The Subterfuge of Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural Address … Part 1

I have a young friend who was recently challenged about his decided animosity towards Abraham Lincoln, especially in regards to Lincoln’s first Inaugural address. I told him I would analyze Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural in order to see through Lincoln’s sleight of hand and dis-ingenuousness.  I will not be examining the complete address but just what I think are the points where Mr. Lincoln was playing the three card Monte with his dissembling lawyer language.

I am greatly helped here by Edgar Lee Master’s, “Lincoln The Man.” A biography I highly recommend to get a balanced view of Lincoln.
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Lincoln’s First Inaugural (here after, L-1st-I)

“Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

Bret Responds,

1.) There was more than reasonable cause for the South to have cause for apprehension.

a.) First, there was Republican Seward’s own “Irrepressible Conflict” speech. Seward, a favored Republican Presidential hope in his own right was tabbed as Lincoln’s Sec. State. In the aforementioned 1858 speech Seward had offered,

“It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slave-holding nation or entirely a free-labor nation.”

This kind of language would have given Southerners more than reasonable cause to fear a Republican administration.

b.) However, it was not merely Lincoln’s subalterns from whom the South had reasonable cause to fear a Republican administration. Lincoln’s own “House Divided” speech would have given ample evidence that a Republican administration would be a threat to the Southern way of life. In that 1858 speech Lincoln offered,

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.
 
We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.
 
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.
 
In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.
 
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
 
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
 
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
 
It will become all one thing or all the other.
 
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new –North as well as South.”

This speech belied Mr. Lincoln’s statement that he had no inclination to interfere with the institution of slavery.

2.) Notice an important nuance in the Lincoln speech above. Lincoln says, “I have no intention to interfere with the Institution of Slavery in the states where it exists.” Any bright Southerner hearing this would have easily heard, “I do have intention to interfere with the Institution of Slavery in the new would be states (Kansas) where it does not exist.” Southerners, who revered the Constitution would have known that Lincoln had no Constitutional authority to do that and so had just cause for apprehension in Lincoln’s occupation of the oval office.

Given all the *un-constitutional measures that Lincoln would soon undertake it is easy to see that the Southerners, not believing Lincoln’s specious assurances from his 1st Inaugural, were indeed justified in their mistrust.

*Addendum

1.) On April 15, Lincoln called up the militia from all of the states to put into the field an army of more than 75,000 men. The Constitution puts this power with the Congress: Article I, Section 8, sets forth the powers of Congress: “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections….”

2.) Also on April 15, Lincoln called Congress into session, as required by the Constitution for “extraordinary Occasions,” but delayed the meeting of Congress almost three months and during those three months Lincoln acted unconstitutionally and dictatorially in preparation for war.

3.) On April 21, he ordered the purchase of war materials, five naval vessels, which under the Constitution required congressional appropriations.

4.) Also on April 21 he ordered the navy to blockade all Southern ports. A blockade is an act of war, requiring the resolution of Congress.

5.) On April 27, he suspended the right of habeas corpus. Under the Bill of Rights, a person cannot be charged with a crime except by an indictment from a grand jury, nor can a person be convicted except by a jury of fellow civilians. No military trial of civilians was permitted, or so said the Constitution.

Because of this over 10,000 citizens were arrested and kept in Lincoln prisons without charge and / or trial.

6.) And of course there was the countless violations of the 1st amendment “Freedom of the Press” that the Lincoln Administration would soon transgress. Instance after instance of burning down Newspapers that wrote contrary to his “truth,” or alternately the wrecking of printing presses that refused to print Lincoln propaganda.

 

 

 

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Kinist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture . Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

1 thought on “The Subterfuge of Lincoln’s 1st Inaugural Address … Part 1”

  1. “It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and it means that the United States must and will, sooner or later, become either entirely a slave-holding nation or entirely a free-labor nation.”

    William Henry Seward was a master of subterfuge. His mention of “free-labor” is quite cunning, but most decidedly deceptive. In his speech, he shows us that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The Republican party of today is true to its origins. In describing the labor market as “slave vs. free,” Seward was really just changing one slave class for another. The Republicans have always loved the cheap labor afforded by mass hordes of Asians (especially Chinese and Indians), and have become experts at sleight of tongue, redefining the words “free” and “slave.” Seward says “[t]he white laboring man, whether native or foreigner, is not enslaved only because he can not as yet be reduced to bondage.” The Irish slaves were not enough, and the African slaves were not acclimated for the Northeast and Northwest. The perfect solution was to change the definition of “free labor” to include immigrants, and a never ending source of cheap labor was born.

    Seward went on to say “Deprive the Democratic party of this strength [the vote of slave-holders] and it would be a helpless and hopeless minority, incapable of continued organization. The Democratic party, being thus local and sectional. acquires new strength from the admission of every new slave State and loses relatively by the admission of every new free State into the Union.”

    This reveals the motive behind Lincoln’s subterfuge. It is apparent that the infant Republican party was planning a long term strategy to ensure its survival in expanding its voter base by the admission of new “free states,” offering its financiers in the Northeast a never ending supply of slave labor to compete with Dixie.

    When Lincoln said “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so” he was telling the truth. The subterfuge was that the intention was to turn every state into a slave state by trading one form of slavery for another. The love of Republican elites for open borders and mass hordes of third world cheap labor is merely a continuation of a policy the Republican faithful have clung to since their party’s inception.

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