To understand how American Government works today it's important to understand the past. Over the course of 150 years the federal government went from one of limited power to one that controls the states and regulates many aspects of our lives. Our freedoms have slowly been reduced especially during times of war when presidents present issues to the public to further their ulterior motives.
The Lincoln Administration was no exception. The Federal government gained an extraordinary amount of power through the front of the Civil War. In school we learned that Lincoln was a great president because he held the union together and stopped slavery. The book The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War presented a very different picture of the great president Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was a long time member of the Whig party and the Whig party wanted a strong central government. The party didn't have a strong stance on slavery. It did however, want to increase the power of influential businesses through special favors. Sound familiar? Lincoln set much of the framework for the way our government operates today. When Lincoln became president, he was a member of the Republican party. The Whig party had broken up, and although he was new a republican, he implemented the Whig party agenda. A central banking system was formed under the Lincoln administration and almost immediately, low interest rate loans were given to good friends.
Many big businesses were located in the north, and the south was the customer. Europeans produced goods which were competitive with the goods of the north. To force the southerners to purchase northern goods, the north wanted high import taxes placed on foreign goods. The south wanted the ability to choose which goods to purchase based on price and quality. The tax issue was one of the real reasons for the Civil War.
Another question I always had about Lincoln was "If he was so great, then why did people want to kill him?" That never made any sense to me. Well the book The Real Lincoln answered that question. In public speeches, Lincoln often contradicted himself by telling people what he thought they wanted to hear. He didn't really care about slavery. He cared about strong central government.
Once the war was far underway and the Union appeared to be loosing, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, the document was responsible for freeing few if any slaves. It was written in a way that it didn't make much difference. In locations where the Union had control, they were not permitted to free slaves. The only slaves that could have been freed were those in locations where the Confederacy had control.
In addition, the public was outraged when Lincoln tried to turn the Civil War into a war over slavery. The southerners wanted slavery because it was a cheap source of labor. The north didn't have need for slavery, but also didn't sympathize with slaves or blacks. They saw blacks as workforce competitors. Racism was rampant. Once Lincoln attempted to change the purpose for the war soldiers deserted and riots began. Europeans hated the proclamation as well, and only saw it as an item which would create slave revolts.
Although approximately 2% of the population known as abolitionists wanted to end slavery, the rest of the country was fighting in the Civil War for economic reasons. If the South left the Union, the north would not be able to charge such high prices for imported goods. Lincoln was a Northerner.
Reading this book offered a new perspective on history which makes sense. If you have questions on the history taught in the schools, I encourage you to read this book and then form your own opinion.
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