Last Friday, March 11, marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s first presidential inauguration. For generations the virtues of our 16th president and his martyr-like demise at the hands of an assassin have been proudly proclaimed to public school students; so much so that Lincoln has practically attained the status of a deity in our society. His other-worldliness is of course based on the claim that he singlehandedly engineered the freeing of the slaves and rightly saved the Union from the selfish interests of a few malcontents in the South. This shallow revisionist history of Lincoln’s motives and actions has been effective in convincing most Americans that the poor rail splitter from Illinois should be revered and worshiped. However, it is the discerning student of history who knows the aforementioned claims are dubious to say the least and a second look at the railroad lawyer is necessary to see the true character of the man known as “Honest Abe.”
To rebut that Lincoln ever sought to free the slaves all we need to do is read his own words written in a letter to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862, almost a year and half after becoming president.
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union…”
In other words, all Lincoln cared about was keeping the country together under his leadership as president. As a moral concern, he didn’t care at all about freeing the slaves. In fact, his Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves located in states actively in rebellion against the United States. This was in order to allow those slaves to fight for the Union army. His executive order fulfilled his words that he would attempt to save the Union by freeing some slaves and leaving others alone. In essence the proclamation enhanced the ranks of the Yankee fighting force in the South while leaving close to 1 million slaves on the plantations of the border states loyal to the North.
If that’s not bad enough, new information about what Lincoln had planned for freed slaves after the War Between the States has been uncovered at the British National Archives and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and published in a new book by university researchers, Philip Magness and Sebastian Page. According to the authors, speaking to an audience of freed slaves at the White House in 1862, Lincoln encouraged them to leave the U.S. and to resettle abroad. He stressed to them that he considered free blacks who sought a permanent existence in the United States to be “selfish” and encouraged them to relocate to Central America “”especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land — thus being suited to your physical condition.” He further engaged the British in secret diplomacy to get their permission to set up a colony for free blacks in Belize leading to his appointing a British agent to recruit volunteers for the endeavor. Lastly, just one year prior to his assassination Lincoln queried Attorney General Edward Bates on whether his colonization commissioner James Mitchell could still advise him, given that Congress had ended funding for Mitchell’s office.
Thus, one could argue that Lincoln used the slaves as military pawns in his conflict with the Confederacy. He granted them freedom in the South in order to recruit them to fight their former masters. Once the war was over, he would have been content double crossing them by not guaranteeing them the freedom they had fought for and instead shipping them off to a faraway place better “suited to their physical condition.” This is the Great Emancipator whom all American school children are taught to revere.
To be sure, there are other frauds in American history. Woodrow Wilson usually gets high praise for saving the world for democracy, but his policies during and after World War I led to the rise of Hitler and the next great world conflict. His racist tendencies have also been covered up by revisionists. Then there is the patron saint of statists everywhere, Franklin Roosevelt. His imbecilic economic policies prolonged the Great Depression by at least another decade. His handling of the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor was either meant to start war with Japan in order to boost the economy, or it was grotesque negligence. Either way, he was guilty of treason or dereliction of duty.
It’s close but Lincoln takes the prize for biggest fraud. He was anything but a democrat and supporter of liberty as his transgressions against the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are legendary. The War Between the States that he directed took the lives of over a half million Americans on both sides. His position that the slaves should be used militarily solely to secure the Union and then discarded like last week’s leftovers was despicable.