If you are a reader of my articles I first want to thank you very much. In this article I will only be providing a list of the significant events that transpired in October 150 years ago during the War Between the States sesquicentennial anniversary. Links to informative sites on the Internet that detail these events will also be provided for those of you that wish more information regarding them. Instead, I have decided to use the majority of this space to examine the historical facts regarding Abraham Lincoln and his policies during his time in office. For years I have listened to a few conservative commentators that surprisingly use Lincoln as their standard bearer for leadership and righteousness. The following will explain why, in my opinion, most if not all of these adulations are unjustified.
During the past few weeks no one has demonstrated more perpetuations of the Lincoln myth better than Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel. His non-stop promotion of his new book “Killing Lincoln” has just about driven me off the edge. I must admit that I have watched the O’Reilly Factor almost nightly for many years and have read most of his books. I often disagree with many of his beliefs but I do so because I think he is an honorable man that most times provides his viewers with both sides of current issues. But, ever since the announcement of his new book he has mentioned Lincoln’s leadership and patriotism as what this country needs during almost every segment of his show. I understand that he is trying to peddle his book but because of that he has become to use his term a “pinhead” and will probably not allow any dissenting voices on this issue. So I have decided to use this forum to provide one.
To be sure O’Reilly is not the only conservative to lavish undeserved adoration on Lincoln. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others do so as well. It is my belief that much of this unjust praise derives from the lack of depth in what most of us received in government schools that passed for an education. Sadly, many of us and now our children are being taught this politically correct propaganda that is paraded to us under the guise of “history.” Another reason this ruse is propagated is keep conservatives tethered to the GOP because as we all know, being a good Republican means deifying Abraham Lincoln. It is almost laughable that someone like Glenn Beck who basically founded the Tea Party movement continually blames Woodrow Wilson and the “Progressive Agenda” for the beginning of the demise of the Constitution. However, this agenda did not start with Wilson; it in fact started over 150 years ago during Lincoln’s Administration. Many of these same “conservatives” also like to praise Thomas Jefferson and deservedly so. But, does anyone seriously think that Jefferson would have agreed with Lincoln in 1861? Read the Kentucky Resolution of 1798 and decide for yourself. Those Resolutions were drafted by Jefferson to express the growing concern that those in power of the government were turning away from the principles embodied in the Constitution. http://www.constitution.org/cons/kent1798.htm
As far as today’s Republican Party there is absolutely no comparison to the one that was originated out of the remnants of the Whig party in 1856. The modern Republican Party adopted a more conservative approach in the late 1940s and early 1950s out of political necessity. But, this hardly reflects the real foundation and origins of the GOP. Anyone who has done any investigation into their beginnings will realize that the 1856 Republicans in this country embraced radical and leftist ideals and could hardly be considered conservative by any stretch of the imagination. Many of today’s conservatives cannot seem to understand this fact. So, here is a brief summary of those origins. In 1856 the party’s first presidential candidate was John C. Fremont and he was backed by several men who were socialist refugees from the failed socialist and communist revolts in Europe in 1848. These men became known as the Forty-Eighters and one of their leaders was Friedrich Hassaurek, an Austrian socialist, who spoke throughout the Midwest in Fremont’s behalf. However, he was unsuccessful because Fremont was soundly defeated. But, the socialists and communists were nothing if not patient and in 1860 they found another candidate worthy of their support in Abraham Lincoln. Carl Wittke, author of Refugees of Revolution noted that: “Lincoln was fully aware of the political influence of the Forty-Eighters in the campaign of 1860, in persuading many of their countrymen to desert the Democratic allegiance for the Republicans.” It appears that the Forty-Eighters also had quite a bit of influence in the Republican convention in 1860 even helping write parts of the party’s platform. Establishment historian James McPherson states in his book Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution that Mr. Lincoln had championed the cause of the socialists and communists in Europe in 1848, so why would he not embrace their support during his presidential aspirations in 1860?
I realize that this alone does not prove Lincoln was a leftist or a communist but it should be cause for one to consider. What I believe does prove his liberal leanings were his well-documented violations of the US Constitution. Judge Andrew Napolitano, the senior judicial analyst for the Fox News Channel and host of Freedom Watch on the Fox Business Network has written “Lincoln’s actions were unconstitutional and he knew it, the rights of the states to secede from the Union are clearly implicit in the Constitution, since it was the states that ratified the Constitution” Lincoln’s view “was a far departure from the approach of Thomas Jefferson, who recognized states’ rights above those of the Union.” It is therefore my contention that Abraham Lincoln was not the leader that any “conservative” should admire or place on a pedestal. Lincoln disregarded the Constitution by “discovering” presidential powers in the Constitution that no previous president had ever found before. He claimed that being President and Commander-in-Chief allowed him carte blanche in the name of “war powers.” Because of Lincoln, the former American constitutional republic fell from a dream of liberty and limited government into the nightmare big government we have today without the earlier checks and balances of state sovereignty.
