150 Years Ago Today

  • MikeinCT

    thank you.

  • Lysander Spooner

    Mencken had it right; the idea that there was “a new birth of freedom” based on Lincoln’s murderous obsession is calling darkness light.

    “But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination—”that government of the people, by the people, for the people,” should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States?”

    • Stu

      As a proud son of the South, it always struck me on how tragic it was that the Confederacy was so wrong in what it was right about. By failing to secure the basic human right for all, it lost rights for all of us.

      • Lysander Spooner

        The war was about economics, not slavery. There were slaves in the north as well; it isn’t like the south was the only player on that field. The tariff had almost caused a secession crisis decades earlier, but nobody knows their history (thanks to the court historians whose job is to ensure Lincoln’s evil legacy of centralization). Our rights were lost, not because of the south’s failure to secure the basic human right of the black man, but because of the lust for money and power of a railroad lobbyist who believed in Hamilton’s vision of an American empire.

        • Stu

          Well, it wasn’t about slavery and it was about slavery. I don’t discount any of the other motivations but fact remains that slavery at the very least an easy thing to beat the South over the head with. Eliminating it (which would have eventually happened) would have gone far in putting the South in a better light.

          • Lysander Spooner

            It’s easy to beat the south over the head with slavery 150 years later, it’s a huge testament to the monumental power of propaganda and the effectiveness of the gatekeepers that this speech, by a man who explicitly rejected the idea of equality between whites and blacks and who wanted all blacks to leave the states, this speech which talks about the holiness of self-government, given in the context of an aggressive bloody war to prevent self-government for the sake of economics and power (and NOT slavery), which talks of a “a new birth of freedom” – invoking the secession of the colonies from a government that had overreached its proper limits – is held up in places like this blog as something for us to bow our heads in silence over.

            It’s not a coincidence that Spooner and Mencken are 100% unknown to Americans; they point out far too eloquently how truly naked the emperor is.

            • chezami

              Some of us remember that Jim Crow and whites only water fountains and Church bombings weren’t 150 years ago, but within our own lifetimes. The notion that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery and racism is silly.

              • Lysander Spooner

                The notion that Lincoln’s decision to wage war to prevent self-government had anything to do with helping the black slave in any way whatsoever is sillier, as is the notion that he believed anything he said in the Gettysburg address regarding self-government or freedom. Reading the approved version of American history this is probably difficult to see, but reading the actual history of Lincoln himself, his career as corporate attorney for the railroads, his purchases and subsequent political decisions affecting those purchases, and, of course, his own words regarding slavery and blacks, make it clear that today’s Lincoln worship is a product of a careful rehabilitation by the winners of the overthrow of self-government. Spooner was as anti-slavery as anyone; it didn’t blind him to the reality of what Lincoln did. For someone who seems to get what the modern state is about, your posting of this speech is rather absurd.

                • chezami

                  I don’t worship Lincoln. Neither do I demonize him. He was a man, faced with an extraordinary problem. I also don’t idealize the South, which was indeed fighting for State’s rights–so that they could maintain slavery. Anybody who denies this is simply denying reality.

                  • Lysander Spooner

                    I simply pointed out, via Mencken, that the speech being memorialized today (in only positive terms, of course…note the dismal apology of a newspaper the other day for having had the audacity 150 years ago to actually criticize Lincoln and his speech) is, when looked at with reason and not emotion, a true work of epic falsehood. Poetry, perhaps, but not reason. Again, your insistence that the south wanted out simply so they could maintain slavery is just plain wrong, and anyone willing to take the time to look at actual historical sources instead of state-approved history texts and court historians can easily see this. There were many supporters of the south who also despised slavery; yet they believed that the cause of the south (the ACTUAL cause, not the one imputed to it by apologists for the total state or those who have ignorantly swallowed the lie) was just and worth fighting for. “Civil War = slavery” is the victory of the propagandists, and you shouldn’t help them by claiming that Lincoln’s “extraordinary problem” was anything other than trying to keep southern sheep in the economic pen so they could continue being fleeced by northern mercantilist industrialists who wanted protection from competition in their markets.

                    • chezami

                      It’s been 150 years. Time to move on. The South lost. Get over it.

                    • Lysander Spooner

                      That’s exactly what Obama should tell you the next time you have a problem with anything he does. That flippant answer IS the reason we have the American Empire, the ACA, the NSA, and everything you like to criticize (correctly) about The Thing that Used to be America.

                    • Lysander Spooner

                      A bit of history from somebody closer to the time of the war than those who reject reason in favor of “suck it up, the south lost” when confronted with the idea that Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech was a brilliant political move of true rhetorical beauty by a tyrannical god-king murderer who set the template for today’s Drone Prince:

                      http://lysanderspooner.org/node/44

  • Dave G.

