Political Opinions#64- Lincoln Wasn’t a Proponent of Equality.

 

Discussion:

I have never particularly taken gleeful pleasure in being the heretical rabble-rouser that seeks to slit the throats of our sacred cows. I would certainly detest anyone suggesting that I am a provocateur.  While I do subscribe to specific ideologies, I would prefer to think that I have more integrity than merely promoting controversy for the sake of shock value. Simultaneously, I also believe even the most revered institutions and historical figures are not above criticism. That even includes the mythic figure of Abraham Lincoln. An individual who has been catapulted into the realm of folklore and living mythology through a potentially hyperbolic interpretation of Civil-War era history. Analogous to how George Washington has been romanticized and exaggerated, in a similar fashion good Ol’ Abe has been portrayed. It is imperative to remember that both are merely men who both possessed faults much like another human being.

Since we live in an age of hyper-political correctness,  to criticize the presidency of Abraham Lincoln is nothing short of a transgression against civilized society. Much of this rhetoric alluding to the fact that if you see any flaws in his policies or actions as president you must tacitly support slavery or be a closet Neo-Confederate. However, to any rational thinker, it should be that such rhetoric is merely conflating approval of the institution of slavery with disapproval with Lincoln as an elected official. Both are very different socio-political perspectives, that could have some overlap, but is a true leap-of-faith to equate the two.

If anything such resolute and unquestioning reverence to Lincoln as a historical figure and a president is unfounded. In the grand scheme of things the Emancipation Proclamation was his most significant accomplishment while in office as commander-in-chief. Even at that was spurred by insincere motives and not the bleeding-heart social justice and egalitarian ethos that we are told in the cult-of-Lincoln folklore as children. Lincoln only extended the abolishment of slavery to “rebel territories” and continued to allow territories that were occupied by Union troops in the South to engage in the practice of owning slaves [3] [4] [5]. This political maneuver by Lincoln was more an attempt to gain political leverage in the light of the Union’s lack of success on the battlefield [6]. It was really more of a power play and pageantry then it was truly about equal rights for the enslaved people of African ancestry.

While some could say that asserting such notions are not only bold but borderline slanderous need to consider a few facts at hand. For one, in Lincoln’s inaugural address he vowed to not “disrupt” the practice of slavery [4]. Second Lincoln along with his political mentor Henry Clay were proponents of the colonization plan. Which entailed relocating all of the previously enslaved people of African ancestry to other countries in Central America, Africa, and the Caribbean nation of Haiti [7] [8]. Renown abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison met this proposal with much derision. Referring to the meetings Lincoln had with “…freed black leaders to lead an exodus of blacks out of the country…” as “humiliating” and ” impertinent” [9]. While the described effort towards colonization may sound far-fetched and conspiratorial there are even mainstream historical sources the verify the validity of such claims. Even the History Channel’s website confirms the veracity of this claim and of Lincoln’s opposition to racial equality and the abolition[10].

Some believe that it would be sine qua non that I expound upon how the numerous war atrocities committed by the Union Army. However, I would be remiss and egregiously dishonest to not acknowledge that the Confederacy was also guilty of wartime atrocities. One of the many examples being the slaughter blacks at Fort Willow by Confederate troops which said to have been one of the precipitating events leading to the battle of the Crater [11]. Such events are always much more salient to us when the transgression came from the side of the Confederacy.  It should be noted that the instances for the federal army plundering and murdering civilians and slaves was well documented [12] Sure everyone is familiar of when Sherman burned Atlanta to its foundation. That is far from the only time a scorched earth policy was implemented by the Union army.  Such a policy was also utilized by General Philip Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley in late 1864. Much of the zeal behind this insidious campaign was fueled by Lincoln losing the 1864 election if defeated [13]. It would certainly appear as if Lincoln was more concerned with his political future than adhering to the parameters of the Geneva Convention 1864. Then again the abridge quote ironically utter by Sherman himself “war is hell” could explain and conversely defend the loosening of moral deportment in the height of battlefield tensions [14]. If war is hell, what is the fate of the soul of the unscrupulous politician that felt that it was a necessary matter?

