John Wilkes Booth: Born Under an Unlucky Star

Monday, March 16, AD 2015


Since the fall of 1864 John Wilkes Booth along with others had been plotting against Lincoln.  A supporter of the Confederacy, Booth was also a popular actor, a son of the great actor Junius Brutus Booth who had written  a letter, perhaps tongue in cheek, to Andrew Jackson, threatening to assassinate him.  His brother Edwin Booth, perhaps the foremost American actor of his day and who had saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, was a firm supporter of Lincoln and the Union, and had banned his brother from his house in New York.  Booth had an unexplained trip to Montreal in 1864.  It is tempting to suspect that he got in contact with Confederate intelligence operatives active in Canada, but no evidence has been found linking Booth to Confederate intelligence then or later.

Initially Booth and his co-conspirators had planned to kidnap Lincoln and smuggle him South and trade him for Confederate prisoners of war.  They gathered on March 17, 1865 to do so when Lincoln was en route to a play but Lincoln unknowingly foiled the plot by changing his plans.  Booth and his band awaited another opportunity.

In 1874 Asia Booth in a memoir of her brother, that remained unpublished until 1938, recounts a strange event that occurred to Booth while he was a schoolboy and that summed up his life:

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4 Responses to John Wilkes Booth: Born Under an Unlucky Star

  • His act was a final, tragic punctuation mark on the grand operatic tragedy of the War Between the States. How bizzarely fitting that it took place… in a theater. The senselessness of killing Lincoln when the war was over, when the act could not advance any war aim, and was thus simply a senseless, utterly indefensible act of vengeance…
    And of course, killing not just Lincoln but whatever hope the South had for a merciful and just reconstruction, thus perpetuating for generations the very sectional strife and resentment that Lincoln likely would have, if not prevented, perhaps ameliorated.

  • When Confederate Joe Johnston was told of the assassination by Sherman he told Sherman how sorry he was and that people in the South had just begun to understand that Lincoln was the best friend they had in Washington.

  • I have no doubt things would have been much better in many ways after the Civil War if Lincoln had lived. He understood that people had to live together.

  • Jefferson Davis, who I hold-up as a true southern gentleman, though I think him wrong in most of his political and social ideas, wrote of Lincoln’s murder, “Next to the unconditional surrender, the death of Lincoln is the worst misfortune that could befall the South”.

March 15, 1865: Lincoln and the Almighty

Sunday, March 15, AD 2015

On March 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln took time to scribble a thank you note to Thurlow Weed.  A political fixer of the first order and a political powerhouse in New York, Weed had been critical of Lincoln after the Emancipation Proclamation and had only grudgingly supported him for re-election.  Interestingly enough, there is no record of Weed sending a letter to Lincoln complimenting him on the Second Inaugural.  Thus Lincoln was either mistaken, or the letter from Weed has vanished along with most correspondence written in the 19th century.  However, that fact is secondary to what Lincoln said in the note:




MARCH 15, 1865



     Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter to wear as well as–perhaps better than–anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation there is in it falls most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.

          Truly yours,

                    A. Lincoln

Lincoln underlines in this note the passage in the Second Inaugural in which he thought the War might be a punishment from God inflicted on both North and South:

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By the People

Saturday, March 7, AD 2015


Something for the weekend.  Kids at the 2013 Illinois State Fair reciting the Gettysburg Address.  Seemed appropriate to recall Lincoln’s second greatest speech on the weekend following the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s greatest speech, which has never had the cachet with the American people that the Gettysburg address has had.  Endless recitals of the speech have been given.  Here is one by Johnny Cash who had a strong life long interest in the Civil War:

My favorite recitation of the Gettysburg address was given by Englishman Charles Laughton:

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2 Responses to By the People

March 4, 1865: God, Lincoln and the Second Inaugural Address

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2015


Hands down the most moving  inaugural address in American history is the second inaugural address given by President Lincoln on March 4, 1865, little over a month before his death.  It is short, to the point and powerful.  It is also the most important theological document written by any American President.  Here is the text:

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4 Responses to March 4, 1865: God, Lincoln and the Second Inaugural Address

  • If Lincoln had lived things would have been differnt. Maybe.
    In fin, 600,000-plus young men were killed and the South was destroyed. To paraphrase Tacitus, “They created a desolation and called it ‘The Union.'”
    The theological (let’s tell God what is His will) question: Was the Civil War a garguantuan trial by ordeal in which God favored emancipation and union? God’s will: the North enjoyed huge advantages in agriculture, finance, heavy industry, navy, population, RR’s, raw materials, etc.

