Abraham Lincoln on defending the US Constitution: his message to YOU today

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Abraham Lincoln is considered among the top writers in world history for eloquent and powerful precision. He is revered as the father of the Republican Party. His commitment to the nation “of the people, by the people, for the people” is revered by all.

What most people do not know is that Abraham Lincoln is also a hero for his acts as a freshman member of the House of Representatives in the Congress of 1847-1849. Lincoln demanded that the President of the US provide specific evidence justifying the US invading a foreign country, suspecting that the President’s claims of a defensive war were lies to propagandize an offensive war for territorial control against a weaker nation. He did so despite the lack of support from most of his own political party. He demanded the facts despite his being painted by political opponents and the press as “unpatriotic.” The propaganda defeated Lincoln at his next election; his name slurred as “spotty Lincoln.” Lincoln was correct that the US President had indeed lied about the cause of war.

In our current US wars of invasion, our own government committee investigations have revealed the exact evidence backing claims that these are defensive wars for our national security. We now know from the evidence that all of these claims were not only false, but definitely known to be false at the time they were told to the American people and Congress. Don’t believe me, read the documentation here and here.

Given that these are Wars of Aggression, that our Constitutional rights have been destroyed through torture, the 2006 Military Commissions Act accepted by Mr. Obama that allows the President to slur American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” and detain them forever without rights, Mr. Obama's defense of a War of Aggression in Afghanistan, and further rhetoric for war with Iran (and here), how would Abraham Lincoln advise you today?

We have a pretty good idea, as follows.

As always, please share this article with all who say they want to be responsible citizens.

The following five paragraphs are from Abraham Lincoln in his Lyceum Address, January 27 1838. http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/lyceum.htm .

“I know the American People are much attached to their Government;--I know they would suffer much for its sake;--I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;--let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap--let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;--let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

…Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.--Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws.”

And a touching 2-minute video of state-of-the-art computer-generated imaging of Lincoln in movement:


I agree with the right-libertarians on this subject. Lincoln was a tyrant. He would fit right in with today's politicians.

"Add to this Lincoln’s extraordinary disregard for the Constitution during his entire administration, and it seems absurd for Quackenbush or anyone else to portray him as a champion of the Constitution who was pestered by “political zealots.” Among Lincoln’s unconstitutional acts were launching an invasion without the consent of Congress, blockading Southern ports before formally declaring war, unilaterally suspending the writ of habeas corpus and arresting and imprisoning thousands of Northern citizens without a warrant, censoring telegraph communications, confiscating private property, including firearms, and effectively gutting the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.

Even quite worshipful Lincoln biographers and historians called him a “dictator.” In his book, Constitutional Dictatorship, Clinton Rossiter devoted an entire chapter to Lincoln and calls him a “great dictator” and a “true democrat,” two phrases that are not normally associated with each other. “Lincoln’s amazing disregard for the . . . Constitution was considered by nobody as legal,” said Rossiter. Yet Quackenbush throws a fit because I dare to question Lincoln’s devotion to constitutional liberty.

Quackenbush continues to take my statements out of context when commenting on the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and he refuses to admit that Lincoln did in fact lament the demise of the Bank of the United Stated during the debates. His earlier claim that there was not a single word said during the Lincoln-Douglas debates about economic policy is simply untrue.

But the larger context is that even though most of the discussion during the debates centered on such issues as the extension of slavery into the new territories, they were really a manifestation of the old debate between the advocates of centralized government (Hamilton, Clay, Webster, Lincoln) and of decentralized government and states’ rights (Jefferson, Jackson, Tyler, Calhoun, Douglas). At the time of the debates Lincoln had spent about a quarter of a century laboring in the trenches of the Whig and Republican Parties, primarily on behalf of the so-called “American System” of protectionist tariffs, tax subsidies to corporations, and centralized banking. When the Whig Party collapsed Lincoln assured Illinois voters that there was no essential difference between he two parties. This is what he and the Whigs and Republicans wanted a centralized government for. As Basler said, at the time he had no concrete solution to the slavery issue other than to propose sending black people back to Africa, Haiti, or Central America. He did, however, have a long record of advocating the programs of the “American System” and implementing a financially disastrous $10 million “internal improvements” boondoggle in Illinois in the late 1830s when he was an influential member of the state legislature."


There is an unfortunate tendency amongst Americans to mythologize their long dead politicians, especially "the founding fathers". Basic truth is that politicians are politicians, some slightly less tyrannical than others, most corrupt, few, if any, worthy of admiration.

Government on paper

Lincoln's opinions evolved after the Lincoln Douglas debates, and he became more committed to ending slavery but this was still a continuation of the Jackson theme for a different era of maintaining unity of the states.
This consolidation of power may be seen in and of itself as tyrannical.

