Monday, May 30, 2011

Did Lincoln Free the Slaves or Did Winning the War Just Lead Us to that Perception?

“Grandpa, I’ve been doing some research in regards to the Constitution and I’ve come up with some facts that kind of puzzles me. At the time of its passage there was no left or right when it came to the interpretation of the Constitution. Everyone interpreted it as being clearly written and everyone saw it from the view of strict construction.

This interpretation lasted up and past the War between the States.  Presidents Lincoln, a Republican, and President Johnson, a Democrat, as well as President Buchanan were united in this interpretation. They were also united in the fact that secession was illegal and that the southern states were still members of the United States, not States separated from the union thus allowed to form their own confederation. This would justify teaching that it was a civil war. Yet one thing bothers me.

There are many that say that Lincoln freed the slaves by executive order with the Emancipation Proclamation. If the southern States were not legally separated but still members of the United States then how could Lincoln, by executive order give freedom to the slaves? That would appear as an abuse of the executive branch of the federal government by the fact he blatantly violated the terms of the Constitution. And if so, a very impeachable act of President Lincoln.

The only possible ways that Lincoln could legally free the slaves would be, in my opinion, is under one of these circumstances.
1. the southern States were actually legally separated from the United States thus allowing Lincoln to treat them as a separate nation with whom the United States was at war with. If so then the Constitution would no longer apply to these States. By this understanding the war could no longer be classified as a civil war but as a war between two nations, both made up of a confederation of States. It would just be defined as a war between the States because by the strict constructionists view each of the States were sovereign States. The only problem with this is the fact that the federal government never recognized the Confederacy as an independent sovereign State.
2. One other way would be that it was the understanding up through that time that the President of the United States has dictatorial powers during times of war. This would declare that the President was no longer bound by the constitutional limits placed upon the federal government as a strict constructionist would interpret it. The problem with this is the fact that it goes against the whole concept of the meaning of a constitutional government.
3. The southern States were no longer recognized as being sovereign States once they had seceded thus were subject to the rule of the federal government in the same manner as any other territory owned by the United States. The problem with this is the fact that it goes against the whole concept of the meaning of being a sovereign state in the first place.

Grandpa, one more thing we must remember in regards to this act. The importance of it is dependent upon the fact that it was the north who won the war and not the south. If the south had won, that speech would have no meaning in regards to the freedom of the slaves. It probably would be looked upon as the rantings of a delusional man unfit to be President of these United States. And along this line of thought we'd have to say that John Wilkes Booth's place in history would be seen in an entirely different light. In fact, our whole perception of that time as we know it today is dependent upon the fact that the United States won the war. This includes some people's perception of the cause of the war.

This simple fact along with other things that I have learned by researching the issue has made me question the truthfulness of history as being taught in school. History, as taught, appears to be very emotionally biased towards the winner of the war and prejudiced against the loser. This, alone, scares me in regards to our educational system.

If it does nothing else, grandpa, it has instilled in me one fact that you have preached from day one, the importance of depending upon ourselves rather then depending upon others to provide for our needs. It is apparent to me now that this concept also applies to the education of the mind. For what others teach us will ultimately be in accordance to their own biases and prejudices.

My only question is, What gave the federal government the right to force the confederate States to remain in the union instead of acknowledging their right to secede from the union?

Am I making any kind of sense, grandpa, or are my words the words of a silly fool?”

Grandpa just grinned, reached out and ruffled my hair with that big calloused hand of his and replied, “I'll let you know after you tell me what else you have found out from that research of yours.”

Then he just put his arm around me and began leading me towards the house saying, “But, right now, let's you and me go in and partake of the fine vittles that your grandma has cooked up for us. I can smell how good it is going to taste all the way out here and it has made me hungry as a mama bear that has just woke up from a long winter's nap.”


Ema Nymton said...


Grandpa being a patient man must have been surprised at how many basic assumptions you were making that were historical not accurate. He might even ask which constitution you had been researching?

The Constitution of USA is a living document and written in a style that intentionally allows the people government maximum flexibility. Grandpa could point to Thomas Jefferson and his buying 'the Louisiana Purchase', even though no mention of this power exists in Constitution.

The Constitution of USA is not clearly written. Grandpa might point to "Amendment IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated," and ask "What does it mean by 'unreasonable searches and seizures'?"

Historically speaking few saw the Constitution from the view of strict construction. Being a good hearted person Grandpa probably pointed out the strict construction reading of the Second Amendment means the second amendment applies ONLY to weapons available at the time (1787), ie black powder muzzle loaders.

Not surprised Grandpa did not try to answer you lame questions.

Ema Nymton

The Griper said...

hi ema,
welcome back. it is good to see you again. but i have a few questions for you.

what basic assumptions did the boy make that cannot be verified by research?

what makes you believe that someone who adheres to the "strict construction" theory would limit the second amendment to weapons as known as that time?

what evidence do you have to declare that the "strict construction" theory was only accepted by a few persons?

on what basis does the louisiana purchase evidence of maximum flexibility as opposed to the recognition of its acting within the limitation of its powers?

what makes your declaration that the Constitution is a "living document" a universal interpretation of it?

that is only the interpretation of those who adhere to leftist politics.

you are presenting the typical liberal philosophy and expecting me to accept your word of its validity as most liberals do.

if you are going to present a rebuttal argument then do so in a valid manner by presenting evidence to give it some credibility.

dmarks said...

"The Constitution of USA is a living document"

That's a rather nutty statement, and has been abused by modern judges and politicians, mostly on the Left, to mean "the Constitution says whatever I think it says" as they take away people's rights.

"Being a good hearted person Grandpa probably pointed out the strict construction reading of the Second Amendment means the second amendment applies ONLY to weapons available at the time (1787), ie black powder muzzle loaders."

No, that would not be good-hearted at all. It would mean that he is a mean mean who wants to take away people's rights.


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