No serious student of the “Civil War” believes that the Union invaded the South to emancipate the slaves. Such ignorance, however, is common place. This propagandistic version of the war is commonly taught in public schools and in ignorance even in many Christian schools. Yet it has little basis in fact. Slavery was an issue between North and South, but not in the propagandistic, fabricated moral sense usually assumed.
First of all, the thinking of most Northerners about race and slavery before and after the war was not of the high moral tone usually believed. The Free State versus Slave State controversy was not over the moral question of slavery. It was, as Lincoln said regarding Kansas and Nebraska in 1854, about preserving these states “for the homes of free white people.” When Pennsylvania Congressman David Wilmot introduced his famous 1846 proviso that slavery would be excluded from territories acquired after the Mexican War, he explained his motivation:
“I would preserve to free white labor a fair country, a rich inheritance, where the sons of toil, of my own race and color, can live without the disgrace which association with Negro slavery brings upon free labor.”
Most Northern states did not want blacks within their borders, and Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Oregon had strict laws to enforce this bias. As an Illinois Legislator, Abraham Lincoln fully approved of such laws. The “underground railroad” for escaped slaves went to Canada because the intervening Union states did not want blacks in their territory. Even after the war, voters in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Kansas refused to extend the right to vote to blacks.
Some of Lincoln’s public and private remarks are shocking to those who have been taught the whitewashed version of American history that lifts up Lincoln as the Great Emancipator. Lerone Bennett, Jr., Editor of Ebony Magazine, has pointed out that:
“On at least fourteen occasions between 1854 and 1860 Lincoln said unambiguously that he believed the Negro race was inferior to the White race.”
In the September 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas in Ottawa, Illinois, Lincoln insisted vigorously that:
“I will say that I am not…in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people…Anything that argues me into his (Douglas’s) idea of perfect social and political equality with the Negro is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse.”
Lincoln was for gradual, slave-owner compensated emancipation of slaves, a common sentiment in both North and South. But he did not believe the black and white races could coexist in the same country. He favored deporting them and colonizing them to the Caribbean, Central America, or Africa. Lincoln was a very strong admirer of Henry Clay, a slave owner and one of the founding members of the American Colonization Society. In his 1852 eulogy of Clay, Lincoln quoted Clay’s words on colonization of blacks back to Africa approvingly:
“There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her children…they will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion, civilization, law and liberty.”
In his famous Cooper Union speech on February 27, 1860, he advocated the peaceful “deportation” of blacks so that “their places be…filled up by free white laborers.”
In 1862, Lincoln met with a deputation of free blacks in the White House intending to persuade them of the benefits of colonization. His words, severely criticized by Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune, are astonishing in the light of his near deification by civil rights groups and most political leaders today:
“You and we are of different races. Your race suffers very greatly by living among us while ours suffers from your presence. Even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being on equality with the white man…Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as fact. It is better for us, therefore, to be separated.”
Later Lincoln suggested to the occupation Governor of Louisiana in regard to elective franchise that some blacks, the very intelligent and those that had served in the Union ranks, “be let in.”
Much to the constant dismay of the abolitionists, slavery was imbedded in the U.S. Constitution and could not be removed without a Constitutional Amendment. Yet on February 28, 1861, the U. S. House of Representatives passed with the required two thirds majority a Constitutional Amendment, called the Corbin Amendment, which would have forever prohibited any Constitutional change that interfered with slavery in any state:
“No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of such State.”
This amendment was passed by the U. S. Senate on March 2, 1861. It was then sent to the States for final approval. Three-quarters of the States must approve before an amendment becomes a validated part of the U. S. Constitution. Two days after Senate approval, the newly elected President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, promised to support it in his inaugural address. It became a moot issue, however, on April 14, when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the Southern “revolt.” Ironically, the Corbin Amendment would have been the 13th Amendment.
Lincoln also stated unequivocally in his first inaugural address what he had previously written to New York Tribune Editor, Horace Greeley
“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 right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”
Furthermore, the Northern Congress passed a Resolution on July 22, 1861, stating specifically that preserving the Union and maintaining the supremacy of the Constitution and not interfering with slavery were the purposes of the war. However, the South would not have a Union in which they faced continuing exploitation by tremendous economic and unfair tariff burdens. Moreover, Northern disregard for the Constitution and States Rights was a major Southern grievance.