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

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
And how does that relate to slavery and secession?
Nothing. These Lost Causers cannot connect the dots to save their own lives, let alone discern Lincoln's motives and character. Lincoln thought blacks were inferior to whites but so what, he was a product of his environment. During a time that thinking white's and blacks were equal was a revolutionary thought process. Lincoln would have been a demigod and enlightened above reproach if he thought blacks were white's equal. Actually, he would have been deemed a pariah. A freak in a side show.

Racism was common and a lifestyle during that era in any Anglo-sphere, so what are people who claim Lincoln was a white supremist trying to prove? I bet we can count on one hand the number of whites who thought blacks were equal in that era, even the so-called abolitionists. It would have been virtually impossible to find any. The real and appropriate question was how his views measured up to the accepted views of his own day. I'm sure Lincoln's thoughts on women's rights: equal opportunity, same sex marriage and religious pluralism was far behind the modern thought. I'm not saying the modern thought is correct, but that's how people misjudge Lincoln and their thinking is perfectly warped. He wanted to abolish slavery and protect the rights of all races, but his first commitment was to the Union, and he believed (as did most people then) that true equality between races was fundamentally impossible. He believed these things because the position he was in demanded that he believe them.

I read about Lincoln's childhood on how he watched his mother die from Mad Cow disease, which was a long and excruciating death. Subsequently, his dad enslaved him: worked him 20 hours a day, contracted him out for money, beat him publicly, and ridiculed him for reading books and wanting to educate himself. Lincoln's dad did to him what slaveowners did to slaves. Therefore, Lincoln could empathize with slaves. Could Lincoln empathize with blacks based on their skin color? No. But he could empathize with them because they were slaves. Yes. It didn't matter if Martians were enslaved, he was going to free them because he understood and lived through the horrors of slavery, and was released from it as an adult and wanted the enslaved to be released from it. I'm quite sure Lincoln understood the value of freedom and civil liberties better than anyone, and knew how important they were to the advancement of human character and collective society.

In conclusion, anyone who puts Lincoln on a pedestal like he was a Demigod without character flaws is bound for disappointment. If anyone judges Lincoln's as a devil and so-called racism from a modern standard are discombobulated and judge him out of context for the era he lived. Lincoln was a man with flaws and prejudices , but had the experience and knowledge to overcome his character flaws and developed into a great man. What does Lincoln's racism have to do with slavery? Nothing, it is poor analysis from people who cannot discern human nature from character progression.
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Is this supposed to imply that since Lincoln was racist, he was also a supporter of slavery? Because he certainly wasn't. He was opposed to slavery and wanted to remove it from the Union, his views on race relations notwithstanding.

The only problem is that you couldn't expound but I did. It's too bad they don't have a partial like button, I would have hit it...
 

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
To get back to the original question on why Lincoln didn't let the southern states leave it's a really simple answer. Under the constitution he had no authority to let them leave. As James Buchanan said in his special address to congress;

'In my annual message I expressed the conviction, which I have long deliberately held, and which recent reflection has only tended to deepen and confirm, that no State has a right by its own act to secede from the Union or throw off its federal obligations at pleasure. I also declared my opinion to be that even if that right existed and should be exercised by any State of the Confederacy the executive department of this Government had no authority under the Constitution to recognize its validity by acknowledging the independence of such State. This left me no alternative, as the chief executive officer under the Constitution of the United States, but to collect the public revenues and to protect the public property so far as this might be practicable under existing laws. This is still my purpose. My province is to execute and not to make the laws. It belongs to Congress exclusively to repeal, to modify, or to enlarge their provisions to meet exigencies as they may occur. I possess no dispensing power." President Buchanan's special address to congress Jan 8th, 1861.
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
I ran across this quote from a book review, and seems to make some sense in regards to Lincoln's motivation to enter the war, although I don't agree with what is written in regards to the South:

