Abraham Lincoln In His Own Words

Email Print

his four years as President, Abraham Lincoln addressed several issues.
Among them were free trade, tariffs, and of course, secession, the
nature of the Union, and slavery.

as with the latter-day followers of Karl Marx, Lincoln apologists
ignore what he actually said and offer us what they presume he “really”
meant to say, but didn’t. Accordingly, due to the great mythology
surrounding Lincoln’s words and deeds, it would be appropriate to
quote him directly, to allow him to explain his motivations and
thoughts for himself.

quotes from others are also included to provide context.


politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in
favor of a national bank … in favor of the internal improvements
system and a high protective tariff.” ~ Lincoln, Campaign Speech,

trade is a system whereby] some have labored, and others have, without
labor, enjoyed a large portion of the fruits…. To secure to each
laborer the whole product of his labor, or as nearly as possible,
is a most worthy object of any good government.”

trade] is demonstrably a dead loss of labor… labor being the true
standard of value.” ~ Lincoln, Feb. 15, 1861

legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people
whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot
do so well, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.”

would continue (trade) where it is necessary, and discontinue it,
where it is not. As instance: I would continue commerce so far as
it is employed in bringing us coffee, and I would discontinue it
so far as it is employed in bringing us cotton goods.” This starkly
illustrates Lincoln’s dictatorial mentality. He will place his subjective
impressions over the decisions of individual consumers. Lincoln
proposed that he, rather than consumers, would determine which goods
and services would exist. This is Lincoln as amateur Soviet-style
central planner.

is a myth that Lincoln’s administration helped the development of
capitalism, but his own comments reveal his anti-free trade and
mercantilist statism.


cannot] tell the reason… [but high tariffs will] make everything
the farmers [buy] cheaper.”

was an old Henry-Clay-Tariff Whig. In old times I made more speeches
on that subject than any other. I have not since changed my views.”
~ Lincoln, in a letter to Edward Wallace, Oct. 11 1859

I do that, what would become of my revenue? I might as well shut
up housekeeping at once!” ~ Lincoln, in response to the suggestion
by the Virginian Commissioners to abandon the custom house of Fort
Sumter. Housekeeping is a euphemism for federal spending, in otherwords,
taxing consumers to subsidize special interests, or what we would
call today, corporate welfare.

what am I to do in the meantime with those men at Montgomery [meaning
the Confederate constitutional convention]? Am I to let them go
on… [a]nd open Charleston, etc., as ports of entry, with their
ten-percent tariff. What, then, would become of my tariff?” ~ Lincoln
to Colonel John B. Baldwin, deputized by the Virginian Commissioners
to determine whether Lincoln would use force, April 4, 1861

all else, Lincoln was a tax and spender, and loved the Union because
it would allow him to tax the South to spend on “internal improvements”
in the North.

the Constitution:

the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem
it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever
he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose –
and you allow him to make war at pleasure…. If, today, he should
choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent
the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say
to him, ‘I see no probability of the British invading us’ but he
will say to you ‘be silent; I see it, if you don’t.’ The provision
of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress, was
dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons. Kings had
always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending
generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.
This, our Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all
Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution
that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression
upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our
President where kings have always stood.” ~ Representative
Abraham Lincoln, in a letter to his long-time law partner William
H. Herndon, denouncing the trickery of President Polk in provoking
the Mexican War of 1848. The claims of the current president in
regards to the alleged threat posed by Iraq are a fulfilment of
Lincoln’s warning about presidential despotism, which he later had
the leading hand in bringing about.

power confided in me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess
the property, and places belonging to the government, and to collect
the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these
objects, there will be no invasion – no using of force against,
or among the people anywhere…. You can have no conflict, without
being yourselves the aggressors.” ~ Lincoln’s ultimatum to
the South: basically it states, pay tribute to the North or failure
to do so will be interpreted as a declaration of war, by the South,
against the North.

union is made up of willing states.” ~ Wendell Philips, Abolitionist,
in a speech in New York, 1860.

the people retain their virtue, and vigilance, no administration,
by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure
the government, in the short space of four years.” ~ Lincoln’s first
Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861.

