Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Lincoln-Douglas debates

Harry V. Jaffa’s Colloquium last Friday is now available for your listening pleasure. It is an hour and a half of conversation with the Ashbrook Scholars. I remind you that these are undergraduate students; I think they are impressive. Although Jaffa, now eighty eight years old, stuck mostly to the Debates, he did make some interesting digressions worth hearing, for example, what Caesar’s conquest of the ancient world has to do with religious freedom.    

Discussions - 102 Comments

Jaffa is a necon wackjob. His revisionist history, to support the left-wing dictator Lincoln, shows his admiration for tyranny. This guy, who celebrates “radical break[s] from tradition,” is so far to the Left it is not even funny. As a real conservative, I wouldn’t even use one of Jacobin Jaffa’s papers or books for lining for my bird cage.

Great article by ME Brafrod, a real conservative:

Many of the other podcasts also look interesting. I’ll check them out when I have the time.

The frequency that Lincoln comes up on this blog is quite astounding. I am beginning to think the Ashbrook center is recovery center for those with an uncontrollable Lincoln fetish...;)

I’m just thankful I am no longer the only dissident voice. And y’all thought I was provocative. Charles and Christopher, thanks for taking some of the heat away from me.

I disagree with almost everything Jaffa says, but he deserves way more respect than Charles gives him. The guy is a legend. Even Bradford acknowledged the achievement of _Crisis_. If only Jaffa could have taught Bloom how to behave himself and Bradford how to stay in shape those two legends would still be with us too. We would be better off.

1: Magnus, why don’t you absent yourself from this site? Your name-calling is way out of hand.

David, I guess you would say the same thing to the guy (Gmax) who called Ron Paul a wacko?

I would consider "jerk" or something like that name calling. +/- on "wackjob." But calling someone a neocon or a Jacobin or suggesting that they are a historical revisionist or that Lincoln was a left-wing dictator is not really name calling is it?

Allan Bloom, the neocon who spread AIDS to 2 of his students, and who said in Giants and Dwarves that he’s a Leftist and always will be a Leftist? Is this the Bloom to whom you refer? Closing of the American Mind is nothing but a defense of left-wing Jacobinism. Bloom was a joke. Prof. Reg. Allen said Bloom barely knew Greek, and even Seth Bernadete said he was of a mediocre intellect. Bloom was more interested in gay sex than he was in complex thoughts.

Why is it that the self-proclaimed "true conservatives" who blog here are always neo-Confederates praising the myth of the Lost Cause? If Lincoln is a tyrant, the principles of the American founding were tyranny. I think the only fetish here is a dedication to American founding principles.

I’ve never heard of the two students or the Reginald Allen quote. Where did you read this?


"If Lincoln is a tyrant, the principles of the American founding were tyranny."

So "saving the Union" was a principle of the American founding? That’s funny. I thought America was founded through an act of secession from the British Crown.

No, it was an act of Revolution against a tyrannical government. The Union of the United States was not acting tyrannically when the Southerners took it upon themselvs to set up their own little, illegal enclave here in the U.S. There are neo-cons, theocons, etc. Do you prefer slave-o-con?

"No, it was an act of Revolution against a tyrannical government."

That is absolutely incorrect, and this is an extremely important philosophical point. Revolution by definition would imply that we were trying to overthrow the King and establish a new and improved government. We were not. We were simply seeking our independence from the larger political entity. In other words, we were seceding.

Jaffaesq neocons hang their hat on this philosophical confusion. They must, because they spout rhetoric about "birthed in revolution" and can not possibly appear to support an act of secession. But this is hardly even a philosophical debate. It is veritably tautological. Implied by the definition. We were seceding, not engaging in a revolution.

Go ahead and try to make the opposite case. Good luck. Why don’t you try to argue that water isn’t wet while you are at it.

Also, I don’t agree that the US wasn’t acting tyranically, but secession does not require tyrany to justify it.

And you can feel free to call me a de-central-o-con.

I prefer "Jeffersonian."

Where did Charles go? I want answers.

Well, I have no interest in getting into the side discussion on the Civil War. However, those who have listened to the podcast will note that under Jaffa’s contract theory, secession would appear to be an inalienable right.

I’m no "neoconfederate" but I a real conservative, and I thus do not support-left wing dictators like Lincoln, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot. They are all disgusting, left-wing dictators. The fact that neocons support left-wing dictators like Lincoln shows their true stripes.

Read ME Bradford or Thomas DiLorenzo; they both have published many historical essays and books on how Lincoln was a left-wing dictator.

It is not a mere coincidence that most neocons are ex-Trotskyites, and that many of them (like Irving Kristol) think the US should be "a proposition nation, more like the USSR."

I think I will allow your post linking Lincoln with Stalin to speak all for itself, Ignorant Ohio . . . oops . . . OYC. That is one incredible comparison.

