14 Apr 2015

150 Years After His Assassination, Lincoln Still Has Much To Teach Us

150 years ago today, April 14, Abraham Lincoln was shot. He died early the next morning.

Here are two valuable lessons about how to think about Lincoln today.
On the night of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth fired. The bullet, striking the head of President Abraham Lincoln, would become perhaps the most consequential quantum of lead in American history. Now, 150 years later, it seems fitting to reflect upon the place of Abraham Lincoln in our modern world – especially as politicians and would-be presidents selectively claim Lincoln’s legacy, often out of context.
Claiming a legacy, however, means understanding the whole man – understanding him as he understood himself.

In Lincoln, we see prudence demonstrated at its highest levels, for the sake of Union and protecting the rights of “We the people.” Constrained by volatile circumstances, Lincoln exercised practical wisdom to pursue a higher good. …
As president, Lincoln’s respect for the Constitution prevented him from abolishing slavery directly, despite personal desires. His Emancipation Proclamation was the culmination of legal and military efforts to abolish slavery in rebellious states. This prudent use of war powers was not exercised in the North due to legal constraints and fear of angering the Border States.
Lincoln’s efforts to end slavery and preserve the Union centered on respect for the rule of law and a mind to practical necessity. Still, some argue Lincoln undermined state sovereignty and portray him as a centralizer.
While opposed to secession, Lincoln strongly advocated for the power of states. “[T]he right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively,” said Lincoln, “is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend.” His refusal to end slavery outright – an institution he “always hated,” in his own words – evinces his dedication to constitutional limits on federal power.
Our Union, however, would not be so exceptional but for one principle: human equality. In America, Lincoln saw the promise of equal rights. …
Free societies promote equal rights for all and special privileges for none. Free people, Lincoln argued, must no longer suppose “themselves to be naturally incapable of rising to equality.”
“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,” Lincoln insisted. “This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
That some would seek to rebel in the name of a proposition entirely contrary to that principle, making inequality the cornerstone of their rebellion, was perhaps the greatest evil that could befall our country and its aim.
In his own words, we see Lincoln as he was: a man of principle, prudence, law and restraint at a time more chaotic than most of us will ever know. 
On this the 150th anniversary of the day John Wilkes Booth fired his fatal bullet at Ford’s Theater, we have a consensus: Today’s Republicans have no right to claim Abraham Lincoln as one of their own.
The story line runs like this: Honest Abe was first and foremost a believer in government’s power to do good and used it, among other ways, to liberate the slaves. In this reading, the modern Republican is Lincoln’s polar opposite, with its distrust of Washington and its evolution into the Southern white establishment Lincoln fought and defeated in the Civil War. …
Indeed, these days about the only folks willing to stand up and make the case that the modern Republican Party is very much Lincoln’s child are those on the right who regard Lincoln as a warmonger and hold with the left that the Great Emancipator was the father of Big Government.
What these views have in common, of course, is that each rips Lincoln from his own context. In his day, Illinois was America’s western frontier, and a candidate who argued as Lincoln did for the feds to make “internal improvements” (roads, canals, trains) wasn’t thumping for an Obama-like stimulus. He was pushing for the basic infrastructure—primarily, communications and transportation—that would connect the rapidly expanding nation and facilitate industry and growth.
It was all of a piece with Lincoln’s belief that the promise of the Declaration of Independence pointed to an aspirational society. In a book on Lincoln’s economics, author Gabor Boritt calls this “Lincoln’s War for the American Dream.” Behind Lincoln’s every act, he says, was his vision of a society where all men had “the right to rise.” …
Slaves deserved no less. Blacks may not be his social equals, he conceded to Stephen Douglas in debate, but in their right to eat the bread they had earned with their own hands, they were his and Douglas’s equals. Whatever else this is, it’s a far cry from the Campaign Obama’s “Life of Julia,” with its ideal of cradle-to-grave federal mothering.
Fellow Lincoln scholar Allen Guelzo likewise emphasizes Lincoln’s emphasis on upward mobility. His roots, after all, were in the pro-business Whig Party, and he favored government involvement only to the extent it did what the people needed to have done but could not do themselves. …

On a Lincoln anniversary that will no doubt bring even more lectures about how the GOP has abandoned its first president, we do well to remember that Old Abe was a man who enforced his red lines (e.g., no expansion of slavery). Before that, he was a corporate lawyer who rose from poverty through hard work and ambition—and wanted an America where everyone had the chance to do the same.


  1. ...this article is pure propagandist bullshit....Lincoln had no Constitutional Right to stop the secession of the southern states...he made numerous speeches prior to his election that he had not the desire or intention of ending slavery...he deserved to be impeached for treason ..convicted and hanged...just as FDR should have been for allowing Pearl Harbor to take place...there were plenty of other ways to end slavery...Lincoln only used that as an excuse for his criminal behavior...we should implode that statue of Lincoln in DC...with GHW Bush, GW Bush, Bill & Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama...convicted for treason and strapped to the fascist statue before it is blown up...let us get back to what The Constitution really calls for...not these traitorous pigs we've witnessed for fifty years...or even 150 years....
    RJ O'Guillory

  2. Yes he can teach us how not to introduce a usury free Dollar, without first getting the Secret Service strong enough to protect himself from the banksters, and save the world from debt! Even JFK didn't learn anything doing the same!

  3. Correct Thanx RJ for saving me the time to say the same. Paul Craig Roberts made same facts clear in his latest article at zerohedge.com This truly is BS story www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-13/paul-craig-roberts-america-will-be-hard-pressed-survive-lies-it-lives

  4. bankrupted taxpayer14 April 2015 at 18:44

    the documentary titled...... the money masters.
    addresses john wilkes booth