  • “God’s will: the North enjoyed huge advantages in agriculture, finance, heavy industry, navy, population, RR’s, raw materials, etc.”

    As did the Brits during the American Revolution, along with one-third of the American people supporting them. Lincoln of course never indicates in his speech what God’s will is, he merely guesses at what it might be. The most profound passage in the whole speech is one that we so often forget: “The Almighty has His own purposes.”

  • “Imagine the reaction of the public today if, after leading the country through a terrible war a president stated that the war was Gods punishment and that Americans were just as guilty in the eyes of God as their adversaries.” -D.McClarey

    Great blazes! The president would be ridiculed scorned and fined for hate speech. What a shame huh?
    The liberal’s would cite Jeffersons letter about separation of Church and State.
    How dare he, the president, tell us we were just as guilty in Gods sight!

    I substituted ( abortion ) where slavery is mentioned in Lincolns address.

    What a guilty lot….the Americans of today. What penance will we suffer?

  • T. Shaw – “let’s tell God what is His will”

    That hardly seems like a fair comment about this speech.

February 12, 1865: Lincoln’s Last Birthday

Thursday, February 12, AD 2015

Lincoln Pardon

Lincoln was a long man.
He liked out of doors,
He liked the wind blowing
And the talk in country stores

He liked telling stories,
He liked telling jokes.
“Abe’s quite a character,”
Said quite a lot of folks.

Lots of folks in Springfield
Saw him every day,
Walking down the street
In his gaunt, long way.

Shawl around his shoulders,
Letters in his hat.
“That’s Abe Lincoln.”
They thought no more than that.

Knew that he was honest,
Guessed that he was odd,
Knew he had a cross wife,
Though she was a Todd.

Knew that he had three little boys
Who liked to shout and play,
Knew he had a lot of debts
It took him years to pay.

Knew his clothes and knew his house
“That’s his office, here.
Blame good lawyer on the whole,
Though he’s sort of queer.

“Sure, he went to Congress, once,
But he didn’t stay.
Can’t expect us all to be
Smart as Henry Clay.

“Need a man for troubled times?
Well, I guess we do.
Wonder who we’ll ever find?
Yes–I wonder who.”

That is how they met and talked,
Knowing and unknowing,
Lincoln was the green pine.
Lincoln kept on growing

Stephen Vincent Benet




One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln turned 56, the last birthday he would know in this life, Lincoln having just slightly over two months to live.

Like most adults in the Nineteenth Century, Lincoln never had any celebrations for his birthdays, no cake, no gifts, no ceremony.  February 12, 1865 was just another day for him, filled with the endless burdens and grinding work of being President in a time of civil war.  Yet, during one point in his day, I would wager that Lincoln probably thought momentarily of his long ago childhood.

He wrote out a “pardon” for some misbehaving students.  The note said:  “Let these boys return to their school upon the condition stated by them, and remain so long as they do not misbehave.”

