Was Lincoln right?

TalkHistory Fans

Join LibraryThing to post.

Was Lincoln right?

1cpg
Dec 7, 2020, 11:44am


I'm reading Shelby Foote's Civil War History and William Lee Miller's President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman, and I was wondering what others thought of some of President Lincoln's statements. For starters:

Vote: "The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States."

Current tally: Yes 1, No 3

2cpg
Edited: Dec 7, 2020, 4:51pm

This statement was made in the controversy over the Mexican War (and, therefore, not made by President Lincoln), but it's stated in rather universal language:

Vote: "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and for a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, – a most sacred right – a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement."

Current tally: Yes 1, No 0

3Opteryx
Dec 7, 2020, 5:03pm

>2 cpg: Wow, I'd never seen that quote before. It certainly could have been read as favorable to Confederate secession when that happened later.

4rocketjk
Dec 8, 2020, 4:31pm

>2 cpg: I would love to know the actual context in which Lincoln made that statement, other than it being about the Mexican War. What were the circumstances of the controversy you refer to that called for such a statement? How long before Lincoln became president did he say that, and did he publicly change his opinion between making the statement and becoming president. What did he say on the matter during his presidential campaign, for example? The southern states didn't seem to be in any uncertainty about where Lincoln stood on the matter in 1860, that's for sure.

5Tess_W
Jul 30, 2021, 9:15am

Late to the discussion, but, when I first read it I immediately thought about the Articles of Confederation, the first U.S. "constitution", as it were. In fact, the sub-title of the Articles was "The Perpetual Union." Or Lincoln could have been referring to The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which specified how states could be formed; the biggest pre-requisite was the creation of a republican form of government. This was 1-2 years before the ratification of the U.S. constitution.

6rocketjk
Edited: Jul 30, 2021, 11:42am

Here's the text of the full speech, made when Lincoln was a U.S. Congressman. It is a repudiation of President Polk's defense of his reasons behind prosecuting the Mexican American War, or, more precisely, a defense of the House's vote "declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President."

In the speech, in a statement I particularly love, Lincoln calls Polk's defense of the war, "open attempt to prove by telling the truth, what he could not prove by telling the whole truth, demanding of all who will not submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak out"

Anyway, the full speech is here:
https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-war-with-mexico-speech-...