4 March 1865: Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address

A friend dropped a note to me:

Today is the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address!  I just reread it.  I think it’s the finest writing (so far) in American English.  Perhaps it’s worthy of a blog post?

I seem to recall hearing somewhere that Lincoln spent the July 4th before his reelection hosting a picnic on the White House grounds to raise funds to build a Catholic Church for African-Americans in Anacostia.  Interesting tidbit.

Keep in mind that, once upon a time, inaugurations took place on 4 March.   This was changed in the 20th century to 20 January.

Why March? I suppose before the advent of modern transportation they needed a little more time to get things organized.  Also, I believe the ancient Roman civil year began in March.  Try reading it aloud, to find out something what what a president who is a word-smith might say… just as an exercise in contrast if for no other motive:


At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

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  1. This is indeed a very fine specimen of English-language oratory…but one has to question just how much of it is true. It certainly over-simplifies the issues at stake, and perhaps even crosses over into dishonesty. Was the South really motivated solely, or even primarily, by the desire to wring its bread from the sweat of other men’s brows? Was the North really motivated by the desire to end slavery?

    And here is a really politically incorrect question. True, the war ended the institution of slavery; but is it possible that the predominance in our age of pragmatic utilitarianism is due in large part to the victory of the North, which was already imbued with that mindset at that time?

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    He was eloquent and not ashamed to acknowledge God. How different from today’s socialistic prattle and bizarre leadership, if you can call it leadership.
    His direct references to God, we have almost forgotten what that is like, but we had it once. What kind of country would America have today if our leaders still acknowledged and lived by the Judeo-Christian ethos? What a huge mistake we made to stop expecting it from them. We have sunk like stones, and as our great President Lincoln questions, what is the cost of all of our sins, what might God Almighty deign to send to such a stiff-necked people.
    Blessedly for us, there are millions of true Christians in America today, they have not vanished, they are just as devoted to Jesus Christ as they ever were. Their eyes are opened, and millions comprehend the spiritual situation the world is in now, as I believe, never before. Many perceive we are seeing Revelations played out right now in our own time, today. We seem in precarious days, and the prayers of old ladies and gentlemen keeps our world turning. I pray God show His mercy to America, Israel, and all our allies in whatever comes.

  3. MarkJ says:

    I wonder if today’s school children are even allowed to read this speech with all of its references to God and Scripture. How far we have strayed…

  4. FrankWalshingham says:

    Can’t drink Lincoln’s Kool Aid , Father Z. The War of Northern Aggression was not fought primarily over slavery. It was fought over the desire of Lincoln and the powerful states in the industrial North to subvert the intent of the Founders, and wrest the power away from the people in their states. Look at Abe’s actions: he knowingly provoked war without congressional approval by sending the US Navy in to the sovereign state of South Carolina, suspended the writ of habeas corpus and threw his opponents in to jail without due cause, violated the Constitution by usurping the powers of the legislative and judicial branches, and usurped freedom of speech by shutting down newspapers who disagreed with him. Lincoln and Sherman would be tried for war crimes today for wreaking havoc on the civilian populace and torching Southern cities, something Robert E. Lee and the South never did. Then when these Union generals got done with the South, they enforced the genocidal policies of the government upon the peaceful Native Americans, slaughtering them with modern arms, killing off the women and children with smallpox laced blankets, and starving them in to subjugation on reservations by wiping out the buffalo herds.

    In reviewing history, it is clear that Abe is to blame for creating the monstrosity of our federal government which now uses tax dollars to abort babies, undermines the sanctity of marriage by forcibly redefining marriage , and overtly threatens the right of religious freedom this country was founded upon. But they don’t teach that in the history books, which also say Abe was assassinated. In actuality, Lincoln was a just another casualty of the very war that his political policies created.

  5. How I wish that politicians today took God into consideration as much as Lincoln did in this speech. Today, if a politician even mentioned God in an inauguration speech, he would be vilified.

  6. Kerry says:

    Also a good, well, interesting day to reread Churchill’s speech, The Munich Agreement.

    (Frank, lots of fluff there. Read up more on that produce the body assertion. But who in the 1870’s say, would handle a ‘smallpox infested blanket’, and how could they know? )

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The War of Northern Aggression was not fought primarily over slavery. It was fought over the desire of Lincoln and the powerful states in the industrial North to subvert the intent of the Founders, and wrest the power away from the people in their states.”

