It's been nearly a decade in my coming around in my thoughts on Lincoln, so bear with me as I try to cram all that into one blog entry.
Most of us grew up with Lincoln being highly revered as a President. There's Washington, and Lincoln, and um, all those other guys who weren't as great, right? This has been beaten into our heads in public schools from the time we start there, plus I worked at Lincoln National, a place that also holds the man in near-religious esteem. However I've always been one that is willing to change my mind IF adequate facts can be provided. And there are facts. LOADS of facts!
So my premise, that Lincoln was the first Obama, is that Lincoln was 100% for building a bigger, stronger centralized Federal government, even at the expense of ignoring the Constitution. It's a way of thinking that says, "Hey, this government is do great that I'm going to ignore the very rules that make it great so that I can make it greater!" It makes no sense, but then again, Lincoln was a lawyer. In the same vein, Obama is pulling all kinds of crap that isn't allowed for the Executive Branch by the Constitution (and often not allowed for any of the branches).
Lincoln was the first Republican president but before there were Republicans there were Whigs. Remember those Whigs from U.S. History back in the day? Whigs were for making the federal government bigger and reducing the rights of the individual states as well as having a federal bank. Hold that thought.
When our Founding Fathers wrote the framework of our government they had fresh in their minds an all-controlling centralized government, that being of course England. The states were operating much like the individual countries of Europe (Virginia, South Carolina, New England vs. France, Germany, and Denmark, if you will). Each state had it's own constitution and pretty much operated independently, though in cooperation, with the other states. None of these states were going to willingly give up their sovereignty to a centralized government... what sovereign government would? So inherent in each state's willingness to voluntarily allow this new Federal government to provide certain limited* functions was the ability to withdraw their membership at any time, provided this withdrawal received the proper okee-dokee from their state legislatures. This was the ultimate check on the Federal government to keep it from being too bossy. It was a way for each state, if they didn't like the rules, to take their ball and go home. In school I was never told that this threat to succeed was invoked more than once, most notably New England who threatened to succeed in the early 1800s because they believed that the policies of the Jefferson and Madison administrations (especially the Louisiana Purchase, the national trade embargo of 1807 and the war of 1812) were disproportionally harmful to New Englanders. Debate raged on this issue but one item that was never debated was their right to succeed.
* footnote to above - If you take the time to actually read the Constitution, which should take an average reader much less than an hour (AND it should be pointed out that it is a very readable, understandable read - not the legal twistings of todays governmental documents) you will find that what little the federal government is given much to do is explicitly spelled out and that (GASP) any task not explicitly spelled out as belonging to the federal government is given to the individual states.
Let's fast forward to the 1850s. There is, and has been, a lot of policies in place that disproportionally harm the southern nations. The north had lots of manufacturing while the south imported most of their goods. High tarriffs were in place that pretty much fleeced the southern states and sent their money to the pockets of the big corporations of the northern states. Enter Lincoln, who had a history being very friendly to his corporate pals (there's a great story of Leaping Lincoln, if you want to look that up) AND was strongly in favor of adding power to the Federal government. When he got elected with no votes by the southern states they felt even more greatly disenfranchised and that their interested were not being represented. They ultimately decided to succeed from the union.
At this time most of the newspapers and populace felt that they should be allowed to peacefully succeed. Indeed, Confederate President Jefferson Davis even offered to pay or give back to the Northern union any of it's property which remained on southern soil. Lincoln needed a way to change public opinion and did so with the attack on Fort Sumter. Here was a Northern fort on Southern land. The south would no more allow a northern military fort on southern land than the Americans would have allowed a British military fort. So here was Fort Sumter, running out of food. They could have peacefully left at any time and Lincoln had been notified of such by Jefferson Davis. However Lincoln forced Davis to fire first by sending a heavily armed battleship with supplies. Here was the South, not attacking Fort Sumter and just waiting for them to leave and suddenly here's this armed battleship with more food and ammo to help Fort Sumter last even longer. So the south fired first. Lincoln turned this event into the South firing on ships that were only attempting to provide food for hungry men, and the tide of public opinion began to turn.
Now that Lincoln had his war he ran all over the Constitution. Even scholars favorable to Lincoln call him a dictator, but a friendly one, as if such a thing can exist. For one thing, he suspended habeas corpus. Imagine in Obama suddenly said that anyone can be arrested at any time, not be told why they were being arrested, not be given a trial, and held indefinitely. We treat our illegal aliens better than Lincoln treated U.S. citizens! And who did he have arrested? Anyone who disagreed with him - newspaper owners, state legislators, joe citizens and even clergy! During elections they would post people inside the polls and have people cast their votes using different colors of paper. Cast a green ballot and they would toss you in jail! At one point there were thousands of citizens under arrest without ever being charged. Oh, and the different colored ballot trick is equal to free elections being suppressed. He also suppressed the free press by putting editors and reporters in jail, making many afraid to speak out publicly against Lincoln's policies.
Lincoln also launched an invasion of the South without the approval of Congress, something required in the Constitution, declared martial law, blockaded Southern ports, censored all Internet, er, telegraph communication, nationalized the car companies, I mean railroads, created several new states without the consent of the citizens in those states, ordered Federal troops to interfere with elections in the North by intimidating opponents to his policies, confiscated firearms and private property in direct violation of the Second Amendment, and pretty much was a rats patooty!
But didn't he do this to free the slaves? Wasn't the end justification of the means? HORSE-PUCKY! Lincoln's well known position was that the slaves should be sent back to Africa and even helped found an organization to do so. The Emancipation Proclamation was an act of war, and a weak, symbolic one at that! It only freed slaves in the places the north didn't have a right to (the south) but actually KEPT PEOPLE SLAVES IN THE NORTH (and north-friendly southern areas under the control of the Northern armies). That doesn't sound very liberating to me!
A direct result of this is the 14th amendment, which states that you are automatically a U.S. citizen if you are born on U.S. soil. This was put in because some were fearful that the children of freed slaved would be deported. Today it's used for illegal aliens to have children here, illegally and on the taxpayer dime, and have them be legal. Or even better, did you know that some countries actually have "vacation" packages designed so that pregnant women come here and give birth, making their children U.S. citizens and eventually able to bring over their families? HARUMPH!
And that Federal bank? The one that issues all the dollar bills you hold? Privately held. No accountability. No audits of their activities.
So now when I see a Confederate flag I understand. They aren't saying "We hate black people!" It would be safe to say that Lincoln liked the African Americans less than most Confederate flag fliers. No, these people are expressing their belief that the Southern states were fully within their rights in peacefully succeeding and then fighting against an aggressive Northern army that was attempting to force them to remain part of the North just so they could continue to be financially fleeced to enrich Northern corporations. Countless lives, North and South, just so some can get rich in money and power... it's an old story.
That's all for now... I may gush out more later. Suffice it to say that the demi-god known as Lincoln was a scoundrel who worked to enrich the bank accounts of his corporate buddies at the expense, of lives and dollars, of the general population he supposedly represented.