Violations of the Constitution by American Presidents – Lincoln and the War Between the States

Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

We have all been taught that Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator who freed the slaves during the Civil War, but according to the Independent Review, “contrary to popular belief, the war was not fought primarily over slavery.” This statement counters everything we have been taught since grammar school. It appears that in reality most Northerners did not object to slavery; quite to the contrary, they graciously accomplished trade and most business matters with the south, without protest. Supposedly, the war was fought because of the different economic policies of the northern and southern states, wherein some of these policies were related, but other matters had absolutely nothing to do with slavery.

 

Therefore, the war with the south, which is more correctly identified as the “war between the states,” was a convenient vehicle to ensure the southern tax base was retained to fund the treasury to feed expansion. Lincoln may have made many decisions for what he considered the greater good of the country, but on the surface it appears that sinister forces were at work. Scholars have debated the issue of why the war was fought for over a hundred years, without an absolute conclusion. As far as this book, this is not the issue I wish to explore. The issue is how the Constitution has been suborned, misinterpreted, ignored or simply bypassed by the politicians, and in some cases by the judicial system itself, so I will leave the great debate to the scholars.

 

Let me be very clear about this. I am not attempting to demonize some of the most important figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, in American history, as many revisionists have reviled both Jefferson and Washington and other revolutionary visionaries because they owned slaves. We know little of the mindset of many of these people over one hundred to two hundred years ago. As incomprehensible as their thinking may have been in today’s society, in many quarters slaves were considered sub-human, to be used for menial labor in much the same manner as we use robots today. Therefore, the Founding Fathers did not see any contradiction between slavery and the “All men are created equal” clause of the Declaration of Independence.

 

Lincoln claimed in his First Inaugural Address “No state upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.”

 

Closely examining the Articles of Confederation, Article II states,

Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

By the standard definition in any randomly chosen dictionary, delegated means to pass down a chain-of-command to a subordinate agent by a superior authority – in this case, the individual state is passing authority to the Federal government. To reinforce this argument, The Declaration of Independence, in part, states quite clearly,

“That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States… and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.”

“Power to levy War?” “Contract Alliances?  These words sound very much like the authority any nation would grant itself.

 

Remember that the framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution very specifically designed the new government on the basis of a union of strong and independent states with a minimal Federal government solely responsible for defense and the judiciary, to avoid the pitfalls of powerful central governments such as England. In fact, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution specifically states

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”

Common defence and general Welfare meant that their intention was simply to maintain a Federal army and the development of a nationwide judicial system. That was the main purpose of the Federal government – and not the mutation we have today. According to various legal interpretations, Lincoln had no more claim to bind Georgia or Alabama than it had in binding China or France to the Union. The key here is that somehow Lincoln and his supporters chose to believe that the states had magically surrendered their status as sovereign nations as justification to wage war against the south. Lincoln’s actions clearly violated the tenth amendment to the Constitution that states,

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Legal experts, ad nauseum, can debate this argument but one seemingly indisputable fact stands out like a Times Square billboard. By almost all legal interpretations, the Constitution is fundamentally a treaty between separate and sovereign nation-states, which those states agreed to support, as opposed to being bound to obey by law. This is a very important point that illustrates the rape of the Constitution commencing with the administration of Lincoln. There are thousands of legal interpretations that are both pro and con on this issue, so consult your library (or the Internet) if you wish to pursue this matter in greater depth.

 

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus (a writ to release a party from unlawful restraint) and people were seized and confined on the possible suspicion of disloyalty. At least 13,000 civilians were held as political prisoners, often without trial or with minimal hearings before a military tribunal. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ruled that the suspension of habeas corpus was unconstitutional, but was overruled by Lincoln. Does this not ring a bell? The Patriot Act was not the first instance of suspension of the people’s rights under the Constitution.

 

Once Lincoln and his supporters had made the decision that states had surrendered their sovereignty, the Civil War caused a tremendous expansion of the size and power of the Federal government. A progressive income tax was imposed on the people to pay for the war, the start of the extortion of our paychecks that we live with today.

