Lincoln’s Birthday, 2014

We know the story of our 16th President.  A motherless boy from Kentucky who really didn’t dig splitting rails, read books against his illiterate father’s wishes, and eventually became a lawyer in Illinois.  He was a Whig Party leader.  They supported the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency and favored a program of modernization and economic protectionism. This name was chosen to echo the American Whigs of 1776, who fought for independence. “Whig” was then a widely-recognized label of choice for people who identified as opposing tyranny.

He served as an Illinois state legislator during the 1830s, and a one-term member of the Congress during the 1840s. He promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, canals, railroads and tariffs to encourage the building of factories; he opposed the war with Mexico in 1846.  Lincoln, a moderate from a swing state, secured the Republican Party presidential nomination in 1860. With almost no support in the South, Lincoln swept the North and was elected president in 1860. His election prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederacy. No compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery.

When the North enthusiastically rallied behind the national flag after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, Lincoln concentrated on the military and political dimensions of the war effort. His goal was to reunite the nation. He suspended habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists in the border states without trial. Lincoln averted British intervention by defusing the Trent affair in late 1861. His numerous complex moves toward ending slavery centered on the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, using the Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraging the border states to outlaw slavery, and helping push through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery (it was passed after his assassination).

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He made the major decisions on Union war strategy.  Lincoln’s Navy set up a naval blockade that shut down the South’s normal trade, helped take control of Kentucky and Tennessee, and gained control of the Southern river system using gunboats. He tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865.

An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, Lincoln reached out to “War Democrats” (who supported the North against the South), and managed his own re-election in 1864.  As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats who called for more compromise, Copperheads who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists who plotted his death.  Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory.

His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became an iconic statement of America’s dedication to the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. Six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding Gen. Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by a confederate sympathizer. Lincoln has been consistently ranked both by scholars and the public as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.

That is Wikipedia’s succinct account of Lincoln’s presidency.  The historians who helped write the passages also included this interesting bit of information about Lincoln:

On foreign and military policy, Lincoln spoke out against the Mexican-American, which he attributed to Pres. Polk’s desire for “military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood.”  Lincoln also supported the Wilmot Proviso, which, if it had been adopted, would have banned slavery in any U.S. territory won from Mexico.

Lincoln emphasized his opposition to Polk by drafting and introducing his Spot Resolutions. The war had begun with a Mexican slaughter of American soldiers in territory disputed by Mexico and the U.S.; Polk insisted that Mexican soldiers had “invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil.”  Lincoln demanded that Polk show Congress the exact spot on which blood had been shed and prove that the spot was on American soil.  Congress never enacted the resolution or even debated it, the national papers ignored it, and it resulted in a loss of political support for Lincoln in his district. One Illinois newspaper derisively nicknamed him “Spotty Lincoln.”  Lincoln later regretted some of his statements, especially his attack on the presidential war-making powers, especially once he found himself a war-time president.

Lincoln’s critics, then and now, took issue with his suspension of habeas corpus and detaining prisoners without trial.  Not everyone (particularly in the South or even in the North) approved of his Emancipation Proclamation.  They saw him as a tyrant issuing a fiat.   When he signed the Proclamation, he basically signed his death warrant, and he probably knew it.

His relationship with Frederick Douglass convinced him that the black people were, indeed, capable of existing and surviving as free individuals in a democracy.  Lincoln understood that the Federal government’s power to end slavery was limited by the Constitution, which before 1865, committed the issue to individual states. He argued before and during his election that the eventual extinction of slavery would result from preventing its expansion into new U.S. territory.

At the beginning of the war, he also sought to persuade the states to accept compensated emancipation in return for their prohibition of slavery. Lincoln believed that curtailing slavery in these ways would economically expunge it, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, under the constitution. Lincoln rejected two geographically-limited emancipation attempts by Major General John C. Fremont in August 1861 and by Major General David Hunter in May 1862, on the grounds that it was not within their power, and it would upset the Border States loyal to the Union.