    Wow. Some serious “Hitler’s President” love going on. Didn’t see that coming. Oh well, I’m proud of it. Happy 150th.

  • Lee Penn

    To those who say that the War of the Rebellion was not about slavery … re-read the Confederate Constitution, and note its dedication to the preservation of slavery. Read the declarations of secession that the rebel states passed when they seceded; these legislatures made it clear what they were defending, to the last extremity. Recall the South’s insistence before the war on catching slaves who had fled north, whatever the beliefs of the northern states might be. Recall the reality of what slavery was; forget the racial angle for a moment, and remember that institution as human bondage, more pervasive in its time than the Soviet forced labor system was under Stalin.

    I was born in Texas, and nevertheless must admit that the better side won the war. It would have been better if Reconstruction had continued after 1876.

    Lee

    • Dave G.

      Thank you. Was it *only* about slavery? It never is. Did every Southerner bleed for the slavery cause, as opposed to other causes? No. And in fairness, it has been a ride as different groups over the decades, for various reasons, have tried to downplay the role of slavery. Those who push the total depravity of Americans prefer a States Rights POV because, after all, if Northerners were willing to fight and die to end slavery, that seems pretty good. Almost like some Americans may not have been racists after all, or at least they were good about something. Others downplay it because of regional pride or whatever. Of course slavery was a matter of fact throughout most of the world up until that time. Even African slavery didn’t exist only in the US. Europe was really quite unique in stepping up and saying ‘No’ to something that had been a matter of course throughout history in most cultures. Like all things, it’s complex, and a good study. Especially as we see the emergence of slavery once again in our own time. But well said, and good points.

  • Elaine S.

    I don’t blame Lincoln for creating the all powerful federal nanny state; I blame FDR. Most if not all of Lincoln’s measures were temporary, used only during the war and they disappeared after Reconstruction. FDR’s New Deal, however, really established the notion that the federal government was supposed to take care of everybody.

    If you really want to blame somebody for the Civil War, blame Lincoln’s immediate predecessors, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, who either did nothing or actively encouraged measures like the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decision and the Lecompton Constitution of Kansas (google these terms if you don’t have a history book handy)

    • Lysander Spooner

      It’s noteworthy that Hitler, Zhu Rongji, and Musharraf all pointed to Lincoln, not Pierce or Buchanan, as being a wonderful model for destroying decentralized power structures and for engaging in exciting dictatorial behavior (or desire for such, in Hitler’s case…lucky Abe gets a sweet shout-out in Mein Kampf, but that’s somehow not talked about much).

      The real point is that the Gettysburg address, while being beautiful and poetic, is also just fantasy. The army of Lincoln fought against the cause of self-government, and there’s no way around that. It wasn’t a civil war, and it wasn’t a war between the states; the southern states formed a new union after withdrawing from the old union, and that meant the north lost its cash cow tariff host which was not to be allowed. Mencken doesn’t deny the beauty of the address, he points it out; he also simply points out its absurdity when looked at in the cold light of reality.

      • chezami

        We get it. You hate Lincoln.

        • Lysander Spooner

          And you are ambivalent. You seem to have several burrs under your saddle regarding the current god-king, but no real problem with his prototype, the one who paved the way? “He ended slavery!” A nice side effect of his war, perhaps, but not his goal or his desire (as can be confirmed over and over by his own words). “Hitler made nice highways!” Awesome, but at least people find that the pile of bodies along the way was not a reasonable price to pay, considering other countries made nice highways without the pile of bodies (see the history of the peaceful end of slavery everywhere else). Posting the video just perpetuates the culture of State worship.

          • chezami

            Um, yes. Lincoln. Hitler. Got it. Is this going to be one of those conversations where you obsessively go on and on until everybody in the universe agrees with you the Lincoln is the Most Horrible Human of All Time? Is there some sort of ransom I can pay to just get you to drop it?

            • Lysander Spooner

              Ransom? Now you’re talking sense.

              1) You will videotape yourself doing 45 minutes of uninterrupted liturgical dance; you will wear only a black unitard with soft slippers. The music accompanying your dance must include any Marty Haugen or Carey Landry. 2) You will deliver the videotape, along with $23 in unmarked Canadian dollars, to an address I will provide to you offline. 3) You will read the name of one newpaper closed down by Lincoln to the Cuteness each night before bedtime after reading her one editorial from said newspaper. 4) You will make the Cuteness memorize Clement Vallandingham’s speeches to congress.

              If any of these demands are not met, you will see the names of the first 14,000 civilians arrested by Lincoln appear randomly in the comboxes, especially those connected to articles complaining about the current god-king.

          • Dave G.

            Your take on history is certainly an eye opener.


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