Liberty, Prudence, Imperfection, and Law

“My Problem With So-Called Conservatives,” By Marshall DeRosa

The following essay was written by Marshall DeRosa for Nomocracy in Politics. Professor DeRosa is a Nomocracy in Politics contributor.

Many Americans self-identify as being conservative in their political orientations, while simultaneously idolizing President Lincoln. What they fail to realize is that the current state of American politics is in large measure due to their presidential idol. This presents a serious obstacle in their, thus far, futile attempts to recover the traditional rule of law and the commensurate limited government embedded therein.

President Lincoln’s so called greatness rests upon four pillars: He saved the Union; He freed the slaves; He enhanced the core principles of equality, liberty, and democracy; The United States, if not the world, is better off because of his actions.

These pillars rest upon a foundation of sand. Consider a very brief rebuttal to Lincoln’s greatness.

First, Lincoln did not save the Union, he destroyed the old Union, which was based upon the consent of the States, and replaced it with a unitary system of government under the control of a mostly unaccountable and corrupt ruling class.

Second, Lincoln may have freed the slaves, but only as a pragmatic response so as to undercut the Confederacy’s war effort. Lincoln’s claim to fame for freeing the slaves begs an important question: would slavery have been more humanely ended within an independent Confederacy within a few short years? This is certainly plausible in regards to the upper South and eventually throughout the Confederacy. We will never know with certainty, but what if emancipation could have been achieved more humanly, effectively, and constitutionally as a States’ Rights prerogative, as was the case in the North? This question is rarely asked, and when asked, it is not taken seriously. As recently documented, Lincoln’s policy towards slaves did not create a panacea but rather a living hell for the emancipated.[1]

Third, Lincoln was not equally committed to equality, liberty, and democracy. He was primarily rhetorically committed to democracy on a national scale, as a political manuever to accrue political power. Furthermore, a national democracy based upon the consent of the governed properly understood, is an impossibility in the real world of politics. Lincoln was no fool and understood this political reality. This explains why he unleashed a commitment to equality that was not the equality before the law that the Framers had in mind, but rather a monumental step towards the U.S. Government as the guarantor of equality.

And fourth, because the commitment to equality has been elevated to the fundamental core principle, the U.S. has become a “creedal nation” determined to spread its equality dogma at every opportunity. The creedal nation aims to transform the world, at the barrel of a gun if necessary. This was the experience of the Confederacy and it underpins, at least rhetorically, U.S. actions during the Spanish-American War, WWI, post WWII, military actions in Vietnam, Iraq and beyond.

So-called Conservatives’ idolization of President Lincoln is not compatible with a U.S. Government constrained by the original U.S. Constitution. It is, however, compatible with rationalizing government actions so as to achieve unconstitutional policy objectives.

It is well beyond the scope of this essay to address the constitutionality of secession, but it is the nine hundred pound gorilla in the room that cannot be ignored. Jefferson Davis was correct in stating that to equate secession with rebellion is “a gross abuse of language.” The Southern States that formed the Confederacy were not in rebellion against the United States. Secession was the act of sovereign peoples within their respective States. Once secession was formalized and the Confederacy formed, the United States Government lacked jurisdiction over the Confederacy. The Southern people were not in rebellion against the U.S. Government, they simply wanted to remove that government’s jurisdiction over them. In order to be in rebellion against the United States, they would have had to owe allegiance to the United States Government. Secession formally, legally, and constitutionally withdrew that allegiance. They were, however, in a state of war with the United States, the aggressor, and in open armed hostility to defend their respective States and the newly established Confederacy.

For the sake of argument let’s concede that secession was not constitutional. This raises the questions, were President Lincoln’s actions constitutional (even if pursued to prevent an, arguendo, unconstitutional violation) and are they currently laudable from a conservative perspective? Consider the following:

Despite the moral problems with American slavery, the slave’s labor was the property of the slave owners and recognized as such in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. case law, U.S. statutory law, and the legal counterparts in those States in which slavery was recognized.

With that said, was Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (EP) to manumit slaves constitutional? The answer is an emphatic no. The primary purpose of the EP was to incite a slave insurrection when all of the anticipated slaughter would take place within the Southern States and not under the control of Union armies. Where in the U.S. Constitution does the U.S. chief executive have such powers? It should be remembered that this wartime tactic was resorted to by King George III and noted in the Declaration of Independence as evidence of the king’s “repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.”

