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walterallenhaxton's avatar

Was Abraham Lincoln a criminal?

Asked by walterallenhaxton (888points) June 15th, 2009

Had Abraham Lincoln forgotten his Inaugural Address of March, 1861?

The Republican Party placed on the platform for my acceptance and as a law to themselves and me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
“Resolved: That the maintenance of the rights of the states, and especially the right of each state to order and control its own domestic institutions, according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power in which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend: and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed forces of the soil of any state, or territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.”

These messages of congratulations for lawless invasion of the South by armed forces make Abraham Lincoln a criminal by his own definition.

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22 Answers

mammal's avatar

didn’t he and his predecessors snatch America from the indigenous populace? so yeah,
as for your technical point, since when has an American President adhered to any law, domestic or international?
it is in the nature of us to manufacturer laws that support our material interests and then unpick or ignore them again when it doesn’t… other cultures have taboo, we have legislation, whereas breaking a taboo is unthinkable for some peoples, legislation is swept away by the juggernaut of progress before the ink is even dry.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

I think the key word there is “lawless”—the Union’s argument was that laws had been duly passed by congress and signed into law by the president, and the South wasn’t obeying them, so the Union had the law on their side.

The way history is generally parsed today, the idea is that since proponents of the Confederacy weren’t obeying duly passed federal laws, they were the criminals.

Zaku's avatar

Seems like an assertion of hypocrisy with hyperbole to criminality, to me. Why ask this here… or anywhere? The starting point for a serious look into these ideas would I think best be started with a lot more information and background. The debates over states’ rights versus Federal authority, and the reasons to keep the union intact, are long and storied and go back to the forming of the union, and involved far more personalities than Lincoln. And many detailed biographies of Lincoln have been researched and written. Why start at this point and without all that background?

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@walterallenhaxton: “These messages of congratulations for lawless invasion of the South by armed forces make Abraham Lincoln a criminal by his own definition.”

Oh, but the invasion of the North by the Confederacy (because yes, they were the first to attack) was absolutely justified, amirite? I’m sorry, but I think you’re taking his inaugural address out of context. Lincoln made many attempts to appease the South, but many states had already seceded by the time he made his inaugural address. I fail to see how Lincoln is a criminal because he raised arms against an invader.

@mammal: ”...since when has an American President adhered to any law, domestic or international?”

If I had to guess, I’d say just about as often as the leaders of any other world power that’s existed. Power corrupts, no matter where you’re from or what country you lead. I swear, people make it seem like it’s really, really easy to forget the thousands of years that predated the United States of America.

YARNLADY's avatar

You are misusing the term criminal. Literally, a criminal must have been found guilty of a crime in a court of law. I think you are making a lame attempt to point out that there is dispute about the use or misuse of the power of the President. I would say that he is no different from any other person, except more famous, and therefore vulnerable to attack on his character.

Darwin's avatar

@walterallenhaxton – You libertarian, you! I asked you once if you were one and you never answered. But Google tells me you are, just as I expected from your posts.

juwhite1's avatar

Actually, once the states seceded, they were no longer states in their own minds, so I’d think Lincoln actually invaded the Confederate States of America, and not states within the United States of America. I’d have to acquit on this charge, even though I’m from the South. My bigger beef with Lincoln is all his campaign speeches stating he is against ending slavery.

willbrawn's avatar

If you mean being a great president the yes.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@Zaku There was an armistice in place concerning fort Sumter. It was not to be reinforced or supplied. Lincoln broke it. That was a act of war. Lincoln started a war that neither the North or the south wanted.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@MrMeltedCrayon The united states was not attacked by the Confederacy. The United states attacked the Confederacy by breaking a treaty with it.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@YARNLADY There is a document called the Constitution that is the law for presidents and Abraham Lincoln took an oath to defend it. He turned around and started killing people who he was still claiming to be Americans wholesale. Presidents don’t see courts. That does not mean that we should not judge them if we see them committing a crime. Where is mass murder of Americans authorized in the constitution?

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@juwhite1 True but Lincoln maintained the fiction for his side that they were. This nation would not have existed except for succession. That tool and the tool of nulification of bad laws were the primary checks on government power in this country. When we lost them we lost control of the federal government and it has been eliminating our liberties ever since. Now it is taking over our businesses and planning on taking over our health and then controlling our energy use. The next thing seems to be that it will be telling us what we have to eat and how often we have to volunteer. The union is alive and well and still growing the government everywhere it can.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@willbrawn The gold dollar had lady liberty on it and the base metal penny has Lincoln on it. The treasury is showing hime it’s respect for him.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@Darwin I don’t know that I am a libertarian. I am not a member of that party. There are many anti liberty elements in it and I think it is completely controlled by a very few people. I am not an anarchist either because if such a society will work I can’t see how. Maybe I will figure it out. I am working on it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@walterallenhaxton This is not really the forum to bring up constitutional law.

Zaku's avatar

@walterallenhaxton – Seems to me there are many valid arguments to make about states’ rights versus federal power, and the erosion of checks and balances. I think the USA would be a lot more interesting and offer more choices of lifestyle and less grief over disagreements, if there were more state autonomy and less federal law and authority.

However, I don’t think it serves those ideas very well to be grumbling about points of hypocrisy or law aimed at Lincoln, or complaining about details of honor regarding the Civil War (or The War Between the States if you prefer).

Darwin's avatar

@walterallenhaxton : Then are you simply a curmudgeon?

mattbrowne's avatar

No, he was a hero.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@mattbrowne So destroying a free country and replacing it with a mercantile state is the work of a hero. You do know that he made free men into slaves to fight his war and the south did not.

mattbrowne's avatar

The slaves needed to be liberated.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

@mattbrowne Why? Economics would have eliminated that inefficient system anyway. Replacing it with a corrupt government and industry cabal was no improvement. It just made everyone partial slaves and the drafted soldiers total slaves which the government had no financial interest in even keeping alive.

mattbrowne's avatar

@walterallenhaxton – Tell that to a slave being tortured. Here comes another whip lash. Walter tells the slave, hang on, economics will fix it. Another whip lash. More agony. Walter points out that economic processes take time. The slave is barely alive. Another whip lash. More pain.

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