will take possession by military force, of the printing establishments
of the New York World and Journal of Commerce… and prohibit any
further publication thereof… you are therefore commanded forthwith
to arrest and imprison in any fort or military prison in your command,
the editors, proprietors and publishers of the aforesaid newspapers…
and you will hold the persons so arrested in close custody until
they can be brought to trial before a military commission.” ~ Order
from Lincoln to General John A. Dix, May 18, 1864, two examples
among many of newspapers shut down on Lincoln’s fiat, and the establishment
of his military dictatorship over the First Amendment.

reiterate that the majority should rule.” ~ Lincoln, Feb. 14, 1861.
Said the 40%, sectional president.

I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in
any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee,
Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a
number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of the votes
cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year A.D.
1860, each having taken oath [of loyalty to Lincoln and the Union]
aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified
voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before
the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall
reestablish a State government which shall be republican and in
nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true
government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder
the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that
“the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union
a republican form of government and shall protect each of them against
invasion, and, on application of the legislature, or the EXECUTIVE
(when the legislature can not be convened), against domestic violence.”
~ Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, December
8 1863, demonstrating Lincoln’s unique definition of democracy,
which, generally believed, is rule by 51% or better. A republican-form
of government is generally believed to mean self-government, rather
than the imperial model of rule by conquerors and their native collaborators.
The emphasis on the State executive -the military governors –
is particularly notable, as the 10% Union Loyalists provided the
basis of Lincoln’s military dictatorship in the conquered States.

are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent
of the governed.” ~ Declaration of Independence, 1776.

thought and deed, Lincoln shows that his rhetoric at Gettysburg
was one hypocrisy after another from the mouth of the chief destroyer
of self-government and constitutional government throughout the


[the South] commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind.
They invented an ingenious sophism which, if conceded, was followed
by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete
destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is that any State of
the Union may consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore
lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union without the consent
of the Union or of any other State.” ~ Lincoln, in his Special Message
to Congress July 4 1861.

people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the
right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form
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 movements.” ~ Lincoln January 12 1848, expressing the near-universally
held Jeffersonian principle, before Lincoln unilaterally destroyed
it, that no state could claim its inhabitants as its property.

am] determined . . . to sever ourselves from the union we so much
value rather than give up the rights of self-government . . . in
which alone we see liberty, safety and happiness.” ~ Thomas Jefferson,
author of the Declaration of Independence and a man whom Lincoln
himself considered “the most distinguished politician in our history.”

a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, & as necessary
in the political world as storms in the physical … a medicine
necessary for the sound health of government.” ~ Thomas Jefferson,
in a letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union… let
them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error
of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat
it.” ~ Thomas Jefferson, first Inaugural Address, 1801.

any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…
to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let
us separate.'” ~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to W. Crawford, June
20, 1816

coerce the States is one of the maddest projects that was ever devised….
Can any reasonable man be well disposed toward a government which
makes war and carnage the only means of supporting itself –
a government that can only exist by the sword? ~ Alexander Hamilton,
during the Constitutional Convention.

Union, in any event, won’t be dissolved. We don’t want to dissolve
it, and if you attempt it, we won’t let you. With the purse and
sword, the army and navy and treasury in our hands and at our command,
you couldn’t do it…. We do not want to dissolve the Union; you
shall not.” ~ Lincoln, in a campaign speech in Galena, Illinois,
Aug. 1 1856.

the right of a state to secede from the Union [has been] settled
forever by the highest tribunal – arms – that man can
resort to.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant’s theory of constitutional law. Organized
murder replaces reason.