The following paragraphs are just a small sampling of Lincoln’s many usurpations and Constitutional violations:
Suspended Habeas Corpus
The writ of Habeas Corpus protects Americans from being unjustly imprisoned and without it all rules of law are eradicated. The writ creates the gap between freedom and despotism. The writ’s origin dates back to the formation of our country and the tenet that all men have equality under the law. Any prisoner feeling this right is being abused has the ability to petition to be seen before a judge who can declare his arrest unlawful and have him released. Yet, Lincoln used his power and removed that right, first in Baltimore, New York, and eventually the entire union. He authorized military officers to suspend the writ before he made an official proclamation. Joshua Kleinfeld, an author who has researched this issue, wrote that “when Lincoln suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus, he clothed himself with more power than any individual had possessed in America before, or since.”
Among the 13,000 people arrested under martial law was a Maryland Secessionist, John Merryman. Immediately, Hon. Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States issued a writ of habeas corpus commanding the military to bring Merryman before him. The military refused to follow the writ. Justice Taney, in Ex parte MERRYMAN, then ruled the suspension of habeas corpus unconstitutional because the writ could not be suspended without an Act of Congress.
Lincoln and the military ignored Justice Taney’s ruling and Lincoln went even farther by ordering Taney’s arrest for daring to challenge his usurpations. The primary source document for this is a manuscript written in the 1880s by Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend, bodyguard, and United States Marshal for the District of Columbia during his administration. According to the manuscript, which is a brief history of Ex Parte Merryman by Lamon: After due consideration the administration determined upon the arrest of the Chief Justice. A warrant or order was issued for his arrest. Then arose the question of service. Who should make the arrest and where should the imprisonment be? This was done by the President with instructions to use his own discretion about making the arrest unless he should receive further orders from him. The warrant was never served, according to Lamon, for reasons that are not given. The manuscript dates from the 1880s and resides in the collection of Lamon papers at the Huntington Library.
Declared Martial Law
With civil liberties nullified by suspension of habeas corpus, citizens were subject to arbitrary arrest by the military for the duration of Lincoln’s administration. Vague accusations and rumors such as participating in “disloyal practices” were rampant and the military was given the power to decide what was “disloyal.” No dissent was tolerated. This spawned a legal challenge, this one to the military courts: ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 18 L. Ed. 281 (1866). Lamdin Milligan, a civilian resident of Indiana, was arrested on October 5, 1864, by the Union military forces. Milligan was charged with five offenses: conspiring against the United States, affording Aid and Comfort to rebels, inciting insurrection, engaging in disloyal practices, and violating the laws of war. Milligan was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to prison by a military court.
Although the habeas corpus petition had been suspended, the Supreme Court accepted Milligan’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The Supreme Court held that neither the president nor Congress could give federal military forces the power to try a civilian who lived in a state that had federal courts. Milligan firmly established the right of the U.S. Supreme Court to review the propriety of martial law declarations.
Invaded the South without consulting Congress
On April 15, 1861 Lincoln called up the militia from all of the states to put into the field an army of more than 75,000 men. The Constitution puts this power with the Congress: Article I, Section 8, sets forth the powers of Congress: “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections.”
Six governors rejected Lincoln’s call as illegal. The governor of North Carolina, John Ellis, responded, “I regard the levy of troops made by the administration for the purpose of subjugating the states of the South as in violation of the Constitution, and a usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.” The other five governors answered in the same vein.
Lincoln also called Congress into session, as required by the Constitution for “Extraordinary Occasions,” but delayed the meeting of Congress almost three months. By contrast, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, Roosevelt called Congress into session the very next day, December 8, 1941. Then, less than a week later, April 21, he ordered the purchase of war materials, five naval vessels, which under the Constitution required congressional appropriations.
While continuing to refer to the South as states in ‘rebellion’ on one hand, on the other hand he nevertheless blockaded the southern ports as though the South was actually a foreign country. The U.S. Constitution permitted this only as an act of war against foreign powers and requires a Congressional resolution.
So my friends there you have it. As always I do not have the unabashed ego to think that a few paragraphs will significantly change anyone’s opinion about Lincoln. But, I do hope that those of you with an open mind will pause and consider the evidence I have put forth here.
Significant Sesquicentennial Events:
October 3, 1861 Engagement at Camp Bartow, Greenbrier River, Virginia (now West Virginia) http://www.civilwar.n2genealogy.com/battles/611003.html
October 9, 1891 Engagement on Santa Rosa Island, Florida http://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/santarosa.html
October 12, 1861 The first ironclad, the “St. Louis,” was completed and launched from the Carondelet boatyard in Missouri http://www.mcwm.org/history_stlouis_ships.html
October 21, 1861 The Battle of Ball’s Bluff (Leesburg), Virginia http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/ballsbluff.html
October 24, 1861 Western Union completes the first trans-continental telegraph line http://www.telegraph-history.org/california/index.html
October 25, 1861 Union Major Charles Zagonyi’s “famous” charge into Springfield, Missouri http://mocivilwar150.com/history/battle/185
October 31, 1861 Remnant of the Missouri legislature votes to join the Confederacy http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=45775