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February 10, 1865: Lincoln Reports to the House

Tuesday, February 10, AD 2015

Thaddeus Stevens

On February 10, 1865, pursuant to a House of Representatives Resolution drafted by Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Lincoln sent a report to the House which basically consisted of a timeline of the events that led up to the Hampton Roads Conference.  Radical Republicans were furious when they first learned of the Hampton Roads Conference, afraid that Lincoln was trying an end run around them by ending the War on terms generous to the Confederates.  After the report was read in the House, tension ebbed when it was clear that the Hampton Roads Conference had ended without any agreement being reached, or any further meetings planned.  Here is the text of Lincoln’s report:

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February 8, 1865: Lincoln to Grant

Sunday, February 8, AD 2015



Lincoln and Grant


As news spread of the abortive Hampton Roads Conference, members of Congress demanded to know what was said.  Lincoln sent the following telegraph to Grant on February 8, 1865:

Lieut. Gen. Grant Executive Mansion
City Point, Va. Washington, Feb. 8. 1865

I am called on by the House of Representatives to give an account of my interview with Messrs. Stephens, Hunter & Campbell; and it is very desireable to me to put in your despatch of Feb. 1st. to the Sec. of War, in which among other things you say “I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence” I think the despatch does you credit while I do not see that it can embarrass you. May I use it?



Here is the message from Grant to Stanton on February 1:

CITY POINT, VA., February 1, 1865-10.30 p.m.


Secretary of War:

Now that the interview between Major Eckert, under his written instructions, and Mr. Stephens and party has ended, I will state confidentially, but not officially to become a matter of record, that I am convinced, upon conversation with Messrs. Stephens and Hunter, that their intentions are good and their desire sincere to restore peace and union. I have not felt myself at liberty to express even views of my own or to account for my reticence. This has placed me in an awkward position, which I could have avoided by not seeing them in the first instance. I fear now their going back without any expression from any one in authority will have a bad influence. At the same time I recognize the difficulties in the way of receiving these informal commissioners at this time, and do not know what to recommend. I am sorry, however, that Mr. Lincoln cannot have an interview with the two named in this despatch, if not all there now within our lines. Their letter to me was all that the President’s instructions contemplated, to secure their safe conduct, if they had used the same language to Major Eckert.



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Faces of Lincoln

Saturday, February 7, AD 2015

Something for the weekend.   This video purports to have in it every known photograph of Mr.  Lincoln.  The songs in the video are Lincoln and Liberty Too, perhaps the most stirring campaign song in American history, Dixie, ironically a favorite song of the President of the Union, and the haunting Ashokan Farewell.  A fitting video in the weekend before we observe the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Lincoln’s last birthday in this Vale of Tears.

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February 5, 1865: Lincoln Proposes Compensated Emancipation

Thursday, February 5, AD 2015

Lincoln, February 5, 1865

Throughout the War Lincoln had made several attempts to propose compensated emancipation to end the War.  All such initiatives were still-born, killed by the twin facts that Congress was uninterested in providing the funding and that the slaveholders were uninterested in ending slavery, even with compensation.  On February 5, 1865, Lincoln proposed this plan to his cabinet:

Fellow citizens of the Senate, and [February 5, 1865]

House of Representatives.

I respectfully recommend that a Joint Resolution, substantially as follows, be adopted so soon as practicable, by your honorable bodies.

“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, of the United States of America in congress assembled: That the President of the United States is hereby empowered, in his discretion, to pay four hundred millions of dollars to the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West-Virginia, in the manner, and on the conditions following, towit: The payment to be made in six per cent government bonds, and to be distributed among said States pro rata on their respective slave populations, as shown by the census of 1860; and no part of said sum to be paid unless all resistance to the national authority shall be abandoned and cease, on or before the first day of April next; and upon such abandonment and ceasing of resistance, one half of said sum to be paid in manner aforesaid, and the remaining half to be paid only upon the amendment of the national constitution recently proposed byPage  261congress, becoming valid law, on or before the first day of July next, by the action thereon of the requisite number of States”

The adoption of such resolution is sought with a view to embody it, with other propositions, in a proclamation looking to peace and re-union.

Whereas a Joint Resolution has been adopted by congress in the words following, towit

Now therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known, that on the conditions therein stated, the power conferred on the Executive in and by said Joint Resolution, will be fully exercised; that war will cease, and armies be reduced to a basis of peace; that all political offences will be pardoned; that all property, except slaves, liable to confiscation or forfeiture, will be released therefrom, except in cases of intervening interests of third parties; and that liberality will be recommended to congress upon all points not lying within executive control.

