The History Book Club discussion

PRESIDENTIAL SERIES > 8. A. LINCOLN ~ CHAPTERS 17 (end), 18 - 19 (397 - 466) (12/21/09 - 12/27/09) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 28, 2009 03:40PM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
This is the reading assignment for week eight - (December 21, 2009 to December 27, 2009):

Chapters 17 end, 18 - 19: (pages 397 - 466)

Chapter 17 - We Must Not Be Enemies: February 1861 - April 1861 - page 397 (finishing chapter)

Chapter 18 - A People's Contest: April 1861 - July 1861 - page 411

Chapter 19 - The Bottom is Out of the Tub: July 1861 - January 1862 - page 437

Hello Everyone,

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on November 1st.

We look forward to your participation. Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

Since we only started this book on November 1st, there is still time remaining to obtain the book and get started.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.




A. Lincoln A Biography by Ronald C. White Jr.

Ronald C. White Jr.

message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues)
The Fort Sumter Dilemma

Almost immediately upon entering office, Lincoln was presented with a letter by Major Anderson, who was the commanding officer at Fort Sumter, saying that they had only about 6 weeks provisions available before they would be starved out. Something needed to be done within that time-frame. "On March 15th, Lincoln asked his seven cabinet officers to submit written opinions on the question of evacuating or reinforcing Sumter. ...Only Postmaster General Montgomery Blair unequivocally opposed evacuation, because it would "convince the rebels that the administration lacks firmness and will. Instead of encouraging Southern Unionists it would discourage them, strengthen the hold of Confederates on Southern opinion, and cause foreign nations to recognize the Confederacy as a fait accompli. To give up the fort meant giving up the Union." Tried By War, pg 16.

Slowly, the seven members of Lincoln's cabinet, along with the public, began to shift sentiment against evacuation. Without going into what Seward or General Scott were trying to do at this time, Lincoln finally decided on how to handle the pleas from Major Anderson and the plight of Fort Sumter.

"He conceived a plan to separate the question of reinforcements from that of provisions. He would send in supplies only, while the warships stood by to go into action only if Confederate guns opened fire. And he would notify South Carolina's governor of his intentions. If the Confederates fired on unarmed tugs carrying provisions, they would stand convicted of attacking a "mission of humanity" bringing "food for hungry men." It was a stroke of brilliance. ...if Confederate guns open fire, the responsibility or starting a war would rest on Jefferson Davis's shoulders." Tried By War pg 20-21.

One thing that is sometimes overlooked with regard to how Lincoln responded with respect to Fort Sumter was, his actions were not made rashly. He laboriously examined all possible options for a whole 6 weeks before he acted upon a clear plan. During those six weeks, he did not allow anyone to manipulate his thinking or that of outside events even though others were transpiring without his control or knowledge. Taking into account that these first six weeks are some of the most turbulent that any President has ever been submitted to, Lincoln exhibited an astonishing feat of executive management and leadership. He commented later in the war that that time was the most trying in his whole life. Lincoln's response to southern succession, and what he called treason, were exceedingly patient, deliberate, and careful not to deviate from the authority given to him by the Constitution and his own promises given during his first inaugural address.

Tried by War Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson

message 3: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) I have so far come to the conclusion that one of the most important subjects aspiring historians such as ourselves should fully understand thus far is how Lincoln justified his actions to combat succession as Commander-in-Chief. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, declared war without the consent of Congress, shuts down deliberately harmful newspapers, and basically expands the powers of the Executive branch of government; but justified those actions within his message to congress on July 4th, 1861. To fully understand the reasons he gives for the constitutionality of his actions, and also the weaknesses of his arguments, are essential to a better understanding of our Constitution and how future Presidents have used Lincoln's example of wielding "war powers" within the Presidential administrations to come.

Message to Congress in Special Session - July 4, 1861

The Complete Text:

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Joe, I understand the rationale that Lincoln used and it is obvious that other subsequent presidents used the same rationale of "war powers" (FDR, Bush)..but I still do not go along with any president suspending the writ of habeas corpus; curbing free speech and/or unilaterally expanding the powers of the Executive branch of government. At that point they are all on a slippery slope.

message 5: by Joe (last edited Dec 21, 2009 05:30PM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "Joe, I understand the rationale that Lincoln used and it is obvious that other subsequent presidents used the same rationale of "war powers" (FDR, Bush)..but I still do not go along with any presid..."

