Wednesday, 17 August 2005

Ending slavery

It has become somewhat fashionable of late to knock Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and to pillory Lincoln himself as some kind of neo-fascist. As Thomas Sowell says sadly, "today we see the spectacle of pygmies sniping at this giant."

Sowell takes to task these pygmies with their ahistorical criticisms :

People who indulge themselves in this kind of self-righteous carping act as if Lincoln was someone who could do whatever he damn well pleased, without regard to the law, the Congress, or the Supreme Court. They might as well criticize him for not discovering a cure for cancer.

Fortunately, there is an excellent new book, titled "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" by Professor Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College, that sets Lincoln in the context of the world in which he lived.

Once you understand the constraints of that world, and how little room for maneuver Lincoln had, you realize what courage and brilliance it took for him to free the slaves.

Just one fact should give pause to Lincoln's critics today: When Lincoln sat down to write the Emancipation Proclamation, the Supreme Court was still headed by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who had issued the infamous Dred Scott decision, saying a black man had no rights which a white man needed to respect...

Professor Guelzo's book does more than give us some sense of realism about a major event in American history. Perhaps if we come to understand the complexities and constraints of Lincoln's turbulent times, we might not be so quick to seize opportunities to reduce other times -- including our own -- to cartoon-like simplicities that allow us to indulge in cheap self-righteousness when judging those who carry heavy responsibilities.

Perhaps those people that enjoyed this poorly-written smear of Lincoln should give Sowell's points, and Guelzo's book, some much needed thought.

PS: Here's a question for you: How many know who the chap is in the picture above next to Old Abe? Answers on a postcard please.


  1. I feel fortunate to have missed the anti-Lincoln revisionism. Most of what I gather about it is rot. He was a complex figure and an extraordinarily talented man and politician. He understood, as few do today, that temporary setbacks in liberty are sometimes the price needed to preserve it. I don't know how Libertarians feel about that -- in the U.S.A. many of them are simple drug-legalizers with little moral foundation. (Being from the U.S.A. I recognize the other man immediately, but I won't spill it. Suffice to say he's one of civilization's great success stories.)

  2. Call me stupid, I was wondering if the guy on the rhs was a young Marx.

    The photo and his suit is too flash though. But the dark complexion and the haircut

    If I don't post this postulate I'm afraid nobody's going to tell us who it really is.

  3. "Call me stupid..."

    Very well ... you are who you say you are, and he is not.

    "I feel fortunate to have missed the anti-Lincoln revisionism. Most of what I gather about it is rot."

    It is.

    "I don't know how Libertarians feel about that -- in the U.S.A. many of them are simple drug-legalizers with little moral foundation."

    They are, it's true, and I say that with great sadness. Ayn Rand once described US libertarians as "hippies of the right," which I'm afraid isn't too far from the truth. And I hate hippies. :-)

    AS for my own feelings about Lincoln, I feel largely as you and Thomas Sowell do about him. He wasn't a libertarian, but he was as you say "an extraordinarily talented man and politician." I bought 'The Real Lincoln' and then threw it at the wall in disgust at the smears, the many unproven assertions and the defence of the slave-holding south as some kind of nirvana of freedom.

    It's not good writing.

  4. Lincoln greatness will see him survive this nonsense (his Gettysburg Address alone far surpasses anything his detractors will ever come up with) - and the guy next to him is FREDERICK DOUGLASS - no?

  5. Anonymous is correct by my reckoning - it is abolitionist-in-chief Frederick Douglass.

  6. Well done, Oh Nameless One.

    There's irony for you. A person almost anonymous who deserves to be more widely known, recognised first by a person who wishes to keep his/her identitiy hidden.

    If you have never heard of Frederick Douglass, here's something of his to set you hair on fire:

    "Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."

    "This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

  7. Uhhhh..that one

    "Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them"

    Stupid Giles. Stupid.

  8. Happy to hear I got something right. The Douglass you quote is indeed impressive and he deserves greater recognition of his contribution to freedom. But the same can be said of Lincoln here in New Zealand. Few Kiwis care about the American Civil War - much less understand its importance. It was the Civil War, rather than the Revolutionary War, that created the United States we know today. Before the war, proclamations from Washington began with "The United States ARE...", after the war, they became "The United States IS..." - a subtle, but significant, change.

  9. Yes. The "land of the free" created by the Revolution, died with the election of Lincoln. A sad day for freedom. In the words of Lord Acton, "I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo"

  10. "The Gettysburg speech is at once the shortest and the most famous in American history. It is eloquence brought to a pellucid and almost gem-like perfection -- the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Nothing else precisely like it is to be found in the whole range of oratory. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous.

    But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination -- "that government of the people, by the people, for the people," should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves."