    Whoa, there.

    Not the, “Big Bad North beating up on the Poor Little Ole South,” narrative, again. Of course, the Civil War was about slavery. Go back and read the contemporary newspaper, magazine, and personal letter collections from the period. Heck, even read the Lincoln-Douglas debates. This Big Bad North idea, it seems to me, is retrojecting contemporary political notions into the mid nineteenth-century. It is true that Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, subtly altered the relationship between the people, the states, and the Federal government – a point most historian concede, I suspect. It is also true that there was a true difference in outlook regarding commerce between the North and the South, but these issues had existed in prior presidencies, as well. They were not unique to Lincoln. One might as well say that the War was fought over the notion of how materials should be processed – by men or by machines (this would be an acceptable formulation), but there is no doubt that the writing was on the wall with the rise of the steam engine and electricity. Slavery might have fallen, anyways, of its own low Nth value (thermodynamic efficiency) vs. machinery. We can’t go back and play that scenario (how I wish we could).

    What is clear, it seems to me, however, is that Reconstruction was an abysmal failure, leading directly, inexorably, to the flawed notion of an all-encompassing civil rights, without which the feminist movement, contraception, abortion, gay rights, and a whole host of other ills would not have manifested, If the former slaves had been equally integrated into society back in 1870 as a single issue item, civil rights would not have expanded to the point that it has. That it was delayed for a hundred years is directly responsible for many of the ills of modern American culture, in my opinion.

    The Chicken

  8. williamjm says:

    How could the war be over slavery when Lincoln promised that he would not interfere with Southern slaves? How could the war be over slavery when Northern big business drew its life blood from the textile industry, fueled by Southern plantation cotton?

    The North went to war over what the majority of wars are fought over: money. The South was a huge revenue source.

    The North was a Deistic, mechanical, cold. The South was Christian (much more Catholic-friendly), agrarian, warm.

    The North and South were two vastly different nations bound together by political ties that the South felt were a hindrance.

    The North went to war over money, bought in slavery to buoy the cause, and in the end, left 630,000 dead, an entire region ravaged, and the land ripe for racism.

    630,000 dead. Was it worth it?

  9. andia says:

    Kerry, the smallpox thing is historical fact, unfortunately. Heck it goes back to at LEAST the French and Indian War, with Lord Jfefery Amherst wanting to “innoculate” the native population so he could ” Extirpate this Execrable Race.” He was not the first to try this Read more here:

    As for the cause of the Civil War, it could be argued that the cause of the civil war was to preserve the union after Southern Session. The causes of Southern Session are varried by certainly Slavery and States’ Rights are two of the biggest. Other reasons include such things as moderization, Nationalism ( both Northern and Southern), expansionism ( Manifest Destiny), and others.

  10. moconnor says:

    Let’s remember the original post. This is Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address. By this time, the war’s goals had changed. Lincoln did everything he could to persuade the South to abandon the Fire-Eaters and accept a future where new states would not stained by the sin of slavery. I always get a good chuckle when I hear people trot out the Lost Cause narrative. Read the letters of Union soldiers and the newspapers of the North. The military action began to suppress a rebellion and preserve the Union. The Abolitionists, however, played their hand well. When the South refused to give an inch, Lincoln gave in and released the Emancipation Proclamation (which didn’t affect KY or MD, though) as a military move. Over time, he came to the realization of the rightness of that cause and we see this in the 2nd Inaugural, which took place just over a year before the war’s effective end.

  11. SaintJude6 says:

    Sorry, count me among the southerners who is NOT a fan of Abraham Lincoln for exactly the reasons already listed by Frank Walsingham.
    A worthwhile way to spend a week’s worth of evenings: view Ken Burns’ The Civil War with your children and frequently hit pause to correct all the northern/progressive propaganda. Burns should have just held a canonization ceremony for Lincoln while he was at it.