OYC, you made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

Lincoln believed that the Founders rejected the divine right of kings (the British model) in favor of the new and improved understanding that ALL men are created equal, with none born booted and spurred to ride the backs of others born with saddles on their backs. It was a revolution, replacing inequality of rights with equality of rights. Lincoln wrote, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." This was his definition of democracy in its purest form. I.e., want to know why you ought not to be a master? Simply ask yourself why you would not want to be a slave. This was a profound and yet elegantly simple application of the Golden Rule to political practice. Only a truly free people could undertake this way of life; the Civil War demonstrated that some folks just could not handle that much freedom and responsibility. Put differently, we as a people were not as free as our institutions permitted. Lincoln’s political raison d’etre was to remind us of this fundamental responsibility inherent in our own claim to the right to rule ourselves--government by consent of the governed. This was why Stephen Douglas was wrong in his touting of popular sovereignty, and obviously why Calhoun was wrong in defending white enslavement of blacks as a "positive good."

When it becomes clear that you: 1. always have to crawl back to the sticky question of slavery, 2. always have to explain why your "true conservatism" or "paleo-conservatism" does not offer support to slavery, 3. you can never offer a satisfactory explanation when confronted with that challenge, 4. you misunderstand the nature of the disagreement, take it personally, whine about being equated with "Racism" and decry your opponents as using tactics of the Left and, 5. you have to cite thoroughly discredited "scholars" like DiLorenzo--at what point does a man ask himself (in the year 2007!) maybe my thinking on this subject is just a bit off? Just a wee bit? Maybe?

Lincoln was a big-government leftist. He expanded the size of the federal government 300x. In short, he was a power-hungry leftist. He was not as much of an egalitarian, though, as Leftists / Neocons think. Lincoln said: "I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything." Like any good leftist, though, Lincoln realized he could solidify power by revolutionary big-government means, and thus took on the issue of slavery, near the conclusion of the civil war. OYR is right. Lincoln was a left-wing dictator, just like Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot. Read the chapter "John C Calhoun" in Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind. He says as much too.

George Will’s reminder this morning -- Lincoln supposedly said: If I call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Five? No, calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.

All these nasty, astonishingly goofy words about Lincoln don’t change a thing.

To compare Lincoln to Stalin or Pol Pot or even a tin-horn dictator demonstrates an absolute lack of intellectual honesty.

Also, I don’t think Kirk would characterize Lincoln as Lincoln’s detractors here have. Nope, not by a long shot.

Let the distortion of history and fact continue ...


DiLorenzo is not discredited. That is a joke. The Lincoln cult has tried to discredit him, but he has shined the glaring light of truth on their historical revisionism. I’m sure the boys at Claremont think he is discredited, but they also say Lincoln didn’t REALLY mean all those blatantly unegalitarian and un PC things he said about blacks. I don’t agree entirely with some of DiLorenzo’s approach, but to say he is discredited when the whole Lincoln Cult has been shown to be deliberate revisionists and smear artist of anyone who messes up their tidy little concocted narrative is really rich.

Lincoln didn’t believe whites and blacks were on the same level ...

So what?

That does not mean he was hyprocrital regarding his views on slavery.

Again, this is another example of being dishonest in the debate.

So what does it take for something to be discredited? Scathing reviews by every specialist in the Civil War, in every historical journal, isn’t enough? Do you believe that Holocaust deniers have been discredited, or they simply victims of the "PC" historical profession?

Mr. Michaud, what is sending troops and getting 600,000+ people killed if not tyranny and dictatorship? A little misunderstanding?

Mr. Morel, the "booted and spurred" quote was originally spoken by Jefferson, I suppose. But it was famously repeated, ironically since you used it, by Jefferson Davis in his speech resigning from the Senate.

See here.

And he was making the exact opposite point. What exactly Jefferson had in mind with the "all men are created equal" quote is an interesting discussion. He was likely asserting the corporate political equality of American Colonists to Englishmen. But he manifestly was not including the slaves. Do you seriously believe that in 1776 he was? He was uncomfortable with slavery, but he was no egalitarian. Do you believe the signers of the Declaration were intending to include the slaves? This sort of historical revisionism to tidy up messy history in the name of satisfying liberals drives me nuts. The Founders were not egalitarians in the modern sense, and they did not intend to found an egalitarian society, and you know it. All attempts to say they were are intellectually dishonest. Please don’t make me drag out all the grossly unegalitarian and un PC quotes of the Founders.

Some of the unegalitarian aspects of the society, such as slavery, were not positive. But egalitarianism as such is a LIBERAL idea. Why do "conservatives" defend it? (Because they are not conservative perhaps?)

Mr. Moser,

"Scathing reviews by every specialist in the Civil War, in every historical journal, isn’t enough?"

"every specialist in the Civil War (sic), in every historical journal" BINGO. News flash. The academy is liberal, and the designated conservatives are often Straussian/Jaffaesq neocons toeing the party line (a.k.a. the Lincoln Cult).

Honestly, I have said DiLorenzo sometimes rides the liberal high horse himself. That is because he is a libertarian more than he is a conservative. (I think he has certain conservative instincts.) The point, IMO, should not be that Lincoln was a racist, but that Lincoln was not an egalitarian like 99% of the rest of the population, North and South, in 1861. But that gets at the spin he puts on some things. His facts are accurate.