On June 19, 1862, endorsed by Lincoln, Congress passed an act banning slavery on all federal territory.  In July 1862, the Second Confiscation Act was passed, which set up court procedures that could free the slaves of anyone convicted of aiding the rebellion. Although Lincoln believed it was not within Congress’ power to free the slaves within the states, he approved the bill in deference to the legislature. He felt such action could only be taken by the Commander-in-Chief using war powers granted to the president by the Constitution, and Lincoln was planning to take that action. In that month, Lincoln discussed a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet. In it, he stated that “as a fit and necessary military measure, on January 1, 1863, all persons held as slaves in the Confederate states will thenceforward, and forever, be free.”  (They were already freed in the North.)

Lincoln was extremely mindful of the Constitution and the limits on Federal power.  His critics argued that there were equal limits on Presidential powers.  If there were no limits, or a president simply ignored them and issued by fiat, at will, he was no longer an elected representative of the people but a tyrant.  John Wilkes Booth and his Copperhead conspirators certainly thought so.  “Sic semper tyrannus!” Booth yelled as he leapt to the stage after shooting Lincoln.

‘States’ rights!’ they cried.  Today, we have an anti-Constitutional occupant in the White House who cries, ‘Federal government rights!’ and claims, repeatedly, “I can do anything I want” pointing to Lincoln as a model and a buffer against any critics.

Lincoln wanted to change the country for the better.  He wanted to improve the economy, promoted industrialization and Capitalism.  He approved of the government building railroads and canals to improve transportation for business and for the public.  Since he opposed Polk’s Mexican-American War and was apparently disgusted by the ‘war for military glory’ with its fountains of blood, yet immediately took up the Civil War, primarily to prevent the secession of the Southern states, but also to free the slaves, his perspective was flexible and reasonable.

Lincoln wanted an America that was free in more than name only.  His half-black successor clearly does not share those views.  Obama rules more like a willful child than a lettered statesman.  He wants revenge, not justice.  He believes the Constitution is a hindrance to government, giving the power to the people.  So it is a hindrance – to him; it’s supposed to be.  Obama bemoans the fact that the Constitution limits government’s power over the people.  So he ignores it at every turn.

“He’s not my president” has been a cry of the minority party for decades.  In this case, it is literally true.  He is not “our” president in that he is not a “president”, no matter how large a majority voted for him.  Obama is a president in name only, a PINO, if you like.  He rules rather than presides.  He sees himself elevated above the other two branches of government.  The judicial has long been in the pockets of the Progressives, making them subservient to Obama’s will.  The Legislature, he regards (as Caesar did) the Legislative branch insignificant, inasmuch as they are comprised mostly from his own party anyway. No wonder he has this notion that he can do what he wants.

The Republicans fear him and his propaganda machine – probably with good reason, given the intelligence level and the avarice-envy complex of the typical, low-information voter.  The only party that does not fear him is not an official political party at all, but a grass-roots movement that, having taken their name from the Boston Tea Party of the American Revolution, became confused with political parties.  The Tea in “Tea Party” is the backronym “Taxed Enough Already.”

Obama has abused his powers to target this small band of Conservatives.  His media cheerleaders have deftly destroyed their reputation, even though most voters polled find themselves largely in agreement with the Tea Party’s agenda of limited government – “limited”, mind you, not “anti” – fiscal responsibility, and last but not least, lowering taxes, the reason for the backronym of Taxed Enough Already.

Obama wins populist support by advocating taxing the wealthy.  But as radio host Rush Limbaugh pointed out in a 2013 issue of his Limbaugh Letter, there are two kinds of wealthy people:  the asset rich, like Warren Buffet who famously paid fewer taxes than his secretary because he was being taxed on his savings and investments, not his salary; and the working rich, whose income derives mainly from their salaries.  The latter are whom Obama intends to tax.  The asset rich are Obama donors and supporters.  Tax the working rich, the people who own businesses or run companies, and the economy will be ruined.  Even more jobs will disappear.

Obama is no Lincoln.  He’s a crook who will divide our country into the very rich and the very poor.  He is inculcating a new American Civil War, one that hints more of the bloody French Revolution than the American Revolution.  Why he hasn’t been impeached is a matter of politics, cronyism, cravenness, and ignorance.

And to think that Abraham Lincoln essentially gave his life so that a man like Obama could be elected to office and destroy the country.  No one should be enslaved.  But ironically, we will all ultimately be enslaved under Obama’s rule.

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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