Well then, you'd be perfect to help me present arguments against Lincoln's actions.

But I do agree with you that Lincoln, FDR, Bush, etc are all on a slippery slope. That's one reason why it's so important to understand the constitutionality of all this.

Like I suggested in message 3, it would be beneficial to lay out the rational on both sides of the argument, especially for those who are not familiar with it. If you have time to present the weaknesses in Lincoln's argument, I'd be grateful, but I would like to examine Lincoln's message to congress first.

message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 21, 2009 06:42PM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
I wish I did have time...I am sure others can. We do have a thread on the Constitution and possibly a portion of the conversation belongs there. He certainly was in violation of the Bill of Rights.

Since I have read Lincoln's message and am quite familiar with the Constitution/Bill of Rights..I am quite certain of how I feel...and I think Lincoln though quasi apologetic knew what he was doing too.

Though he was exonerated later on; I don't buy some of his actions anymore than I buy the others of later presidents.

What parts of Lincoln's message resonated with you; since that may be your position? Also, if you are in disagreement; which portions of the address do you disagree with.

After rereading it carefully, I viewed it as a very critical; but also a very political and calculating address; I still feel that there was no need to jump the gun and assume constitutional liberties without some time for reflection.

Fort Sumter which was allegedly the catalyst (food for the poor soldiers) was not Pearl Harbor. Of course, the South may have jumped the gun in spite of restraint on his part...that in some ways I also have no doubt might have happened.

message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) An interview with Daniel Farber - author of Lincoln's Constitution

Question: The power of declaring war resides, according to the Constitution, in Congress. Yet Lincoln essentially declared war by ordering the blockade of Southern ports. How did the Supreme Court react to that? Did that start us on the road to the "imperial presidency," which Congress finally tried to stop with the War Powers Resolution in the post-Vietnam era?

Farber: Lincoln's actions were actually fairly easy to justify under the Constitution. When the Constitution was being framed, the drafters deliberately gave Congress the power to declare war (rather than to "make" war). They wanted the president to be able to act on his own if the country was attacked. In Lincoln's case, a third of the country was in hostile hands, and a U.S. fort had been attacked and taken by hostile troops. Rather than acting like an imperial president, he then turned to Congress for approval. Ironically, his actions came closer to complying with the standards of the War Powers Resolution, over a century before it was passed, than most presidents have done in the modern era.

Question: Slavery was constitutional until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, so the Emancipation Proclamation actually amounted to a federal seizure of private property. How did Lincoln legally justify the proclamation?

Farber: Under international law, which the Supreme Court of the time had recognized as applying to our government, a nation at war is entitled to seize the property of its enemies whenever doing so is needed for the war effort. Early in the Civil War, the Court had held that this doctrine was applicable to Confederate shipping. Lincoln had strong arguments that the South could only be defeated by abolishing slavery. So he was able to rely on his war powers as commander-in-chief to justify this seizure of Southern "property." He was also deeply opposed to slavery as a moral matter, but he did not believe that this moral belief was a legal basis for acting.

Question: Lincoln wielded unprecedented presidential power. Solely on the authority of his office he suspended habeas corpus, jailed dissidents, and shut down newspapers. Was this legal? Did Lincoln go too far?

Farber: He did go too far at times, although it was more often his subordinates who went too far, for instance, General Butler in New Orleans. Another example was the blundering General Burnside, whose General Order No. 38 led to the infamous Vallandigham case. As to Lincoln himself, his suspension of habeas corpus was pushed beyond its emergency justification; some actions against the press cannot really be defended; and military trials were improperly used in the North. There were also some more technical constitutional violations involving the procedures for spending money and expanding the military at the beginning of the war. On the whole, however, even many of Lincoln's most dramatic actions (such as the Emancipation Proclamation) were actually constitutionally sound.