Besides, he is an economic historian. His major point all along was that Lincoln was essentially a Clay style Whig, which is undisputed.

So logically, then, no historical claim can be discredited; indeed, if the historical profession rejects such a claim, this is probably evidence to you that it must be right. You are making essentially the same argument as the Holocast deniers. Are you one of them? If not, why not?

Comparing Dilorenzo to a holocaust denier is way out of line and you know it. And "the historical profession" does not pass verdicts: individual historians do. Clyde Wilson writes postive blurbs for Dilorenzo. I think Genovese might have done so as well. As for most of the mainstream historical journals, I don’t think they have even reviewed the book.

Richard M. Weaver, along with Russell Kirk, is often cited a the father of the post-WWII New Right. Agreeing with Albert Taylor Bledsoe, Weaver quotes him to show his own estimation of Lincoln: ""[Lincoln was] ... the ideal man to lead the "Northern Demos" in its war to subjugate the South. "For if, as we believe, that was the cause of brute force, blind passion, fanatical hate, lust of power and greed of gain, against the cause of constitutional and human rights, then who was better fitted to represent it than the talented but low, ignorant and vulgar, railsplitter from Illinois?" Lincoln was the "low-bred infidel of Pigeon Creek" in whose eyes "the Holy Mother" was "as base as his own."" Richard M. Weaver, who was a Southern aristocrat himself, a man who knew Greek, Latin, German, French and Italian, like Basil M. Gildersleeve, thought that Lincoln was a barbarian. Weaver basically thought of him as a low-brow knave, intoxicated on left-wing visions of power, a champion of tyranny.

I’m not comparing DiLorenzo to a Holocaust denier. He published a book that no serious historian accepts as sound scholarship. I am not even comparing Dan to a Holocaust denier (although I’m genuinely curious to know whether he is one). I am merely saying that his argument sounds very much like theirs.

I’m sorry John, but Clyde Wilson is by any possible definition a serious scholar. His edition of the Calhoun papers is an exceptionally important piece of scholarship. And his Pettigrew biography received glowing reviews from many leading historians. I don’t like Dilorenzo’s tone either but let’s not go too far.

"So logically, then, no historical claim can be discredited;"

I said that? Aren’t I making the argument that the historical claim that Lincoln was an egalitarian has been thoroughly discredited? :-) I am arguing that the historical profession is by and large biased and ideologically motivated. Not disinterested. Of course DiLorenzo is ideologically motivated also, but what errors of fact are you alleging? Lincoln didn’t really lock up dissenters? He really didn’t close down hostile presses? He really didn’t suspend habeus corpus?

"You are making essentially the same argument as the Holocaust deniers. Are you one of them?"

Ah, a little guilt by association. I thought you were above that.

"He published a book that no serious historian accepts as sound scholarship."

So Clyde Wilson is not a "serious" historian? Thomas E. Woods is not a "serious" historian? Walter Williams is not a "serious" economist? (All blurbed his most recent book.)

CASUALTIES OF LEFT-WING DICTATORS: Lincoln: 70,000 deaths; Stalin: 20 million deaths; Mao: 65 million deaths; Pol Pot: 2 million deaths. Lincoln did have as many people killed in his civil war of terror as did his 20th-century comrades, but he also did not have the technologies and refined means as did his 20th-century comrades.

And the 70,000 deaths attributed to Left-Wing Lincoln is very generous. Many historians now figure, including civilians, the number around 1 million. So, if you use current numbers: Lincoln: 1 million deaths.

Lincoln "had" 70,000 killed? What utter rubbish. It is spectacularly ignorant, or willfully stupid, to comapre Lincoln with Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. If you wish to continue to characterize the Civil War as one of Northern aggression so be it. It remains the case that your defense of the south on state’s rights principles will have to include the right to own other human beings.

The above post that implies sending 600000 men to war is tyranny is beyond sophomoric drivel. On those grounds I suppose Churchill must also be a tyrant.

These posts have brought down the intellectual seriousness of this blog in unfortunate ways.

Sir Gawain, do you have any idea how many people died as a result of Southern slavery?

Mr. Colman, I said he got 600,000+ people killed. Not that he sent 600,000 troops. On that note, I think Sir Gawain means 700,000 not 70,000.

Again for the umpteenth time, Lincoln did not go to war to "free the slaves." That is so much a crystal clear part of the historical record that it should never have to be said. He went to war to "save the union." Killing people to save a union that they duly seceded from is tyranny. Plain and simple.

It is fair to group the left-wing dictator Lincoln in with Mao, Pol Pot, etc. The rhetoric that Leftists / Neocon use to justify Lincoln’s barbarous murders is telling. They say it was to liberate people in bondage. This, in fact, was the same rhetoric used by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Stalin justified his purges because he said he was liberating the surfs from bondage. Mao justified his purges and civil war of terror because he said he was liberating the peasant / serf class from de facto slavery, and Pol Pot claimed to be liberating victims from slavery.

