Why didn’t Lincoln just let the Southern states secede and leave the Union?

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
You know that's not how this works.

Furthermore, I'm not even sure you can argue he defied constitutional duty by not trying Davis for treason. The Constitution defines treason but it doesn't say "you must try someone for treason under every circumstance." It's a tool you can use or not use at your discretion. Article III Section III is more about defining treason than anything else.

Madison wrote in Federalist 43: "As treason may be committed against the United States, the authority of the United States ought to be enabled to punish it. But as new-fangled and artificial treasons have been the great engines by which violent factions, the natural offspring of free government, have usually wreaked their alternate malignity on each other, the convention have, with great judgment, opposed a barrier to this peculiar danger, by inserting a constitutional definition of the crime, fixing the proof necessary for conviction of it, and restraining the Congress, even in punishing it, from extending the consequences of guilt beyond the person of its author."

In other words, treason is a serious crime so we have clearly outlined what does and does not count as treason and how it can and cannot be defined and punished. It defines and restrains to prevent treason charges from being abused.

There's no imperative there (unless I'm grossly misreading it).
And Lincoln never even attempted try Davis.
 
Wrong. You can try them in absentia, Lincoln made no efforts to provide Davis his constitution rights of due process and a speedy trial... Lincoln picking and choosing the constitution when it favors him
Maybe in China or the old Soviet Union you can try a defendant without him being arrested and present before the court. Where are you coming up with these wild assertions?
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
I am clearly not seeing eye to eye on this topic with the Team LOL, I will post again later with more quotes and insights on the topic, many more interesting books to read on this topic... but for now you have helped me see more clearly Lincon's constitutional hypocrisy!
 

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
I am clearly not seeing eye to eye on this topic with the Team LOL, I will post again later with more quotes and insights on the topic, many more interesting books to read on this topic... but for now you have helped me see more clearly Lincon's constitutional hypocrisy!
*Edited*

You have failed in this instance to present an example of Lincoln being a constitutional hypocrite
 
Last edited by a moderator:

NedBaldwin

Major
Joined
Feb 19, 2011
Location
California
And why did Lincoln choose to ignore Jeff Davis' constitutional rights of due process? Because he most likely wouldn't have been able to convict him of treason by secession, which is why Davis was never prosecuted after the war... Davis should have pursued the courts before starting hostilities.
Lincoln did not ignore Davis’ rights of due process.
If the trial of Davis had proceeded it is most likely that a conviction would have been won. The evidence and the law were on the US were in favor of the US
It is false to claim it as a reason for why Davis was not prosecuted after the war
He was prosecuted but Johnson was in favor of reconciliation so he issued pardons putting a stop to prosecution

Davis did not pursue the courts because it went against his interest
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
During Lincoln's train tour to Washington, which started Feb 1861, he had some words while on his stop in Indianapolis:

"But if the Government, for instance, but simply insists upon holding its own forts, or retaking those forts which belong to it, or the enforcement of the laws of the United States in the collection of duties upon foreign importations, …would any or all of these things be coercion?" From the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (Roy Basler and others, 9 volumes, 1953-1955)

Lincoln isn't even inaugurated yet and revenue collection is first and foremost to him, he lists no other reason for keeping the forts from the quotes I have seen thus far… the message is clear to Jeff Davis: "choose taxes or war"
Ahhhh . . . . but you continue to ignore the part in his speech about making sure the mails got through. In your continued digging and reading, you should read about Lincoln's history as a post master and how seriously he took the delivery of the mails. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/abraham-lincoln-harry-truman-postmasters.pdf

As to any "message" to Jeff Davis (who, I'm not sure, but I don't think was in the crowd), the message back to Lincoln was "you can have Union and all the duties you can collect as long as you extend the Missouri Compromise line and allow slavery into the territories." See Post 653. Lincoln passed on that opportunity because he was most concnerned with how the expansion of slavery would adversely impact the Union. The biggest threat Lincoln saw, as he told his operatives during consideration fo the Crittenden Compromise, was that the South would continue to use the threat of secession to get continued concessions about slavery.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
Why enforce the laws? Because if Lincoln doesn't enforce the revenue laws the federal government goes broke, and an economic calamity would ensue in the North... Lincoln wants to perform his "Constitutional duty" and enforce the tariff laws, and "save the Union" so that he can avoid the consequences of disunion.
Pretty big leap from the numbers you advocate about the duties and "the federal government goes broke". But, regardless, it could probably be made up with increased postal rates, about which Lincoln was a zealot. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/abraham-lincoln-harry-truman-postmasters.pdf.

In actuality, Lincoln needed to enforce the laws because, under the separation of powers of our Constitution, it is the executive's duty to enforce the laws. The biggest consequence of unilateral secession, as Lincoln repeatedly explained, is that there never can be majority rule - it is anarchy - if you don't like the will of the majority, you just quit or secede or nullify. Others will do the same when things don't go their way. Unilateral secession guts the notion of rule by the majority. It is existential in a way far beyond the dollars you have been working to analyze.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
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Aug 25, 2012
Ahhhh . . . . but you continue to ignore the part in his speech about making sure the mails got through. In your continued digging and reading, you should read about Lincoln's history as a post master and how seriously he took the delivery of the mails. https://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/abraham-lincoln-harry-truman-postmasters.pdf

As to any "message" to Jeff Davis (who, I'm not sure, but I don't think was in the crowd), the message back to Lincoln was "you can have Union and all the duties you can collect as long as you extend the Missouri Compromise line and allow slavery into the territories." See Post 653. Lincoln passed on that opportunity because he was most concnerned with how the expansion of slavery would adversely impact the Union. The biggest threat Lincoln saw, as he told his operatives during consideration fo the Crittenden Compromise, was that the South would continue to use the threat of secession to get continued concessions about slavery.

Was Lincoln concerned with what concessions, regarding slavery, the South would have demanded in 1880, 1900, and 1920? To be honest Lincoln would have been dead long before 1920 and what ever threat the slave states would have used to demanded the federal government help protect and expand slavery in 1920 or 1940, would have been some other presidents problem. To be honest Lincoln believed that within 50 to 100 years slavery, would have ended in the United States.
 

Jantzen64

Corporal
Joined
Aug 10, 2019
If Lincoln was so concerned about executing the laws of the United States why didn't he prosecute Jeff Davis for treason?
Seems as if Lincoln is picking and choosing which laws he wants to follow.
In addition to the wise words of the other responses, there's a little thing known as "prosecutorial discretion". Yes, Lincoln does get to chose when and how someone who breaks the law gets criminally tried. That's not the same thing as enforcing the laws generally.
 

Zack

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Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
Was Lincoln concerned with what concessions, regarding slavery, the South would have demanded in 1880, 1900, and 1920? To be honest Lincoln would have been dead long before 1920 and what ever threat the slave states would have used to demanded the federal government help protect and expand slavery in 1920 or 1940, would have been some other presidents problem. To be honest Lincoln believed that within 50 to 100 years slavery, would have ended in the United States.

Lincoln to a Republican leader in Illinois December 1860: "we have got plenty of corn & pork and it wouldn't be exactly brave for us to leave this question to be settled by posterity."5

5 According to Horace White, Lincoln said this to William Plato of Kane County. White reported it to Herman Kreismann, who passed it along to E. B. Washburne. Kreismann to Washburne, Washington, 27 December 1860, Washburne Papers, Library of Congress.

Source: https://www.knox.edu/documents/LincolnStudies/BurlingameVol1Chap17.pdf page 1875
 
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