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Union Christmas Dinner

Published on December 31, 1864, and drawn by Thomas Nast,  the above picture has Lincoln inviting the starving Confederate states to join the Christmas dinner of the Union States.  The print brings  to mind the phrase that  Lincoln would make immortal in his Second Inaugural in a few short months:  “With malice towards none, with charity for all”.  Not a bad sentiment to recall at Christmas time, or any time.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

24 Comments

  1. It is good to see a Thomas Nast drawing! On a drive into the countryside in late fall in the early 70’s, a stop at a roadside shop introduced me to his art. There were old Christmas decorations which included charming lightweight cardboard cutouts of a detailed Santa Claus in various settings. Mostly reds and shades of yellow with the black shaded outlines and, even though there was no green color, I had to buy one of each for just cents to afford a closer look. They’ve long ago disappeared, sort of like evidence of Lincoln’s phrase in news of today.

  2. Pat.
    Did he draw/sketch the temperance series? The ill effects of drinking to much. (Spirits)
    I recall a series of sketches in my brother-in-law’s cabin, and the work resembles this one.

  3. Pat and Philip: I have seen some of Thomas Nast’s cartoons and they were horribly anti-Catholic. I do not embrace his work any more, even his popular concept of Saint Nick. Thomas Nast’s cartoons are Nast y.

  4. Well, Lincoln’s nice rhetoric about “malice” doesn’t change the fact that he invaded a state, Virginia, which had not lifted a finger against a fellow state or the federal government; he despotically interfered with the governance of Maryland by imprisoning legislators there; he suppressed free speech by imprisoning political and press opponents; and he unconstitutionally waged a war against states with the stated purpose of overthrowing slavery, an war object that has no support in the constitution.
    But I’m glad Nast imagined him as a benevolent master inviting his wayward servants home to the federal plantation.

  5. Lincoln invaded no states Tom. He suppressed insurrections in those states against the Federal Government which the Constitution and the Insurrection Act of 1807 clearly gave him the power to do. The powers that be in Virginia were unwilling to see a finger lifted in defense of the Union and joined the Confederacy as a result. Ironically they denounced as traitors the West Virginians who stayed loyal to the Union throughout the War.

    As for Maryland, the western part of the State was always pro-Union. During the Antietam campaign the Army of Northern Virginia was disappointed that they received few enlistments from Marylanders. About 25,000 Marylanders fought for the Confederacy while 60,000 fought for the Union. There was never a chance that Maryland was going to join the Confederacy.

    Neither the Confederate nor the Union governments were shy about using force against dissidents during the War. When national survival is at stake extreme measures will be undertaken, as was the case with the short shrift given to Tories by the Patriots during the American Revolution.

    There was nothing unconstitutional about waging a War to preserve the Union. There was a great deal unconstitutional about trying to dissolve the Union by force of arms under the pretext of some made up right of the States to unilaterally secede.

  6. You all know I don’t know much.
    .
    Didn’t the states vote themselves into the Union? Is there chapter and verse saying States may not vote themselves out of the Union? Something like that happened in 1776, except in 1861 the Southern states were so-called “sovereign states”, not colonies peopled with “second-class” English subjects. Of course, we know the Confederate states could not possibly vote themselves out because more cannons, more bullets, more bayonets: total war.
    .

  7. As the Declaration states T. Shaw, there is a right of rebellion under the circumstances noted by Mr. Jefferson. There is no right of secession. As noted by Robert E. Lee prior to the Civil War, it was idle to talk of secession and secession was merely a code word for rebellion. Unlike the colonists in 1776 the Southerners had no grievances that justified a rebellion. Even the “right” of slavery was not under threat by the Federal government. The election of Lincoln caused a huge overreaction in the South and brought about what the slaveholders most feared: the abolition of slavery.

  8. Mac,
    .

    They voted themselves in, but they couldn’t vote themselves out is the answer I expected; maybe chapter/verse, if available.
    .

    One reason I’m concerned in 2014 is that I’d love to see a bunch of so-called “blue states” promptly exit.

  9. The proper way to dissolve the Union of course would either have been by a Constitutional Convention or a Constitutional Amendment. If a peaceful movement to allow secession had been undertaken, I think it might well have ultimately met with success.

  10. Tom wrote:
    “Well, Lincoln’s nice rhetoric about “malice” doesn’t change the fact that he invaded a state, Virginia, which had not lifted a finger against a fellow state or the federal government;”

    David H. Donald (a historian that revisionist like Dilorenzo more often than not misquote) explains on pages 290-300 of his masterwork “Lincoln” how Lincoln sought to avoid war by making a deal with the Virginia secession convention (which was majority unionist) to give up Ft Sumter if convention adjourned without secession vote. Lincoln met with John B. Baldwin in a secret conference on April 4th, but nothing came of the meeting. On April 6, Lincoln sent a State Dept functionary, Robert Chew, to meet with So. Carolina Gov. Francis Pickens and inform him that the federals “would attempt to supply Ft. Sumter with provisions only, and that if such attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition would be made without further notice.” Within weeks of the attack on Ft. Sumter, Virginia had seceded and Richmond was capital of the confederacy. Attack across the river on Washington was expected daily.