It is safe to assume that if the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had explicitly or even implied such a presidential power, ratification would not have been close to receiving the approval of nine of the States.

To make matters worse, Lincoln’s EP was to be affected only in those States where “the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States.” The EP was a war measure created so as to appease foreign powers and to wreak havoc upon Southern society. Lincoln realized that if the Union was going to prevail the law of nations needed to be set aside. War, as a sort of gentlemen’s duel between armies, would not suffice in and of itself. The war had to be directed against Southern society, of which Southern slavery was a pivotal part. Lincoln’s two front war against both the Southern armies and Southern society was epitomized by General Sherman’s brutal march to the sea. In other words, the EP was the first step in modern war’s “mass destructive scale” under the direction of the U.S. President.[2]

Lincoln’s duplicity in issuing the EP is evidenced by the promulgation in April 1863 of a revised military code, General Orders 100. Crafted in collaboration with the authoritarian Prussian, Francis Lieber, Article 24 states that

Therefore, in a war between the United States and a belligerent which admits of slavery, if a person held in bondage by that belligerent be captured by or come as a fugitive under the protection of the military forces of the United States, such person is immediately entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman. To return such person into slavery would amount to enslaving a free person, and neither the United States nor any officer under their authority can enslave any human being. Moreover, a person so made free by the law of war is under the shield of the law of nations, and the former owner or State can have, by the law of postliminy, no belligerent lien or claim of service.[3]

The EP makes a mockery of General Order 100, by continuing to allow slavery in areas under the control of Union armies and emancipating them in areas under Confederate control. The EP stipulates:

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

Mr. Lincoln claimed that his power to issue the EP was “by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief.” In Federalist 69, even the nationalist Alexander Hamilton cautioned against such an interpretation. He wrote, “The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”

Nothing in Article II, section 2, authorized Lincoln, in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief, to confiscate the property of Southerners, including the labor of slaves. Had the Congress moved in that direction it would have been constrained by the “just compensation” clause of Amendment V. Moreover, the EP failed to distinguish between Unionists, neutrals, and Confederates within the C.S.A., thereby violating the due process of law provision of the same amendment.

When the fog of the Civil War lifted and the Radical Republicans took control of the U.S. Government, it became evident that neither slavery nor the Constitution is what really mattered. This is the “argument of necessity”. What did matter was power and controlling that power to the advantage of the dominant ruling class. That is, the war was a means to power qua Union, and whatever is necessary to accumulate and exercise that power is ipso facto constitutional. In other words, Lincoln was empowered to incite and promote the indiscriminate slaughter of U.S. citizens in the quest for power, i.e., the argument of necessity.

The argument of necessity becomes the touchstone of POTUS’s constitutional powers. In the case of Lincoln, consent of the governed, the constitutional rule of law, fundamental rights and liberties are all subservient to POTUS’s determination, to the best of his ability, “preserve, protect and defend” [not the Constitution of the United States but] the Union as empire. Union as empire is an important qualification. Had Lincoln let the Southern States go in peace, he still would have had his Union, albeit a somewhat smaller and poorer one.

At what point (and this is highly relevant today) does preserving the Union transcend preserving fundamental rights such as life, liberty, property, and a government based upon the consent of the governed with a federal framework? And who is to decide when that point has been reached? I encourage readers to reconsider the “Facts.” The Declaration of Independence promulgates as evidence that King George III intended to establish an “absolute Tyranny over these States” that would benefit the British Empire’s ruling class. The Declaration instructs the colonies qua States that it is their “duty to throw off such Government . . .  “as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” In 1776 Americans did not wait for approval from their English/British masters, and neither did their 1860/61 Southern progeny. They witnessed the accumulation of unaccountable power and reacted accordingly.

The ongoing idolization of Lincoln, perpetuated by his current-day apologists, blinds many so-called Conservatives to important political realities. For example, the argument of necessity has been used by most modern Presidents’s exercise of the Article II war powers, the terra firma upon which Lincoln built up and stood.

