Review of “Lincoln, The Man” by Edgar Lee Masters

“The political history of America has been written for the most part by those who were unfriendly to the theory of a confederated republic, or who did not understand it. It has been written by devotees of the protective principle [i.e. a tariff], by centralists, and to a large degree by New England.”

– Edgar Lee Masters

“The American people, North and South, went into the war as citizens of their respective states, they came out subjects of the United States.”

– H. L. Mencken

“No war ever raging in my time was to me more foolish looking.”

– Thomas Carlyle

Both the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party and the intellectual wing of the Republican Party (insert joke here) want you to love Abraham Lincoln. If you’re like me, this is enough to convince you that you almost certainly don’t love Abraham Lincoln. There is, perhaps, no better tour guide on an anti-Lincoln journey than Masters.

Masters’ Lincoln is the first truly modern statesman (that is to say a wonderful politician, but not an actual statesman in the sense that he’s not leader and doesn’t have a governing philosophy). Lincoln lacks vision, conviction and any philosophical foundation. He says what needs to be said to please the crowd he’s in front of and what he says changes to fit the crowd. He has no fixed principles and no view of how government should work. He seeks to achieve and retain power. Perhaps that’s why he’s worshipped by both American political parties today. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves . . .

The book is really about why the Civil War was fought. There are basically three competing theories: 1) ending slavery; 2) preserving the Union; and 3) ending federalism. The third is, of course the Southern position, and it’s Masters’.

Every other civilized country ended slavery without resorting to civil war, let alone one that ended with the death of roughly 2.5% of the country’s population (something like 7.5 million deaths in today’s population). As Masters puts it:

It seems clear now that slavery was doomed by economic laws, and that there was only need to let the peaceful process of time work out the problem. But there is a dangerous kind of mind which raises moral issues where they were better kept out; and this mind, possessed of emotional states and communicating them to others by a sort of mob psychology, makes reasonable adjustments impossible by furiously urging forward, in the name of God, or morality, immediate changes.

Lincoln’s was such a mind, or at least (and perhaps worse) it was a mind that was willing to use such minds to attain power.

If you demand union, surely you must believe that there are better ways to unite than war? There are, after all, better ways to get a woman to marry you than by raping her.

The reason wars are fought must be judged not by propaganda uttered by the winning side during (and a century after) the fighting but by the peace process that follows. After all, wars fought for the consequences. Did the US fight WWII to give Russia a dominant position in Europe and Asia? That’s not why anyone went to war, but that is what happened, hence the war must be judged in that light.

So, what was the result of the Civil War? As Shelby Foote has said:

This country has two grievous sins on its hands. One of them is slavery — whether we’ll ever be cured of it, I don’t know. The other one is emancipation — they told 4 million people, you’re free, hit the road, and they drifted back into a form of peonage that in some ways is worse than slavery.

Or as Masters says:

If the war then was about slavery, did not the Thirteenth Amendment, acquiesced in by the conquered states, settle everything? If the North meant to keep faith on the Andrew Johnson resolutions in the Senate of July, 1861, as to the purpose of the War, and as to its ceasing when the seceded states were brought back into the Union, why did not all controversy cease when the states were brought back? The reason is that the master minds of the Republican Party, the offshoots of Hamiltonism, had further purposes, seeing the capitalistic advantages that now revealed themselves. They cared nothing for the Union compared to what they cared for money and power. They turned out to be the only disunionists, inasmuch as they were willing to fight and to destroy the federal system and principle. . . . The army had said that the states were back in the Union; the Johnson war resolution said that the states were back in the Union; the courts, some of them at least, held that the states were back in the Union. Thaddeus Stevens and his conspirators declared that the states were out of the Union.

If you follow Masters, the war wasn’t about slavery and it wasn’t about union. It was about the triumph of the Federal government (as Mencken noted above). This suggestion coincides nearly perfectly with the actual outcomes of the war.

Did Lincoln really believe that unlimited bloodshed was justified to end slavery? Did he even support ending it? It’s unclear.

As last as 1858 . . . [Lincoln] was not in favor of giving the negro the vote, or of allowing him to sit on juries, or of intermarrying, or of associating with white people. He called the negro an inferior being, and he said that there was a physical difference between the white and the black race, which would forever forbid the two races living together upon terms of social equality, and that he was in favor of the superior position being assigned to the white man. Yet all men were created equal. But that equality was fulfilled when the negro was permitted to work for wages.