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One Response to February 5, 1865: Lincoln Proposes Compensated Emancipation

  • One of the great “what-ifs” of history, if both sides had exercised some reasoned and enlightened self interest. I believe compensated emancipation had worked elsewhere, in South America.

    Sad that the big slaveholders in the South, even with their destruction in sight, could not bend; just as the firebreathers in the Republican party could not see their way to following the lead of their own president.

    Much bloodshed and the effective re-constitution of our nation from a limited federal republicanism could possibly have been averted.

February 3, 1865: Hampton Roads Conference

Tuesday, February 3, AD 2015

Hampton Roads Conference

The Hampton Roads Conference between President Lincoln and three representatives of the Confederacy, led by Lincoln’s old friend, and fellow former Whig, Vice President Alexander Stephens, was an exercise in pointlessness, as Lincoln and Stephens both knew it would be.  Lincoln was willing to negotiate on anything except Union and the end of Slavery, the two items that the Confederate emissaries lacked any authority to concede.  The only result of the conference was that Lincoln agreed to release from captivity a nephew of Stephens, a Confederate POW.  (Stephens did not request this until he was pressed by Lincoln as to whether there was anything he could do of a personal nature for him.)  The war would go on and both Lincoln and Davis could tell their peoples that negotiations had been attempted and that only success on the battlefield could lead to peace.  Here are the comments of Grant on this curious incident in the War:

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National Freedom Day

Sunday, February 1, AD 2015



One hundred and fifty years ago President Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment which had just been passed by Congress.  Unknown to most Americans, it is also National Freedom Day, so proclaimed by President Truman on January 25, 1949.  Here is the text of his proclamation:

Whereas, near the end of the tragic conflict between the Northern and Southern States, the Congress adopted a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution which would outlaw slavery in the United States and in every place subject to its jurisdiction; and

Whereas the resolution was signed by President Lincoln on February 1, 1865, and thereafter led to the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution; and

Whereas that Amendment is a corner stone in the foundation of our American traditions, and the signing of the resolution is a landmark in the Nation’s effort to fulfill the principles of freedom and justice proclaimed in the first ten amendments to the Constitution; and

Whereas, by a joint resolution approved June 30, 1948 (62 Stat. 1150), the Congress authorized the President to proclaim the first day of February of each year as National Freedom Day in commemoration of the signing of the resolution of February 1, 1865; and

Whereas the Government and people of the United States wholeheartedly support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, which declares that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”:

Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate February 1, 1949, and each succeeding February 1, as national Freedom Day; and I call upon the people of the United States to pause on that day in solemn contemplation of the glorious blessings of freedom which we humbly and thankfully enjoy.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this 25th day of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-third.

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January 18, 1865: Lincoln Note to Blair

Sunday, January 18, AD 2015

Lincoln v. Davis


After Francis P. Blair returned to Washington from Richmond with a note from Jefferson Davis indicating a willingness to enter into negotiations, go here and here for background on Blair’s mission and his meeting with Davis, Lincoln had a decision to make.  Refuse to enter into negotiations and that would anger both moderate Republicans and Democrats.  Enter into negotiations, and both mainstream and radical Republicans would be dismayed.  Lincoln hit upon a shrewd response.  He would enter into negotiations, but he would couch his agreement in such terms as clearly to indicate no weakening in his resolve to preserve the Union:

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December 22, 1864: Sherman’s Christmas Gift

Monday, December 22, AD 2014





Sherman and his men completed their March to the Sea with the siege of Savannah, Georgia.  The end of the siege was anti-climactic with Lieutenant General W. J. Hardee evacuating his garrison from the city of Savannah.  Sherman sent this message to Lincoln announcing the fall of Savannah.


SAVANNAH, GA., December 22, 1864
(Via Fort Monroe 6.45 p.m. 25th)

His Excellency President LINCOLN:

I beg to present you, as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with 150 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.

W.T. Sherman,
Major General.