Such an inquiry merely acts as pathway adjoining us to the question if the civil war was even necessary.  Before we dissect this inquiry is important to note that many individuals conflate the main impetus of the Civil War. Everyone always points to the most salient bone of contention being slavery. That is erroneous on a multitude of various levels. When it comes right down to it was truly a fight between state autonomy and federal jurisdiction. But even if you wanted to operate under the assumption that the Civil War was oriented on the topic of slavery, rather than it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, was a war necessary? Merely from the standpoint of ending slavery, no. However, it is noted that the demand for slave labor would have exponentially dwindled due to the inefficiencies productivity wise[15] [16].

In actuality most European countries and their territorial possessions were able to end Slavery without military action. One excellent example of this was when the United Kingdom implemented policy to prohibit the slave trade domestically and abroad in the British colonies. It should be noted that the overall process took a total of 46 years from conception to fruition. Within that nearly half century period parliament did not need to implement the use of military force to facility enactment anti-slavery measures. There were also policies in place where arrangements were made to compensate slaver owners for the loss of assets. One such salient example being the parliamentary Reform Act of 1832 which awarded  $20 million to West Indian planters [17]. As reprehensible we may find it to characterize human beings as property, it is imperative that we attempt to understand the context. If we attach direct moral value from the standpoint of our contemporary to the institution of slavery we will be amidst the fallacy of present-ism. Considering the norms the milieu of the time adequate compensation for slaves was an appropriate provision for relinquishing ownership of slaves.

If we can divorce the current normative values of the present day away from slavery, the U.S. government did attempt to bilk  property of private citizens without appropriate compensation. Which would in any context constitute theft. Beyond that fallacy, the actually costs of the Civil War are quite jarring. The costs were more than just monetary or economic.  Approximately 620,000 people were killed in the conflict, per capita was a larger loss of life than what was suffered during the Vietnam war. The war resulted in a destruction of 40 percent of the nations collective economy. Between loss of GDP and the actual expenditures utilized for the actual war effort [18]. The total explicit cost of the war clocks in around approximately $6.6 Billion and it has been speculated that it would have been far more economic to have paid the slaver owners the market value for the slaves lost [19].

The famous humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow conceived the concept of the hierarchy of needs. Once an individual has meet all their basic needs for survival and esteem the reach to the top hierarchy pyramid and achieve the status of self-actualization. Such an attain status per Maslow encompasses:

“…represents growth of an individual toward fulfillment of the highest needs; those for meaning in life, in particular…”

Fellow humanist psychologist and follower of  Maslow Carl Rogers referred to self-actualization as the growth of potential and integration of true self [20]. It is commonly cited that Maslow believed that Lincoln encapsulated the virtues of such an enlightened status [21]. Which is quite perplexing to me because when we actually examine the historical facts surrounding Lincoln as a man and a politician he was far from dynamic. He was quite narrow in scope and was more opportunistic  than moralistic. It could be speculated that he was also far from secure esteem-wise. In a sense he was in the shadow of his mentor Henry Clay. This would include Clay’s grandiose political aspirations manifested in his American Plan. While the pages of history will celebrate in jubilation the victories of Lincoln, he was never quite able to fully make the ambitions of the Whig Party a complete reality. Clay’s  American Plan was a full on Hamiltonian consolidation of power to the federal government. [22] In a sense Lincoln was the next in succession to adopt the principles of a strong centralized government. Much of this is reflected in defacto puppet regimes installed in the south during reconstruction. Conspicuously in lieu of autonomous state governments. This long standing incredulity endures to this very day and can be seen in preference for low taxes and government spending [23].