The U.S. Supreme Court, part and parcel of the ruling class, has been consistently acquiescing to that view. For example, in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Companyv.Sawyer (1951), Chief Justice Vinson’s dissenting opinion argues on behalf of expanding presidential powers based upon the argument of necessity. Relying on and commending Lincoln’s expansion of executive powers, he argued,

The most striking action of President Lincoln was the Emancipation Proclamation, issued in aid of the successful prosecution of the War Between the States, but wholly without statutory authority. In an action furnishing a most apt precedent for this case [i.e., President Truman’s seizure of the privately owned steel mills], President Lincoln, without statutory authority, directed the seizure of rail and telegraph lines leading to Washington. Many months later, Congress recognized and confirmed the power of the President to seize railroads and telegraph lines and provided criminal penalties for interference with Government operation. This Act did not confer on the President any additional powers of seizure. Congress plainly rejected the view that the President’s acts had been without legal sanction until ratified by the legislature. Sponsors of the bill declared that its purpose was only to confirm the power which the President already possessed. Opponents insisted a statute authorizing seizure was unnecessary, and might even be construed as limiting existing Presidential powers.[4]

Justice Black, rejecting the expansion of executive powers, asserted that “[t]he Founders of this Nation entrusted the lawmaking power to the Congress alone in both good and bad times. It would do no good to recall the historical events, the fears of power, and the hopes for freedom that lay behind their choice. Such a review would but confirm our holding that this seizure [of domestic steel mills] order cannot stand.” Why? According to Justice Black, the U.S. Congress did not authorize President Truman to seize the steel mills’s owners’s private property. Had the Congress statutorily concurred with Truman’s argument of necessity, then the president would be free to act.

Presidential discretion, with or without legislative compliance, is a very weak reed upon which to rest fundamental rights. Today, with the ever-growing size of government and increasing executive powers, it behooves us to recall the Founders’s fear of the centralization of political power. When one considers the crucial role Mr. Lincoln played (and continues to play via uncritical acceptance of his greatness) in the enhancement of centralized political power, it is oxymoronic to be an admirer of the Founders and Mr. Lincoln.

If corporate railroad lobbyist/lawyer Lincoln, politician extraordinaire, altered “the shape of necessity” through a horrific war against his fellow Americans, what is to prevent his successors from doing the same? The American Civil War not only cleared the way for a huge expansion of national power, but also proved to be highly profitable for the Northern white-ruling class. As we have been recently instructed by our current elites, a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Or better yet, create a crisis and then run with it. Anyone who has taken the time and effort to study the events leading up to Major Anderson’s surrender of Fort Sumter, and more recent national policies, understands the risks involved with centralizing so much power in so few hands, whether the year is 1863 or 2013.

So-called Conservatives either need to get right with President Lincoln or President Obama. To idolize the former and abhor the latter is illogical. Lincoln and Obama are cut from the same cloth and genuine Conservatives would reject both.

Marshall DeRosa is Professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University.


[1] See Kirkpatrick Sale, Emancipation Hell: The Tragedy Wrought By the Emancipation Proclamation 150 Years Ago (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012).

[2] See “Lincoln’s Code”, http://www.law.harvard.edu/faculty/faculty-workshops/witt.legal.history.workshop.spring.2011.pdf.

[3] http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lieber.asp#sec2.

[4] 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

16 Responses to ““My Problem With So-Called Conservatives,” By Marshall DeRosa”

  1. gabe

    Mr DeRosa:

    I am glad to see that someone has finally admitted that the south was at war with the Union. Where we differ is that I see the south as the aggressor. Lincoln took no military action to initiate hostilities. The south did.
    Following from this, it then puts a somewhat different spin on Union and Lincoln’s actions. In what previous war was property of combatants NOT seized? Did not the South seize the property of the Federal government at Sumter, at virginia Military Depot, etc etc. To argue that slaves, as property, should not be seized is disingenuous. Was there some standard in southern ideology elevating human property to some sacrosanct level, such that it could not be seized during hostilities. On the contrary, the south (and Justice Taney, et. al.) clearly proclaimed that slaves were property on a par with any other type of property.
    With respect to lincoln not caring about slavery, but rather using it as a rhetorical device to seize power, this assertion is possible only if one disregards his entire body of speeches, debates, etc. Let’s be fair about it.
    Did Lincoln see himself as someone special, heroic even, quite probably yes.
    But that is a far cry from asserting that he was the 19th century equivalent of julius Casesar as you do.