Serfs, rather. The real question is why do neocons support a left-wing dictator like Lincoln? Why, because they support big-government tyranny. If the neocons have been successful at anything, it is taking traditionally left-wing ideas and selling them to the ignorant masses as conservative. (Look how they hate the traditional Right (Burke and De Maistre) and champion left-wing Jacobin ideas: spreading democracy, rights talk, “radical break[s] from tradition” [Jaffa], “creative destruction” [Ledeen], making the USA “more like the USSR” as a proposition nation [Kristol].) Neocons care about power, and power only (like Lincoln did). At war with the real America, its real history, and real Americans, the neocons want to convert the USA into a left-wing proposition nation, to make it “more like the USSR” as Irving Kristol desires. Their revisionist history on Lincoln aids in this quest.

Ooops, I was cutting and pasting. I meant 700,000 --> 1 million. I didn’t notice the missing zero.

Editor of this site: Please change the three instances of “70,000” above to “700,000.” Thanks.

Dan: I was not saying that Lincoln uses the same rhetoric as Mao, etc. I was saying that the leftists / neocons who defend Lincoln use the same rhetoric as Mao, etc. "He was liberating X," which is the formula used by all good Marxists. The Civil War was not about slavery, nor did Lincoln care too much about blacks. Lincoln was like most 19th-century left-wingers (Jacobins, Marxists, etc): he worshiped the idea of a large, centrally-controlled state.

Sir. Gawain,

My comment in #41 was directed at John Colman #38, John Moser #36, Julie Ponzi #20, and Lucus Morel # 19 who brought up slavery. It was not directed at you.

This discussion has reached the point of diminishing returns--not to say insanity (Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot believed in natural rights?)--but there’s one last point I feel I need to make. There is a difference between saying "I do not believe in X" and "X has been discredited."

Aren’t I making the argument that the historical claim that Lincoln was an egalitarian has been thoroughly discredited?

You did, and I agree with you. However, in making this claim you are appealing to the judgment of the historical profession. You are making a statement about what the general community of historians believes. But to be consistent you would also have to say, by the same standards, that DiLorenzo’s views are discredited. That doesn’t mean you don’t believe in them, it’s just an admission that your views run counter to those of professional historians.

"However, in making this claim you are appealing to the judgment of the historical profession. You are making a statement about what the general community of historians believes."

Yes and no. I am thankful to the historical profession for bringing important quotes, documents, etc. to light. And for compiling them. I certainly did not do the research to find those things myself. But I think I am making my own judgment about what they mean. Not only have I concluded that Lincoln was not an egalitarian, but I have concluded he was a double talker. That is one reason there are such divergent opinions. He said, sometimes in the same speech, things that could be interpreted both ways, but that were hard to pin down as very precise.

But I am not sure that the "general community of historians" believes he wasn’t at least a proto-egalitarian.

Isn’t that essentially Jaffa’s argument? That he was a victim of his times so he had to say those unegalitarian things. That he had to say he wasn’t fighting the war to free the slaves so he could free the slaves? Now that may be true. I guess it is conceivable that Lincoln was a stealth egalitarian and a stealth abolitionist. (I think many Southerners at the time thought that.) But that is more wishful thinking than it is supported by the facts. It is the convenient answer that fits in with a certain ideology/world-view. That wishful thinking has then become the semi-official (dogma in some circles) explanation.

DiLorenzo has not been the only one attacked. Certain Black historians/authors who were basically making the Lincoln was a racist argument have been attacked too.

One question I have always had is whether Jaffa et al actually believe their own rhetoric or are they engaging in intentional mythmaking for the masses to prop up the fairy tale. Propagating the "noble lie."

Now that is a line of inquiry that deserves investigation.

Nice job there, starting an argument as Charles Magnus, then backing yourself up under the name Sir Gawain. Really mature.

This often absurd thread began its existence by insulting Harry Jaffa. We then saw hash made of American history, while Lincoln got put in the company of the 20th century’s worst political monsters.

If anyone who can read is still following this silliness, and worse than silliness, I recommend a return to Jaffa -- a ">">"> piece that mentions Lincoln but is about more than Lincoln. This is the same Jaffa who, we learned at the outset, is a "neocon wackjob."

What "hash (was) made of American history?"

Just curious.

Something is not "silliness" simply because it offends your sensibilities. The truth is often painful.

Yes, but if Gawain is Magnus, as "Lincoln" (Moser in disguise?) suggests, then I still want to know where Magnus/Gawain/whatever came by the information that Bloom gave two students HIV and that Reginald Allen said Bloom knew little Greek. It all sound pretty urban legendy to me.

The loonier anti-Lincolnites are really best ignored. A lot of time has gone into this attempted dialogue with them. No dialogue is really possible.

I am a Yankee, from NYC, and like many real Yankee conservatives, I deplore the left wing dictator Lincoln. He is burning in Hell along with Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Sure, he did it in the name of freeing X from Y, but Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot also said they were liberating people.

EVERYONE, HERE ARE SOME GREAT RESOURCES FOR REAL CONSERVATIVES (not for neocons, aka leftists in disguise): ME Bradford, The Heresy of Equality (; ME Bradford, The Lincoln Legacy (; ME Bradford The Gnosticism of Lincolns Political Rhetoric ( Also check out Clyde Wilson The Lincoln Fable (

Lincoln did not say himself that he was "freeing X from Y," but Leftists / Neocons who defend him say that. Lincoln himself was not too fond of black people. Like most 19th-century leftists, he was only interested in promoting big, centrally-controlled government.