policy of violent opposition to secession is a policy of forced
association. As with all forms of forced association, the stronger
party will tend to exploit the weaker. Such is the case with the
master-slave relationship. Such is the case when a state is forced
to remain in the Union against its will. Both forms of forced association
are immoral.” ~ James Ostrowski ‘Was the Union Army’s Invasion of
the Confederate States a Lawful Act? An Analysis of President Lincoln’s
Legal Arguments Against Secession’ in Secession,
State, and Liberty

though unionists have placed great stock in the Preamble, their
recitations rarely extend past the first 15 words… the presence
in the Preamble of the phrase, “We, the People of the United States”
was an accident! It originally read: ‘That the people of the States
of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia do ordain, declare and establish
the following constitution for the government of ourselves and our
posterity.’ It was amended, not for the purpose of submitting the
constitution to the people in the aggregate, but because the convention
could not tell, in advance, which States would ratify it.” James
Ostrowski ‘Was the Union Army’s Invasion of the Confederate States
a Lawful Act? An Analysis of President Lincoln’s Legal Arguments
Against Secession’ in Secession, State, and Liberty.

view of the Union as irrevocable and inescapable is both ahistorical
and immoral. His notion that the Union created the States is as
absurd as someone claiming a child fathered its own parents. The
federal government is not a partner in a marriage, but rather the
offspring of a marriage between the sovereign States.


when they [slaveowners] remind us of their constitutional rights,
I acknowledge them, not grudgingly but fully and fairly; and I would
give them any legislation for the claiming of their fugitives.”
~ Lincoln, speaking in support of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you…
I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that ‘I
have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution
of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful
right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.’ ”

have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.” ~ Lincoln, speaking in regards to slavery and in support of a proposed
Thirteenth Amendment to explicitly guarantee slavery.

labor disappeared because it could not stand the competition of
free labor; its profitability sealed [slavery’s] doom in the market
economy.” ~ Ludwig von Mises, explaining why an institution that
had been a universal feature of all societies throughout recorded
history could finally be abolished by laissez-faire economic liberties,
which unfortunately, could not prevent politicians from stealing
the credit for it.

his own words demonstrate, Lincoln was willing to accomodate slavery.
As was shown in the taxation section above, it was only the tariff
that he would never compromise on.


whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of these
territories. We want them for the homes of free white people.” ~ Lincoln, on whether blacks – slave or free – should be
allowed in the new territories in the west, October 16, 1854.

as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong
having the superior position. I have never said anything to the
contrary.” ~ Lincoln, Aug. 21, 1858, in remarks stating his
belief that blacks were naturally inferior to whites, which was
a nearly universal belief on the part of whites in both the North
and South long before and long after the Civil War.

hog, or die” ~ Lincoln’s suggestion to illiterate and propertyless
ex-slaves unprepared for freedom, Feb. 3, 1865.

had better be set to digging their subsistence out of the ground.”
~ Lincoln in a War Department memo, April 16, 1863

them to Liberia, to their own native land.” ~ Lincoln, speaking
in favor of ethnic cleansing all blacks from the United States.

cannot make it better known than it already is, that I favor colonization.”
~ Lincoln, in a message to Congress, December 1, 1862, supporting
deportation of all blacks from America.

Lincoln may colonize himself if he choose, but it is an impertinent
act, on his part, to propose the getting rid of those who are as
good as himself.” ~ America’s preeminent immediate Abolitionist
and advocate of free trade, William Lloyd Garrison.

had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.” ~ William Lloyd

comments shown here illustrate that abolition was not what motivated
Lincoln. The coldness in Lincoln’s remarks, the lack of thought
and preparation about the process of emancipation, and how the freedman
would cope without the necessary skills is readily apparent.

the Emancipation Proclamation:

good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, especially
as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document that the
whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope’s
bull against the comet! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot
even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States?… Now, then,
tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow
the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire? Understand, I
raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds;
for, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war
I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue
the enemy; nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of
possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South.
I view this matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on
according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the
suppression of the rebellion…. I will also concede that emancipation
would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by
something more than ambition…. Still, some additional strength
would be added in that way to the war, and then, unquestionably,
it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their laborers, which
is of great importance; but I am not so sure we could do much with
the blacks…. I think you should admit that we already have an
important principle to rally and unite the people, in the fact that
constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea.”
~ Lincoln’s reply to a Committee from Religious Denominations of
Chicago asking for a Proclamation of Emancipation, on Sept. 13,
1862. Less than four months later he would decree what he would
term a “war measure,” the Emancipation Proclamation, on Jan 1, 1863.

