The following is an extended excerpt from an item that crossed the Designated Conservative‘s RSS Feed this afternoon from Connor’s Conundrums (click here to read the whole piece). I disagree with his conclusion about Mr. Lincoln, but he makes a compelling argument about the origins of our Obamiforous federal government (emphasis and bullet points are mine).
Is this (below) the image of Lincoln of whom he admires?
For the past few months, I’ve been taking a history class in pursuit of my master’s degree in political economy. This class covered the era from Christopher Columbus (late 1400s) through Abraham Lincoln (mid 1800s). Part of the class requirements is an oral examination, where the student is peppered with questions by the mentor for fifteen minutes. Anything is fair game, meaning that you have to know and understand four hundred years worth of dates, major events, prominent figures, and everything in-between.
I was asked which President (Washington through Lincoln) I considered to be the worst. My answer audibly surprised many of my classmates, since I chose an individual who was and is a favorite (and near idol) of many:
I started by explaining that my interpretation of “worst” as it related to my answer was that the President’s actions had to have the most long-lasting, far-reaching negative consequences.
Oddly, Lincoln has become idealized by numerous historians and idolized by teachers and textbooks. The “Savior of the Union” is credited with
- abolishing slavery,
- keeping the rebelling South in check, and
- preserving our nation.
On such sound bytes an entire legacy has been built, leading Lincoln to be one of the most favorably looked-upon Presidents of our time. Even I conceded last night that the man was
- a gifted lawyer,
- a brilliant mind,
- a persuasive politician, and
- in many ways a good man.
But from my perspective, …the lasting consequences of his actions to beat the South into submission have had a far more detrimental effect than those of his predecessors.
Before Lincoln, our Union was an organized federation of sovereign states, collectively and generally referred to in the plural as
“these united States“.
Inherent in the reference itself is the understanding of multiple, sovereign entities joined under a common cause and creed.
After the Civil War—one in which Lincoln (among other things)
- suspended the Constitution and habeas corpus;
- launched a military invasion without the consent of Congress;
- imprisoned thousands of Northern citizens without trial;
- shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisoned dozens of their owners and publishers;
- censored all telegraph communication;
- nationalized the railroads;
- confiscated firearms;
- interfered with elections using federal troops; and
- deported his most outspoken critic, Democratic Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham
—the voluntary confederation of states was replaced with a blood-soaked, mandated participation in a centralized, all-powerful government. The relationship of the states to the federal government transitioned painfully from one of symbiosis to subservience. Forever after, the federal government would be a singular entity:
“The United States“.
Abraham Lincoln’s actions in forcefully requiring the perpetual participation of every state in the “Union”… ultimately set a foundation for the government we now enjoy: consolidated, absolute, based on the unrestrained will of the majority, with force, threats, and intimidation being part and parcel of its modus operandi.
Anybody who sides with Lincoln’s actions must of necessity side with King George’s coercive military attacks on American colonists in the Revolutionary War, for the underlying principles are the same.
Despite any noteworthy actions worthy of emulation, Abraham Lincoln stands in my mind as the worst president of “The United States”, for the simple reason that his actions are still adversely felt today (well, by anybody who understands our history and pays attention to current politics). Other Presidents’ actions have faded into the history books, whereas those committed by Lincoln in the name of the Union’s preservation exist in our day as the solidified foundation of federal tyranny and centralized governmental omnipotence.
As for this Designated Conservative, who is also a student of history, I see a “united States” sundered into several countries as turned inward, with its energies consumed by petty border conflicts. It would have been further weakened as Texas, California, and large chunk of the intermountain West drifted away into independent territories/states/republics without the compelling influence of a strong post Civil War federal government to cement them into the union.
A sundered and weakened U.S.A. would never have been able to counter the fascist and dictatorial designs of a Hitler, Mussolini, et. al. Most certainly, we would not have had the ability to counter the advance of Communism. I can imagine a very different and much bleaker world if the Confederacy had been allowed to prevail.