    take care
    gabe

    Reply
    • Professor DeRosa

      Dear Gabe: A few points to ponder. First, Was the “South” at war with the Union, or was the Confederate States of America at war with the Union? To assert it was the South is to deny the legitimacy of the CSA. Second, the CSA did not initially “seize” Fort Sumter. Major Anderson was still in control of Fort Sumter while the CSA was attempting to negotiate for its transfer to the CSA. As Lincoln’s law partner and close friend Herndon reported, Lincoln intentionally provoked President Davis to attack the fort after Lincoln broke the deal, initiated by President Buchanan, not to resupply the fort while negotiations were pending. Third, slaves were not “property on par with any other type of property”. Did you know that slave owners were indicted, prosecuted, and at times convicted for violating the rights of slaves? Were slaves not baptized and given Christian burials? The humanity of slaves was recognized, pure and simple. Were most Southerners racist? Yes, as were most Americans including most abolitionists. Check LexisNexis and see for yourself civil and criminal trials protecting the rights of slaves in Southern courts. Was it a perfect system? Of course not. Was and is slavery a despicable form of labor? Of course. And lastly, the purpose of my essay (polemic) is to provoke thought about how Mr. Lincoln has been used to prop up the necessity, legality, and indeed the morality of the central government to run our lives here and lives abroad, i.e., making the world safe for democracy. More often than not, that cause is a ruse for plunder. I suspect that Mr. Lincoln would concur, which in part explains why leading Radical Republicans despised his conciliatory posture towards the defeated CSA.

      Reply
      • gabe

        Professor DeRosa:

        Thanks for the kind reply.
        I was, perhaps, not as clear as i could have been. My point, then, is not too distant from your own; i.e., that the “mis-appropriators’ of Lincoln are more to blame for the sorry state of our current Union than is Mr. Lincoln. In this we wholeheartedly agree.
        Yes, i am aware of the indictments and trials of slaveowners; however, mine, as you surmised, was a rhetorical point emphasizing DredScott rationale as well as the utterances of some of the more rabid “slavery is good” proponents. But again, let us be even handed in this regard; while slaves were given baptism, etc., it was also true that clear dominion over what could be taught relative to the Gospels, literacy etc were also somewhat proscribed.
        In any event, my central point, as i have argued here before, is that it may be better to provide a somewhat clearer critique of lincoln AND his “mis-appropriators” than is sometimes apparent in these essays – that is, if we are interested in swaying the general public to consider the possible and highly deleterious effects of a misuse of lincoln, etc.
        We are living in difficult times. There is an apathy bred from a growing acceptance of dependency upon an ever expanding government. It is difficult as it is to get people to listen and look beyond their immediate “comforts. To further ‘challenge” them with a further critique (certainly valid as outlined in your response) of something for which they are neither educationally nor emotionally prepared may not be the most prudent course. Indeed, even for someone such as myself who has a modicum of historical knowledge, it can be “off-putting” if not phrased in such a fashion as to show how Lincoln’s policies and practices may be misused / abused by those whose interests lie in STATISM. Mine certainly do not.

        Anyway, you may not know it – but I do rather enjoy ALL the essays presented here at this site.

        Good Luck to you and
        take care
        gabe

      • Peter Haworth

        Gabe,

        I understand your point about the “shocking” nature of our critique of Lincoln in many of these pages. Indeed, I was not ready to accept such thinking until after years of graduate study. Nevertheless, I don’t see any other practical and honest course. It is necessary to articulate our criticism for those who have ears to hear. Moreover, thrusting such opinion into the public square emboldens others with like minds to express themselves more freely. Thankfully, a large portion of the younger generations seem far more open to alternative ideas about American nationalism than those of us whose intuitive views were formed during the Cold War.

        Lincoln’s policies were scandalous and unconstitutional in many ways, but civil-religious, nationalist socialization precludes many (especially older) Americans from seriously confronting this historical reality. The very fact that many nationalist scholars are utterly disgusted when one even broaches critical questions about Lincoln could suggest that they view him as a demi-god. This not just a historical error; it also borders on idolatry.

        Best Regards,
        Peter

      • gabe

        Professor Derosa:

        One issue of fact, perhaps:
        You claim that Buchanan made a deal not to re-supply Sumpter. However, he did, in fact, make such an attempt. In January 1861, Buchanan sent 200 soldiers and supplies to Sumpter. He chose not to engage with Confederate forces at the time – but he did make a re-supply effort.
        What does this mean? and why castigate Licoln for doing what Buchanan himself had previously attempted.

        take care
        gabe

    • Joe Brooks

      “Where we differ is that I see the south as the aggressor.”