What is clearly evident here is that Lincoln has received a lot of dogmatic praise for being the president who abolished slavery. Seems as if the virtues of the abolitionist were a far cry from his own convictions. That he was a career politician attempt to garner public favor. So why would so many people stop short of venerating Lincoln when we was not the virtuous advocate that he was morally flawed on so many levels?  There was nothing selfless about Lincoln’s actions while in office. He merely saw slavery as a tool and an excuse to strengthen the central government. He reviled the abolitionist movement and perceived blacks as grossly inferior to Caucasians. What it all can be distilled down to is another psychological concept know as the “Halo Effect. Which is defined as allowing one aspect of an individual, object, or entity to influence our overall perception of them [24].

The second prong being the political correctness aspect to unwavering seeing Lincoln in heroic light. In most political circles he there is unilateral consensus that Lincoln was the great savior of the enslaved people tethered to their servile toils in the tobacco fields of Virginia and the Carolinas. It is almost heretical to observe and acknowledge Lincoln’s own prejudices. Such ignorance was not isolated to Lincoln, but was rather the norm in 19th century America. It is the tacit denial of Lincoln’s disdains and prejudices regarding African Americans and abolitionist that is truly vexing. It is a grave mistake to refuse to acknowledge the truth of the past even if it comes in direct confrontation with our preferred narrative. Lincoln ended slavery as a political maneuver rather than an due to an enlightened epiphany. It wasn’t like he was intense reading Lockean philosophy and then came to the realization that a slave was a much a person as he was. But rather Lincoln was an unexceptional byproduct of his time. The fact that I could be sullied as closet bigot for making such a historically factual observation speak more to the pathology of the political correctness culture in the United States. All because the outcome of ending slavery was positive does not mean that Lincoln had pure and pristine motives for doing so.

Foot Notes:

  1. https://peterclark7979.wixsite.com/website/home/political-opinions-63-lincoln-wasn-t-a-proponent-of-equality

2. https://youtu.be/33wZklNo-HA (video)

3.  DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page:34

4. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page:35

5. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page:36

6. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Pages:37-38

7.DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Pages: 17-18

8. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Pages:275.

9. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 19.

10. https://www.history.com/news/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-lincoln-slavery-and-emancipation

11. Davis, Burke. The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts. (1960, Reprint 1996) Random House. Page 230.

12. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 171-200.

13. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 195.

14. https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/william_tecumseh_sherman_190604

15. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 47.

16. Mises, Ludwig Von. Human Action:  The Scholar’s Edition (1949), Published by Ludwig Von Mises Institue, Reprint 1998. P. 625.

17. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/antislavery_01.shtml

18. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 4.

19. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 50-51.

20. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/theory-and-psychopathology/201308/the-theory-self-actualization

21. http://livingmeanings.com/self-actualized-person-maslows-theory-flaws/

22. DiLorenzo, Thomas. The Real Lincoln. (2002). Three Rivers Press. Page 59-61, 256

23. https://www.savannahnow.com/article/20070904/NEWS/309049903

24. https://psychologydictionary.org/halo-effect/

 

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Author: invertedlogicblog

In pursuit of liberty, philosophical thought, and Austrian Economics.

6 thoughts on “Political Opinions#64- Lincoln Wasn’t a Proponent of Equality.”

  1. Slavery really didn’t end until the 1950’s when blacks started joining the military and left the sharecropper jobs that basically kept them married to the land all of their lives. Risking your life in Korea for more money was attractive to a lot of African Americans, considering poverty and racism were the alternatives.

    Lincoln did not specifically free the slaves; however, his was the first salvo into that system. After his death, anger was so great that the South had no chance of reestablishing it. Lincoln would’ve treated the South more leniently. It reminds me of Kennedy putting forth the ideas of equal rights and Johnson actually getting the bills passed after Kennedy was assassinated…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting way to approach the topic. Thank you for the comment. Personally I would contend that sharecropping really was closer to being a modern form of feudalism than slavery.

      Granted , feudalism was an extremely flawed and dehumanizing system. Sharecropping may have occurred on the same grounds that slavery was practiced, but had more common ground with medieval serfdom.

      While I have heard of serfdom referred to as “slavery-light” , I do believe there are some core attributes distinguishing between the two practices. Neither practice is truly comparable with true incarnations of liberty.

      Liked by 1 person

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