If Lincoln fought the war to end slavery – to paraphrase his words, to change the pay structure of slaves and nothing more – surely, he is among history’s greatest butchers.

It’s worth pausing from our story to examine a specific point in detail – the Dred Scott decision. In Masters’ telling it was a fake decision. Scott was bought and sold by abolitionists who only wanted to get the case before the Supreme Court.

It was a prearranged plan from the first. Dred Scott, therefore, appealed to the Supreme Court and for his appeal a bond was signed by a son of the man who had sold Dred Scott to Dr. Emerson years before. This was a moot case through and through; and if the Supreme Court had known that it was such there would not have been any Dred Scott decision to trouble the Lincoln and Douglas debates.

Attorneys on both sides “were in the hands of the abolition political friends of Lincoln.”

Taney’s decision stated that:

There is certainly no power given by the Constitution to establish or maintain colonies bordering on the United States or at a distance, to be ruled and governed at its own pleasure; nor to enlarge its territorial limits in any way except by the admission of new states. . . .

That the states would become all slave or all free was a forecast that entered the mind of no man of judgment. It was confined to the vaporings of radicals; and to Lincoln’s speech of “the house divided against itself.”

In other words, Dred Scott stated that the federal government couldn’t prohibit a slave owner from taking his slave into a territory. However, it didn’t prohibit a territory or a municipality in that area from outlawing slavery.

Having not gotten their way in the Court, the abolitionists turned to alternative methods, which Lincoln (in certain settings) was happy to oblige:

He was now telling the hustings that the Supreme Court of the United States had conspired with politicians to make a false decision, untrue historically, and unsound in point of law, and for the purpose of nationalizing slavery. In the old days Jefferson had accused Marshall of twistifying the Constitution in order to favor the bank; but never before had the Supreme Court been arraigned before popular assemblies.

Basically, the war is, for Masters, an appeal above and beyond the Court. The triumph of the North means that might does indeed make right.

It’s worth dwelling a moment on the “house divided against itself cannot stand” line. What is federalism but a series of houses divided against the collection of all of them? Must abortion be all outlawed or allowed? Must gun ownership be all outlawed or all allowed?

By this time [i.e. at the end of the war] the Constitutional doctrine of admitting a state with such a constitution as it chose to adopt had been thrown aside. Utah had to give up polygamy before being received into the holy family of the states [religious sarcasm is almost certainly intended]. Arizona could not enter without discarding her provision for the recall of judges, an expedient which had been conceived out of the vast tyranny and corruption of the American judiciary.

What of the war itself? In it, we see the beginnings of a new Executive power to wage war without Congressional approval and without any Constitutional restraints. Another case of might making right and rewriting the Constitution.

For in six weeks he was to inaugurate a war without the American people having anything to say about it. He was to call for and send troops into the South, and thus stir that psychology of hate and fear from which a people cannot extricate themselves, though knowing and saying that the war was started by usurpation. Did he mean that he would bow to the American people when the law was laid down by their courts, through which alone the law be interpreted as the Constitutional voice of the people? No, he did not mean that; because when Taney decided that Lincoln had no power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, Lincoln flouted and trampled the decision of the court. . . .

The maneuvering that Lincoln resorted to to provoke South Carolina to fire the first shot was copied by our army, which plotted the killing of Filipino sentries, by American sentries, and then when Filipino sentries retaliated raised the hypocritical cry that Aguinaldo had fired on the United States flag.

By the time Congress convened, “he had an army at his back . . . He was thus an emperor with full despotic power and his rightful masters had had no word to say about it.”

“It was a this time that Seward told Lord Lyons: ‘I can touch a bell on my right hand and order the arrest of a citizen of Ohio. I can touch the bell again and order the arrest of a citizen of New York. Can Queen Victoria do as much?'”

Lincoln even went so far as to engage in Putin-esque jailing of the opposition.

Whether or not you agree with Masters so far is, in my opinion, beside the point. We must judge Lincoln by the consequences of the war. For Lincoln to triumph, something absolutely incredible must have been achieved to justify the death toll, the erosion of liberties, and the return to de facto slavery.