had got to be midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse,
until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan
of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our
last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game. I now
determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy; and without
consultation with, or the knowledge of, the Cabinet, I prepared
the original draft of the proclamation, and, after much anxious
thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the
last of July or the first part of the month of August, 1862. [The
exact date was July 22, 1862.]” ~ Lincoln, to the artist F.B. Carpenter,
Feb. 6 1864. Almost two months before his meeting with the Chicago
Committee. Ol’ Honest Abe, indeed.

original proclamation has no… legal justification, except as a
military measure.” ~ Lincoln, in a letter to Treasury Secretary
Salmon P. Chase.

the War:

paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not
either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without
freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing
some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about
slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to
save the Union.” ~ Letter to Horace Greeley, Editor of the New
York Tribune, August 22 1862. This more than anything else demonstrates
that Lincoln’s centralist superstitions derived from Daniel Webster
and Joseph Story about “the Union,” rather than the immorality of
slavery, were his motivations in plotting war. This letter also
contradicts Lincoln’s sentiment expressed in his first inaugural
address, that he had neither the “lawful right,” or the “inclination”
to abolish slavery.

the lord would only give the United States [i.e., the North] an
excuse for a war with England, France, or Spain, that would be the
best means of reestablishing internal peace [by uniting Northern
opinion].” ~ Secretary of State William H. Seward, April 1, 1861

Sumter expedition failed of its ostensible object, but it brought
about the Southern attack on that fort. The first gun fired there
effectively cleared the air… and placed Lincoln at the head of
the united people.” ~ Secretary of State Seward’s opinion about
Ft. Sumter.

and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced
by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should
fail, and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation
is justified by the result.” ~ Lincoln to Gustavus Fox, in a letter
dated May 1 1865. The phrase ‘even if it should fail’ is a tip off
to Lincoln’s real motivations.

Lincoln in deciding the Sumter question had adopted a simple but
effective policy. To use his own words, he determined to “send bread
to Anderson”; if the rebels fired on that, they would not be able
to convince the world that he had begun the civil war.” ~ The account
of John G. Nicolay and John Hay, Lincoln’s trusted confidential

told me that the very first thing placed in his hands after his
inauguration was a letter from Major Anderson announcing the impossibility
of defending or relieving Sumter…. He himself conceived the idea,
and proposed sending supplies, without an attempt to reinforce giving
notice of the fact to Governor Pickens of S.C. The plan succeeded.
They attacked Sumter – it fell, and thus, did more service
than it otherwise could.” ~ Senator Orville H. Browning, Lincoln’s
close friend for twenty years, and staunch supporter of Lincoln’s
dictatorship, in his daily diary that Lincoln didn’t know he kept,
July 3, 1861.

the plan Lincoln refered to was to resupply Ft. Sumter, then that
plan failed, since the ships never approached the fort. But if the
plan was to get the South to fire first, then that plan succeeded.
Lincoln’s own words reveal his deceit, contrary to his claim the
next day in his message to Congress to have proceeded “without guile
and with pure purpose” in pursuit of a peaceful solution to the

Editorials Against Him:

mask has been thrown off, and it is apparent that the people of
the principle seceding States are now for commercial independence.”
~  Boston Transcript newspaper, March 18 1861.

Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing
in the character of an aggressor.” ~ Providence Daily Post,
April 13 1861

are to have civil war, if at all, because Abraham Lincoln loves
a [the Republican] party better than he loves his country…. [He]
clings to his party creed, and allows the nation to drift into the
whirlpool of destruction.” ~ The Providence Daily Post, April
13 1861

this result follows – and follow civil war it must – the
memory of ABRAHAM LINCOLN and his infatuated advisors will only
be preserved with that of other destroyers to the scorned and execrated….
And if the historian who preserves the record of his fatal administration
needs any motto descriptive of the president who destroyed the institutions
which he swore to protect, it will probably be some such as this:
Here is the record of one who feared more to have it said that he
deserted his party than that he ruined the country, who had a greater
solicitude for his consistency as a partisan than for his wisdom
as a Statesman or his courage and virtue as a patriot, and who destroyed
by his weakness the fairest experiment of man in self-government
that the world ever witnessed.” ~ The American Standard,
New Jersey, April 12, 1861, the very day the South moved to reclaim
Fort Sumter.