"The real cause of the war was a dispute over money and self-determination. Before the Civil War, the South financed most of the federal government—because the federal government was funded by tariffs, which were paid disproportionately by the agricultural South that imported manufactured goods. Yet, most federal government spending and subsidies benefited the North. The South wanted a more limited federal government and lower tariffs—the ideals of Thomas Jefferson—and when the South could not get that, it opted for independence. Lincoln was unprepared when the Southern states seceded, and force was the only way to bring them—and their tariff money—back. That was the real cause of the war."
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I ran across this quote from a book review, and seems to make some sense in regards to Lincoln's motivation to enter the war, although I don't agree with what is written in regards to the South:

"The real cause of the war was a dispute over money and self-determination. Before the Civil War, the South financed most of the federal government—because the federal government was funded by tariffs, which were paid disproportionately by the agricultural South that imported manufactured goods. Yet, most federal government spending and subsidies benefited the North. The South wanted a more limited federal government and lower tariffs—the ideals of Thomas Jefferson—and when the South could not get that, it opted for independence. Lincoln was unprepared when the Southern states seceded, and force was the only way to bring them—and their tariff money—back. That was the real cause of the war."
The above quote from the above book is ABSOLUTE nonsense.

The South did not finance most of the federal government, as it is often claimed by some. The Port of New York alone collected more tariffs exceeding the South's collection of tariffs in it's Southern ports.

I suggest going to this forums search function and typing in the word "tariffs" and see those conversations and posts.

They are a real eye-opener on the topic.

And one fact you should bear in mind. The tariff was a millions issue; slavery was a BILLIONS issue.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union for strictly economic reasons. It’s as simple as that. In fact slavery was never a main cause of Lincoln until after the War of the Rebellion began. Lincoln would have rather preserved the Union without freeing any slaves- his words. Many Union soldiers even threatened to leave the Army when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They were not fighting for “no darkies”- their words! The war was never solely about slavery which was still an international trade and was slowly dying in many other developing countries at the exact same time. Not to say that plantation owners didn’t want to keep their slaves but slaves even chose to stay on as hired help rather than be subjected to their new greedy masters in the North. I leave you with an illustration from Illinois of a slave being whipped by a Yankee during the war. Don’t forget when the Yankees went through the South they attacked female Slaves. It’s well known as well.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union for strictly economic reasons. It’s as simple as that. In fact slavery was never a main cause of Lincoln until after the War of the Rebellion began. Lincoln would have rather preserved the Union without freeing any slaves- his words. Many Union soldiers even threatened to leave the Army when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They were not fighting for “no darkies”- their words! The war was never solely about slavery which was still an international trade and was slowly dying in many other developing countries at the exact same time. Not to say that plantation owners didn’t want to keep their slaves but slaves even chose to stay on as hired help rather than be subjected to their new greedy masters in the North. I leave you with an illustration from Illinois of a slave being whipped by a Yankee during the war. Don’t forget when the Yankees went through the South they attacked female Slaves. It’s well known as well.
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union for strictly economic reasons. It’s as simple as that. In fact slavery was never a main cause of Lincoln until after the War of the Rebellion began. Lincoln would have rather preserved the Union without freeing any slaves- his words. Many Union soldiers even threatened to leave the Army when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They were not fighting for “no darkies”- their words! The war was never solely about slavery which was still an international trade and was slowly dying in many other developing countries at the exact same time. Not to say that plantation owners didn’t want to keep their slaves but slaves even chose to stay on as hired help rather than be subjected to their new greedy masters in the North. I leave you with an illustration from Illinois of a slave being whipped by a Yankee during the war. Don’t forget when the Yankees went through the South they attacked female Slaves. It’s well known as well.

- The "preserve the Union without freeing any slaves" quote is often taken out of context to prove that Lincoln wasn't anti-slavery. One must bear in mind it was written as an open letter to a New York City newspaper and that it was intended for an audience that was not anti-slavery. Bear in mind Lincoln already had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation written and had read it to his cabinet at the time of this letter. This Library of Congress link has a good analysis of the context: https://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.4233400/?st=text

- Yes, some Union soldiers were racist and did not agree with the Emancipation Proclamation. Numbers are hard to come by as to how many. There were also Union soldiers that were strongly in favor of the Emancipation Proclamation. In Life of Billy Yank the author Bell Wiley quotes soldiers on both sides of the issue. Similarly, What This Cruel War Was Over by Chandra Manning explores the changing opinion of Union soldiers with regard to slavery and emancipation over the course of the war.

