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by K. Steven Monk
As time and honest scholarship take over, future generations will not judge Lincoln well. In fact, it will be hard to not call what he did a crime against the laws of war and nations, making Lincoln, as painful as it may be, a war criminal. And even if his military had behaved according to civilized decency, his purpose of "preserving the Union" finds no support in the laws of war as a just cause.
For four years, during the greatest crisis that this country has ever known, America was ruled by a dictator. But then, as history has repeatedly shown, it is generally during times of national crisis that dictators rise to power. Who was this tyrant? He was a simple and self-educated lawyer who came from humble roots in rural Illinois. Yes, I'm talking about Abraham Lincoln.
Now before you write me off as some long-haired redneck who has maybe been washing down too many boiled peanuts with Dixie beer, let's just take a look at Mr. Lincoln's record. What did good ole "Honest Abe" do to earn such a dubious and controversial distinction? Well, basically, he trashed the constitution, a rather pesky document for a national leader who was in a big hurry to "save the Union" from a belligerant bunch of rebels who were bent on leaving it. At times like these, one must act fast...and with dictatorial authority. Of course, it was very helpful that he happened to have the military in his hip pocket. Let's take a look at Lincoln's record.
Violation of the First Amendment under the Bill of Rights (freedom of the press) by silencing hundreds of Northern newspapers whose editorial slant supported a pro-Southern view. In some cases he had the editors of these newspapers arrested and thrown in jail.
Suspension of habeus corpus, the right which forbids arbitrary arrests, trials, and imprisonment by executive power. Under the constitution, only the Congress had the authority to do this.
Lincoln had numerous members of the Maryland legislature arrested and jailed. On what charges? Because he suspected them of holding secessionist sympathies and he was afraid that they might vote secession for the state of Maryland. Did you ever wonder why Maryland didn't secede? Well, this was the reason. Members who might have voted for secession were in jail under Lincoln's orders. By suspending the right of habeus corpus he was able to do this. In other words, by violating the constitution in one way, he was able to go ahead and violate it again in another.
"I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races -- that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races from living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race." -- As cited in "The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln," Roy Basler, ed. 1953 New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.
"A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. Such separation, if ever affected at all, must be effected by colonization. The enterprise is a difficult one, but 'where there is a will there is a way:' and what colonization needs now is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and at the same time, favorable to, or at least not against our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be." -- From an address by Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois, on June 26, 1857.