There is no such incredible outcome. Sometimes this is blamed on Lincoln’s death, but that’s unfair, as Masters puts it:

If [Lincoln] had been a Napoleon with desire to reconstitute the Union as it was, or a Jefferson who would have had that desire at heart in the circumstances, he would have set down with swift hands and clear thinking some definite plan. As it was he bequeathed to the mad age about to dominate the country a few metaphors, and a few suggestions for reconstruction.

And so the mad age ensued. Everyone discovered, as “Douglas had discovered, if he did not know it before, that the cause of the people is a devil’s cause.”

Perhaps Lincoln would have been fine with this terrible outcome: “The Calvinistic fatalism is the poisonous doctrine which justifies human cruelty. There was such a thing as pagan cruelty. It was honest. This is Christian cruelty, which is dishonest and irresponsible. It does what it would and then throws the burden upon an anthropomorphic deity.”

Such logic justifies refusing prisoner exchanges and Sherman’s march, while simultaneously stating that it has “malice toward none.” If this be not malice . . .

Let’s end with more Masters, for if the book doesn’t convince to dislike Lincoln, it’s at least beautifully written:

The War between the States demonstrated that salvation is not of the Jews, but of the Greeks. The World War added to this proof; for Wilson did many things that Lincoln did, and with Lincoln as authority for doing them. Perhaps it will happen again that a few men, deciding what is a cause of war, and what is necessary to its successful prosecution, may, as Lincoln and Wilson did, seal the lips of discussion and shackle the press; but no less the ideal of a just state, which has founded itself in reason and in free speech, will remain.

I should probably end there – that gives a reasonable flavor of Masters’ thinking. I can’t resist saying a bit more about Masters though.

I think Masters explanation for why the war was fought is better than most. As I said, we must judge wars based on their outcomes, not based on propaganda. By that metric, the slaves weren’t free and the resulting “union” was absurd. The South was no more united with the North than occupied France was united with the Third Reich. If you kill enough people, you get a union of some kind. To Masters’ point, there certainly was no union on the legal terms that prevailed prior to the fighting. In both cases, it’s impossible for the resulting outcome to justify the loss of life and the level of destruction.

Yet Masters’ view of what the US really was seems a bit naive. If the country really was teetering on the edge so precariously that a few men who believed they were the instruments of God’s will could bring it all down, then how long could it survive? Nevertheless, the US that emerges from the war sounds familiar: foreign interventions justified on religious grounds, a central government beholden to business interests, increasing centralization of all policy, nearly unlimited executive powers in wartime and so on.


69 Responses to Review of “Lincoln, The Man” by Edgar Lee Masters

  1. IA says:

    Nice review. However, following your logic concerning outcome I detect a flaw in your thinking. If the Christians had won why are they the most persecuted group in the world today? Did traditional Christianity reap the benefits from the war? Some of us would say gnostics came out on top.

    • Foseti says:

      A couple answers:

      1) Lincoln’s brand of Christianity evolved seamlessly into modern progressivism.

      2) Christians are hardly the most persecuted group in the world today. It’s actually illegal to be a nazi in lots of countries, for example. Oberlin admits Christians but shuts down completely when someone wears a towel home at night. This persecution may be justified, but you get the point, hopefully.

      • IA says:

        Not sure what brand he sold. My point was that Traditional Christian values have been on the shitty end of the stick since even before the Civil War. Maybe you are confusing Liberalism with Christianity? Maybe Liberalism corrupted it and, in fact, is continuing to do so.

        By Liberalism I mean nihilism. When you just described Lincoln as the first modern politician aren’t you describing a nihilist? He believed in nothing sacred or eternal. Nothing outside of or greater than his ego. That cannot be Traditional Christianity.

      • Foseti says:

        Masters describes Lincoln as a “Hebraic-Puritan.”

        Lincoln certainly seems to fit the latter category. I don’t consider that traditional Christianity, but I also don’t think it’s informative to call it nihilism.

      • josh says:

        He didn’t say traditional Christian values. He said “Lincoln’s brand of Christianity”. I read this a pretty long time ago, but wasn’t there a reference to saturnalian orgies at the rrural second great awakening outdoor revivals that Lincoln grew up with?

      • IA says:

        “Lincoln certainly seems to fit the latter category. I don’t consider that traditional Christianity, but I also don’t think it’s informative to call it nihilism.”