  12. Pingback: Two Men who serviced | Scott's Lenten Journey

  13. Stephen Matthew says:

    Like the right South Carolina claimed to imprison every black sailor entering its ports and hold them without either charge nor hearing? To go aboard both US and foreign merchant ships and ships of war and seize by force of arms every black person, and hold them in jail until the ship departed? A “right” which violated both federal law and treaty with Britian? That kind of states rights?
    Or perhaps you mean the right of South Carolina to nullify federal law? (Which “right” it itself objected to and admitted as unconstitutional at the time of secession.)
    Or perhaps you mean the “right” to declare a person and all of their descendants to be property from now until eternity?
    Interesting, the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union” includes the word “slave” and its derivatives 18 times, the word “free” and its derivatives only 7 times. That should give some idea as to what South Carolina thought the reason for the war was. The declaration even makes clear South Carolina would have succeeded sooner, but only for its regard for the opinions of the other “slaveholding” states prevented it.
    (The same document, produced by South Carolina, the originator of the doctrine of nullification, also charges the northern states with nullification, one of many of the intellectual absurdities in the self-justification of the southern cause. Similar to the way that the south thought blacks were excluded from the rights of Habeus Corpus and Magna Carta simply on the basis of being black, yet prattle on incessantly about those legal niceties not being observed during a war.)

    Let us also never think racism was a post-war invention. Racism was the very justification for slavery as it existed. In the south theological insanity on this point was even indulged in, with ideas like being black being the “mark of Cain” (also adopted by the Mormons until about 1970 when they had a new revelation) and thus justifying enslavement as punishment for Cain’s sin, or even the “second creation” theology whereby blacks are not descendants of Adam and Eve and thus not part of the human race at all were indulged in. In many instances it was illegal to teach a slave to read or write and while you hear of plenty of masters forcing warped forms of Christianity on their slaves, others did not allow their slaves to be Christian because they thought slaves could not be saved at all. It was a violently dehumanizing institution, and it could only be maintained by engaging in the intellectual and mental exercises of objecting to the full humanity of the slaves (which southern statesmen did, even to the point of claiming blacks were inherently and permanently excluded from citizenship even if free and even within free states). Vast edifices of self-deception were erected for the purpose and then built into the law and every aspect of society. Racism is not a product of the war in the south (though perhaps northern racism has a good bit to do with the hundreds of thousands seemingly dying for black emancipation), rather the racism really predates the war and was one of its causes. The south not only wished to preserve slavery, it wished to maintain blacks in a not-quite-fully-human status. The landed gentry were terrified not only of the rise of industry but also of the rise of the merchants which threatened to take the top rung of the social and political ladder, and likewise terrified that if slavery ended they might have to reconsider their crimes against their slaves. As for free whites, in the south many of them were small farmers, and industrialization threatened the viability of small farms (just as the cotton gin and slavery had made the large plantation highly profitable), commercialization threatened their relative wealth, and emancipation threatened their social position.

    The great southern mistake, other than its terrible crimes against human dignity, were the assumptions of the necessity of its agricultural produce. The south thought it could starve out the north and its industry. The south even thought British merchants would force the British government to intervene to protect the cotton trade, when in fact the more sensible (and obvious, it had begun before the war even) British policy was to grow cotton in Egypt and India instead, which kept the full value of the process from seed to cloth under British control.

    I am sympathetic to the arguments for limited government and strict reading of the constitution, but if anyone can find any right claimed by any of the states as a cause for the war that was not directly linked to either slavery or racism or a power enumerated in Article I Section 8, I have yet to hear of it.

    Let us keep in mind that among the things southern apologists wish to be held sacrosanct under states rights were the institutionalized sexual exploitation of black women by white masters (and paternal abandonment of the subsequent issue) and even the one moral monstrosity of George Washing: forcibly harvesting the teeth of his still living slaves in an attempt to replace his own.

    It was an unjust war, even given all that. The blockade was perhaps justifiable, but neither the Northern campaign to subjugate the South nor the Southern campaign to invade the North were justifiable, to my view. In particular, as a son of Kentucky, I find the Confederate invasion of Kentucky in response to our declaration of neutrality especially appalling, and the Union military occupation in response to our appeal for assistance in repelling that invasion also irksome.

    Lincoln was without doubt one of the greatest men of American history. He was not a saint, maybe not even “good”, but he left a mark even above his own considerable stature.

    His oratory, even when I disagree with some aspect of it, is brilliant even still.

    Perhaps in some alternate universe Lincoln ended up as a Catholic priest and converted the hearts of the south to emancipate their brethren freely. (Not that I believe in alternate universes.)

    As a note of unity, perhaps we could invoke the intercession of Servant of God Father Augustus Tolton in these troubled and divided times.

