Rethinking Lincoln and Liberty: 8 Questions

“The Lincoln myth serves the purposes of the regime, both Democrat and Republican. It serves the purposes of a regime in which power is completely centralized, in which decentralization of power is viewed as suspect, and probably, you want to bring back slavery they suggest, if you favor the states having any powers. It’s Lincoln who inaugurates this new version of the United States… Sure, if you want to exercise unchecked power over the American public, you foster these myths.”Dr. Tom Woods

Below: Dr. Tom Woods with Judge Andrew Napolitano

Abraham Lincoln played an integral role in the story of how slavery ended in the United States. Everyone with a head, heart, and soul agrees ending slavery is a great thing. But how was Lincoln on other issues of liberty? Let’s ask some historians and legal experts, and examine Lincoln’s very own words.

Question 1: Did Lincoln favor secession? At one time, yes. In an 1848 speech in the U.S. House of Representatives Lincoln opined: “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 the 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.”

By 1861 Lincoln clearly did not believe in secession anymore. In that, he also clearly did not believe that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

What changed Lincoln’s mind?