        Oh, they always try to gussy it up, don’t they? We care! We’re from the government and we’re here to help! But, Lincoln, underneath the pretense, seemed to believe in nothing at all besides the power of the state. Since he was the state I’d say he fits quite comfortably as a nihilist.

        True, he didn’t guillotine aristos, but maybe he didn’t have to. He had the war. If society corrupts man, and the General Will saves him, there is no need for personal redemption from original sin. In fact, there is no original sin. Only the State.

        Footnote, Muslims are Hebraic-Puritans.

  2. jamzw says:

    I am ignorant on this matter. What was it about the war that made Carlyle feel foolish about his opinions?

  3. dearieme says:

    The hullabaloo about Lincoln is beside the point. What “[e]very other civilized country ended slavery without resorting to civil war” demonstrates is a catastrophic failure of the US Constitution. It’s a fine document that I greatly admire, but it has failed every big test.

    • Foseti says:

      Agreed. In its defense, Masters argues that the Constitution did just fine . . . until Lincoln declared himself dictator and re-wrote it.

  4. thrasymachus33308 says:

    This is pretty much just more Lost Cause. There needs to be a fourth theory, one that seems pretty obvious to me based on the historical facts- the Civil War was a rebellion by the North and Midwest against the federal government, which was controlled by the South through the Marshall/Taney Supreme Court from Marbury v. Madison through Dred Scott.

    People in the North and the Midwest wanted the West settled by whites only. The South wanted it as plantation slavery territory. The North and Midwest were willing to have this question settled by referendum, but the South used the Supreme Court to prevent this. With Dred Scott there was really nothing to keep the West free and white, and with the pending Lemmon v. New York Taney probably would have made slavery legal in all states. The Kansas free state constitution prohibited slavery, but it also prohibited blacks from setling in Kansas, as the Illinois constitution and the Boer Republic did.

    This seems the obvious explanation of what happened to me, but the story doesn’t flatter Lincoln and the North and Midwest and doesn’t flatter especially the Supreme Court. The modern mindset gives you two choices- you love blacks and want to do all you can to help them or you hate them and want to abuse and oppress them. The idea that people might be indifferent to blacks and just not want any near them is completely lost to the modern mind.

    • Foseti says:

      Masters does basically consider this, but it’s very weak. If that was the case, federal power would have decreased after the war, not increased exponentially.

      Dred Scott didn’t force slavery on the territories, it just left the option open.

      Also, it’s super obvious if you read a bunch from the time that the abolitionists were the only ones that wanted war (for quite some time before the war). Your theory stands that on its head. Dred Scott would have never been heard were it not carefully set up by the abolitionists, for example.

      Finally, Masters walks through all the compromises and shows that they were always broken by the north – again contradicting your theory.

      The idea that Lincoln assumed massive power to reduce federal power is too clever by half. Benefit of the doubt has to go to him assuming power for power.

  5. Dystopia Max says:

    Most other countries weren’t as solely dependent on slavery as the South was. When ending slavery affects but a single non-central industry, it’s worth following the moral demands of your people; when it’s the primary employer of your society, that kind of puts a damper on almost any legal solutions.

    The anti-slavery movement was largest in the South, and then it became ridiculously profitable with the invention of the cotton gin, at which point it sucked up the imagination of lawyers, theologians, and statesmen alike in its defense and in political maneuvering for its survival.

    You can talk about abolition as a dread conspiracy or fiendish plot by illimitably evil individuals, but honestly a great fear and horror of a people whose culture is completely tied up in their economy and who maintain armies of loyal savage laborers and maintain an alarming vagueness about their future fate might just have something to do with it. Then again, I’m just trying to get why the average non-political Northerners might fight and die for it.

    Just saying: the disproportionality of the slave population, their rapid expansion, the near complete change in the moral and political attitudes of the Southerners once the profit was there, and the resulting vehement change in the tone of the political discussion just might have had something to do with it, and Masters’ preference for parsing rhetorical and ideological statements over visualizing a brute physical reality and emotional disconnection that was honestly quite novel to the experience of most Americans is rather telling.

    I did not read Sailer because Republicans had failed to offer grand arguments or logical algorithms for applying a philosophy of freedom, I read him because he offered experiences and scientific theories that matched my own experiences far better than anything any politician or newspaper was willing to say in public. It’s by what people don’t mention that you know them.

