Originally Posted by Neezar
Soon after Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency in November 1860, seven southern states seceded from the Union. In March 1861, after he was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States, four more followed.
The secessionists claimed that according to the Constitution every state had the right to leave the Union. Lincoln claimed that they did not have that right. He opposed secession for these reasons:
1. Physically the states cannot separate.
2. Secession is unlawful.
3. A government that allows secession will disintegrate into anarchy.
4. That Americans are not enemies, but friends.
5. Secession would destroy the world's only existing democracy, and prove for all time, to future Americans and to the world, that a government of the people cannot survive.
6) Lincoln may have thought the fifth point was the most important. If you traveled the earth in 1860, and visited every continent and every nation, you would have found many examples of monarchies, dictatorships, and other examples of authoritarian rule. But in the all the world, you would have found only one major democracy: The United States of America. Democracy had been attempted in one other nation in the eighteenth century - France. Unfortunately, that experiment in self-government deteriorated rapidly, as the citizens resorted more to the guillotine than to the ballot box. From the ashes of that experiment in self-government, rose a dictator who, after seizing control in France, attempted to conquer the continent of Europe.
7) Those who supported monarchies felt vindicated by the French disaster, but the United States experiment in self-government remained a thorn in their side. Those wishing for democracy could always point across the ocean and say, "It works there. Why can't we try it here"? In 1860 however, it appeared that the thorn had been removed. The monarchists were thrilled with the dissolution of the United States, and many even held parties celebrating the end of democracy.
8) Lincoln understood this well, and when he described his nation as "the world's last best hope," these were not idle words. Lincoln truly believed that if the war were lost, it would not only have been the end of his political career, or that of his party, or even the end of his nation. He believed that if the war were lost, it would have forever ended the hope of people everywhere for a democratic form of government.
Listed below are some of the comments that Lincoln made against secession.
1) The Physical States do not need to separate physically to be their own individual soverignties. The rest of the entire world, except for Island States have no problem with Physical Land Boarders...Infact as I understood it, the Confederate States lay geographically next to one another...I could see an Issue if, for example, Iowa wanted to join the Confederacy that the issue of land boarders would be difficult...but the US Union manages with Alaska, and Hawaii so its not impossible.
2) Is it unlawful? Or is that a matter of interpretation? I thought that as a Democratic Union of States, that just as States were free to try and join the union, so they could be free to leave. If you force a State to remain in a Union, trust me, I know, the European Union is just like this, then you actually take away the soverignty and free will of the people of that State, the people in that State will hate you for it and feel like what you actually have is an occupation of a free state, which translates your Union into an Empire. As Yours is run by Federal Washington...so Ours in Run financially (and therefore, actually, in practise) Germany.
3) Anarchy...or Freedom? I think it IS true that if the Confederates had split from the Federal Union and flourished...it might have caused other States to try and create unions...but this is where you need to be careful. Do you respect the will of the people in doing that, if they so wish...or do you say NO! Anarchy on a Parliamentarian level is nothing more then the loss of power...now the Federal Union wasnt supposed to be a Government in its own right...just a collection of representatives of the individual State Governments...therefore its a big illusion, that exists only so long as the States stay United...which surely, given that, is a case for each individual state to decide...By using that argument, Lincoln is already saying BIG Government....thats NOT akin to George Washingtons mentality...and I dont really think its consitutional...though, I understand why it HAD to happen if one was going to fight a civil war, or otherwise during the war effort itself.
Friendly States do not wish to break Union in the first place...and sometimes, letting them go peacefully is the only way to remain "Friends"
5) At Worst, it simply applies the democratic Government to less coverage...at best the Confederacy may have actually been the SECOND democratic country.
6) Yes...The French have never been that successful its true to say. They jumped on the freedom bandwagon from the American Revolutionary War...and unfortunately crashed it.
7) Dissolution of The States?? But thats NOT what was happening...it was simply a few States wishing to leave the Union...this did NOT mean the end of the Federal Government! There was no reason why the Federal Government couldnt run the North in the same way it had since its inception. I dont understand why Lincoln took the view that it was total Governance, or none at all...and I dont understand really the relevence with the Monarchists...The Confederate System seemed to be based on the Federal System...didnt they even ellect their own President?? This didnt appear to be the establishment of a wayward Kingdom...but a second Union on the Continent.
Please tell me this wasnt just about power...because thats what it looks like to me. I do not understand why Lincoln could not comprimise with the existance of an independant South. All the reasons above give the impression that the whole Federal System would come crashing down...but we know thats not the case, and I dont believe any Statesman in the Office of President wouldnt know that. So I move to the nearest obvious conclusion...simply that Lincoln couldnt cope with loss of power and governance in the Southern States. Thats a trade mark of an opressor who feels they have some GOD Given Right to rule over a populas that has rejected them.
8) So Lincoln couldnt distinguish between The Union, and Democracy? Are you saying that for Lincoln one could not exist without the other?? Not even in a parallel Union physically located right next door??
Thanks for the insight...I'll go lookey at those quotes