  14. Andreas says:

    It’s fascinating to learn that such strong passions and discord between the northern and southern states still exist after more than a century and a half and to note that the notion of state’s rights still plays such an important role in American socio-cultural and political conduct today, albeit for other reasons.

  15. FrankWalshingham says:

    The war crimes of Lincoln and his Union generals are condemned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the following sections:

    2313 Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely.
    Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

    2314 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.

  16. shin says:

    If he didn’t want to go to war, he didn’t have to go to war.

    His words and his actions parted ways, no?

  17. DonL says:

    Few know that New York City was seriously considering going with the South (that cotton/commodities two-way trade) and many of the factory owners of New England were in the same ball park. It was not only loss of it’s lifeblood (cotton as raw material), but a big fear of the south selling it’s cotton without the burden of the union’s tariffs. Competition like that would crush them.
    By today’s standards, Lincoln was a bigot. (See the 4th Douglas debate) and who can ignore his commander-in-chief support while Sherman razed the south?

  18. Seamus says:

    ” The War of Northern Aggression was not fought primarily over slavery. ”

    Not when it started. But by 1865 it certainly was being fought (as far as the Yankees were concerned) primarily over slavery. (By that time, “restoration of the Union” was, in Northern minds, too trivial a cause for hundreds of thousands of Yankee soldiers to have given their lives.)

  19. Seamus says:

    “The war crimes of Lincoln and his Union generals are condemned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church ”

    Uh, the Union forces didn’t seek “the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority.” They destroyed a lot of property (and emancipated a lot more), but killing the civilian population was not a Union policy. Remember that it was the North that compiled the Lieber Code, and they actually tried to take it seriously. (The argument that genocide was a federal policy sounds more plausible with regard to the Indians out West, but even there it misstates reality. Terrible things happened in the Indian Wars (and later in the Philippine-American War), but as an institution, the U.S. Army was committed to observing the laws of war.)

  20. Seamus says:

    “Let us keep in mind that among the things southern apologists wish to be held sacrosanct under states rights were the institutionalized sexual exploitation of black women by white masters ”

    I’m not sure whether this is a statement about southern apologists today (as the use of the present tense for the word “wish” implies) or at the time of the War (as is implied by the use of the past tense for “were”), but in either case I’d be interested in seeing citations to actual southern apologists. I know that sexual exploitation of slave women took place, but I’d be hard pressed to think of any instance where a southern apologist, then or now, defended that practice as “sacrosanct.”

  21. Seamus says:

    “Lincoln and Sherman would be tried for war crimes today for wreaking havoc on the civilian populace and torching Southern cities, something Robert E. Lee and the South never did. ”

    Never? Did you ever hear about the slaughter of the male civilian population of Lawrence, Kansas, by Quantrill’s Raiders, or the burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, by Generals Jubal Early and John McCausland?

  22. Seamus says:

    I will acknowledge that slavery was the motivation for South Carolina and other Deep South states s to secede and form the Confederacy, but interestingly enough, that wasn’t the motive that drove Lincoln to go to war against them. Also, it would be a mistake to say that “the Confederacy” fought the War to preserve slavery, because the Confederacy included more than the Deep South. It included, for example, my home state of Virginia, which initially rejected secession and only went with the Confederacy after the fall of Fort Sumter, in order to avoid being compelled to join the war to compel the seceding states back into the Union.

    (As readers may have noticed, I have been responding to what appear to me as mistaken claims by the apologists for both the Union and the Confederacy. I’ve noticed that both sides have a disturbing tendency to select and shade the facts, and I find that it requires constant effort to keep focused on the truth rather than on The Narrative. But I’m going to stop now, because otherwise I’d spend all day responding to people being wrong on the internet (http://xkcd.com/386/).

  23. Seamus says:

    “Why March? I suppose before the advent of modern transportation they needed a little more time to get things organized. Also, I believe the ancient Roman civil year began in March. ”

    Actually, nothing so well-thought-out and deliberate. When the Constitution was ratified by the necessary nine states (actually 10, as Virginia was needed to make the new government viable), the Congress under the Articles of Confederation passed a resolution in September 1788 for setting up the new government, in which it provided “That the first Wednesday in Jan[uar]y next be the day for appointing Electors in the several states, which before the said day shall have ratified the said Constitution; that the first Wednesday in feb[ruar]y next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective states and vote for a president; And that the first Wednesday in March next be the time and the present seat of Congress the place for commencing proceedings under the said constitution- ”

    The first Wednesday in March, 1789, was March 4, so the terms of the President and Members of Congress were regarded as beginning then. (As it happened, there weren’t enough members-elect of Congress present on that date to constitute a quorum, so Congress couldn’t actually do any business until enough people showed up. But the clock on their terms (and that of President Washington) had begun, even if they hadn’t yet taken their oaths of office.)