    - Henry Louis Mencken, 1920

  11. Mencken himself was not on occasion averse to putting poetry above logic. As he does here.

  12. The mistake you're apparently making is to think about slavery as relevant to the war. It wasn't. It had nothing to do with slavery. Those who uphold the Confederate side in the War of Northern Aggression are no more supporters of slavery than you, who support legalisation of drugs, are a supporter of drug abuse; or you, who support the right to keep and bear arms, are supporters of mass shootings. Also, please note that the Emancipation Proclamation didn't in fact free a single slave; Lincoln was very careful to avoid actually freeing any slaves -- the proclamation only "freed" slaves in the "rebel" states, i.e., the CSA, an independent nation over which Lincoln had no control at the time. Imagine Helen Clarke "freeing" detainees at immigration holding centers in Australia!

    The Mencken quote is right on.

  13. I'm grateful to you Anonymous (another person too cowardly to use their own name) for demonstrating the truth of Thomas Sowell''s points, in particular the intellectual stature of defenders of the Confederate Slave States.

    Perhaps you and Mr Selwyn could attend a history class together when you both return form that UFO Convention. Your grasp of the subject is sadly very similar.


    This is the origination of this Lincoln "quote":

    that ran in INSIGHT magazine

    which is part of News World Communications (see bottom of page in link above) a wholly owned political mouthpiece of the Unification Church, the "Moonies".

    I wrote Diana Irey offering her documented proof of what Lincoln never said, CCing all her campaign staff on, first on July 14th, and again on August 4th.

    I wrote her, and her staff, repeatedly warning them of the consequences of their inaction. If you'd like verification, write her campaign manager of record (Bill Pascoe, former Press Secretary of the RNC, is calling the shots behind the scenes) at and ask him about my repeated warnings.

    If you choose to write, use this as the Subject Line "It's showtime.". He'll know exactly what that means.

    When all these efforts failed, I contacted with this very same evidence. Brooks Jackson was able to see what Ms. Irey, and her entire campaign staff refused to.

    He published this, last Friday:
    (note the video clip in the top right corner)

    I would like to tell you there's quite some honor to Bill Pascoe's "within hours" response here:

    In conclusion, it warrants mentioning how this "Moonie" Lincoln quote came into common use, without any questions to its authenticity.

    Use Google to do a search for this quote. Go back 10-15 pages and you'll find the older dates of its use. You'll discover it was the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth who brought this fiction to life within weeks of Dr. Waller's article.

    You will find Larry Bailey of has dusted off this Moonie quote and is using it for his "gimme' your money" scheme, all over the net, including this gem written the chairman of Bailey's PAC, in which it is used twice, for emphasis:

    It's no accident that Diana Irey was boons-swaggled into using it.

    Bill Pascoe and Kelli Phiel are the folks Robert Novak refers to as her "handlers" in this article:

    "Irey, who looks quite young, is a bit green, but her handlers see her as great raw material."

    I'll give a dollar to anyone who can decipher the grammar, syntax, period occurring in the middle of the sentence, and random capitalization that occurs in the last sentence of this article.

    If you are unfamiliar with who Pascoe and Phiel are, let me introduce you.

    Pascoe is the gent who hung tough with Jack Ryan, even after Dennis Hastert rightfully withdrew all GOP support for him in 2004, when Ryan was exposed for insisting his wife go to sex clubs with him and have sex in public.

    ""Jack Ryan is in the race to stay," said Bill Pascoe, Ryan's spokesman.",1,933334.story

    Pascoe also the one who called Alan Keyes and convinced him to move from Maryland to Illinois, to replace Ryan. I'll let you Google that and for Kelli Phiel's history working with Pascoe in the 2004 election.

    I wish I could tell you that I've not written Diana Irey repeatedly about her "handlers" past, but I cannot make that claim.

    Buzz Patterson used this "Moonie" quote at a chapter heading in his book, Reckless Disregard. If you own a copy, check page 65. He was not the only retired military man to adopt this Republican operatives invention. Ollie North did too:

    Least you wonder about my interest in all this ...

    My family settled in what is now the 12th District of Pennsylvania in 1820, and have lived there ever since.

    My great, great grandfather, after whom I am named in honor of, served in Lincoln’s Union Army. He made the supreme sacrifice for our country on March 23, 1862, serving Stonewall Jackson he only defeat in the Civil war.

    Lincoln was, to borrow a title, “A Uniter”

    When some goofball Republican operative abuses the reputation of our greatest Republican president, in a Moonie publication no less, for the expressed purpose of political gain for today’s Republican Party … it troubles me.

    I suspect it will trouble you, too.

    Cliff Hancuff
    The World of Journalism Is Flat, Too


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