DiLorenzo Is Right About Lincoln
by Walter E. Williams
In 1831, long before the War between the States, South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun said, “Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.” The War between the States answered that question and produced the foundation for the kind of government we have today: consolidated and absolute, based on the unrestrained will of the majority, with force, threats, and intimidation being the order of the day.
Today’s federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. Thomas J. DiLorenzo gives an account of how this came about in The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.
As DiLorenzo documents – contrary to conventional wisdom, books about Lincoln, and the lessons taught in schools and colleges – the War between the States was not fought to end slavery; Even if it were, a natural question arises: Why was a costly war fought to end it? African slavery existed in many parts of the Western world, but it did not take warfare to end it. Dozens of countries, including the territorial possessions of the British, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, ended slavery peacefully during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Countries such as Venezuela and Colombia experienced conflict because slave emancipation was simply a ruse for revolutionaries who were seeking state power and were not motivated by emancipation per se.
Abraham Lincoln’s direct statements indicated his support for slavery; He defended slave owners’ right to own their property, saying that “when they remind us of their constitutional rights [to own slaves], I acknowledge them, not grudgingly but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the claiming of their fugitives” (in indicating support for the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850).
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was little more than a political gimmick, and he admitted so in a letter to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase: “The original proclamation has no…legal justification, except as a military measure.” Secretary of State William Seward said, “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free. ” Seward was acknowledging the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to slaves in states in rebellion against the United States and not to slaves in states not in rebellion.