  24. tsearles102 says:

    Steven Mathew – your arguments are essentially all true, but all miss the point as it regards the Civil War. No one is arguing that racism, slavery and dehumanization (particularly by a government) are okay. The argument is, is that why the North went to war with the South?

    The answer is most certainly, no! It’s a reconstruction of history to justify the federal government having robbed the states and people of their sovereignty primarily by means of the Civil War. Of course many good Northerners joined the war to fight against slavery, but they joined on a false premise because their politicians cared nothing about it. The Union states had more slave owning states than the Confederacy, and even the Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in the Confederacy states. Read “The Real Lincoln” by Nathaniel DeLorenzo (with a fantastic introduction by Dr. Walter Williams, in which he correctly labels Lincoln “the Great Centralizer”).

    The record of the Union controlled USA post-Civil War is further evidence that it was never motivated by human rights (and to this day is not). And think about this — in how many States right now would abortion be illegal if State sovereignty (the true aim of the Constitution) had been preserved? In how many states would so-called “gay marriage” be illegal?

  25. tsearles102 says:

    In any event, though the rewriting of history is always disturbing, as a Catholic it’s hard to have much sympathy for South or the North, as neither was wholly motivated by good principals, as is almost always the case in every war. However, it should be recognized that the true legacy of the Civil War was the expansion of Federal power at the cost of state sovereignty and liberty.

  26. tsearles102 says:

    sorry – the author of “The Real Lincoln” is THOMAS DiLorenzo, not Nathaniel

  27. tsearles102 says:

    And also, to add to my comment that I have zero sympathy for the South, it should be noted how glaringly hypocritical it is to ostensibly defend personal liberty while at the same time enslaving others. I also don’t necessarily think the USA would be better off today had the South won the Civil War, just saying that the only real loser of that war was the principle of limited government.

  28. tsearles102 says:

    And all people who died to help destroy that principle

  29. Dialogos says:

    I haven’t read anything this depressing since the hullaballoo from the last synod. I won’t try to argue with those who believe Lincoln was a tyrant, because fundamentalists always have an answer. Lincoln represents for me basic American values: a life of drudgery ennobled by reading; a chance for the downtrodden to aspire to and achieve the American dream; a call for government to have a limited role, but especially to allow businesses to succeed and for all of us to sacrifice a little to contribute to infrastructure used by many; to recognize that God is not a partisan tool and that true religion casts a cold light on hypocrisy; that every one of us has a heart that may be pierced by death and suffering; that all marriages are flawed in some way but can still endure and thrive and that family is more than the sum of a number of individuals; that war is a tragedy but the suppression of freedom may require a war. When I visited Lincoln’s tomb a few years ago I was paying respects at the burial place of a martyr. The left has been calumniating America for decades, but if the right now considers Lincoln of all people a traitor, then may the God to Whom Lincoln referred have mercy on us.

  30. Gerard Plourde says:

    Not about slavery? What about the penultimate paragraph of the Address?

    “If God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    The stain of slavery is one that all humanity shares. To fail to acknowledge and repent of the sin prevents true healing.

  31. Uxixu says:

    Lincoln himself separately said that he was more about preserving the Union. If that meant freeing the slaves, he would do that. If meant them remaining as slaves, he would do that. Chattel slavery was deeply flawed in it’s economics and alien to most historical mechanisms of slavery, especially that of ancient Rome (especially after the Servile Wars), as is often falsely compared.

    The biggest problem for the traitors of the Confederacy was that they started the war. Lincoln would have never been able to order a unilateral invasion of the South without being impeached. By withdrawing their representation from Congress, they conceded the influence they might have brought to bear entirely to the Radicals.

    Federalism itself soldiered on quite well until the dreaded Populists started sinking their claws into the foundations of the Republic and undermining the separation of powers, most specifically with the Senate, which is supposed to represent the States themselves (as the People have their voice in the House).