"The loonier anti-Lincolnites are really best ignored. A lot of time has gone into this attempted dialogue with them. No dialogue is really possible."

I suspect "no dialog is really possible" means that we can’t be persuaded to the "correct" side of the debate. What would make someone a non-loony anti-Lincolnite? See my comment under the "Blog Comments" thread.

Would one of the posters please expose the OYC/Magnus/NYC Yankee/whatever as the same person? This is absolutely ridiculous. And since natural rights don’t exist, perhaps ban the individual from the website?

Your wish is my command. "Paleoconservative," "Traditio," and--how’s this for humility--"Aristotle Today" are all the same person.

"NYC Yankee," "TS Eliot," and "duke" are all the same person.

And yes, "Charles Magnus" and "Sir Gawain" are the same person.

Geez, if you want to be wrongheaded on Lincoln, that’s your business, but do you guys have to be so LAME about it? At least Dan Phillips has the guts to post under his own name--assuming that it IS his real name.

Dr. K. will vouch that "Dan Phillips" is Dan Phillips.

Slavery was well debated during the Constitutional Convention. There were many that thought it be abolished as well as many that believed it should be expanded.

Without the resultant compromise, many southern states wouldn’t have signed onto the new constition. And, yes, it was the southern states that even then had the most vested interest in slavery as evidenced by Jefferson in his autobiography regarding the creation of the declaration of independence ...

"The clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it."

And, what was struck out of the Declaration regarding the slave trade?

"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another."

Yep, Jefferson was a slave holder, yet it is apparant he did not like the slave trade at all.

It should be noted and is easily evidence by our Founder’s own writings, the question of slavery was debated not only in the Constitution Convention but in the various meetings that was conducted to bring our country to form and, after formation, in Congress with the numerous attempts at appeasements between free and slave states.

I am truly tired of those that purposely distort history.

Who ever said that slavery was not debated at the Constitutional Convention?

You know . . . I wonder how many of you going on here as you’ve done have bothered to actually listen to the interchange with Jaffa and the Ashbrook students. It’s very clear that many of you can’t complain about a lack of time for such endeavors. One thing, among many things, that you will find to be remarkable if you can be bothered to make such an effort--is that these kids are very smart, very engaged, very alive to the debate--and yet, very civil. It really is something to be so shown up by a group of 18-22 year-olds.

Henry Clay Whitney (Lincoln’s close friend): the proclamation was "not the end designed by him (Lincoln), but only the means to the end, the end being the deportation of the slaves and the payment for them to their masters - at least to those who were loyal."

Lincoln: “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

Lincoln: “What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the greater mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole question, if indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill-founded, can not be safely disregarded.”

Lincoln (on Dred Scott): “Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime [Africa], and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be.”

Lincoln: "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which in my judgment will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong, having the superior position."

Lincoln: "“I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the free people will not be so reluctant to go.”

As these quotes show, Lincoln was not some modern leftist / neocon. He did not worship the politically correct concept of equality. He, however, was a good 19th-century leftist, and worshiped a large, centrally-controlled state. Lincoln was just typically 19th-century, left-wing dictator. In this respect, he is the forerunner of dictators like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.

Dale Cooper,

What do your quotes reveal about Lincoln? That he was not an "egalitarian"? Read all about it: "Lincoln was not a god but a real human being who lived in a time where he understood, recognized, and (oh no!) was perhaps influenced by the political and social culture of which he was a part...Lincoln, was a human being and yet had flaws!!!"

And why, suddenly, are we all supposed to accept the idea that, if Lincoln was not an egalitarian, then his motive in the war was not for the sake of freeing slaves, and if not for the sake of freeing slaves, then for the sake of saving the union (up to this point the Lincoln hater logic is at least debatable) , and if for the sake of saving the union, then Lincoln did so because he worshipped big, centralized government. fighting a war for the creation of a big centralized government is not justified. The government prior to Lincoln was neither big nor centralized. Therefore, Lincoln fighting a war for a big and central government is unjustifiable. As a result, Lincoln was a Leftist Tyrnat on the same level of Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin.

That is as honest a treatment of the argument as I have been able to gather based on your posts. It seems to me that it contains large leaps in logic.

Thomas Jefferson: "I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments of both body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people."

Thomas Jefferson: "and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them [negroes] a very strong and disagreeable odour."

Thomas Jefferson: "To this must be ascribed their [blacks’] disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course."

Thomas Jefferson: "The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed [to Africa] beyond the reach of mixture."

I can pull up dozens of more quotes to show that Jefferson was not some politically correct left-winger / neocon. It amazes me, but so many of the neocons here seem to worship at the alter of political correctness.

No, like the left-wing radicals in Europe, Lincoln desired to create a large, centrally-controlled government. It did not exist previously. Under Lincoln, the federal government increased 300times, the largest increase in American history. This is one of the many unfortunate facets of Lincoln’s left-wing dictatorship.