      Agreed, that the south had begun the war prior to Lincoln taking office is well documented.

      Here is why the “conservative” free traders, who are not conservatives at all, free trade was the platform of French Revolution Jacobins, Marx and all other Leftist Communists, Anarcho- Communists, slavers and the like.

      He stated that he was a Henry Clay American System import tariff guy and helped place import tariffs that lasted nearly 50 years.

      He also analyzed the import tariff issue very thoroughly, written in the prose of the times, but still easily understood with some effort.

      “Believing that these propositions and the conclusions I draw from them cannot be successfully controverted, I for the present assume their correctness, and proceed to try to show that the abandonment of the protective policy by the American government must result in the increase of both useless labor and idleness, and so, in proportion, must produce want and ruin among our people.”

      This was Lincoln thinking. God forbid one of the last 4 presidents have an independent thought. The entire piece can be found online.

      Type: The Home Market and Other Advantages of a Protective Tariff, by Abraham Lincoln.

      And yes, this still applies today The Founders fought the Revolutionary War primarily over the British Global free trade system, that forced free trade on the colonies while Britain and other nations placed massive import duties on US exports.

      Just what Red China and 160 other nations are doing globally, right now. There is nothing conservative about encouraging Red China to colonize the US.

      Reply
  2. Rob

    Marshall, I really applaud this article. The succinctness and clarity makes it all the more useful—and likely all the more damnable from the neoconservative perspective—and it is impressive to read someone who has pulled no punches. I think its thematic message to American conservatism can be summed up thus: (1) Lincoln devotee conservatives are living in a fantasy regarding the nature of the United States prior to 1860, and of the nature of the founding American system. (2) On the other hand, if they do appreciate, and endorse, the Lincoln Republican rupture, the re-Founding of 1860; this necessarily means endorsing an ideological politics and law. It means endorsing ever changing principles—as they are focused on the ever changing utopian horizon—and not grounded in a particular people in a particular place. Such a politics is self-evidently revolutionary cum Frankfort School, very likely corrupt in the most disguised ways, and certainly not very “conservative.”

    On the other hand, it would be useful to ponder the notions underlying Article 24 which you quoted, and if those notions are not much older than Lincoln’s time. I can’t help but notice how Article 24 fits hand in glove with Justice Curtis’ dissent in Dred Scott, where the justice opined that only municipal law created a slave; without such “enslaving” law, naturally every man is endowed with freedom by nature. [In retort, Justice Daniel essentially asked by what power the government had to make a slave into a free man?] This assumption, that only positive law produces slavery, is rooted in the same pool of views which makes inherent social hierarchies and ordering, and diverse rights and duties, mere accretions upon men. Such an anti-conservative character might just as legitimately be traced back to an Algernon Sidney (and his progeny… wherever they might have arisen…), as to a Lincoln-Curtis cabal? After all, as Sidney said before them, “civil powers are purely human ordinances.” Hmmm…

    Reply
  3. bobcheeks

    Bravo!
    I will post this on my F/B page. This essay should be widely published and taught in every school in America.
    THIS is the finest essay to date, among a plethora of fine essays!
    Gabe, we need to talk!

    Reply
    • gabe

      bobcheeks:

      Wazzup?

      My concern is not with the critique of some conservatives, who have abused Lincoln and appropriated his words for their own ends in the same fashion that leftist / statist Proggies have – but with a view expressed frequently here that lays the blame for America’s current dysfunction at the feet of Lincoln. To my mind, there are far more credible villains out there starting with Teddy and Woody and FDR continuing on through LBJ and the current Enlightened One in the Oval Office.

      Also, the argument can be turned around and one can assert that it was the South that destroyed the Old Unionby refusing to recognize that consent of the governed ALSO meant adhering to the reults of an election. This really was the lesson of the election of 1800. The south chose to ignore it. The south could have preserved the Union by simply reamining in it and using its still quite consequential veto power to stop any untoward action on the part of the North. THEY chose not to do so.
      Like you, I abhor what the Federales have become. I lieterally despise it – but it seems to me that we do more harm to ourselves by employing inflated rhetorical devices and aiming our arrows in a very narrow azimuth when in fact we should be a bit more selective in our aim. We win no converts by this means.