    “he despotically interfered with the governance of Maryland by imprisoning legislators there;”

    The first bloodshed in the war was the 4 soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment killed by rioters, while marching thru Baltimore on April 19th. Marylanders destroyed the railroad bridges linking Baltimore with the north and cut the telegraph lines. General Winfield Scott, a Virginian, wanted to arrest secessionist Maryland politicians prior to their meeting in Fredrick on April 26the. The governor of Maryland was a weak unionist, who collapsed under secession pressure. He asked Lincoln to stop sending troops thru Maryland and suggested mediation of the conflict by the British! When a Baltimore committee descended on his office on April 22nd and demanded that he bring no more troops thru Maryland and make peace with the confederacy on any terms, Lincoln had had enough. “You would have me break my oath and surrender the government without a blow. There is no Washington in that—no Jackson in that—no manhood nor honor in that. Our men are not moles, and can’t dig under the earth, they are not birds, and can’t fly through the air. Go home and tell your people that if they will not attack us, we will not attack them, but if they do attack us, we will return it, and that severely”.

    “ he suppressed free speech by imprisoning political and press opponents;”

    Article 1 section 9 of the Constitution countenances suspension of habeas corpus in event of rebellion. While the right to suspend seems to be vested in the legislative branch, at the time, Congress met only a few months of the year (would that that would be so today). Lincoln assumed the power in the emergency with Congress out of session. Later Congress ratified Lincoln’s actions.
    “and he unconstitutionally waged a war against states with the stated purpose of overthrowing slavery, an war object that has no support in the constitution.”
    Usually revisionist say Lincoln waged the war for the unconstitutional purpose of saving the union and vehemently deny that it was fought to overthrow slavery! Dilorenzo harps on that point continuously. Whatever the case, rebellion is a natural human right (even Lincoln recognizes it!) but only as a last resort and for serious and non-transient reasons (such as listed in our Declaration of Independence). Though our Constitution doesn’t mention a process for a state leaving the Union, I think it would be logical to assume it would be the same or similar to the process for a state entering the union, as detail in Article 4 section 3, by a majority vote of Congress. I wonder why that was never tried?! So had the confederate states wanted to leave constitutionally, they should have sought a vote in congress. Lincoln was bound by his oath of office as president to suppress the rebellion.

    “ But I’m glad Nast imagined him as a benevolent master inviting his wayward servants home to the federal plantation.”

    “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.” – Abraham Lincoln
    “Negros are beings of an inferior order, altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they have no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” – Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, writing for the majority in Dred Scott vs Sandford
    “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition” – Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy

    Tom, I beg you, beware such cant until you are more familiar with what real slavery and it’s attendant evil really is and what is envisaged by masters toward their slaves and to what lengths masters will allow their decent instincts to be corrupted in order to justify their holding of their slaves in bondage. Taney, a Catholic Marylanders who freed his own slaves, in the Dred Scott case blatantly disregarded the fact that free blacks had the right to vote from the time of our revolution in 5 New England states, and at times, in New Jersey, North Carolina, and Tennessee. At the time of our constitution was framed, slavery was seen as an evil which in time would pass away. Most of the 13 colonies had already outlaw slavery in their territories. In Washington’s army, 20% of the men in the ranks were black. The framers of our constitution were so ashamed of slavery that in the constitution they couldn’t bring themselves to use the word. By the time of the Civil War, southerners, perhaps influenced by the new writings of Charles Darwin, were defending slavery as a positive good and ordained by God.

  11. So Don, glad to see that you don’t deny the charge that Lincoln imprisoned dissenting politicians and pressmen.

    A state withdrawing from the Union is not an insurrection, and I challenge anyone to find any authority for the notion that the Framers understood insurrection to refer to the lawful, peaceful decision of the elected leaders of a state to withdraw from the Union. A compelled Union is no “union” at all but the very type of tyranny that the Framers themselves fought against when Britain sought to preserve *their* glorious Union. When the colonies became free of Britain, they were each Independent, and ceded to the federal government only those express and enumerated powers listed specifically in the constitution. Not one of those powers gave a president the authority to invade a state, much less to extirpate a lawful practice.

  12. The Supreme Court, the supposed sole arbiter of the constitution, did not agree that Lincoln’s actions were constitutional.

  13. Actually the Supreme Court ruled some of the actions of the Lincoln administration constitutional and some unconstitutional. In regard to the central issues of using force to preserve the Union and abolish slavery, no court ever ruled those actions unconstitutional.

