Plan on Seeing the Movie ‘Lincoln’? Keep This in Mind…

by Chris Rossini Economic Policy Journal

Recently by Chris Rossini: Yaron Brook: When Rothbard Died, Libertarianism Should Have Died With Him

1832 – Lincoln begins his political career in the Illinois legislature

“I presume you all know who I am. I am humble Abraham Lincoln. I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the legislature. My 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 hits the ground running with central banking, corporate welfare, and high taxation. We are still living with all of them…only the players have changed.

1838 – Lincoln’s corporate welfare brings Illinois to its knees

William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner and one of his closest friends, wrote:

“Every river and stream…was to be widened, deepened, and made navigable. A canal to connect the Illinois River and Lake Michigan was to be dug…cities were to spring up everywhere; capital from abroad was to come pouring in; attracted by the glowing reports of marvelous progress and great internal wealth, people were to come swarming in by colonies, until in the end Illinois was to outstrip all others, and herself become the Empire State of the Union.”…

“The internal improvement system, the adoption of which Lincoln had played such a prominent part, had collapsed, with the result that Illinois was left with an enormous debt and empty treasury.” Not much has changed. Today, Illinois is a financial train wreck waiting to happen.

But back to Lincoln. You’d think that after such a disaster, one would lose all credibility and trustworthiness.

Nope! When it comes to government, nothing succeeds like failure.

1858 – The Great Emancipator on the black & white races

Lincoln’s words from the famous Lincoln vs. Douglas debate on Sept. 18, 1858:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause] — that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, not to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” 1861 – Abraham Lincoln – The First Republican President

The dreadful political party that we’re still battling today began with Lincoln.

Please don’t fool yourself into thinking that somehow The Republican Party, that was born in tyranny, will end up getting taken over by Libertarians; and the country will return to the freedom-loving days of the founding fathers.


It surely can’t happen that way.

The Republican Party, since day one, and all the way up to today, is no friend of liberty. The saying “by their fruits, ye shall know them” speaks volumes here. It reminds you to look at the root.

The root of The Republican Party tree lies here in 1861. Don’t ever expect it to grow the fruits of liberty.

Before moving on, let’s not skip past Lincoln’s first inaugural address. He touched on the question of slavery and quoted one of his earlier published speeches:

“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.” 1861 – Lincoln refuses a peaceful Southern Secession

Many Americans (educated by their government, of course) believe that “The Civil War” was fought to free the slaves. This is just not true. This was a war over Southern secession.

The war is misnamed. It was not a Civil War. The South had no interest in taking over the Northern government.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis wanted to make clear to the North that the Confederates did not constitute a threat to the government in Washington:

“We seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind…all we ask is to be let alone.” President Davis appointed three commissioners to negotiate with the North. The commissioners reached Washington on Mar. 5, 1861, the day after Lincoln’s inauguration.

Lincoln’s response? He outright refused to see the commissioners, and also refused to recognize the Confederate government.

Whether the South wanted conquest or not made no difference. It was the economic policies of the South that enraged the North.

You see, the Confederate Constitution created, in essence, a free trade zone with opposition to protectionism. It stated:

“but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.” Davis, in his Inaugural Address stated that he was “anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations,” and that “our policy is peace, and the freest trade our necessities will permit.” 

This was in stark contrast to the North’s high-taxes and protectionism. And remember what Lincoln said when he entered politics: “I am in favor of a national bank…in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff.”

Free Trade? Ha!

The North was in no way going to allow the South become an attractive market for the rest of the world, while at the same time, pricing out the North.

On Apr. 2, 1861 The Newark Daily Advertiser, warned ominously that Southerners had apparently “taken to their bosoms the liberal and popular doctrine of free trade” and that they “might be willing to go…toward free trade with the European powers” which “must operate to the serious disadvantage of the North” as “commerce will be largely diverted to the Southern cities.”

This is America…the “land of the free”…and if there’s one thing that will not be tolerated, it’s free trade.

When Lincoln was in Congress, he had no problem with secession. In a speech on Jan. 12, 1848, he said:

“Any 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.” But as President, Lincoln’s words went out the door as fast as George W. Bush’s “humble” foreign policy.

As President, Lincoln called secession the “essence of anarchy.”

In other words, if the South wanted free trade, then it was time for Lincoln to invade.

Now the fun begins….


  • Apr. 19, Lincoln imposed a blockade on Southern ports of South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Did Congress declare war? No. Constitution violated. 
  • Apr. 20, Lincoln ordered the Sec. of Treasury to spend public money for defense without congressional appropriation, violating the Constitution. 
  • Apr. 27, Lincoln made the unprecedented move of suspending, through an unconstitutional order, the writ of habeas corpus, or the protection against unlawful imprisonment.
  • Lincoln signed a warrant for the arrest of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because the Judge rendered an opinion that Lincoln acted unconstitutionally by suspending the writ of habeas corpus.
  • Lincoln had U.S. Rep. Clement Vallandigham of Ohio arrested for “disloyal sentiments and speeches.” Vallandigham opposed the Morrill Tariff and the central bank. 
  • An estimated 13,000 Northern citizens were detained for merely expressing opposition to the war. This group contained hundreds of newspaper editors and owners. None of these people ever heard evidence against them and were never brought to trial.
  • During the war, adult male civilians in the South were compelled to take a loyalty oath to the federal government or be shot. In the words of Justice Benjamin R. Curtis, Lincoln had established “a military despotism.”

1862 – What’s war without paper money to pay for it?

In the Legal Tender Act of Feb. 1862, Congress authorized the printing of $150 million in new “United States notes” (Greenbacks) to pay for the growing war deficits. “In God We Trust” was also introduced on the U.S. dollar in 1862 when it’s gold backing was dropped.

2012?…No change…Worldwide military empire…constant war….all financed with electronic digits and enforced with legal tender laws.

Here’s a heads up though…Eventually (like Lincoln’s Greenbacks) the money becomes worthless.

1862 – The Great Emancipator on freeing slaves

Lincoln wrote to Horace Greeley:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves 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; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.” Lincoln’s America

In the interest of brevity, I’ll end with a quote from H.L. Mencken. He talks about Lincoln’s absurd claim, in The Gettysburg Address, that Northern soldiers fought for the cause of self-determination:

“It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. The Confederates went into the battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision of the rest of the country.” The “Union” was saved…geographically. The spirit of self-determination and decentralization was crushed.

Sadly, for generations to come (including us) the power of centralized government in America had only just begun.

If the above has piqued your interest, and you want more, I highly recommend the following from Thomas J. DiLorenzo: The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked.

Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.

2012 Economic Policy Journal