Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution

Was Abraham Lincoln a great president? Most people say yes because he brought slavery to an end, but maybe he could have done it in a different manner? In school, learning that Abraham Lincoln forbid the southern states from leaving the Union always bothered me. I never understood how he could make an order like that. It was that tactic which lead to the Civil War. The Freedom Answer Book: How the Government Is Taking Away Your Constitutional Freedoms by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano answered my questions and now the history makes sense.

Abraham Lincoln told the southern states they were not allowed to leave the union. This always seemed over the top to me and out of line. If the states were allowed to join the union, why couldn't they leave? It's like being allowed to walk into a business, but being locked inside upon entering. Yes, he brought an end to slavery, but this method seems unethical. Why could states join, but weren't allowed to leave?

Well, what Abraham Lincoln did was unconstitutional. He changed the way the Constitution was implemented and in the process took away one of the checks on the Federal Government.

Here's a quote from p. 164 of the book.

Lincoln's actions were unconstitutional, and he knew it. Before running for president, Lincoln was quoted as saying that the Southern states would not be permitted to secede (not, significantly, that they did not have the right to secede). By barring their departure, Lincoln preserved the geographical Union but tore apart the Constitution. He blatantly ignored the rights of the states to secede from the Union, a right that is clearly implicit in the Constitution, since it was the states that ratified the Constitution and thereby decided to enter the Union. Surely these same states had the right to decide to undo that act. The right to secede from any confederation, group, or union is derived from the Natural Law of freedom to associate.

Although we may applaud him for bringing an end to slavery, many other countries were able to end slavery with much less bloodshed. England, Puerto Rico and Brazil all made slavery illegal and compensated existing slave owners financially to bring about its peaceful end. There were other options. He chose to ignore the fundamental document of the United States as part of his method for ending slavery. I just ordered the book The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War and I can't wait to read more about his presidency.

In conjunction with reading the Freedom Answer Book we read This Country of Ours and watched many video documentaries on American History. It is important to see issues from many viewpoints so that children are educated to form their own conclusions.

Check out these great blog hops for more educational activity ideas.

1 comment:

  1. You are correct. From Lincoln's first inaugural address he makes it clear that his primary goal is preservation of the union. In the address (see here: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/1inaug.htm) he actually states that he doesn't think he has the authority to do anything about slavery. Like most politicians, he took advantage of the topic when it provided him more leverage to achieve his main objective: preservation of the Union.


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