  32. jflare says:

    “The war crimes of Lincoln and his Union generals are condemned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the following sections:”

    I don’t think Lincoln and his generals had anything close to a monopoly on breaking various tenets of Catholic faith, Frank.
    As to whether Lincoln might be culpable for expanding the role of the Federal government too much, I think history reflects that someone was going to need to solve this particular question of slavery or not sooner or later. After Texas became free from Mexico, the North tended to see them as a likely slave-holding state, thus Statehood for Texas didn’t happen immediately. Not too long after that, the Kansas-Nebraska Act attempted to allow for each state to make it’s own decision. Doing so didn’t solve anything though; we have the record of Bleeding Kansas to demonstrate how advocates from both sides flocked to the area and inflicted mayhem.

    I would say that the Constitution was written with a degree of tension between the Federal government and the States. Both have almost always been jockeying for control of one issue or another. Interestingly, I have come to think that we should return to causing the individual States to choose Senators; by that means, the States will readily have a say in anything the Federal government does. I don’t entirely understand why we chose, as a nation, to change that.

  33. donato2 says:

    Lincoln’s Second Inaugural is a masterpiece. It is a speech for the ages. The cadence of the prose is poetic. It is also remarkable for its content: a meditation on God’s will in the context of the Civil War — the most significant event in American history. Lincoln says, essentially, that God visited the Civil War on the United States, both North and South, as punishment for the sin of slavery. Influenced perhaps by the Second Inaugural, I have long thought God will visit some similar, quite possibly far worse, disaster on the United States for the sins of legalized abortion, the destruction of marriage and the family, and all the related disparagement of chastity.

  34. JMody says:

    New England states wanted to secede in 1828 over some tariff issue which they read as being extra-constitutional and therefore “reserved to the States” as per the 10th Amendment. The South felt that anti-slavery measures were taking a similar path and looked to (?New Hampshire, was it?) as an example. However “right” they may have been about the law, they were arguing over the institution of slavery, and the trade and taxes related to it.

    The hideous part is to consider the case of Brazil, who simply ended legal slavery in about 1890 with a few riots but no civil war. Why? Because it was simply untenable economically, and so even the immoral and amoral could see no use in it. When you consider that their machinery was all based on items developed in the USA, it is easy to see that the war need not have been fought — patient men waiting 20 years (till 1880) would have prevailed peacefully. Why the rush to war? The same root of every other sin — PRIDE.

  35. robtbrown says:

    1. From the beginning of the US the North and South didn’t get along The union was tenuous, and most of the antipathy was over slavery.

    2. All of us Americans were taught before we were out of high school the importance of the invention of the Cotton Gin in 1793. Slavery was on the way to dying out—but that machine created more demand for cotton. More demand for cotton meant more demand for cotton pickers. More demand for cotton pickers meant more demand for slaves.

    NB: the splendid example of the consequence of automation boundaries. What if a cotton picking machine had been invented along with the Cotton Gin?

    3. Lincoln, who was obviously a very bright man and auto didactic, always hated slavery. He was a member of the Repub party, which was founded as an anti-slavery party. The South seceded over a state’s right to have slavery (which of course pervaded the Southern economy). When Lincoln said that the war was to preserve the union, he understood that included slavery.

    4. Lincoln had been a railroad lawyer and understood well that the United States would one day go all the way to the Pacific Ocean. That would be impeded by Slavery and Secession.

    5. It is oversimplification to say that the South started the war. South Carolina seceded in December 1860, and the South argued that the US Constitution permitted it. Once SC seceded, Ft Sumter ceased to be a proper place for Federal troops.

    6. Sherman, who for a while practiced law in my hometown, was one of the fathers of modern warfare. Son of a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, his brother John became a Senator and is the Sherman of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The General, who seems to have been a Depressive, was also a man with a formidable intellect. Married to a Catholic, one of his sons became a Jesuit.

  36. williamjm says:

    I understand that a cause itself, rather than who supports it, is the most important thing. That said, it is hard to overlook one very interesting Southern sympathizer: Pope Blessed Pius IX. He told British diplomat Odo Russel that he sympathized with the South and wished them all success (from the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War). He also sent Jefferson Davis a crown of thorns after he (Davis) was arrested by the Federal government.

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