political left in America has apparently decided that American history must
be rewritten so that it can be used in the political campaign for reparations
for slavery. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., of Chicago inserted language in
a Department of Interior appropriations bill for 2000 that instructed the
National Park Service to propagandize about slavery as the sole cause of the
war at all Civil War park sites. The Marxist historian Eric Foner has joined
forces with Jackson and will assist the National Park Service in its efforts
at rewriting history so that it better serves the political agenda of the far
left. Congressman Jackson has candidly described this whole effort as "a
down payment on reparations." (Foner ought to be quite familiar with the
"art" of rewriting politically-correct history. He was the chairman
of the committee at Columbia University that awarded the
"prestigious" Bancroft Prize in history to Emory University’s
Michael A. Bellesiles, author of the anti-Second Amendment book, "Arming
America," that turned out to be fraudulent. Bellesiles was forced to
resign from Emory and his publisher has ceased publishing the book.)
to accommodate the political agenda of the far left, the National Park
Service will be required in effect to teach visitors to the national parks
that Abraham Lincoln was a liar. Neither Lincoln nor the US Congress at the
time ever said that slavery was a cause – let alone the sole cause
– of their invasion of the Southern states in 1861. Both Lincoln and
the Congress made it perfectly clear to the whole world that they would do
all they could to protect Southern slavery as long as the secession movement
could be defeated.
March 2, 1861, the U.S. Senate passed a proposed Thirteenth Amendment to the
US Constitution (which passed the House of Representatives on February 28)
that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering
with slavery in the Southern states. (See U.S. House of Representatives, 106th
Congress, 2nd Session, The Constitution of the United States of
America: Unratified Amendments, Document No. 106-214, presented by
Congressman Henry Hyde (Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office,
January 31, 2000). The proposed amendment read as follows:
No amendment shall be made to the
Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or
interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof,
including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.
days later, in his First Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln promised to support
the amendment even though he believed that the Constitution already
prohibited the federal government from interfering with Southern slavery. As
I understand a proposed amendment
to the Constitution . . . has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal
Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the
States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction
of what I have said, I depart from my purpose, not to speak of particular
amendments, so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be
implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express
and irrevocable (emphasis added).
of course was consistent with one of the opening statements of the First
Inaugural, where Lincoln quoted himself as saying: "I have no purpose,
directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the
States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have
no inclination to do so."
what Lincoln said his invasion of the Southern states was not about.
In an August 22, 1862, letter to New York Tribune editor Horace
Greeley he explained to the world what the war was about:
My paramount object in this
struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy
slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, 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.
course, many Americans at the time, North and South, believed that a military
invasion of the Southern states would destroy the union by destroying
its voluntary nature. To Lincoln, "saving the Union" meant
destroying the secession movement and with it the Jeffersonian political
tradition of states’ rights as a check on the tyrannical proclivities
of the central government. His war might have "saved" the union
geographically, but it destroyed it philosophically as the country became a
consolidated empire as opposed to a constitutional republic of sovereign
July 22, 1861, the US Congress issued a "Joint Resolution on the
War" that echoed Lincoln’s reasons for the invasion of the
Resolved: . . . That this war is
not being prosecuted upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any
purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of overthrowing or
interfering with the rights or established institutions of those states, but
to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and all laws made in
pursuance thereof and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality
and rights of the several states unimpaired; and that as soon as these
objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.
"the established institutions of those states" the Congress was
referring to slavery. As with Lincoln, destroying the secession movement took
precedence over doing anything about slavery.
March 2, 1861 – the same day the "first Thirteenth Amendment"
passed the U.S. Senate – another constitutional amendment was proposed
that would have outlawed secession (See H. Newcomb Morse, "The
Foundations and Meaning of Secession," Stetson Law Review, vol.
15, 1986, pp. 419–36). This is very telling, for it proves that
Congress believed that secession was in fact constitutional under the Tenth
Amendment. It would not have proposed an amendment outlawing secession if the
Constitution already prohibited it.
would the Republican Party, which enjoyed a political monopoly after the war,
have insisted that the Southern states rewrite their state constitutions to
outlaw secession as a condition of being readmitted to the Union. If
secession was really unconstitutional there would have been no need to do so.
facts will never be presented by the National Park Service or by the Lincoln
cultists at the Claremont Institute, the Declaration Foundation, and
elsewhere. This latter group consists of people who have spent their careers
spreading lies about Lincoln and his war in order to support the political
agenda of the Republican Party. They are not about to let the truth stand in
their way and are hard at work producing "educational" materials
that are filled with false but politically correct history.
very different discussion of Lincoln and his legacy that is based on fact
rather than fantasy, attend the LewRockwell.com
"Lincoln Reconsidered" conference at the John Marshall Hotel in
Richmond, Virginia on March 22.
by Thomas DiLorenzo
J. DiLorenzo is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the
author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about
Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His
latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed
the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.
© 2009 by LewRockwell.com