      In short, the rhetoric is overblown for the crimes of which Mr Lincoln can be justly accused.

      take care
      gabe

      Reply
  4. bobcheeks

    Thanks Gabe. I do think, however, that the point, for conservatives at least, isn’t the sacramental aspects of the “Union” rather the idea of liberty and certain God, not man, given ‘rights.’
    We can argue about Southern secession (I think they should have waited until they had sufficient war materials and the productive means to make more at hand before secession. Then they should have had contingency plans in place if they had to go into the mountains.) but it was THEIR decision to make. And, let’s be clear, they had that right! There was and still isn’t anything morally wrong with secession and states forming their own general gov’t.
    Lincoln is the bad guy simply because he didn’t do the morally right thing. Which was to stand back and let the South leave peacefully and form its own confederation.
    As you know Jefferson envisioned four or more republics on the continent.
    The real question you might want to ask, and feel free to let me know your answer, is why did Lincoln invade the South?
    Lincoln turned loose the dogs of war and intentionally brought famine, rapine, and slaughter to Southern civilians. He may very well have ordered the murder or kidnapping of President Davis and his cabinet and may have met his demise as an act of retribution.
    And, the South opened fire on Ft. Sumter because Lincoln lied and would not keep his word.
    I find the above essay very accurate.

    Reply
  5. Rob

    Gabe
    As for the South being the aggressor, one must be precise as to the scope of the aggression analyzed. Even assuming Ft. Sumter as an unjustifiable aggression, it cannot be equated to wholesale conquest of a nation and a country. The South did not attempt the latter, while the U.S. did, and succeeded. In contrast, whatever befell Japan after Pearl Harbor, Japan was not forcibly annexed into the United States.
    The point about accepting the results of an election is a point well taken. To participate in an election, then pick up one’s marbles and leave when things don’t go one’s way, can seem petulance at best and betrayal at worst.
    However it does beg one question: What is the essential end of the Union and therefore of its governing system and infrastructure? If the system’s end is the good of an undifferentiated whole, then covenanting to accept system apparatus (incl. presidential elections) and reneging when it does not suit you; this indeed would be betrayal.
    If, on the other hand, the system’s end is the good of the individual communities (aka States) that covenanted and are trying to find consensus, then one may certainly withdraw at the moment the system no longer serves the individual needs and purposes of the particular community. To my mind, a State could secede for a good reason or for no reason at all. Contra Woody Guthrie’s refrain, a Georgian owed a Connecticut Yankee nothing… certainly not his land.
    There is nothing objectionable to my mind, with TR or FDR et al., that is not already found with Mr. Lincoln. If America is an indivisible unity, then complaining of centralized overreach smacks to me of special pleading. In a univocal American system, whatever FDR found written in the federal constitution, it is (1) changeable by the American mass and is (2) changeable by any means the mass will accept. If freedom and democracy are the great new beginning for Man, as Mr. Lincoln affirmed, then it is not much of a stretch to understand why a Mr. Wilson or a Mr. Roosevelt might not want to send this msg. out on a crusade across the globe.
    I don’t think “we win converts” in these debates anyway. My impression of their purpose is to examine past phenomena in order to understand where one is, how one got there, and how to proceed. If validating or rejecting Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Reagan, etc… is the point, then I think it is a point in vain. Putting life into a box—or freeing it from the box—is fundamentally not a conservative or nomocratic endeavor.

    Reply
    • gabe

      Rob:

      Thanks for the reply.

      You make some very good points.
      i guess where i have some difficulty is that while I accept the notion of State Peoples, I also believe that there is a place (and that this was intended) for a Unified People. Reviewing the writings of the Founders, it appears that there are arguments for and against both. Thus, in my own mind, there may be some confusion – but i do not think that I am alone in this regard.

      My REAL point is that if we wish to garner support for some counter actions against Leviathan, we may want to be a little clearer as to where the villainy lies. I think it does not belong with lincoln but with his successors as the same argument about freedom and democracy can be used against jefferson, Madison, etc. Heck, do we blame Henry ford for automobile accidents?

      take care
      gabe

      Reply
  6. Michael Smolensky (@smolenskylaw)

    I read the analysis of the Emancipation Proclamation with great interest. I was disappointed, however, that this piece did not include any mention of Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler. This significant shortcoming does not negate the effort involved in developing this work. But this omission undercuts the strength of the author’s position. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read. Thank you for posting this.

    Reply

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