- The US outlawed the international slave trade in 1808 and efforts were made to stop slave ships.

- The decision of slaves to remain on plantations in the employment of their former enslavers was a complicated issue that did not boil down to fear of "their new greedy masters in the North." Historians such as Eric Foner, Chandra Manning, Amy Murrell Taylor, and many others have examined the complex reasons why these decisions were made. Often, there was very little "choice" involved for the former slaves.

- Union soldiers being racist does not mean the war was not fought to end slavery.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
- The "preserve the Union without freeing any slaves" quote is often taken out of context to prove that Lincoln wasn't anti-slavery. One must bear in mind it was written as an open letter to a New York City newspaper and that it was intended for an audience that was not anti-slavery. Bear in mind Lincoln already had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation written and had read it to his cabinet at the time of this letter. This Library of Congress link has a good analysis of the context: https://www.loc.gov/resource/mal.4233400/?st=text

- Yes, some Union soldiers were racist and did not agree with the Emancipation Proclamation. Numbers are hard to come by as to how many. There were also Union soldiers that were strongly in favor of the Emancipation Proclamation. In Life of Billy Yank the author Bell Wiley quotes soldiers on both sides of the issue. Similarly, What This Cruel War Was Over by Chandra Manning explores the changing opinion of Union soldiers with regard to slavery and emancipation over the course of the war.

- The US outlawed the international slave trade in 1808 and efforts were made to stop slave ships.

- The decision of slaves to remain on plantations in the employment of their former enslavers was a complicated issue that did not boil down to fear of "their new greedy masters in the North." Historians such as Eric Foner, Chandra Manning, Amy Murrell Taylor, and many others have examined the complex reasons why these decisions were made. Often, there was very little "choice" involved for the former slaves.

- Union soldiers being racist does not mean the war was not fought to end slavery.
“I have no intention of interfering with slavery where it now exists” ABE Lincoln

And to your point about Northerners being racists. Many Southerners also didn’t own slaves at all and had no interest in the institution. Even Lee had distaste for the American institution and he made it his aim to free all of his slaves that he had inherited. In fact he and General Jackson wanted to educate their slaves and teach them to read. This would have been extremely progressive for the time and even frowned upon by many North and South. I never heard Lincoln campaign to teach slaves to read?? Nope!!
 

Zack

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2017
Location
Los Angeles, California
“I have no intention of interfering with slavery where it now exists” ABE Lincoln

And to your point about Northerners being racists. Many Southerners also didn’t own slaves at all and had no interest in the institution. Even Lee had distaste for the American institution and he made it his aim to free all of his slaves that he had inherited. In fact he and General Jackson wanted to educate their slaves and teach them to read. This would have been extremely progressive for the time and even frowned upon by many North and South. I never heard Lincoln campaign to teach slaves to read?? Nope!!

