Living in the Legacy of Lincoln

Many Americans are waking up to the seemingly insurmountable problems caused by decades of failed policies and short term “fixes” to systemic issues by both political parties. Most Americans do not understand the root cause of many modern issues and consequently support polices that increase problems instead of resolving them. The key to understanding the root cause of most modern national issues is in understanding Lincoln’s political agenda and how he violated the Constitution to achieve it.

Lincoln inherited his political agenda from the Federalist and Whig parties that preceded the 1856 Republican Party. Among other policies, the Federalist and Whig parties promoted: high tariffs to protect American industries, a central bank to control the national monetary system, and publically funded internal improvements like roads and canals. The Republican Party adopted all of these policies.

Prior to the 16th Amendment, the national government received most of its revenue through taxes on imports, known as imposts. To some, high tariffs may sound like a good idea, because it increases national revenue by taxing foreign goods, but high tariffs have always had an adverse effect on the entire economy. Exorbitantly taxing foreign goods increases prices consumers must pay for those goods, or in other words it benefits domestic manufacturers, not the American people. Prior to and leading up to the war, most US imports came through Southern ports, so high tariffs would cause Southerners to pay more for products for which they previously paid less, thereby robbing them of purchasing power for the benefit of Northern manufacturers.

The existence of a central bank was a main political struggle between the two parties from the inception of the Constitution, in 1789, until President Jackson terminated the charter for America’s second central bank in 1836. Jackson understood central banks benefit bankers far more than the people they were established to serve. For example, the current central bank, the Federal Reserve, is authorized by Congress to create money, known as credit, loan it to the national government, and charge American taxpayers principle plus interest on the money they create. Americans would be far better off if they borrowed the money from themselves vice enriching the owners of twelve private banks of which the Federal Reserve is composed. Central banks also took away power from State chartered banks and centralized the power at the national level, which deprived States of power over their economic system and a source of revenue.

Another political agenda item inherited from the Federalist and Whig parties is internal improvements. Publically funded internal improvements, like roads and canals, may sound like a reasonable expenditure for the national government, but it has always been a major source of government corruption and graft. Politicians are able to “buy” political support with taxpayer money through government sponsored internal improvements, while the product and service rendered to the American people is usually substandard or completely dysfunctional.

A prime example of this is the 1872 Credit Mobilier scandal. Credit Mobilier of America was a limited liability holding company established to build railroads subsidized by government bonds while shielding investors from the risks. The company subcontracted railroad work to construction crews while using inflated estimates to ensure high profits at government expense. To make matters worse, Congressman invested in the company while they were the ones approving government bonds to build the railroads Credit Mobilier used to pay their dividends.

Credit Mobilier is a prime example of the type of corruption still pervasive, although more discrete, in our government today. Prior to the war, internal improvements were also contentious, because the South was funding the majority of the national revenue through their ports, but the proposed internal improvements were being done in the North for the benefit of Northern manufacturers. Today, Americans should understand internal improvements are paid for by revenue collected in all States, but benefit only the State or States in which the improvements are made and the money paid for those projects are not in proportion to revenue collected from the State(s) or their population.

It would be inaccurate to say the Southern States seceded for these reasons, but it was certainly a factor in their decision. Lincoln, however, made it clear he went to war to preserve the Union.[1] Ironically, in order to preserve the Union, Lincoln violated the Constitution, the Law of Nations,[2] and the Just War Doctrine; the ramifications of which we are still living with today.

Lincoln’s usurpation of power is shown in Article I of the Constitution, in which it defines that war can only be declared and Habeas Corpus can only be suspended by Congress. Lincoln did both without Congressional consent or notification, which is to say he oppressed the nation by exercising unlawful authority in both actions. He oppressed all Americans by calling up troops to attack a portion of the American population that peacefully desired to govern themselves in another manner.  He then used the war he started as an excuse to suspend Habeas Corpus, which allowed him to arrest citizens without making charges, and have them thrown into prison without a trial.

America, throughout the war, was a police state in which the rights of citizens, protected by the Constitution, were unlawfully suspended by the President. Through the suspension of Habeas Corpus, Lincoln silenced political opposition by having Northern newspaper offices and machinery destroyed and its editors thrown into Lafayette prison for printing articles adverse to his administration or its policies. He even had the grandson of Francis Scott Key thrown into Lafayette prison for similar reasons and in the same way he incarcerated private citizens for openly saying they preferred peace. A modern equivalent is like the current President declaring the States, who refuse to uphold unconstitutional national laws, are in rebellion and taking it upon himself to revoke Habeas Corpus and incarcerate his political opponents and anyone else who does not agree with his administration or its actions.