The message reached the White House on Christmas Day.  It was published in the papers and roused huge joy throughout the North as another sign that the end of the War was in sight.  Lincoln spoke for the North when he telegrammed back to Sherman:


Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained,’ I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is yours; for I believe none of us went further than to acquiesce. And taking the work of General Thomas into the county, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success. Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages, but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole — Hood’s army — it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next? I suppose it will be safer if I leave General Grant and yourself to decide. Please make my grateful acknowledgments to your whole army, officers and men.

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Union Christmas Dinner

Sunday, December 21, AD 2014

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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24 Responses to Union Christmas Dinner

  • 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.

  • May I suggest the book “The Real Lincoln” by Thomas DiLorenzo

  • You may suggest it Scott but the crank DiLorenzo knows as much about Lincoln as a pig does about penance.

  • 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.

  • Philip, I don’t know. Now, with more time to do so, I may find out.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • “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;”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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)

  • 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:

    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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December 10, 1864: Letter From Lamon to Lincoln

Wednesday, December 10, AD 2014

Ward Hill Lamon



Virginia born Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s lawyer friend from Bloomington, Illinois, spent a frustrating Civil War attempting to protect the President, who appointed him the US Marshal for the District of Columbia.  Lincoln took a fatalistic attitude towards security, assuming that no precautions could protect him from an assassin determined to kill him.  Lamon’s frustration boiled over in an eerily prophetic letter written very early on December 10, 1864:

Washington, D. C.
Dec. 10, 1864, 1.30 o’clock, A. M.

Hon. A. Lincoln:

Sir, — I regret that you do not appreciate what I have repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrangements connected with your household and your own personal safety. You are in danger. I have nothing to ask, and I flatter myself that you will at least believe that I am honest. If, however, you have been impressed differently, do me and the country the justice to dispose at once of all suspected officers, and accept my resignation of the marshalship, which is hereby tendered. I will give you further reasons which have impelled me to this course. To-night, as you have done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of whom could defend himself against an assault from any able-bodied woman in this city. And you know, or ought to know, that your life is sought after, and will be taken unless you and your friends are cautious; for you have many enemies within our lines. You certainly know that I have provided men at your mansion to perform all necessary police duty, and I am always ready myself to perform any duty that will properly conduce to your interest or your safety.

God knows that I am unselfish in this matter; and I do think that I have played low comedy long enough, and at my time of life I think I ought at least to attempt to play star engagements.

I have the honor to be

Your obedient servant,

Ward H. Lamon.

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Lincoln’s Final Annual Message

Monday, December 8, AD 2014


Lincoln’s Final Annual Message to Congress, what we would call the State of the Union speech, dated December 6, 1864, is a good corrective to the idea that nothing occurred during the Lincoln administration except the Civil War.  Most of the Message deals with non War related matters, and reminds us that History did not sit still until the War was concluded.  The War itself is briefly touched upon, Lincoln assuming correctly that there were few citizens unaware of the fact that the War was going very well indeed and that the Union was on the verge of winning it.  Lincoln does pick out for mention Sherman’s March to the Sea, no doubt a common topic of conversation at that time in the North, and a demonstration, as Lincoln observes, of the increasing weakness of the Confederacy to impede Union military operations.  Lincoln devotes the end section of his Message to comments about reconstruction:

On careful consideration of all the evidence accessible it seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. He would accept nothing short of severance of the Union, precisely what we will not and can not give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft repeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. He can not voluntarily reaccept the Union; we can not voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war and decided by victory. If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him, he is beaten. Either way it would be the victory and defeat following war. What is true, however, of him who heads the insurgent cause is not necessarily true of those who follow. Although he can not reaccept the Union, they can. Some of them, we know, already desire peace and reunion. The number of such may increase. They can at any moment have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority under the Constitution. Alter so much the Government could not, if it would, maintain war against them. The loyal people would not sustain or allow it. If questions should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes, operating only in constitutional and lawful channels. Some certain, and other possible, questions are and would be beyond the Executive power to adjust; as, for instance, the admission of members into Congress and whatever might require the appropriation of money. The Executive power itself would be greatly diminished by the cessation of actual war. Pardons and remissions of forfeitures, however, would still be within Executive control. In what spirit and temper this control would be exercised can be fairly judged of by the past.

