I shared a little about slavery in the North vs slavery in the South. I shared some facts that weren’t widely known about the Civil War. Today I have some interesting tidbits on Lincoln, Davis and maybe some others, that I never learned in school… I was quite surprised, maybe you will be too.
First, I feel like I should say that I have no issues with Lincoln as president. I do not like some of his personal views of certain things, but don’t “despise Lincoln” like southerners are often accused of. And as much as it pains me to say it… (Not really, only kidding…) I feel the outcome of the war, due to subsequent events in US History, was as it should have been. The things happening in the country lately have me feeling like I wish they had won just because the states within the Confederacy would have more rights than they currently have, but that’s only been recently – for me.
I think that there are many “honorary” Confederates in the world today that feel the same way about the current SCOTUS rulings. I say “honorary” because not all of them are in one collective area. I’ve met many, via the page, who feel the same way I (and many southerners) feel about the country – currently – who are in the west, midwest and central US… But, I digress…
Okay – here we go…
Some “secrets” from Civil War history…
Who knew that Lincoln only freed the slaves because of political purpose, not moral or altruistic ones? Probably more than once knew as that’s becoming a little more well known. He freed them to enlist them to fight in the war, a war he felt the Union might not win otherwise. However, how many know that he revoked orders to emancipate the slaves, not only once, but twice before that?
August 1861, General Fremont officially ordered that slaves in his military district in Missouri be freed. When news of this reached Lincoln, he ordered Fremont to rescind his emancipation proclamation so Missouri and other border states would not leave the Union. Fremont refused. Lincoln sacked Fremont, revoked Fremont’s proclamation and allowed Missouri – a Union state – to keep its slaves.
Lincoln did so again in April 1862 when David Hunter, a Union general who was commander of the district in Port Royal, SC. He covered South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and declared slaves in those states “forever free”. Lincoln revoked these orders as well, questioning whether Hunter’s order was even legit. Many may claim that these men didn’t have the authority to free the slaves in the areas they commanded. Perhaps not. Lincoln himself questioned the authority of the commanders to even make such a declaration and stated that he would only free the slaves if it became a “necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the government.”
Once the Emancipation Proclamation was ordered, it only freed slaves that Lincoln (the Union) did not control. The slaves that were under his control (the hundreds of thousands living as slaves in Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, parts of Tennessee and Confederate territory captured and occupied by the Union were left out of the proclamation…) In parts of the proclamation, Lincoln even names specific counties in which slaves would not be free. He later explained to his Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase, that the document had “no constitutional or legal justification, except as a military measure”.
Lincoln made it known that he did not care about the institution of slavery, only the Union and what would preserve it. In a letter to Horace Greely, he states “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’s most alarming is how the Union army reacted to it.
General Joseph Hooker stated that many high ranking officers were hostile to the government’s conduct in the war and that some soldiers would have never embarked in the war had they anticipated the actions of the president. Many of the soldiers were against it and one regiment was disbanded because of it.
The Emancipation Proclamation assured the European countries would stay clear of the American conflict and not come to the aid of the Confederacy. And it worked. It didn’t however, free the slaves.
This was the point at which many began the whisperings of the war being about slavery. It was prudent to portray the south as racist. However, it was contrary to the way things really were and it was in the Union’s best interest to downplay things that proved it otherwise.
Jeff Davis was portrayed as a racist. It was not in the Union’s best interest for it to be known that Jeff Davis and his wife, Varina, had a black foster child. When the Davis family fled Richmond, they took the boy with them. On May 10,1865 the Union army caught up to the Davises and took the boy from them. It is not known whatever happened to the boy, though the Davises tried many times to find out.
The Lincoln family had Elizabeth Kleckley, a black woman, former slave and Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. (She was also Mary Todd Lincoln’s only friend in Washington) She was Mary Todd’s confidant, and only support, when their son, Willie Lincoln died as well as when Lincoln was shot. Keckley later wrote a book about her life before and during her time in the White House. When the book was published, Robert Lincoln, the family’s oldest son, publicly berated Keckley and stated no one should read a book written by a “mulatto”. He even tried to have the book pulled from circulation. Once a famous dressmaker, she died a pauper due to the attacks on her by the Lincoln family.
Lincoln’s plans for the blacks, after the war, were to return them to Africa or to colonies in South America. Since he died, this didn’t happen. But it is known that he was not in favor of having the blacks live with the whites.
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor 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 forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”
Said during a debate with Stephen Douglas.
Jefferson, however, remained popular among the black community. Where ever he went after the war, Davis was approached by men claiming to be his former slaves who wanted to shake his hand.
In Lincoln’s inaugural address he stated that he and the people of the United States were friends, not enemies and that he’d not be the aggressor in any conflict. This wasn’t so, but even more notably, within a month of that speech, Lincoln was having thousands of his “friends” arrested. He had them arrested without warrants and without even telling them why they were being arrested.
Early in the war, the arrests were made of those who had a pro-Confederacy sentiment. April 18, 1861 in Baltimore Maryland, civilians tried to prevent the regiments of the Union army volunteers from passing through the city. The soldiers fired upon them and they fought back. Due to that event, Lincoln issued an order to arrest anyone between Baltimore and Philadelphia who looked like a troublemaker. He feared Washington would be attacked by secessionists. Though it never was because taking over DC and the government wasn’t something the Confederacy ever wanted. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – they just wanted to be left alone.
When Supreme Court Justice Taney insisted Lincoln explain under what authority he could suspend habeas corpus (no warrant), Lincoln responded by issuing an arrest warrant for the judge! He was never arrested as there was no US Marshall willing to carry out the warrant. (Lincoln could have cited Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution…)
Throughout the war, Lincoln arrested over 14,000 civilians without charging them with specific crimes. Thirty members of the Maryland legislature, that were Confederate sympathizers, were arrested so they couldn’t discuss the idea of taking Maryland out of the Union. Some claim Lincoln didn’t order those arrests, but – either way – when Lincoln was contacted by those members, requesting they be freed – based on it being an illegal arrest, Lincoln denied their request.
Lincoln didn’t like anyone disagreeing with him. He threw Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham out of the country completely for making a speech criticizing the suspension of habeas corpus and violated the 1st Amendment many times by arresting newspaper editors if their articles bugged him.
During the elections, which themselves weren’t without controversy, soldiers who were Democrats were kept from the polls and, therefor, unable to vote. One soldier wrote “I suppose I might have gotten home if I would have said I should vote for A[be]. But never. I would sooner stay here for another year than to come home and vote for him.”
Lincoln also, reportedly, used troops to keep many Democrats from voting, and – in addition to the 1st and 10th Amendments – stomped all over the 2nd as he confiscated firearms from citizens.
Throughout this same time, Davis also had people criticizing him, telling him how to do his job, disagreeing with his actions, etc. He never arrested anyone for disagreeing and truly defended civil rights better than Lincoln.
These are things, and there are many others, that I never knew about Lincoln, and frankly, am shocked to learn. Perhaps you are too, perhaps not. Either way, I think it’s important that we know the full story of Lincoln…