A fascinating book showing the influence of the US Constitution abroad can be found in the fantastic new book on Kosciuszko called The Peasant Prince. This is one history book that doesn't idealize any politician or monarch.

And, yes it's ridiculous to idealize the founding fathers. What we have is a great government on paper and it always was this way.

true, true...

You are far more sophisticated than the average reader! We have multiple audiences, as you know. My hope is that this quote will strengthen those closer to the novice side of their activism.

Washington Not Sure

Washington had his suspicions that the fledgling democracy couldn't last, that it was fragile. Unfortunately, he was right. So, our Locke inspired idealistic beginnings on paper soon morphed into plain power grabbing and centralized greed.


Well, I think the problem is that the government wasn't designed as a democracy to begin with. And in fact, I don't think any kind of meaningful democracy can exist in a country as large as the United States, at least not with a centralized bureaucracy. Democracy only works in decentralized communities with direct participation by members of that community. America had this in some form prior to the constitutional convention. So for example, in 1768, a group of Boston merchants complained of local governments that: "At these meetings, the lowest Mechanicks discuss upon the most important points of government with the utmost freedom."

Madison was acutely aware of the problem of scale. Except he didn't view it as a problem but a solution.

As John Manley writes, "Hyperpluralism was Madison's solution to class conflict because it made it hard for the majority to find a common interest or, if found, to act successfully on it.”

The Anti-Federalists predicted rather accurately that a nation of such massive size would inevitably devolve into despotism and empire. So for example one gentleman wrote: “It is the opinion of some celebrated writers, that to a small territory, the democratical; to a middling territory (as Montesquieu has termed it) the monarchial; and to an extensive territory, the despotic form of government is best adapted.” Several centuries later, Leopold Kohr made the same argument.

The Iroquois Confederation, which itself was a significant model (as well as anti-model) for the constitution, showed that participatory democracy can function on a fairly large scale, up to and including tens of thousands of people. They had the ability to immediately remove corrupt leaders; women played a significant role in decision making; everyone was permitted to be involved in the decision making process.

The problem, from Madison's perspective, is that real democracy could have -- in fact, inevitably would have -- led to a more egalitarian society. The primary purpose of government, Madison believed, was to "protect the minority of the opulent against the majority".

Madison had a sort of romantic view of the ruling class, ie that the "better sort" would do what was in the best interest of the nation, not just look after their own economic interests. In fairness, it was a pre-capitalist society, and he surely would not have approved of what the nation eventually became.

Hamilton was a different story.

Hamilton was very much concerned with a new “national commercial-financial-industrial economy centered around entrepreneurial, productive, growth-oriented behavior…this ethos was to define our economic, political, and cultural life and identity for centuries. It was :our first industrial policy, incubating capitalism as a crucial by-product.”

I think all Americans would do well to read the anti-federalist papers. The anti-federalists were not as advanced as the Iroquois, but they had a pretty good grasp on the importance of (REAL) democratic participation as a crucial counterweight to power.

The United States

was not formed to be a "Democracy". Democracy is one of the worst forms of government ever devised by man. The United States was formed to be a Constitutional Republic. All men are created equal and have the "God" given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is what the Constitution and Bill of Rights is all about. Problem is no President has ever lived up to these principals. Nor has Congress or the Supreme Court. Isn't it about time we started living up to these principals? Lincoln was no different than any of the others.


It is because of statements like Joe's here that I have very little hope for the United States as a nation. If people would rather trust politicians and other moneyed elites to make decisions for them and their fellow man rather than coming together as an informed populace and taking part in the decision making process then you're basically doomed.

The United States was indeed formed as a "Constitutional Republic", but that's basically just legaleeze for rule by the rich. Only property-holding white men were permitted to vote -- not, it should be stressed, take part in the decision-making process -- just vote. It should not be surprising, therefore, that even amongst property-holding white men, the Constitutional Convention was regarded by a majority as little more than a coup d'etat.

According to historian Charles L. Mee, Jr., by the time the document was completed, “the majority of the people were completely against it.”

The Anti-Federalists were remarkably prescient as to what would occur.

“The natural Course of Power is to make the many Slaves to the few”, one anti-Federalist wrote. Another objected to the new government because “the bulk of the people can have nothing to say to it. The government is not a government of the people.” The “men of Fortune” would not feel for the “Common People.” An “aristocratical tyranny” would arise, in which “the great will struggle for power, honor and wealth, the poor become a prey to avarice, insolence, and oppression.” “In short, my fellow citizens, it can be said to be nothing less than a hasty stride to Universal Empire.”

I think you missed my point

All men (and women) are created equal endowed with "GOD GIVEN RIGHTS" That means to me that under the Constitution we are all equal. I will believe that until the day I die. Watch Aaron Russo's "From Freedom to Fascism" sometime. He puts it beautifully.