Lincoln's Constitution by Daniel A. Farber
Daniel A. Farber


message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 09:38AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Farber is an attorney who has strong Illinois roots and is very enthusiastically for the man (under the Lincoln spell so to speak) as is for example Harold Holzer when he calls Lincoln our "slain national saint"; but even Farber had to begrudgingly state that Lincoln went too far at times which he did.

I suspect that Lincoln was every bit as human as every other President who because of anger or the like exhibits hubris now and then. The Supreme Court which was a bit slanted at the time did still exonerate Lincoln; but then there could have been many pressing reasons for doing so after the war had ended.

Here is an article from the "left" - also all attorneys:

Farber's commentary is interesting reading; though as I am also sure his book is.

Also, I almost forgot:

Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln by J.G. Randall

There appears to be no cover available on Goodreads. However, James Randall,
taught at the University of Illinois for many years and better still James
McPherson calls him the preeminent Lincoln scholar of the last generation.

In fact, Roger Taney, the chief justice, issued an opinion that the suspension of habeus corpus by the president alone is unconstitutional. Lincoln responded by issuing an arrest warrant for Taney which he gave to his friend and employee at the time Ward Lamon.

Also, there is a debate which I will add here which is also quite interesting between Thomas DiLorenzo and Joseph A. Morris which goes over the same territory introduced by messages 2 and 3 with two very biased debators (one very much pro Lincoln and the other not so much); however DiLorenzo does lay out the points you were asking me to make (DiLorenzo and Morris do a far better job).

Here is the pdf file: (The Heartland Institute Debate)

Other books mentioned in this debate:

Lincoln Unmasked What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe by Thomas J. DilorenzoThomas J. Dilorenzo

The Real Lincoln A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas J. DilorenzoThomas J. Dilorenzo

What Lincoln Believed The Values and Convictions of America's Greatest President by Michael LindMichael Lind

When in the Course of Human Events Arguing the Case for Southern Secession by Charles AdamsCharles Adams

Here is a publication on this debate:

Abraham Lincoln Friend or Foe of Freedom? by Thomas J. DilorenzoThomas J. Dilorenzo and Joseph A. Morris

message 9: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "Farber is an attorney who has strong Illinois roots and is very enthusiastically for the man (under the Lincoln spell so to speak) as is for example Harold Holzer when he calls Lincoln our "slain n..."

Thanks for your inputs, Bentley. They are much appreciated.

I would like to outline this debate in as few words as possible. We'll see how successful we can be in the short time frame we have this week.

Thanks again.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 10:28AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
I think that the DiLorenzo and Morris debate will assist that effort.

For starters these are the points that DiLorenzo made:

1. The illegal suspension of the writ of habeous corpus on his

2. He shut down more than 300 opposition newspapers

3. He started a war without congressional approval

4. He confiscated firearms in the border states

5. Lincoln micro-managed the waging of war on civilians for
four long years

6. All telegraph communication was censored

7. He confiscated private property.

8. He arrested his detractors.

9. He rigged Northern elections.

and many others according to DiLorenzo.

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 10:44AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Morris stated the following:

1. Lincoln told us that this was a nation dedicated to a proposition (that all men are created equal), and by opening our eyes to that fact, if nothing else, Lincoln deserves the undying gratitude of people who love liberty the world over

2. If you love liberty, the single most important gift to the human spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s imagination was to nail down the distinction between a people and its peoplehood and its nationhood, on the one hand, and its political units and its governmental distribution of powers, on the other.
That’s what Lincoln meant when he insisted that “the Union” – the nation, the American nation – should be preserved.

3. Lincoln was an extraordinarily circumspect chief executive who looked to the
Congress, to the Senate and the House, to take the lead on most making of public policy. He saw his responsibility in a domestic context as taking care that the laws be carefully executed.

4. Mr. Lincoln did not in fact urge the South to stay in the Union in exchange for forgoing prohibitions on slavery.

On the contrary, Mr. Lincoln disclosed, to the shock of Alexander Stephens, that the Thirteenth Amendment had been passed out of Congress and was on its way to ratification by the states.

The Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery everywhere in the United States; it prohibits involuntary servitude everywhere and forever.

5. Also according to Morris: One and only one issue was the real precipitant of that war, and it was the cause of slavery.