  14. “So Don, glad to see that you don’t deny the charge that Lincoln imprisoned dissenting politicians and pressmen.”

    As did Jefferson Davis. Countries fighting for their life do that sort of thing.

    “A state withdrawing from the Union is not an insurrection, and I challenge anyone to find any authority for the notion that the Framers understood insurrection to refer to the lawful, peaceful decision of the elected leaders of a state to withdraw from the Union.”

    The Founding Fathers were silent on the question of secession, except for Madison who was very much against it. As he noted, one party to a contract cannot unilaterally void it, which is precisely what the seceding states attempted to do in regard to the Constitution and the Union.

    “A compelled Union is no “union” at all but the very type of tyranny that the Framers themselves fought against when Britain sought to preserve *their* glorious Union.”

    That contention would have astounded both the Founding Fathers and their defeated, and frequently exiled, Tory adversaries. The Union was originally created in the midst of a civil war among Americans. Both the aftermath of the American Revolution and the Civil War amply demonstrated that no tyranny was created by the victory of the Patriots or by the victory of the Union.

    “Not one of those powers gave a president the authority to invade a state, much less to extirpate a lawful practice.”

    The Constitution granted to the President, through Congress, full authority to act to preserve the Union:

    “Clause 15. To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;”

  15. Ex Parte Merryman specifically ruled that Lincoln violated the Constitution. Lincoln ignored the ruling, yet another example of his tyrannical behavior during the war.
    A mere tu quoque about what Jeff Davis did or did not do is an illogical response.

    Three states, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York, specifically allowed for the possibility of withdrawing from the Union in their ratifications of the constitution. Clearly, secession was not viewed as off limits for the men who created the Union, which Union, by the way, did not even exist under the constitution for 13 years after the Revolution. The states clearly pre-exist the Union and therefore are superior to it. They never expressly gave away their independence, only ceding those specific powers enumerated in the constitution.

    Insurrection is lawless uprising against the government–like the Whisky Rebellion, for example. Secession proceeded according to law in each state, each state voting to revoke their original ratification of the constitution. The constitution, being limited solely to enumerated powers, did not specifically forbid this revocation. Therefore it was lawful, the drafters of the constitution having chosen not to include a prohibition against secession (likely because, as the NY, VA, and RI ratifications show, no one questioned the possibility of it).

    Secession is clearly constitutional, unless you believe in a “living” constitution of penumbras and emanations.

  16. Lincoln had declared martial law during the Civil War and many of his acts were for the common good of the Union. You will know them by what they do. History has exhonorated Lincoln and proved that Lincoln was a true patriot.

  17. Tom: A living Constitution does not contain penumbras and emanations, if interpreted in Justice. The Supreme Court “JUSTICES” are the personification of the perfect JUSTICE of God for who in their right mind needs imperfect JUSTICE or corrupt interpretations of JUSTICE.
    These men are “compensated” for who can pay for Justice? These men have the Ten Commandments in their chamber. What else do they need? God save this Court. (The Court is not compensated to promote atheism)

  18. In regard to Merryman, I have looked at it along with various other suppressions of the writ of habeas corpus by Lincoln and Jefferson during the War:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/12/02/ex-parte-merryman/

    Merryman belonged in jail as he had taken up arms against the Union. His case was rendered moot when he was released on parole in 1862.

    “A mere tu quoque about what Jeff Davis did or did not do is an illogical response.”

    It was not a tu quoque. Nations in life and death struggles will infringe civil liberties, and that is what both the Lincoln and Davis administrations did, and the Founding Fathers before them.

    “Three states, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New York, specifically allowed for the possibility of withdrawing from the Union in their ratifications of the constitution.”

    Correct, and such self-proclaimed rights by States have no constitutional weight. Madison addressed secession late in life, and here is what The Father of the Constitution said:

    “I return my thanks for the copy of your late very powerful Speech in the Senate of the United S. It crushes “nullification” and must hasten the abandonment of “Secession”. But this dodges the blow by confounding the claim to secede at will, with the right of seceding from intolerable oppression. The former answers itself, being a violation, without cause, of a faith solemnly pledged. The latter is another name only for revolution, about which there is no theoretic controversy.”

    “The constitution, being limited solely to enumerated powers, did not specifically forbid this revocation.”

    Actually the states under the Constitution are forbidden to enter into confederations or alliances. The provision is meaningless unless it is presumed that the Union is perpetual. Additionally, the States as States had no existence outside the Union which was created by the Declaration of Independence. Of course only the 13 original colonies and Texas had any form of existence at all outside of the Union. How the other States which were created by the Federal government had any pre-existing right to secede is something that no advocate of secession has ever been able to explain. The creation of the Union was an act of unanimity on the part of all the States. The dissolution of the Union would require at least an amendment to the Constitution to accomplish.

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