About five or six years ago I got a kink in my neck that perhaps Abraham Lincoln wasn't the superhuman demi-god of a President that he is made out to be. The thought kind of festered in my brain, fighting against the myth created through twelve years of public education as well as working at both Lincoln National AND The Lincoln Museum (sure, I was just the store and daily operations guy but you spend every day simmering in a warm bath of Lincoln worship.) It's a strong myth. Besides, how can you diss the guy who freed the slaves? Right? Can I get me an "Amen"?
But still it ate away at me as I grew to learn more about the founding of this country and (gasp) even read the entirety of our Constitution for the first time. I mean, the Constitution is the Bible of our government... it is the rule book, the basis, the place you go for the definitive word. And it's not that difficult to understand. Unlike current legislation, which can run thousands of pages and contain large amounts of caveats and twists and turns meant to give lawyers something to argue about, the Constitution is remarkably succinct and readable, almost like it was written so that it could be understood by the average citizen.
Which led me to question the very reason for The Civil War.
The very name is questionable. A Civil War is when two or more related parties are trying to own the same thing. In this case there were some states (southern) that just wanted to be left alone and others (northern) that wanted to force them back into the union. States that wanted the rights to control their own destiny vs. states that thought that all states should be under the control of a federal government. After all, these states voluntarily joined the union less than one hundred years earlier with the clear understanding that they could withdraw at any time, provided their individual state voted to do so.
So essentially a shotgun wedding occurred, more descriptively called The War Between the States, to prevent the divorce.
But wasn't the war about slavery? Not in the least, but more on that in a minute.
Remember how some southern states withdrew from the union immediately when Lincoln was elected? It was because everyone knew that Lincoln was pro-strong centralized Federal government. Lincoln got elected solely with northern votes, and the south could read the writing on the wall and left the union. Lincoln was a big follower of Henry Clay, the Whig. The Whigs wanted the mercantile system of government here in the U.S. like they had over in Europe. To refresh your memory, the mercantile system favored high tariffs, a strong federal government, and nationalized banks so that they could dole out political favors. Clay tried again and again to get these pushed through congress, with mixed success, but it wasn't until Lincoln got into office that the Whig ideas were whole-heartedly adopted. In the first year of his Presidency Lincoln pushed through a massive amount of legislative changes (shades of Obama, anyone?) resulting in a national bank and high tariffs.
I know this is disjointed but keep with me.
So Lincoln gets in, pushes through a bunch of strong federal government legislation, which takes rights away from the states, and the southern states withdraw from the union because their Constitutional rights have been taken away. Half an empire isn't as good as a whole one so Lincoln waged war to force these states back into the union at a staggering cost. When things got rough he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which was a complete joke and was mostly intended to dissuade England or France from supporting the south. This great, heralded Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the south, where Lincoln had no authority to do so, and keeps slaves as slaves in states that were supportive of the north as well as southern territories under the control of the north. So much for wanting to free slaves! In fact, Lincoln spoke very little about slavery until the Presidential election and then he was in favor of shipping them back to Africa. However he wrote and spoke oodles about growing the Federal government.
Lincoln. Big government. Huge power grabs. Political favors for wealthy men of industry. Republican.
Have you ever wondered, as I did, why the Republican party keeps giving us lame duck candidates that don't seem to reflect conservative values? It's because they are Whigs. Always have been. They will pander to the religious and conservatives only as much as necessary to keep power but they have been in favor of bigger government from their inception. Where the Democrats grow government directly the Republicans grow it through business favors. That is until recently and now the Democrats and loving it up with General Electric and General Motors and big banks.
What about Reagan? I tell you what... while I don't agree with everything he did that man is DA BOMB! DA BOMB, I TELL YOU! But he wasn't the Republican parties first choice - they wanted George W. Bush and eventually got their puppet. No, Reagan kind of dark-horses slipped under the radar and suddenly they were stuck with him as a candidate, a man they couldn't control. Reagan was great for the average American but did a lot of damage to the goals of the Republican party. I doubt they let a slip up like THAT happen again.