Russell Kirk in defense of segregation: “The South…the Permanence of America: the defender — sometimes consciously, sometimes blindly — of principles immensely ancient, of conventions that yet have meaning . . . Without the South to act as its Permanence, the American Republic would be perilously out of joint. And the South need feel not shame for its defense of beliefs that were not concocted yesterday.”

Russell Kirk: “It would be reckless indeed to tamper with an institution as ancient as segregation.”

Richard M Weaver: "some of the means, for example the Ku Klux Klan, were irregular, but essentially it was the political genius of Jefferson, of Washington, of Madison, and of Pinckney expressing itself in times of trouble and oppression.”

Everyone here should read the article "The Heresy of Equality" by Mel Bradford that is linked to in #55 above. It is a tour de force.

I learned something new. The perils of being relatively young by the standards of this debate, I guess. I thought a lot of this debate was fairly new. The product of an emboldened neocon movement that is feelings its oats and a now separate paleocon movement that is poking holes in the reigning orthodoxy. It has especially been a hot debate since the publication of DiLorenzo’s first Lincoln book. But the above article was written in 1975, and it is exactly the same debate we are having here.

I believe that Kirk proves conclusively that the Declaration was not the universalist proclamation that the neocons claim it is. I believe that it is beyond dispute that Kirk’s reading, not Jaffa’s and Lincoln’s, is the conservative understanding. The Lincoln/Jaffa understanding is actually quite radical/revolutionary.

If people want to defend the Jaffa/Lincoln understanding, then so be it. But they should be honest and acknowledge that it is a radical and novel understanding. It is not the Founder’s understanding. Truth in labeling is what I ask. And this embrace of a radical understanding of equality has had far reaching harmful consequences on our society.

Oops. Paragraph #3 above should say Bradford instead of Kirk.

Any easy confusion on this point. Kirk also argued that our political tradition is a continuation of the European tradition, not a radical left-wing "break from tradition" that Jaffa and Marxists want to claim it is.

I just reread Bradford’s "Heresy of Equality: Bradford Replies to Jaffa" again. It has been years since I last read it. A beautiful essay. Bradford, an amazing stylist, probably has more style and eloquence in one paragraph than does Jaffa in his entire Woody-Allen-like-prose corpus. Bradford is correct in his estimation of Jaffa’s left-wing / neocon revisionist histroy. There is nothing original in Jaffa’s thought; it is just the "Old Liberalism" (early 20th-century leftist thought) repacked as "conservativism" for the naive. All of Jaffa’s writings seem to involve revisionist history in the service of dogmatic egalitarianism. But, as any real conservative knows, egalitarianism is and always has been of the Left. As Bradford said, "some truths are more important than the truth...even the Truth that we have a political tradition that is conservative and contrary to Lincoln."

CP - Regarding Jaffa, you don’t know what you are talking about.

Steve: "you do not know what you are talking about" is not an argument. I agree with CP. Jaffa is a left-wing / neocon nutjobber. He tries to peddle left-wing ideas (e.g. egalitarianism) as conservative. Only the most naive, or most ignorant, buy into the tricks of this snakeoil salesman.

"Sir Edwards" - True. I am guilty of imitating many others on this thread, but with fewer words. So make an argument -- not an argumentative assertion, replete with terms like "nutjobber" and "snakeoil" -- and I’ll see if I am clever enough to construct an argument in return. Since it’s still a free country, I reserve the right to find something better to do.

"Who ever said that slavery was not debated at the Constitutional Convention?"?

No one explicitly stated such, but what conclusion can you honestly conclude by those that put the Southern Confederacy on some sort of higher moralistic plane?

Seriously, you think by the comments on this thread and on numerous related others, that this country was founded so that one can do anything they darn well wanted no matter what.

No, the writings of our early leaders are clear, we, as a people, have been constrained, granted not dramatically, so as to create something better than before.

You want to shake the tree of liberty, then do it, but be aware, the liberty you claim to seek is not found in Jefferson Davis, romanticizing the Lost Cause, or any other distortion that has been put forth on this website regarding slavery and the South.

I never put the Confederacy on any "higher moralistic plain." They faced the same problems that the Founding Fathers did. And they tried to work withing the tradtion of those fathers. Read Jefferson Davis’ speeches and you will see what I mean.


Look back very carefully over the Lincoln threads. Slavery is almost always (always?) brought up by the Lincoln/Union defenders. I don’t think the subject is ever brought up by Southerners/pro-secession/anti-Lincoln forces. It is simply a bludgeon intended as a trump card to stop debate. But as has been said over and over, Lincoln did not go to war to free the slaves. Do you disagree with that? He went to war to save the Union. This is a very fundamental debate about the nature of sovereignty and appropriate ways to check and balance that power.

Few would disagree with a right to revolution, but the Unionist disagree with secession. Why is this? Secession could easily be peaceful and is a less drastic remedy than revolution. The pro-Lincoln/Union forces have, whether they know it or not, internalized a crude sort of Hobbesian notion of the nation state. It is CLEARLY a post-French Revolution concept. Hence it is left wing.