  6. […] Review of “Lincoln, The Man” by Edgar Lee Masters | Foseti […]

  7. cassander says:

    It is worth pointing out that, whatever its origin, the unionist government that followed the war can make a fair claim to being the most successful government in history. It saw the transformation of 30 million farmers into the richest, most industrialized, and most powerful country in history.

    • Foseti says:

      Yeah, Masters acknowledges the wealth – actually he thinks that’s all the North was after.

      He says something like, it may be a civilization, but it’s not a culture. Seems about right to me.

      • RS says:

        That may be an old German trope. It’s a common one at any rate, and they use those exact words (Kultur, Civilization)

      • Peter Blood says:

        America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. (Oscar Wilde)

      • cassander says:

        It’s more complicated than that. The puritans were at one point (arguably they still are) the most successful tribe in human history. truly, power corrupts.

  8. Henissart says:

    “We must judge Lincoln by the consequences of the war.”

    I agree with that sentiment, but doesn’t your judgement depend a whole lot on the time frame you hold Lincoln responsible for?
    Look at the time right after the civil war and you see death and destruction and a black population not really better off than before the war. Look at today and you see a pretty dysfunctional federal government and worldstarhiphop. Look at the halfway point pre WWII and you see the US in many respects at the height of the american dream with a black population that is pretty well behaved and successful.
    Seems to me you can make your case just as well as the exact opposite with the same data, no?

    • Foseti says:

      There may be a sweet spot in there somewhere. Pretty hard to argue that Lincoln had a plan for achieving it, to find a time when blacks were “really free” (100 years later?), and to believe that it was worth the cost. Imagine if more than 7 million died in a war today?

      • Henissart says:

        “There may be a sweet spot in there somewhere. Pretty hard to argue that Lincoln had a plan for achieving it,(…)”

        Not relevant since we don’t judge the guy by his intentions…

        “(…) and to believe that it was worth the cost. Imagine if more than 7 million died in a war today?”

        …but we judge him by the consequences of his actions:
        crushed federalism, stronger central government. Which arguably laid the foundations for the US to become the dominant military, economic and cultural power in the world in the 20th century. I don’t know Foseti, but that sounds like a roaring success to me. Millions of people have died for a lot less.
        Besides, pulling the moral superiority card by lamenting war casualties is lame. There is no discussion to be had there since nobody wants people to die. And yet war still happens and we all hold dear one group or another with blood on their hands. If there is any kind of neutral thing to be said about that it’s what Moldbug wrote about Breivik:

        “So let’s judge ABB – but let’s judge him by the natural and historical laws of war. Ironically, by the (pre-20C) laws of war, ABB does quite poorly.

        Whose terrorism is more morally legitimate? The right-wing terrorism of ABB, or the left-wing terrorism of OBL? As a rightist, I am obviously far more in sympathy with the goals of ABB. But by the natural law of war, which no man made and no man can unmake, 9/11 was far more legitimate as a military act than the Utoye massacre. ABB is worse than OBL.

        Why? Because the law of war is that all war’s carnage, whether it affects “soldiers” or “civilians” (a completely arbitrary distinction) is legitimate if and only if it serves a military purpose. What is a military purpose? Since the purpose of all war is the transfer of political power, a military purpose is a political purpose.

        Slaughter that serves no purpose is sadistic, insane, terrible. Slaughter for purpose is the very nature of war, and cannot be separated from it. Since right-wing terrorism does not work, it is illegitimate as a tactic of war. Since left-wing terrorism does work, it is perfectly legitimate. Thus, OBL is legitimate and ABB is not.”

      • Foseti says:

        We do judge him by the results. On any reasonable period of time, then, he failed.

        I’m not sure “nobody wanted people to die” in this case. Ever heard of John Brown? The North marched to war singing his praises. Coincidence?

      • josh says:

        In fairness to the North, they later changed the lyrics to be about being the mighty army of God marching down to “crush the serpent with his heel, His truth is marching on” in order to bring about the millenium when “the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave”.

        “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
        While God is marching on.” Oh and save the Union. Can’t forget that.

  9. VXXC says:

    Why is Civil War so much on your mind Dear Foesti? Along with Slavery, Tyranny …?

  10. Gian says:

    “But there is a dangerous kind of mind which raises moral issues where they were better kept out”

    Would Masters say the same if it were HIS people that were enslaved?