 

One of the key provisions of the Constitution is that it is a “living” document. Our Founding Fathers recognized that they could not foresee the needs of the people 100 or 200 years in the future, so they developed the system of amendments to permit continual update of the document. However, a very important point must be emphasized in that two-thirds of the states must ratify any change. Obviously since the south represented about one-half of the states in the Union, Lincoln would not have been able to modify any provision of the Constitution dealing with states rights – he would not have obtained approval on this issue.

 

Frank Meyer, in the August, 1965, issue of National Review, wrote an article that in part stated,

“Lincoln’s pivotal role in our history was essentially negative to the genius and freedom of our country.”

Pretty harsh words I would have to say. He also wrote:

“Lincoln…moved at every point …to consolidate central power and render nugatory (of little importance) the autonomy of the states…It is on his shoulders that the responsibility for the war must be placed.”

Many historians would agree with the following statement,

“If the premise upon which the US broke from England is legitimate then the ENTIRE PREMISE upon which Lincoln prosecuted the war against the Confederacy was ILLEGAL AND CRIMINAL.”

There is no question the Lincoln freed the slaves, a terrible blot on the country, but “does the means justify the end?”

 

As un-American and contrary as this may sound, an argument can be made that if this democracy falls within the next 50 years because of excessive Federal government control and taxation, Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves by fighting the war may have been too high a price to pay for his usurpation of the Constitution.

read more at Violations of the Constitution by American Presidents.

An Open Letter

There are those who look to government to dictate a utopian society through laws, regulations, bureaucracy, government intervention, oversight, and funding.  I don’t believe that those who feel this way are evil in their intentions at all.  I think they honestly do wish to see a better world, where people are cared for, and all have an equal opportunity to find happiness.  It is difficult to find fault in the intention.  It is the means that I find most troubling, and where much of the division lies among Americans today.  Whereas one group looks to the heavy hand of government to force an ideal society, the other group finds much to fear in that, for government is far too often owned and controlled by a powerful minority that cares little for those over whom they govern.

George Washington once said, “Government is not reason, it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

My ancestry, like that of many Americans, experienced first hand the wisdom of Washington’s words.  By and large, they fled to America to find a place where they could be free from the heavy hand of government, free to pursue life, love, and happiness.  My ancestors were Huguenot, French Protestants driven out of their country upon pain of death for their faith.  They were Germans from Russia, a people forced into Russia under Catherine the Great, and hated for generations until Stalin saw fit to destroy the bulk of them who remained in Russia.  They were Cherokee, forced out of their lands on the Trail of Tears.  They were Confederates, who saw a savage and brutal war waged against them, and in their surrender, a harsh military occupation and the loss of their voice.  These people all saw their homes, their peace, their happiness shattered by the brutal hand of government which sought to destroy them and to demonize them to create their own utopian vision.

I have inherited a healthy distrust for government.

I believe in people, and I believe that people will generally do what is right.  Where they do not, a free society generally does a pretty good job of taking care of those issues.  People will rise up to right injustices through various means, and when they do they are very effective.  People will and do take care of each other with a compassion that no government agent could ever hold.  I have far greater faith in my family, my neighbor, my community, than I could ever hold in an entity which draws power not from compassion, love, or community, but rather from the end of a gun.  That gun should exist to protect the people and our freedoms.

Therein lies the cunundrum.  There are problems that we collectively face, but while one sees the hand of government as the best solution, the other sees a more Orwellian view of such efforts.  As Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to supply you with everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.”  I would rather place my faith in those things which are deserving of such a trust.

Do not mistake my distrust of power as racist, or uncaring, or any of the other words that political diatribe in this nation has eroded to.  I’m sure this election will further erode the bonds that bind us, but it is my sincere hope that we can heal the rift, and understand not only the fundamental differences in our world views, but that each wishes a better life for all.