Your side is wrong on a very fundamental level. You end up defending the modern nation state. But the worst atrocities in the history of man have been committed since the advent of the modern nation state and in defense/because of it. Without the modern nation state there would have been no Hitler, no Stalin, no Mao. There would have been no WWI or WWII. So the stakes of this debate are very high. (For the record, the equating of Lincoln with the above is not helpful, but pointing out the continuity of cause is. Lincoln went to war to usher in a post French Revolution style polity. The above were allowed to operate BECAUSE of/facilitated by the modern nation state.)

We also object to the hind-sight moralizing that places modern ideas about equality on to people in the past. Clearly Lincoln was no egalitarian, so it is disingenuous to place those motives on him.

Also, Lincoln was doing the same thing reading his own opinions about equality, which were not modern PC, but he was clearly uncomfortable with slavery, into the Declaration where they certainly were not intended. (Recapitulating Lincoln, Jaffa makes the same mistake.)

It is only the simple mind that concludes that that is somehow a defense of slavery. It need not be. It is an attack on the modern liberal notion of egalitarianism, and a defense of a non-egalitarian social order. (That could mean many things. One thing it would mean to me is privileging Christianity.)

Liberalism is the mortal enemy of tradition, traditional society, and Christianity. It can not be reconciled with it, or only in a very limited way. We must attack liberalism root and branch. But the Union defenders end up not only propping up but exalting the very liberalism that is rendering defense of traditional American society impossible.

Dale, I honestly believe you are on the wrong side of a great historical debate. But you are too emotionally invested in the simplistic narrative you have been taught. The South owned slaves = bad. Lincoln freed the slaves = good. The deeper issues are this. Modern nation state and liberalism, or a pre-modern polity and true conservatism.

Don Phillips (see #52 above) -

In the spirit of our new-found civility. . . The discussion of Lincoln on NLT often gets pretty abstract, and thus some people stress his words while others stress his deeds.

You probably know the piece, which I was rereading to prepare a class: McPherson’s "Lincoln and the Strategy of Unconditional Surrender" in the collection AL and the Second American Revolution. It is a clear - and to me, fair-minded - summary of the steps, unanticipated and even reluctant, that took Lincoln from his Inauguration to the measures that won the war. I think both sides in the unpleasantness that has been this thread would profit from (re)reading it.

Dan Phillips (sorry about the "Don" above) -

Apart from your remarks about the "narrative" of Lincoln and the Civil War, you raise a big and interesting question about the meaning and status of "equality" in the Declaration, and how Lincoln transformed that original meaning.

I hope there will be an opportunity to pursue this, without various other distractions.

Dan, your point about mistrusting the nation-state is on-target, but one of the reasons I don’t become...I’m not even sure what to call neo-confederate, burkean, paleolibertarian because I see no real alternative to the nation-state in the modern world. Somalia points out what happens when there is no "legitimate" broker between contesting "communities." I think the problem is human nature...the organic community structure is the vital part of social life, but I think there is a severe population-size limitation on that kind of sociation. If we dispense with nation-states, or whittle them down to community size, we open up a new barrel of worms (anarchic conflict) as well as limit what Man can accomplish (say, missions to Mars). It’s a quandary, and like the good conservative I am (i.e., taking the "tragic view" of the human condition ala Sowell), I’m resigned to favoring the lesser of evils. "If wishes were fishes, we’d all cast nets." Since the nation-state we must have, the real question is how to harness it for the greater good.

Too emotionally invested? Come on.

Again, let’s revisit the Declarations of secession and see what they contained regarding secession and slavery ...

"We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection."
- South Carolina’s Declaration of Secession

"For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic."
- Georgia’s Declaration of Secession

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin."
- Mississippi’s Declaration of Secession

"Texas abandoned her separate national existence and consented to become one of the Confederated Union to promote her welfare, insure domestic tranquility and secure more substantially the blessings of peace and liberty to her people. She was received into the confederacy with her own constitution, under the guarantee of the federal constitution and the compact of annexation, that she should enjoy these blessings. She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits-- a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.


That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states."
- Texas’s Declaration of Secession

So, yeah, it wasn’t about slavery ... at all, which means it shouldn’t be central or even part of the secession debate ... right?

Well, those that decided to give formal reasons for leaving had no modesty in this regard, which makes suspect those that refuse to acknowledge the importance of slavery in the decision to seceed.

Slavery is used not to stop debate, but to put forth the factual reason behind the secession and the formation of the Southern Confederacy.

How many times do we have to go through this?

I have never stated Lincoln believed that white and black were on the same plane ... never. There is too much of his own words in evidence to do such a thing.

However, that should not negate his distain of slavery in general, which, again, his own words substantiate.

In other words, the argument that Lincoln was a racist, so his stance on slavery and his subsequent freeing of the slave must have been done with purely cynical and political motivation is found extremely wanting and I assert extremely inacurate.

Lincoln was against slavery long before he freed the slaves. He initially hoped that containing slavery would cause it to die out, however that is not what the slave-holding states, the southern states, wanted. They wanted it to continue and to expand.