Rather than go point by point, I’m just going to say, I highly recommend you read Apostles of Disunion. It’s actually pretty short.
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
Robert E Lee is one of very few cadets to pass through the US Military Academy at West Point without a single demerit. In the Mexican War General Winfield Scott called him “the greatest soldier I’ve ever seen.” As an Army Engineer he re-routed the Mississippi River and saved the city of St Louis. When he inherited slaves from his father in law, he educated them and set them free, and he referred to slavery as “a political and moral evil”. He turned down Lincoln’s offer to Command the US Army that would invade the South and his home State of Virginia even though leading that Army would have certainly brought him international fame and likely the presidency. He instead offered his sword to Virginia and fought against that invasion for four years leading an Army that was vastly outnumbered, out supplied and out fed. After the war, as the most beloved figure on either side of the war, he turned down all of the opportunities that would have enriched him by refusing to sell his family name. He chose instead to take a job with meager pay at Washington College because he knew that rebuilding the country meant that we needed to raise men of high honor and character. His first act as President of the College was to build a Chapel.
On Lee’s last visit to Richmond, a lady approached General Lee with an infant in her arms and asked “Would you please hold my baby?” General Lee took the child, looked the woman in the eye and said “you must teach him to deny himself.” Biographer Douglas Southall Freeman pointed out that this one statement characterized the entirety of how General Lee lived.
As the end of his life was approaching Robert E Lee was asked, with all of his accomplishments, what should his headstone say. He answered “that I am a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for my salvation.”
That a monument to this man has been taken down is a monument itself. The barren space where his memorial stood is a testament to the depraved depths to which the morality and character of our society has fallen.

-Carl Jones
 

BuckeyeWarrior

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Location
Ohio
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union for strictly economic reasons. It’s as simple as that. In fact slavery was never a main cause of Lincoln until after the War of the Rebellion began. Lincoln would have rather preserved the Union without freeing any slaves- his words. Many Union soldiers even threatened to leave the Army when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They were not fighting for “no darkies”- their words! The war was never solely about slavery which was still an international trade and was slowly dying in many other developing countries at the exact same time. Not to say that plantation owners didn’t want to keep their slaves but slaves even chose to stay on as hired help rather than be subjected to their new greedy masters in the North. I leave you with an illustration from Illinois of a slave being whipped by a Yankee during the war. Don’t forget when the Yankees went through the South they attacked female Slaves. It’s well known as well.
The statement your are referring to is a letter Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley. However whenever lost causers reference this letter they forget the last paragraph. Here it the letter in it's entirety.

Hon. Horace Greely: Executive Mansion,
Dear Sir Washington, August 22, 1862.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free. Yours,

A. LINCOLN

The southern fire-eaters rebelled because they believed that Lincoln, and the republican party, was a threat to slavery. Which they were. America, including loyal southern citizens, fought to maintain the Union. It's really that simple.
 
On Lee’s last visit to Richmond, a lady approached General Lee with an infant in her arms and asked “Would you please hold my baby?” General Lee took the child, looked the woman in the eye and said “you must teach him to deny himself.”
May be Lee said that because he didn't want anyone to know he was the father of that child?
dr-house-gregory-house.gif
 

8thFlorida

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 27, 2016
The statement your are referring to is a letter Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley. However whenever lost causers reference this letter they forget the last paragraph. Here it the letter in it's entirety.

Hon. Horace Greely: Executive Mansion,
Dear Sir Washington, August 22, 1862.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free. Yours,

A. LINCOLN

The southern fire-eaters rebelled because they believed that Lincoln, and the republican party, was a threat to slavery. Which they were. America, including loyal southern citizens, fought to maintain the Union. It's really that simple.
That is classic scapegoating my friend. The North was complicit in the institution of slavery up until the very end of the War. In fact Lincoln didn’t even free the slaves in the non-rebelling states in the Great Emancipation. This was all propaganda. The South was fighting for States Rights and the freedom from Federal Tyranny. Thank God they fought or the rights of states would have never been protected.

B26068F8-8C70-4E70-B27F-CBD45E62BC21.jpeg
 

29thWisCoG

Corporal
Joined
Apr 12, 2021
The above quote from the above book is ABSOLUTE nonsense.

The South did not finance most of the federal government, as it is often claimed by some. The Port of New York alone collected more tariffs exceeding the South's collection of tariffs in it's Southern ports.

I suggest going to this forums search function and typing in the word "tariffs" and see those conversations and posts.

They are a real eye-opener on the topic.

