Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

No Lincoln Day dinners in So. Carolina

I just heard this on CNN. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said this: "We don’t do Lincoln Day Dinners in South Carolina. It’s nothing personal, but it takes awhile to get over things." Usually this stuff isn’t charming, but this one is.

Discussions - 18 Comments

Did you say charming?

Forgive me, but I fail to grasp the charm in that statement.

Why would anyone expect any Southerner to celebrate Lincoln? Would you expect the Scots to celebrate King Edward?

The Civil War is over, give it up.

"Why would anyone expect any Southerner to celebrate Lincoln?" Because his words and deeds taught his generation and their posterity what it means to be a real American. To understand this answer, one must understand the tension that lies at the heart of the American experiment in self-government: namely, the equal right to life, liberty, and the purusuit of happiness on the one hand, and the requirement that government be based and operate by the consent of the governed. No man understood and applied himself to resolving or reconciling that tension in a political manner better than Father Abraham.

Well, I’ve decided that the Ashbrook Center must have a special altar set aside for the veneration of Abe Lincoln. I’m sorry, his deeds in life don’t match the myth, and history is slowly catching up with the ol’ boy. I think he did save the United States, but in doing so he changed it in many ways (some good, some bad).

And yes, his actions (brutal as many were) did free the slaves and repaired that crack in the country’s foundation, but at the price of killing thousands of young men and dragging millions back into a Union they no longer supported (self-determination...who needs that!).

All I ask of you Licolnophiles is a balanced perspective. He was just a man and a politician ... please don’t deify him.

If the blood of those killed in the Civil War is on anybody’s head, it’s on the traitors who tried violently to destroy the Union--the world’s best hope for free government--when they failed in their efforts to pervert its Constitution and laws for the sake of perpetuating a social order based on the twisted system of chattel slavery. "Self-determination" bought at the price of others’ continued enslavement is not a good worth preserving.

All the top Confederate leaders, including Davis and Lee, were very lucky that they weren’t hanged for treason against the United States, as in strict justice they very well could and even arguably should have been. It was in no small part the policy of "malice toward none, charity toward all" that Lincoln laid down before his death which saved them. This was no brutality, but rather prudence and magnanimity.


Spoken like a true Radicial Republican. Traitors indeed...such stuff! The Southerners saw themselves as freely entered into a compact with the North, and just as freely they thought they could leave it. They weren’t destroying anything, but creating something new. Who attacked who here?

I for one get really sick of people who argue "union, union, union" as the major justification for the Civil War and, upon finding themselves outargued, argue "slavery, slavery, slavery." The argument seems to be that any group of people LOSE their right of self-determination IF they have a moral failing (like slavery).

OK, if we apply that to the United States itself, then was the Mexican-American war just? Don’t we (the slave power) owe reparations? In our struggle with the Soviets during the Cold War, you could argue that women’s rights were more respected by the USSR than by the USA. Does that mean we should have rooted for the commies?

The point is, a people’s right to self-determination does not hinge on their perfection. The South had its stain, but so did the North (partly built on slave labor, and relying increasingly on the exploitation of immigrants). These are beside the point. Both North and South had a legal compact that the South sought to break. In my view they had that right. The South wasn’t brought back into the Union, it was CONQUERED. For millions of Southerners, then and now, Lincoln wasn’t a great guy, he was a bloody tyrant who insisted on war over peaceful separation.

As I said previously, I had ancestors on both sides of the War of Northern Aggression (sorry, couldn’t resist). Lincoln had his good points and his bad points, but I doubt his sainthood.

Mr. Crenshaw:

I applaud you for seeing clearly enough to admit that Lincoln saved the Union and freed the slaves, and for wisely not trying to defend the neo-Confederate pretense that the Civil War had nothing to do with the peculiar institution, and so I’m all the more sorry that you can’t seem to bring yourself to let go of the "bloody tyrant" nonsense. Just look at the incoherence to which this has reduced you:

You admit in your first post that Lincoln "did save the United States," but then in your rejoinder claim that the South’s violent secessionists "weren’t destroying anything."

So if the United States was never threatened with destruction (all those nice armed secessionists, including Lee’s men who kidnapped free black American citizens in Maryland and Pennsylvania during the Gettysburg Campaign so they could be sold into slavery down South, were just "creating something new"--how sweet!) just what or WHOM did Lincoln save the United States from?

BTW, as for who attacked whom, I noted with interest while visiting the Citadel in Charleston, SC, a few years ago that the Citadel corps of cadets claims to this day that one of its members fired the first shots of the Civil War when on 9 January 1861 he loosed 24-lb. artillery shells from a shore battery on Morris Island at the "Star of the West" U.S. resupply ship in the harbor of that city (the Daniel Library at the Citadel even displays a mural of the event, put up in 1960, and they have a big plaque about it on campus as well).

The Southerner who personally fired the first shot was Citadel cadet George E. Haynesworth of Charleston:

Mark it well: Haynsworth fired deliberately on a United States ship flying the United States flag. If noting that this is treason makes me a Radical Republican, then so be it, I guess.


Clearly you need to read more about Ft. Sumter and why Lincoln resupplied the fort (which was in South Carolina’s territory, which is the way they saw it). This man wanted war, not peace.