If you delve more into the declarations of secession, you will see how essential slavery was to them and to the decision to leave the Union. They demonstrate in extremely clear language that the power of the slave holding states had truly passed and they no longer could control or heavily influence what law came out of Washington D.C. So, their only recourse to keep the slavery institution alive was to leave the Union.

To ignore this or to downplay this is showing that you prefer spin to hard, cold facts that came from those that left the Union in the first place!

Seriously, even Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner himself, realized that the institution was counter to the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and of the Constitution itself, however he could not feasibly see how slavery could peacefully and reasonably be ended by which all parties involved were not too harmed. He even attempted to put a clause in the Declaration of Independence denouncing slavery and admitted in his autobiography that in deference to South Carolina and other slave states, the clause was taken out of the final draft.

Also, it is very clear that those that support what the Southern States did most definately support balkanized states that more likely than not would have warred amongst themselves over territory, property, and riches as man as done for ever.

Lastly, immense barbarity existed long before the modern nation-state. I am astounded at such an assertion. I realize I shouldn’t be, but I am, then again, I am too emotional and simplistic.

You are emotionally-invested, and that’s clear for all to see. It’s not a bad thing, but it makes you a poor analyst.

Some States did leave the Union because of slavery; others left because the Union (i.e., Lincoln) was bullying them to raise troops against their own people. Most Southerns didn’t own slaves, and for them the motivating force was a sense of separate nationhood...a sense that had been encouraged by moralizing terrorists like John Brown. I strongly encourage you to read Gary Gallagher’s The Confederate War. The Southern folk made ENORMOUS sacrifices for their cause, and it wasn’t simply to keep black folks in chains. You are doing them a terrible disservice by asserting that they were simply a bunch of filthy slaveholders whose sole motivation was to lord it over black people.

I don’t have to state that the South was a bunch of filthy slaveowners, there own words do it for me.

Sure, the majority of folks who fought in the war didn’t own slaves and most Southerners were not slave owners. Yeah, yeah, we get it, but that does not negate the formal, declared reasons for fighting the war that the South put forth. Seriously, even Jefferson Davis understood what this was all about, that is slavery and its perpetuation.

Sad to say, but only 4 states decided to put out formal declarations of secession and what they stated was extremely clear, the Civil War was purely about slavery, nothing more.

This isn’t from an emotional standpoint. This isn’t a hazy, clouded judgement.

Again, I don’t have to do much to counter your arguments because the very cause you champion have done it for me rather well, but that is the part that you, dain, and you, Brutus, want us to ignore or to minimize and THAT truly is doing a disservice to the Confederates States of America.

Slam Lincoln all you want, but the fact is, the Civil War was about certain states attempting to retain a supposed right to practice slavery and when they realized that said right was going to be ended sometime in the near future, they left the Union, but yet, we are suppose to believe that the Civil War happened ONLY or MAINLY due to the fact that Lincoln attempted to keep the Union intact.

Man, that is just as bad as Jefferson Davis attempting to make American slavery as something beneficial to the slaves and to humanity.

"I don’t have to state that the South was a bunch of filthy slaveowners, there own words do it for me."

Well let me tell you something about these "filthy slaveholders." They made the country you live in! George Washington, father of our country was a slaveholder. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence was a slaveholder. James Madison, father of the Constitution was a slaveholder. John Marshall, the most important man in the history of the Supreme Court was a slaveholder. James Monroe, the architect of our foreign policy was a slaveholder.

If you think you are too good for this tradition maybe you should move to Canada.

Actually, Dale, I’m fighting on your ground...that the civil war was justified because of slavery. I think we have long since won the primary debate, that secession was legal. Of course it was legal, absolutely legal. Even the New Englanders thought so at the beginning of the War of 1812. Webster and others jinned up the myth that secession was disallowed, but most fair-minded people who could read plain English knew better.

As for slavery, yea, it was way wrong, but it didn’t mean that the Southerners had abrogated their right to self-government. Lots of stuff was going on in the North that was "way wrong" as well, but no one (other than Marxist revolutionaries, globalists, and, yea, I guess some neocons) think it is good policy to raze societies to "fix them." How only do that in self-defense (Germany, Japan, and maybe Iraq). What you folks are celebrating was an aggressive, violent moral crusade that was in no sense conservative.

Assuming that secession is legal, were the reasons given rise to the level whereby secession would be justified?

In other words, should we have secession because of policy differences? That is what happened, you know.

Is there a list of "wrongs" that qualifies a group of people for self-government, and too short a list disqualifies you? Were Americans sufficiently agrieved to break from the motherland? There are no objective criteria, I’m afraid. And don’t get me wrong...I completely understand the dangerous of political fragmentation. There probably should be some objective criteria, but none existed in 1861 (and none exist today, so far as I know).

There was criteria given and it has been posted here before during similar exchanges between you and I, dain and, no, it wasn’t made up.

But, like all things in this debate, what is proven or shown is ignored or forgotten and the same thing has to be done over and over again.

But, like all things in this debate, what is proven or shown is ignored or forgotten and the same thing has to be done over and over again.

Man, you should know.

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