affair at Fort Sumter, it seems to us, has been planned as a means
by which the war feeling at the North should be intensified, and
the administration thus receive popular support for its policy….
If the armament which lay outside the harbor, while the fort was
being battered to pieces [the US ship The Harriet Lane, and seven
other reinforcement ships], had been designed for the relief of
Major Anderson, it certainly would have made a show of fulfilling
its mission. But it seems plain to us that no such design was had.
The administration, virtually, to use a homely illustration, stood
at Sumter like a boy with a chip on his shoulder, daring his antagonist
to knock it off. The Carolinians have knocked off the chip. War
is inaugurated, and the design of the administration accomplished.”
~ The Buffalo Daily Courier, April 16, 1861.

have no doubt, and all the circumstances prove, that it was a cunningly
devised scheme, contrived with all due attention to scenic display
and intended to arouse, and, if possible, exasperate the northern
people against the South…. We venture to say a more gigantic conspiracy
against the principles of human liberty and freedom has never been
concocted. Who but a fiend could have thought of sacrificing the
gallant Major Anderson and his little band in order to carry out
a political game? Yet there he was compelled to stand for thirty-six
hours amid a torrent of fire and shell, while the fleet sent to
assist him, coolly looked at his flag of distress and moved not
to his assistance! Why did they not? Perhaps the archives in Washington
will yet tell the tale of this strange proceeding…. Pause then,
and consider before you endorse these mad men who are now, under
pretense of preserving the Union, doing the very thing that must
forever divide it. ~ The New York Evening Day-Book,
April 17, 1861.

Editorials Against Him:

broke down, not when the Union ceased to be agreeable to all its
constituent States, but when it was upheld, like any other Empire,
by force of arms.” ~ The London Times.

what pretence of fairness, it is said, can you Americans object
to the secession of the Southern States when your nation was founded
on secession from the British Empire?” ~ Cornhill Magazine
(London) 1861.

struggle of today is on the one side for empire and on the other
for independence.” ~ Wigan Examiner (UK) May, 1861.

Southerners are admired for everything but their slavery and that
their independence may be speedily acknowledged by France and England
is, we are convinced, the strong desire of the vast majority, not
only in England but throughout Europe.” ~ Liverpool Daily Post,
11 March 1862.


the attorney and legal scholar, James Ostrowski commented, for Lincoln’s
actions and his creative interpretation of the Constitution to have
actually been legal, the Constitution would have had to state that:
1) No state may ever secede from the Union for any reason. 2) If
any State attempts to secede, the Federal Government shall invade
such State with sufficient military force to suppress the attempted
secession. 3) The federal government may coerce all states to provide
militias to suppress the seceding state. 4) After suppressing said
secession, the Federal Government shall rule said State by martial
law until such time as said State shall accept permanent federal
supremacy. 5) After suppressing said secession, the Federal Government
shall force said State to ratify a new constitutional amendment
which gives the Federal Government the right to police the states
whenever it believes those states are violating the rights of their
citizens. 6) The President may, of his own authority, suspend the
operation of the Bill of Rights and the writ of habeas corpus, in
a seceding or loyal state, if in his sole judgement, such is necessary
to preserve the Union.

course, if the Constitution actually said this, it would never have
been approved by the legislatures of the sovereign States.

Lincoln himself stated, as well as commentators at the time, taxation
and secession were the issues, not slavery. And as many in the North
realized, it was Abraham Lincoln who schemed to launch the most
devastating war in American history.

12, 2002

Young [send him mail]
from Ontario, Canada. Sources and Further Reading: The
Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an
Unnecessary War
, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Reassessing
The Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline
of Freedom
, ed. by John V. Denson, For
Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
by Charles Adams, The
Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories
, ed. by John V. Denson,
in the Course of Human Events: Arguing the Case for Southern Secession
by Charles Adams, and The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Complete.
1905 Edition.

Email Print