Well, I am sorry about the blacks in Maryland, but how did Lee treat the people of Maryland and Pennsylvania? Now let’s juxtapose that with Sherman and Sheridan’s behavior in the South. Who are the barbarians here (hint -- not the Southerners).

When I said Lincoln saved the U.S., I meant as it is currently constituted. I suppose had the South been "allowed" to leave there would still be a United States. The South didn’t "rebel," a free people who would determine their own fate (and not dictate to others) never rebels. What Lincoln gave us was he centralized state...thanks a lot.

As for that shot that "started" the Civil War, the soldier in question fired it it self-defense against an invader...a Federal resupply ship. Big deal...the North is still the aggressor for not respecting Southern territorial waters.

Lincoln supported the Constitution as the Founders made it, never seeking "centralization" for its own sake but only, as the Constitution provides, for the preservation of the Union. That has nothing to do with the panopoly of programs that 20th century politicians saddled us with. Lincoln was a free enterprise, limited government man, not a socialist or welfare stater. Get it right.

If you want to blame a president for centralized government, try FDR.

Mark me as firmly in the Radical Republican camp.

Mr. Crenshaw:

Just a few responses:

"Well, I am sorry about the blacks in Maryland, but how did Lee treat the people of Maryland and Pennsylvania?"

As I said, if they happened to be black, men under Lee’s command tried to have them kidnapped--no questions asked--to be sold as slaves. This is documented in Stephen W. Sears’s recent history of the Gettysburg campaign. Or do blacks not fall within your definiton of "people," Mr. Crenshaw?

As for South Carolina and its "territorial" waters, that state has aptly been described as "too small to be a country, but too big to be a lunatic asylum." I had thought this description merely antiquarian, but now I’m beginning to wonder.

Sherman, God bless him, believed firmly in letting traitors feel "the hard hand of war," but like Lincoln, seasoned this policy prudentially and humanely with more restraint and even compassion than the traitors in strict justice deserved, for Sherman’s strategy revolved deliberately around maneuver and the destruction, confiscation, or (in the case of slaves) liberation of traitors’ property rather than the fighting of bloody battles. In this, he combined great forcefulness with great humanity, which is why all Americans North and South should revere him as a master strategist and hero of consitutional liberty.

Who is this person, PJC, who takes privileges by calling (some) of my ancestors "traitors" but who doesn’t have the courage to use his real name? You aren’t worth bothering with.

The expansion of government after the Civil War, as well as Federal intervention into the economy (via tariffs, for the most part) is public record. Look it up.

The arguments of you Lincolnophiles, which range from insult to unsupported praise for Union leaders, are flabby...typical of people who mouth the orthodox line without having done much research on the topic. Mr. Morel, of course, is a Lincoln ’scholar’, but that is apparently only a license for over-the-top hero worship.

It’s always a privilege to call things by their right names, Mr. Crenshaw. I now leave you to the worship of your traitorous ancestors.

(PS: How do you know I’m a person, by the way? I might be black, after all, and as such fall outside your implicit working definition of "people.")

Of course, you are wrong about how I feel about black people...for some people, race trumps all other principles. That probably applies to you.

As for my "traitorous" ancestors, the monuments at Gettysburg pretty much tell us that most Americans don’t consider them traitorous. They were Americans, as much (or more)than you, and clearly had more courage in their convinctions than you do.

One last thought -- who do you suppose is holding this country together at this or red America? Most of the political pressure to 1) protect individual rights, 2) reduce the size/burden of government, and 3) maintain our traditions (e.g., religion) comes from the Southern and Western states. If were up to the political descendents of "Father Abraham" we’d all be living in "Europe Lite" by this time.

The Civil War has never ended.

Edward, Edward, Edward -- chill pill, man.

For the record, a question: "Why would anyone expect any Southerner to celebrate Lincoln?"

You mean WHITE Southerner, don’t you? Still, I know many that do -- right along with justified celebration of Robert E. Lee.

I know Lincoln the man had warts, and was likely complicated. Who among us doesn’t suffer from such a condition, and who isn’t afflicted with curious contradictions?

I know that white Southerners have been unfairly scapegoated regarding racism. I know that racism is not contained within regional boundaries, nor even cultural or racial ones. I also know we live in an interesting time of transformation -- racially, culturally, and economically.

Still, there’s nothing charming or slightly humorous about the intransigence that remains in South Carolina (my wife’s home state) and across much of the Southland.

And what of those Red State patriots presently serving in our military and defending this nation so well? A healthy number of them are non-white, of course.

I’m surprised (and disappointed -- but not offended) to see it noted here so approvingly.

Do black people ever consider themselves "Southerners?" I know during the Civil War some did, but since then I think the term has come to be associated with the white culture of that region. The way it is sometimes disparaged, I doubt critics include black people in the phenomenon we call "The South."

And I’m not the one who needs to "chill." If you’ll look at this thread you’ll see that I was quite reasonable until terms like "traitor" starting being thrown around. What arrogance to castigate a brave and determined people and instead praise thugs like Sherman.

We this started I figured people had read up on Lincoln, Reconstruction, and so forth. Now I have my doubts.

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