    • Foseti says:

      There’s a difference between wishing to change or eliminate an institution and being willing to slaughter any number of people to fulfill one’s vision (or complete lack thereof, which is – of course – the case and makes it incalculably worse).

      • MC says:

        The South sure seemed willing to kill a lot of people in order to preserve the institution. No judgment for them?

  11. says:

    “Every other civilized country ended slavery without resorting to civil war” [Citation Needed]

    Most civilized countries were destroyed while they had slavery.*
    Many other civilized countries ended slavery only when conquered (e.g., most of Europe).

    *Method of counting: was Rome (753BC-[some dispute]) civilized? Were its neighbors? All had slavery. All were destroyed. Repeat as necessary for the entire pre-modern world.

  12. jl02 says:

    A couple of things, based on 33308 making a lot of sense.

    If politics is who/whom gets what, and that that the point of power is having power, and that no one voluntarily decreases their power, Foseti’s retort that federal power would have decreased after the war is understandable. Power gained, regardless of initial motive, will see those in power fight tooth and nail to retain it.

    And Dred Scott might have forced slavery on the territories, and the abolitionists were not the only ones wanting war – for all their Puritan blood lust, which shouldn’t be downplayed – if we consider:

    – Tariffs, internal spending, ect Whig/Democrat issues, not North/South issues. (Henry Clay had a lot of Southern support, almost all the time). Both parties enjoyed support in each region.

    – Slavery overcame party battling and became dominant as THE ISSUE because in 1854 Douglas et al. wanted territories to decide the issue for themselves…..but the South was the centralizing authority, through protecting and extending slave power…….

    – (I don’t justify the Puritan/Progressive power grabs, which I acknowledge and hate, but) the South was perfectly willing to employ massive government power to ensure cheap labor

    – Specifically – Southern politicians wanted to annex Mexico, invade Cuba, force the federal government to be quite heavy-handed when their “property” took off…..

    It’s all in their declarations of independence….the states wanted cheap slave labor more than anything else.

    This does not justify the war, nor the North’s actions, but the context of those declarations has to be looked at closely.

  13. fnn says:

    It’s all in their declarations of independence….the states wanted cheap slave labor more than anything else.

    Obvious that the ruling elites will always defend the existing economic system-i.e., the one that put them on top.

  14. RS says:

    I don’t know 10% of what y’all do but

    [foseti] Dred Scott didn’t force slavery on the territories, it just left the option open.

    [thras] With Dred Scott there was really nothing to keep the West free and white, and with the pending Lemmon v. New York Taney probably would have made slavery legal in all states.

    I wonder what is Foseti’s response re Lemmon?

    [foseti] If that was the case, federal power would have decreased after the war, not increased exponentially. […] The idea that Lincoln assumed massive power to reduce federal power is too clever by half.

    Yeah, but whose/whom’s federal power? Thras didn’t really mention federalism, he mentioned White West vs Plantation West. He suggests the North was more ‘civil’ at first (wanting referendum) but felt frustrated by the Court. Foseti emphasizes the attempted compromises, but personally I have no idea how those acts/attempts might have ended up interacting with the Court’s power in the Northern imagination (again, I am not asserting a passable status of knowledge, just interested in analyzing this logically). I don’t see Thras necessarily denying that the North might have become much the more belligerent of the two, or that it ultimately became imperious as opposed to federalist — only he seems to be saying this happened mainly because of the Court and perhaps Lemmon in particular.

    Dystopia Max seems to be alluding to the South’s potentially expanding southward, as we discussed at MM’s — ?

    [foseti] Also, it’s super obvious if you read a bunch from the time that the abolitionists were the only ones that wanted war (for quite some time before the war). Your theory stands that on its head. Dred Scott would have never been heard were it not carefully set up by the abolitionists, for example.

    I cannot follow the argument. –How is Dred connected to belligerence? You say Dred was an abo setup, but the abo’s “did not get their way” in the case. Are you saying that their plan A was to ‘win’ Dred and thus get a White West, but their (premeditated) plan B was to lose Dred and then use the loss for belligerent demogoguery?

    If I am just hopelessly lost, anyone please feel free to say so.

    • RS says:

      Also, it seems to me obvious that Thras’ position must be tested against the Great Migration of Blacks to the North.