6. According to Morris's interpretation of Madison: As a matter of fact, Madison pointed out to Jefferson, that to allow what Mr. Calhoun wanted in South Carolina – nullification by the states of federal decisions – or to allow the secession of an individual state, would be to allow one state on its own to amend the federal constitution, and that wasn’t the deal.

According to Morris the deal from the outset was, once you joined the federation as a political matter, you were bound by the three-fourths rule and you were bound by the republican guarantee clause and you were bound by the territorial provisions.

The above were the major points asserted by Morris.

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 11:04AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Going back to the message to Congress....Lincoln attempts to make a good case that he had a rebellion on his hands and that this was one of the provisions of suspending habeas corpus...the problem here is not so much the what but the who. Who has the ability to do this unilaterally? Lincoln fails to exonerate himself although he gives it the old college try.

Soon after the first call for militia, it was considered a duty to authorize the Commanding General, in proper cases, according to his discretion, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; or, in other words, to arrest, and detain, without resort to the ordinary processes and forms of law, such individuals as he might deem dangerous to the public safety. This authority has purposely been exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless, the legality and propriety of what has been done under it, are questioned; and the attention of the country has been called to the proposition that one who is sworn to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed,’’ should not himself violate them. Of course some consideration was given to the questions of power, and propriety, before this matter was acted upon. The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed, were being resisted, and failing of execution, in nearly one-third of the States. Must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear, that by the use of the means necessary to their execution, some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen’s liberty, that practically, it relieves more of the guilty, than of the innocent, should, to a very limited extent, be violated? To state the question more directly, are all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated? Even in such a case, would not the official oath be broken, if the government should be overthrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law, would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this question was presented. It was not believed that any law was violated. The provision of the Constitution that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it,’’ is equivalent to a provision---is a provision---that such privilege may be suspended when, in cases of rebellion, or invasion, the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ which was authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the Executive, is vested with this power. But the Constitution itself, is silent as to which, or who, is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it cannot be believed the framers of the instrument intended, that in every case, the danger should run its course, until Congress could be called together; the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.

Lincoln probably inherited more of a tinder box than any other president. Of course Barack Obama inherited two wars; but it was not the nation imploding. So I have great sympathy for Lincoln; and he probably did the best that he knew how. But he did get overzealous and he did exceed the boundaries of the presidency even though the ultimate outcome worked in the nation's favor over time.

message 13: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) DiLorenzo's answer to the last question is quite telling, in my opinion, of his credibality. Wow! But I am trying to read objectively. I do want both sides of this argument.

Question: What would the United States look like today if the South had been allowed to secede peacefully?

DiLorenzo: I think allowing secession would have tempered the imperialistic proclivities of the U.S. government. We wouldn’t have had the Spanish-American War, for example. ...And if we hadn’t gotten into the Spanish-American War, I doubt we would have had a Woodrow Wilson to plunge us into World War I, and without World War I there probably wouldn’t have been a World War II. I also think the two sides of the country could have reunited if they thought it was in their interest to do so.

Morris: Let’s make sure we got that straight: Abraham Lincoln is responsible for World War II ...

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 09:59PM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
That is good Joe...both sides of the issues are good. It is always good to read everything objectively...

I have to agree that the one segment that you extracted in the follow-up Q&A was very far reaching on DiLorenzo's part but overall he did better in the debate.

I would stick with the debate itself. And of course..who would say that Lincoln was responsible for World War II...(lol)..I do not think that is what DiLorenzo meant either; I believe he was talking about cause and effect.

That really was the only Morris take down in my viewpoint when he was able to respond to the Q&A that had been directed to DiLorenzo.

But I love a good debate. And it is one way to get all of the pros and cons on the table. Morris was also very flowery and esoteric in his speech; a little lofty and not heavy on the details. Again..I would focus on the debate and not so much the Q&A.

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 10:03PM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
This was DiLorenzo's biography for the event: (not pro Lincoln)

Thomas J. DiLorenzo earned his Ph.D. in economics from Virginia Tech and is an American economics professor at Loyola College in Maryland.

Tom is an adherent of the Austrian school of economics, a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and an affiliated scholar of the League of the South Institute.

