Rethinking Lincoln and Liberty: 8 Questions

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Question 3: Did Lincoln intentionally agitate war with the South? Historian Brion McClanahan says yes: “Lincoln essentially started this war. He goaded the South into firing the first shots at Fort Sumter. He knew exactly what he was doing… he was asking to provision Fort Sumter which he knew would cause war… and the reason he was doing this was to save his party. Lincoln was never really concerned about saving the Union. It was about the Republican party and Republican dominance.”

Question 4: Could the war have then been avoided? Perhaps. It’s known that Lincoln’s top general Winfield Scott argued in favor of blockading the South with the “Anaconda Plan.” But Lincoln hand-wrote the note to South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens that Fort Sumter would be provisioned, with the full knowledge that an attack on Sumter would be the likely consequence. Lincoln later claimed he “conceived the idea” of provisioning the fort and that his idea “succeeded. They attacked Fort Sumter – it fell, and thus, did more service than it otherwise could.”

Question 5: But what of ending slavery? Emancipated compensation was an idea at the time. As was colonization, which Lincoln favored, and which some say he was still considering at the time he was assassinated. Other historians such as Jim Powell, author of Greatest Emancipations, note that slavery ended without war in all of the western nations except for in the U.S. Could it have ended likewise in the U.S., sparing the over 600,000 casualties of the Civil War? What do you think?

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