Lincoln’s attention was beginning to shift from winning the War to winning the peace.  It is one of the great tragedies of American history that he would win the former and not be present for the latter.  Here is the text of the message:

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Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1864

Thursday, November 27, AD 2014

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation


It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

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5 Responses to Thanksgiving Proclamation: 1864

  • Tsk, tsk…we cannot have something like this which is so discriminatory towards our atheist comrades.

    Please refrain from publishing such intentionally divisive rhetoric.

    Otherwise, have a contented last Thursday in November.

  • So, WHO do the atheists thank for making the seed germinate and the rain, rain and the sun shine and WHO do the atheists thank for there being seeds that germinate, and the rain that rains and the sun that shines?
    There was an editorial by, his name was Reva Aslan, I remember, because Aslan was one of C.S. Lewis’ heroes in the Narnia Chronicles. Aslan separated the good atheists from the bad and religiously discriminatory “anti-theists”, those who would destroy the sovereign person’s freedom of religion and belief in God in their choice of free will to believe in God.
    It made sense up to a point and that point being that as long as atheism is legalized, codified, as a constitutional form of religion, atheism unfounds the founding principles of all freedom, the sovereignty of the American citizen and of the human beings’ soul with his endowed unalienable human rights.
    The atheist must be tolerated. Atheism is patently unconstitutional. Atheism and freedom of Religion, all freedom and man’s immortal human soul in eternal life cannot be countenanced or forborne.
    The editorial tried to separate the privately held beliefs of the atheist and the militant anti-theist, except that it was Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist who removed freedom from the public square, the public domain. Yes, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was an atheist and was militantly anti-theist. How does the editor deliver freedom to all Americans when that atheist and the anti-theist violate the very concept of free will from the constitution?

  • Rewrite: “Atheism, as freedom of religion as opposed to constitutional freedom of Religion, all constitutional freedoms and man’s immortal human soul in eternal life cannot be countenanced or forborne.”
    Atheism is a belief. A belief is not religion. A belief that the world is flat and that man has no soul or that man’s soul has no endowed unalienable human and civil rights of free will and sovereign personhood to discipline himself and remain an innocent citizen, that man is a best of burden to the state, that the state is the grantor of all human rights, when, in fact, the state is constituted by men to guarantee all God-given human rights and freedoms. Without the acknowledgment of almighty God as Creator and endower of all human rights, Truth and Justice will not flourish and “might then makes right”,the greed for power and illegitimate authority ride with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Death, War, Hunger and Pestilence reign supreme.
    Religion is man’s worship of God in thought, word and deed. Religion is man’s relationship with our almighty Creator and Redeemer and the Love Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
    … “or prohibit the free exercise thereof”…
    The Supreme Court does not have legitimate authority to define what is a “burden to the free exercise of religion” as it has in the past. The burden to “the free exercise of religion” is defined and exercised by the free citizen, the American citizen, the sovereign person in his personal relationship with God. Our relationship with God does not allow for the state to intrude into a personal relationship with God without our personal consent, no more than the state has power to intrude into any love affair or personal relationship. It is non of their business. period.

  • We are in for a rough ride in this country.

  • Assassinating the character of the newly begotten sovereign person by framing him as an invader, a parasite causing the death of the mother and the unwanted pregnancy, Roe v. Wade made a right of privacy to abort and kill the invader, the parasite, the unwanted pregnancy.

    Science has proved that the new individual cell has its own DNA. Metaphysics tells us that the new sovereign person has an immortal human soul endowed with free will, intellect, sovereign personhood, all unalienable human rights and the promise of eternal life.
    The conjugal act invites the new life, the new individual person, a party to our constitutional posterity. The word “invite” means to offer life to another person. The man and the woman exercise the power of their sex to invite another person into life. When the unborn child is conceived, the parents become a mother and a father. As parents, the father and the mother must host their child, the testimony to and the evidence of their love.