Tom is the author of more than 10 books, including The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. That’s the one about which Barron’s newspaper wrote, “more than 16,000 books have already been written about Abraham Lincoln, but it took an economist to get the story right.”

He also wrote How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country from Pilgrims to the Present and Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe. I’ll bet you can deduce where he’s comin’ from on that one!

Tom has spoken out in favor of the formation of the Confederate States of America, claiming the South had the right to secede. He also has criticized the crediting of the New Deal with ending the Great Depression.

Tom lectures widely and is a frequent speaker at Mises Institute events as well as on national

The Real Lincoln A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas J. Dilorenzo Lincoln Unmasked What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe by Thomas J. Dilorenzo How Capitalism Saved America The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present by Thomas J. DilorenzoThomas J. Dilorenzo

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 11:36AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
This was Morris' biography (pro Lincoln)

Joseph A. Morris is a partner in the law firm of Morris & DeLaRosa, with offices in Chicago and London. He maintains an active practice, conducting trials and appeals, particularly in the areas of constitutional, business, labor, administrative, and international law. He is a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, and
several other courts.

Joe serves pro bono publico as president and general counsel of the Lincoln Legal Foundation – which tells you where he’s coming from! – and he’s an active member of many other civic, charitable, and other organizations.

Joe served under President Ronald Reagan as assistant attorney general and director of the Office of Liaison Services at the U.S. Department of Justice. He also has been an American delegate to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. He is a national director of the American Conservative Union and has been chairman and president of the United Republican Fund of

A frequent lecturer and debater, Joe appears often on national and local television and radio.

message 17: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Lincoln's own defense of his actions - April 4, 1864

I did understand however, that my oath to preserve the constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving, by every indispensable means, that government---that nation---of which that constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose the nation, and yet preserve the constitution? By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution, through the preservation of the nation. Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tried to preserve the constitution, if, to save slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and Constitution all together.

Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7 page 281.

message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 22, 2009 11:52AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Joe, he makes a good argument but then again I have heard good arguments from others trying to exonerate themselves.

He pretty much had a dilemma...but I think there were still other options and other decisions that he could have made. And I am neither for nor against Lincoln. I think he did many good things and also many not so good. In the balance, today he is revered by many so history has tilted to his side and he certainly has a positive legacy.

This was another debate between DiLorenzo and Jaffa.

message 19: by Joe (last edited Dec 23, 2009 07:18AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) After spending some time looking over everything, I really am having a hard time justifying deliberately trying to find fault with how Lincoln handled the situation that was presented to him. Yes, he could have found other options and decided to do things differently, but in the end, when the US flag is being fired upon, our Commander-in-Chief should be allowed to break a few rules, if absolutely necessary, to get the job done.

I am reminded of our current President's remarks at his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on December 10, 2009. His acceptance speech was extra special and should be given broad and labored attention. It's quite ironic that Obama, a war President, was given the Nobel Peace Prize, and he recognizes this by giving a speech that acknowledges that a US President can't be a pacifist.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their (Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi) examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

Lincoln's actions were not taken rashly. Negotiations between the North and South were certainly evolving from decades of bitter struggle. Essentially, peaceful debate had been abandoned even before Lincoln had become President. Lincoln can't be blamed for this.

And yes, history has tilted in Lincoln's favor, but that's not because of blinding idolization. If in fact Lincoln was just being blindingly idolized, over time, his stature would diminish and his real legacy would eventually emerge. But Lincoln actually accomplished great things, and he should be revered for what he accomplished, and because of that, I can see Lincoln's stature only getting stronger with time. If I had a gun pointing at my head, I certainly would want our President to do whatever possible to save me, even if a few rules were broken to do so.

message 20: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 23, 2009 07:57AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Joe, I understand your conflict.

I am not sure if he had done things differently at Sumter whether the US flag would have been fired probably would have occurred whether there or somewhere else. I think the conflict was brewing and had to erupt.

If my memory serves me correctly, you did not feel that President Obama was a worthy candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and certainly there are probably scores of folks who think similarly including I guess of late Ahmadinejad (the great peace lover - I am joking here). In some respects, I can see very well why he won it and I have to agree with you that Obama's Nobel speech was extraordinary. But I too was shocked...and I think President Obama when awoken with this news was also.

