Lincoln And The Judgment Of God. One of the most divisive periods in the history of the Republic were the four years from 1861-65, when a war between the north and south took the lives of close to 700,000 young men of the fledgling nation.
As Daniel Hannan puts it in his book The New Road To Serfdom: “Make the argument that the American Constitution is a uniquely benign document that has served to keep an entire nation prosperous and free, and you will sooner or later be told that it was a slave-owner’s charter and valued some human beings at three fifths of the worth of others. There is, of course, some truth in this accusation, which was leveled at the time both by abolitionists in the United States and by British and American Tories who opposed the project of independence. “How is it that we hear the greatest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” demanded the most eloquent British Tory of his generation, Dr. Johnson, in 1775.”
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s second inaugural address (of March 4th, 1865) Robert Morrison, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council, walks us through the content of Lincoln’s remarks, and the impact that more than a few of them have on our existence even today. It is too easy sometimes, to pigeon-hole events of history to convenient “truth-or-consequences-boxes” to be hauled out during debate over one particular topic or another, and such is the case right here. Dwell on that number of deaths, 700,000 for instance, and decide in your own mind whether or not the 60,000,000 deaths resulting from our “new civil war” which began in February of 1973 deserves the same pending indictment of Lincoln And The Judgment Of God.
Reading the comments thread following this article is like re-running an episode of the old “Twilight Zone.” How easy it is for us humans to pigeon hole certain realities into one exclusive truth box for justification, while the larger impact of the same death-culture remains way out in the open, still searching for its entry into its own exclusive category. Just as Lincoln invokes the Judgment of the Lord in his remarks, let We The People not be so disengenuous that we believe God isn’t already holding this present generation of Americans under the same level of Judgment for the 60 million innocents who’ve been ruthlessly slaughtered under “Roe v Wade” since 1973. Lincoln And The Judgment Of God.
Some might say he was clinging to his guns and religion. On March 4, 1865, Abraham Lincoln began his Second Inaugural Address with a reference to the military situation. Gen. Grant’s powerful army then held the rebel Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia in a death grip, besieging it at Petersburg, with the Confederate capital of Richmond sure to fall to Union forces.
Lincoln expressed his satisfaction with “[t]he progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends…” He moved on to a brief recitation of the causes of the Civil War. He offered no condemnation of his foes as he related in a factual manner the reason for this most terrible of all of America’s wars.
By the time Lincoln spoke, most of the 630,000 lives that would be lost in this struggle had already perished. It was to protect and extend the institution of Negro slavery that white men came to sword points. “And the war came.”
He “would not play the Pharisee,” he often said. Almost alone among Northern leaders, Lincoln did not cloak himself or the Union cause in all righteousness. He knew what the Founders knew. Slavery was largely confined to the Southern States. He had told his dearest friend Joshua Speed how he “crucified his feelings” on seeing shackled slaves conveyed South “like trout on a line.” Now, it was almost as if he were speaking to his slaveholding friend as he acknowledged the sin of the whole nation in the offense of slavery.
Lincoln knew Massachusetts was the home of Abolitionism. But its great ports had also carried on what president Jefferson had called that “execrable traffic.” Great Yankee merchant families had made fortunes. And some of those fortunes were built on bones.
Lincoln would not now disavow his anti-Slavery convictions. He evinced a decent respect for the opinion of mankind against “wringing one’s bread from the sweat of other man’s faces.” Still, he urged his countrymen to “judge not lest ye be judged.”
He knew how ships might leave West Africa with six hundred souls crammed naked and chained into stinking cargo holds and arrive in the Americas with only two hundred yet living. The worst of Southern plantations, Lincoln knew, could not approach horror of the Atlantic Slave Trade in the bondsman’s “two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil.”
While Confederate President Jefferson Davis railed against the barbarism of his Yankee foes, Lincoln condemned no one. He never accused. He never sought to pluck the speck from his neighbor’s eye. Instead, he had mused in private and sometimes among small groups how the Almighty might have given victory to either side on a single day during the four-year Golgotha of “this fiery trial.”
What if Pickett’s Charge had succeeded at Gettysburg? What if Vicksburg had held? What if Gen. Sherman had been defeated before Atlanta?
When Jefferson Davis tried to rally his ragged rebels against Sherman’s all-conquering host, he boasted that the grizzled red-haired devil would meet the same fate in Georgia that Napoleon met in Russia. In one of his few recorded jokes, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had replied: “And who will supply the snow?”
If we look for a sublime example of American Exceptionalism, we will find it here. What other nation could conclude a four-year bloody Civil War with such an address? Lincoln called for “malice toward none, charity for all.”
“The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” Lincoln said of the wholly unexpected bloody, protracted, and revolutionary struggle. Not only had the Union been preserved, but the cause of Disunion — human bondage — had perished in the fires.
Abolitionist editor and orator Frederick Douglass that day entered the White House, the first time a black man was an honored guest an Inaugural reception. The president asked him his opinion of the address. “Mr. Lincoln, it was a sacred effort.”
Lincoln called America “the last best hope of man on earth.” Yet in our time, in our land, a thousand unborn children are beheaded daily by an organization that is sheltered and funded by our own taxes. This dread toll deprives our people of genius and industry. Every child born in America has the potential to earn a million dollars.
We know the truth about these unborn millions. “Ultrasound has made it impossible to deny that that thing in the womb is a human being,” writes Time magazine’s Joe Klein. We have seen the evidence of Klein’s dictum in practical effect.
We agree with Lincoln that “nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon.” And yet we proceed as if the judgments of the Lord are not intended for us, and that His justice will sleep forever.
Lincoln And The Judgment Of God.