln stated in his belief that US should become totally free. He also stated in that same speech that we must lead the effort. Thus, he always intended to make the U.S free. He probably would have tried legal means, it was just that the south, by seceding, made war seem the better approach.

 

b) Point for Lincoln - Lincoln would probably not have sent troops in or use physical force, no. The south would have been safe from that.

 

c) Point for the south - “constitution”

Lincoln said he would swear to uphold the constitution - but so what - it was the other laws and compromises that dealt with slavery, not the constitution. Thus, Lincoln could easily say to the south he will support the constitution.



3. Lincoln: states do not have a right to secede. (in his first inaugural speech)

 

How many points should we give to the south for this? At least 5 or 10.

 

How many slaps across the face should we give Lincoln for being so silly? At least 50.

 

First, the states freely joined the Union. Therefore, should any choose to secede, thehave the right to.

 

Second, the states joined the union “for the general welfare.” Similarly, the Bill of Rights talks of free association, meeting with whomever, and holding any views you want. Thus, if the interests of the states are not being met, then the states have the right to leave, and to form a new association.

 

Third, Lincoln said no nation plans for its end, therefore it must continue.

Hello!! Companies do not plan on going bankrupt, yet that does not give the stockholders should be allowed to sell the company or their stocks. Couples do not plan on getting divorced, yet that does not give the man the right to beat his wife into submission. What a silly argument. If it is not working - stop doing it, but no one plans for something not to work.

 

Fourth, Lincoln said that seceding brings chaos. Wrong. It actually brings about success. Seceding is part of democracy, and it is part of the free enterprise which has made this country so economically successful.

Look at political parties. When a political party is not representing most of its members, then they will leave the party and join the other one. This is democracy in action.

Then look at businesses. Suppose a group of technical people or managers dislike the company they work for and they see a better way. They leave the company and form their own. Many, many successful companies have been formed this way. (Look at just the semiconductor industry in its early days). Thus seceding does not bring chaos, it brings about the best (when done in a constructive way).

 

Fifth, for Lincoln to use force is wrong. It is like the king murdering his subjects just because they believe in the “wrong” religion. This is very anti-American. We no longer have a democracy, we have an elected dictator who will force his views on others. This is wrong.



4. States have some rights - Feds but out.

Point for the south. This is a philosophical difference.

However, I believe that the Feds should have as little power as possible, and leave almost everything to the states. Lincoln was the first Orwellian person, he was trying to create a stronger federal govt. and make the states submit to it. I believe he never should have done that.

That’s why the states left - more for states rights than slavery (most historians say so). I believe that we would have fewer problems if the states were allowed to fix things in their own way as works best for their own circumstances and culture.



All in all, I believe the South was right.

 

I believe that the North could have existed just fine, and grown, without the south. During that time, slavery would be immediately outlawed. Then, as any state wants to apply to either the Union or Confederate states, that state must decide where it exists on the issue of slavery and states rights.

 

I also believe that in time, the slave states would eventually become free, especially as they expanded and had states with fewer slave owners in them. Thus, the south would become very similar to the north after slavery gone from the south. However, unless an amendment regarding states rights were passed in the Union, the South would, and should, remain a separate entity.


Regarding my background which bolsters my objectivity in all this

For the record, note several things about my background:

1. I did NOT grow up in the south.

2. My relatives came from Germany and Ireland, and went straight to Iowa. They worked as farmers, working hard on their own land.

3. No one in my family has ever lived in the south, except for me today.

4. No one in my family ever owned slaves.