But now we get to the next part: First, the South were the American people, people who had fought and died in the American revolution and other conflicts facing a fledgling nation, they were not Hitler or Germany, they were not the British Empire and King George nor were they the Al Quaeda or Bin laden.

Lincoln did have a bad hand to play...for sure. But he overplayed his hand and was rash in many instances already noted by renowned historians (and I do not include DiLorenzo in that mix though I believe he did a credible job in the debate). Was the South more than a bit recalcitrant......why yes they were; but was Lincoln rash and also overstepping the powers of the presidency when he closed down newspapers, arrested citizens for disagreeing with him and suspended habeas corpus unilaterally. Yes, he was.

Lincoln was the president at the time of the Civil War; he wrote an Emancipation Proclamation which was a glorious proclamation containing two orders which actually at the time only did the following:

Source: Wikipedia

The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863.

The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named ten specific states where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The Emancipation Proclamation was criticized at the time for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power.

Although most slaves were not freed immediately, the Proclamation brought freedom to thousands of slaves the day it went into effect[2:] in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception).

Additionally, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for the emancipation of nearly all four million slaves as the Union armies advanced, and committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North.

The proclamation did not name the slave-holding border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, or Delaware, which had never declared a secession, and so it did not free any slaves there.

The state of Tennessee had already mostly returned to Union control, so it also was not named and was exempted.

Virginia was named, but exemptions were specified for the 48 counties that were in the process of forming West Virginia, as well as seven other named counties and two cities.

Also specifically exempted were New Orleans and thirteen named parishes of Louisiana, all of which were also already mostly under Federal control at the time of the Proclamation.

However, in other Union-occupied areas of Confederate states besides Tennessee, the Proclamation went into immediate effect and at least 20,000 slaves[2:][3:] were freed at once on January 1, 1863.

Hearing of the Proclamation, more slaves quickly escaped to Union lines as the Army units moved South. As the Union armies conquered the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (approximately 4 million, according to the 1860 census[4:]) were freed by July 1865.

Near the end of the war, abolitionists were concerned that while the Proclamation had freed most slaves as a war measure, it had not made slavery illegal.

Several former slave states had already passed legislation prohibiting slavery; however, in a few states, slavery continued to be legal, and to exist, until December 18, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted.

I guess you could say that he fought to keep the union together..come hell or high water. Yes, he did do that; but the wounds still run deep from that conflict for some. And I do not feel that the end always justifies the means.

In closing on this post, I want to affirm that I personally have the greatest respect for Abraham Lincoln but he did push the envelope in terms of constitutional liberties solely on his own accord and he should not have without Congress. He should have allowed his detractors in the newspapers without shutting them down and arresting them or both. I think the stress was just too much for any one man; so we give him a pass on these things; but it doesn't mean that he did not overstep his allotted powers.

message 21: by Joe (last edited Dec 23, 2009 08:24AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "If my memory serves me correctly, you did not feel that President Obama was a worthy candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize"

Yes, I still think the Nobel Peace Prize committee lost enormous credibility, but Obama created roses from that failure. Time will only tell if Obama lives up to the hype.

Bentley wrote: "But now we get to the next part: First, the South were the American people, people who had fought and died in the American revolution and other conflicts facing a fledgling nation, they were not Hitler or Germany, they were not the British Empire and King George nor were they the Al Quaeda or Bin laden."

What's the difference between Hitler, King George, Bin Laden, or the Confederate batteries when all of them have guns pointing at you? When you are being threatened to take the United States flag down and leave US soil, your enemy is your enemy. I your enemies are overstepping their powers, don't you think that you should be able to do the same, if absolute necessary?

My objective here is to concentrate on Lincoln's actions constitutionally. I'm probably getting away from that, and don't want to.

message 22: by Joe (last edited Dec 23, 2009 08:12AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) If anyone would like to contribute by igniting discussion about important events which White outlines in Chapter 19, please feel free to do so.

message 23: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Dec 23, 2009 05:18PM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Neither the North or the South are exonerated in terms of deeds related to the war. There are "just" claims on both sides.