Lincoln violated the Law of Nations by violating the Just War Doctrine. He went to war against the South without meeting nearly any of the Just War Doctrine’s six criteria in which all six criteria must be met in order to prosecute a just war. The criteria are: declare war under the proper pre-determined authority; have a just cause based on the restoration of justice or the just rule of law; have a right intention to advance what is good according to God and avoid what is evil; have clear aims and goals based on the right intention; only go to war as a last resort such that every other method of restoring justice or the just rule of law has been exhausted; and only go to war if there is a reasonable chance of success, so that a nation does not needlessly cause the deaths of many for a lost cause.

Lincoln instigated the war by sending reinforcements to Fort Sumter knowing full well it would violate the truce the US Government had with the Southern States; he then usurped Congressional power in calling up troops to force the South back into the Union. Since the Constitution delegates the sole power to declare war and call up troops to Congress in the first article, the President does not have pre-determined jurisdiction to do either. One may argue that in an emergency the President can call up troops, but since the Confederacy was not threatening, verbally or physically, to overthrow the US Government, there was no emergency and the crisis was of Lincoln’s own making.

Lincoln also violated the Just War Doctrine, because he did not have a just cause for war. The Southern States had a constitutional right to secede, no matter what their reason. Although Lincoln had a clear aim and goal, it was not based on a right intention according to God, because people have a God given right to voluntary association such that no one can force them to belong to a government or any organization that is not in their best interests and they are the sole arbiters of what is good for them. [3]

Finally, war was not Lincoln’s last resort, because he did not even attempt to resolve the dispute using other methods before he resorted to provocation of violence, which he used as a pretext to go to war. Both South Carolina and then the Confederate States sent peace delegations to Washington to resolve their differences and pay for any improvements done to the previous federally owned forts within Confederate territory. Lincoln refused to meet with the peace delegation, but led them to believe a peaceful settlement was attainable. President Jefferson Davis described in detail how Lincoln misled his delegation during Davis’ message to the Confederate Congress, April 29, 1861, and of which other official Northern records corroborate.

In summary, Lincoln set the precedent for violating the Constitution to achieve his political agenda; an example followed by many Presidents since him. He violated the Constitution by suspending Habeas Corpus without Congressional consent, and along with the Constitution he violated the Law of Nations and the Just War Doctrine by calling up troops, without Congressional consent.

As a result of his policies and his war, we are now harnessed with an unrestrained national government rooted in corruption, the scope of which did not exist prior to his presidency. Currently, the national government routinely violates the Constitution in pursuit of its party’s political agenda by using tax payer money to reward big businesses, labor unions or the people directly via welfare, grants, subsidies and other transfer methods.[4] Solyndra and giving 51% ownership of GM to the United Auto Workers from a taxpayer bailout  are  only two of countless examples where a political party used taxpayer money to reward their supporters, and the examples are not confined to one party.

The government frequently interferes with the business of the States, of which the Affordable Care Act is a prime example. It also taxes the people’s income directly, which was first introduced by Lincoln during the war, on a graduated scale in violation of proportional direct taxation from Article 1 Section 2.

Finally, due to the unbalanced political opposition to the Republican Party during the latter half of the 19th century and the unrestrained political agenda imposed upon the nation as a result, America went from being a nation with a limited national government with clearly defined powers to a nation with a near unlimited national government that acts as if it has very few restrictions to its powers. The logical result of this paradigm shift is that, among many others things, our national government has unconstitutionally squandered the money of current and future taxpayers to the amount of 16 trillion dollars with an additional 100 trillion or more in unfunded liabilities on promises crafted to gain political support. Lincoln not only instituted many of the techniques used to violate the Constitution and the rights of American citizens, he made them possible by successfully limiting the States’ ability to keep the national government within its constitutional limits through secession.[5] It is for this reason we are living in the legacy of Lincoln.

[1] American Founding Principles, A War to End Slavery,  November 26, 2012.

[2] American Founding Principles, Law of Nations, September 18, 2012.

[3] American Founding Principles, Can a State Constitutionally Secede from the United States?, November 19, 2012.

[4] American Founding Principles, Who is General Welfare?, October 15, 2012.

[5] American Founding Principles, Can a State Constitutionally Secede from the United States?, November 19, 2012.


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