Local Debate About Abraham Lincoln on September 10, 2013

From President of Boise State University’s Students for Liberty, Floyd Noel:

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln once said, “The man who will not investigate both sides of a question is dishonest.” I believe we should apply this standard to Lincoln himself, and a coming debate at the Morrison Center aims to tackle this exact issue.

The image of Lincoln as a benefactor to the causes of liberty is a common one- but is it accurate? Lincoln did abolish slavery, but was the act nothing more than a political ploy to ensure military victory, or to use Lincoln’s own terminology, “as a war measure?” Before his election, Lincoln once declared, “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races” (emphasis mine).

Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner, a famous abolitionist and libertarian theorist of the period, strongly opposed Lincoln and his policies. Spooner wrote,

“The pretense that the “abolition of slavery” was either a motive or justification for the war, is a fraud of the same character with that of “maintaining the national honor.” Who, but such usurpers, robbers, and murderers as they, ever established slavery? Or what government, except one resting upon the sword, like the one we now have, was ever capable of maintaining slavery? And why did these men abolish slavery? Not from any love of liberty in general–not as an act of justice to the black man himself, but only “as a war measure,” and because they wanted his assistance, and that of his friends, in carrying on the war they had undertaken for maintaining and intensifying that political, commercial, and industrial slavery, to which they have subjected the great body of the people, both white and black.”

Scholars have begun to allege that Lincoln was quite hostile to liberty during his time in office. They claim he shut down hundreds of newspapers, jailed thousands of dissenters, and deported a senator for criticizing the war. Evidence shows that Lincoln indeed issued an arrest warrant for a Supreme Court Justice who disagreed with him.

The Ralph Smeed Foundation is sponsoring a debate between two Lincoln experts. The debate is free and open to the public, and is being held in the Morrison Center on campus. The event is scheduled for 8:00pm on Tuesday, September 10. For more details, see the Students For Liberty Facebook page:

Facebook.com/BSUStudentsForLiberty

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