I did not live then (of course none of us did - lol); but from what I have learned and read - there was the greatest form of respect between the North and the South, its soldiers and its commanders. Many had served together and were friends; some families had brothers on either side. This is not the same as the others. I am surprised in some respect that you at least do not see the differences in terms of how the South would have been different or should have been perceived as different from the British and/or Al Quaeda.

You may be getting away from the constitution; but I am not aware of that. My posts emphasized the constitutional areas that really should be discussed since that was your intention. Freedom of speech and of the press, writ of habeas corpus - all are constitutional from my vantage point.

In terms of message 22, I certainly hope nothing is ignited (lol). And your objectives are being met. The longer I live the more certain I am of the following: in politics and religion - people believe what they want to believe even with the same set of facts. People sometimes seem to just select their own subset depending upon how they want to view a situation, a belief system, an event, their faith, a person, etc. There is most definitely a spell that Lincoln weaves.

Also, I am enjoying the dickens out of this book and subject. I think that Lincoln and some of his actions are controversial and a real opportunity to discuss war powers and what they should mean to a sitting president. That taking of extra liberties and powers has thwarted many a president if he has not been circumspect in following the words and the intent of the constitution (as he should). So far we can say that everything has turned out OK; but we should not be anesthetized because of that. In some respects, what Lincoln did and how he did it opened up a pandora's box in this area (JMHO)

message 24: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Joe..this book has been a great discussion. I love a good debate and I look forward to seeing what some of the other group members think about these chapters. It certainly has made me think a great deal. I think with Lincoln - he has come to mean much more than his deeds or the taking of any constitutional liberties...I think folks think of him as a turning point in the country and as a catalyst to take the country in a certain direction; the country was at a fork in the road. So he has become iconic of those decisions and the events themselves.

And now I have to get back to work.

message 25: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) Bentley wrote: "This is not the same as the others. I am surprised in some respect that you at least do not see the differences in terms of how the South would have been different or should have been perceived as different from the British and/or Al Quaeda."

I do see your point here, but I guess while reading a Lincoln biography, I am thinking about this the way Lincoln did. He considered those defecting to the South as committing treason. He considered them traitors. He had no choice but to think that way, because being President he was responsible for the security and protection of the entire country. But I have no doubt that if I was living in the South at that time, I would be in full support of my state as everyone else was.

IT work is always slow during the holidays, with everyone taking time off. :-)

message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
I am sure that I would have felt the same way...everybody had to go home sometime and that is where your family lived.

Well if it had to be is the time. (smile)

message 27: by James (new)

James | 34 comments Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "He considered those defecting to the South as committing treason. He considered them traitors. ..."

I disagree completely with this position! Who did he put on trial for treason? You know he personally knew most of those men in Congress from the South. He had plenty of people to point to and label as traitors...

message 28: by Joe (new)

Joe (Blues) James wrote: "Joe wrote: "Bentley wrote: "He considered those defecting to the South as committing treason. He considered them traitors. ..."

I disagree completely with this position! Who did he put on trial fo..."

James, I didn't suggest that he actually put anyone on trial. Lincoln was very gracious when it came to dealing with individuals. But to defend his actions constitutionally, he used the word treason in his message to congress, and elsewhere, in his reasoning for taking away liberties.

message 29: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod seem to have the words above as coming from me. I believe they were Joe's words in message 25 unless I am missing something. I think you did a reply from Joe's message 25 or something to that effect.

I also agree that he did not put anybody on trial for treason that I know of. However, I do agree that he had people arrested like Vallandigham. Whose words were you replying to?


message 30: by James (new)

James | 34 comments Bentley wrote: " seem to have the words above as coming from me. I believe they were Joe's words in message 25 unless I am missing something. I think you did a reply from Joe's message 25 or something ..."

Sorry i just grabbed onto the treason statement not attributing it to anyone..... I was just starting from a point about whether Lincoln considered the South and Southerners traitors or not? Joe is very right that Lincoln used "treason" constitutionally to made what points he wanted... but his attitude when dealing with the rebellion was really very different. Lincoln used the word treason very judiciously. The US would be a very different place had he taken a hard line on this.

message 31: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Hello James..I was concerned because somehow the statement was attributed to a Bentley says...and that statement could not be further from what I stated. Must have been a reply on a reply with an extract....very strange. Hope your Christmas is fine.