And one fact you should bear in mind. The tariff was a millions issue; slavery was a BILLIONS issue.
The South did generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, since there was no income tax most of the feds income was from tariffs (upwards of 90%)... the feds needed that money, and by the South not providing it any longer it could have provided Lincoln with an incentive to gain it back... of course Lincoln would never say to anyone that he decided to fight a war over tariff revenue to save the federal government, just like the South would never admit to fighting a war to save the institution of slavery... in the end follow the money, for both the North and the South, this makes the most sense to me.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union for strictly economic reasons. It’s as simple as that. In fact slavery was never a main cause of Lincoln until after the War of the Rebellion began. Lincoln would have rather preserved the Union without freeing any slaves- his words. Many Union soldiers even threatened to leave the Army when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They were not fighting for “no darkies”- their words! The war was never solely about slavery which was still an international trade and was slowly dying in many other developing countries at the exact same time. Not to say that plantation owners didn’t want to keep their slaves but slaves even chose to stay on as hired help rather than be subjected to their new greedy masters in the North. I leave you with an illustration from Illinois of a slave being whipped by a Yankee during the war. Don’t forget when the Yankees went through the South they attacked female Slaves. It’s well known as well.
I see the above post as mainly an indication that someone has already made up their minds in spite of context and historical facts.

Lincoln did not go to war with the South for "strictly economic reasons." If were going to follow that false chain of logic, let's at least get the direction right. The South attacked the North for fear of losing $4 BILLION dollars of human property, PERIOD.

Again, I see a lot of one-sided calls, like Union soldiers even threatened to leave the army over Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Yet, it seems to come to mind there were enough left to force Lee's surrender.

You need to back off, and actually read more than one source, and then come to an informed opinion instead of this same, old, tired cries that are so often repeated by those who think they are giving history vice cheering for the home team.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
That is classic scapegoating my friend. The North was complicit in the institution of slavery up until the very end of the War. In fact Lincoln didn’t even free the slaves in the non-rebelling states in the Great Emancipation. This was all propaganda. The South was fighting for States Rights and the freedom from Federal Tyranny. Thank God they fought or the rights of states would have never been protected.

View attachment 414462
It is not "classic scapegoating" to actually read all of Lincoln's letter and see his full intent, vice lifting one, carefully shortened portion of it and gleefully proclaim, "gotcha!" That's not how researching historical fact works.

As for the monument words you have posted, this is my main complaint against Confederate monuments who proclaim nonsense when the real cause was the only Southern right to hold men as slaves and defy the nation's wishes by ignoring a free and fair election.
 
That is classic scapegoating my friend. The North was complicit in the institution of slavery up until the very end of the War. In fact Lincoln didn’t even free the slaves in the non-rebelling states in the Great Emancipation. This was all propaganda. The South was fighting for States Rights and the freedom from Federal Tyranny. Thank God they fought or the rights of states would have never been protected.

View attachment 414462
The "rights of their states" of course included the right to own slaves. Lincoln's authority to emancipate slaves emanated from his war powers as Commander in Chief and from the Congressional enacted Second Confiscation Act which only applied to states and areas within certain states that were in rebellion to the Federal government.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
The South did generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, since there was no income tax most of the feds income was from tariffs (upwards of 90%)... the feds needed that money, and by the South not providing it any longer it could have provided Lincoln with an incentive to gain it back... of course Lincoln would never say to anyone that he decided to fight a war over tariff revenue to save the federal government, just like the South would never admit to fighting a war to save the institution of slavery... in the end follow the money, for the the North and the South, this makes the most sense to me.
No, the South did NOT generate a significant amount of tariff revenue to the Federal government, not even close to what was collected by the North. The Federal government was supported by tariffs and the sale if federal lands.

I find it strange that you feel the North had to get the South 'back' into the Union for it's portion of the tariffs, yet the Union managed to survive and prosper financially for four, hard, years of civil war. Lincoln didn't have to admit the false premise that he was actually fighting for a tariff in order to save the federal government. But the South repeated, over and over, they were seceding for slavery. It's not hard to verify that fact. They said it themselves.

And if you follow the money, make sure you measure the yearly income of the federal tariff, which was in the millions, to the cash value of slavery, which was worth nearly $4 BILLION dollars in 1860s currency. That is what makes the most sense to me.
 
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