I do not think that the South was treasonous; they were doing what they were told they could do; but Lincoln had a different opinion on it as did many, many others. How Lincoln used the word is irrelevant...the meaning is the same. However, I never heard of anybody being tried for treason by Lincoln related to the Civil War...but I have to say that if that was Lincoln's interpretation even constitutionally....I think it is a bit rash.

It has taken a long time for the South to be able to have made the progress that they did make. I think there was a lot of harm done by the Civil War; but on the other hand a lot of ultimate good came out of it for the African Americans - not right away but eventually.

As far as the treason statement..I just wanted to make sure it was NOT attributed to me.

Changing the subject...hope you are having a Merry Christmas and a great holiday.

message 32: by Vincent (new)

Vincent (vpbrancato) | 1073 comments So I come late but a few comments to Bentley, Joe & James– noting that I have not done much of the side reading they seem to have done. (I have done almost none)
1) Flexing of presidential power was before Lincoln, then and now an ongoing evolution of the power of the presidency.
2) Lincoln & Obama are similar in that both are “war presidents” but in neither case, I believe, a war was declared by congress. Congress supported these wars by allocating funding, as was done for many other conflicts.
3) Lincoln took actions against a civilian rebellion – only by our citizens not outsiders – a big difference from other wars and any other American experience of this size & stature
4) Lincoln seemed to bend rather than break the constitution (i.e. the Emancipation Proclamation freed only specified slaves who could be seen as tools of the rebellion – not seen as a punishment – because it was not in his power to change the constitution) but also reforged it by sponsoring (I think he did) the 13th, 14th & 15th amendments – he separated his exercised powers (maybe not 100%) from the ending of slavery by getting the changes to the constitution to finish the longer term stabilization of the country.
5) I am trying to look at this from the point of view of the Constitution and I have not legal education or training. (Except business law 101)

I think this section of reading shows Lincolns’ abilities & readiness to cope with all these problems in ways that eventually worked – he lost his best officers to the South so he took the overall responsibility so far – having found no general who would or could. Again extending or further defining the exercised power of the presidency.

He managed and held the four border states in question.

I must agree this is a great book. I think that it would be great to be able to get young people to read and think about this book, as we seem to be able to take the time to do.

message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 03, 2010 07:46AM) (new)

Bentley | 32054 comments Mod
Vince..I think your comments are well taken. I think that Lincoln took actions against a civilian rebellion and even the fact that he had too...both were very big things.

And I agree that Lincoln seemed to find ways around the constitution (as you put it bending) than actual breaking it.

message 34: by Joe (last edited Jan 03, 2010 06:27AM) (new)

Joe (Blues) Thanks for your comments, Vince.

You make some very good points.

About point number 3, about Lincoln taking actions against a civilian rebellion. What I took away from this whole conversation was that Lincoln did act against a rebellion. But that rebellion was not a simply defined one. One side was protecting a way of life, and the other was trying to right what they thought was a horrible wrong. But Lincoln took an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." And did what he had to do within the powers vested to him from the Constitution.

And your point about Lincoln bending the Constitution is well taken. The South certainly bent some laws by resorting to violence, which I think gave Lincoln the authority to do what was necessary to protect the Union. And eventually he used that authority to emancipate the slaves. Lincoln would never have exercised extended Constitutional authority if the South hadn't resorted to violence. But I also think that Lincoln started an unfortunate precedent by showing how future Presidents could use Lincoln's "war powers" in times not as extreme as the Civil War.

And your right Vince, Lincoln's ability to hold the border states shows exceptional leadership skills during one of the most trying times in United States history.

What an extraordinary story Lincoln's life is. I also enjoyed this book, and plan on reading about Lincoln for some time to come.

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Books mentioned in this topic

A. Lincoln (other topics)
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief (other topics)
Lincoln's Constitution (other topics)
What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America's Greatest President (other topics)
The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Ronald C. White Jr. (other topics)
James M. McPherson (other topics)
Daniel A. Farber (other topics)
Charles Adams (other topics)
Thomas J. DiLorenzo (other topics)