      The goals Thras describes didn’t really happen, at least not completely. Plantationism and ‘the slave power’ didn’t come to the North, but Blacks did.

      However, wik says the Great Migration started in 1910. So it is possible that the goal of a White North existed in say 1855, but was lost by 1910. –Through the spread of bleedingheart ism or what have you.

      • RS says:

        Bleedingheartism and/or low-wage-loving big business, perhaps. Interesting that the push for the ’24 immigration restriction was afoot at the same time (it was a major effort long before ’24 and went frustrated for many a year).

      • josh says:

        Immigration restriction, and black migration (and prohibition) were targeting Catholic urban power and radical trade unionism which were largely but not entirely connected.

        Around this time, John D. Rockefeller Jr. had a famous change of heart re: trade unions as well (after the Ludlow massacre). He decided there was nothing wrong with a union, in fact, he’d even set one up or you…

    • RS says:

      > Yeah, but whose/whom’s federal power? Thras didn’t really mention federalism, he mentioned White West vs Plantation West.

      This sentence must be confusing to some non-US. I’m confused about it myself. ‘Federal power’ means centralized power in DC, but in most US contexts ‘federalism‘ means relative decentralism/confederationism/devolution.

      –Except in the late 18th century I think it is the exact opposite, the Federalists/Federalism were the ones wanting a strong central/’federal’ gov — someone correct me if I’m all * up.

    • Foseti says:

      I don’t think you’re lost, though it’s nearly impossible to deal with all the relevant issues here.

      The Dred Scott setup was win-win for the abolitionists. If they “won” they prevented slavery in the territories – no more could territories be potential slave states. If they “lost” they could find some opportunistic politician to suggest that now slavery was legal in all the territories and, fuck it, all the free states too, we better take the law and divine justice into our own hands.

  15. RS says:

    Parenthetically, almost every particular accusation against gnosticism from Gomez Davila and Vogelin was also made against nicene christianity by Nietzsche. Just for whatever it’s worth to whomever, not really trying to start a debate on it.

    (I’ve read a good deal of Gomez Davila, but just the wik entry on Voegelin.)

    • IA says:

      Thanks for Gomez Davila. I’d never heard of him. Aphorism in visual art would most likely resemble pre-Enlightenment allegory, or the description of one thing under the guise of another. Cheers.

  16. jl02 says:

    “Obvious that the ruling elites will always defend the existing economic system-i.e., the one that put them on top.”

    With the South, it was not just a defense, but a highly active expansionist ethos – today Cuba and the West, perhaps South America tomorrow. This is not an exaggeration.

    I basically agree with Foseti here, and don’t think the war was justifiable as a Catholic trying to think through just war, but this context is critical. It makes Northern actions a bit more justifiable.

    And it’s worth reading the War Nerd on this war, an admirer of Grant and Sherman. All wars needed men like these if you wanted to win (before the evolution to a-symmetrical during Vietnam) – damn the civilians, damn the property, damn the causalities.

    • josh says:

      There’s something funny about the whole business. Take this “revolutionary”:é_Gonzales

      If I have more time, I’ll write something about this tomorrow.

    • Foseti says:

      I appreciate this point to some extent. But, it’s really hard to argue that the US became less expansionist after the Civil War, which this theory would predict. Instead, the opposite happened. Masters claims the subsequent period of expansion was unconstitutional, pushed by northern monopolists, and all done following the blueprint Lincoln used to invade the South.

      • RS says:

        Well, it probably was unconstitutional depending on how strict you are. I mean if you’re straight up aspie.

        Jefferson himself had qualms about the LA Purchase in this connection. But he was basically like, well, devoted as I am to constitutionalism, which regime I realize I may now be weakening by like 0.2% — there are times when ‘the letter killeth’, and literally everyone will agree with me on this.

      • RS says:

        Again who whom, or just who who. You seem to think the N would have the same feelings about expansion by a victorious Union, as it would have about expansion by a CSA having attained independence. That’s a strange thing to think. As Jehu would say, you spend money on your dog, not on an undernourished Burmese 8yo human — not even an undernourished Burmese 8yo human of high IQ and noble character.

  17. RS says:

    Lots of free English Gomez Davlia here, also with Spanish original, thanks to some awesome guy:

    I first heard of him through Moldbug, or somebody. Pretty great writer.

  18. RS says:

    > With the South, it was not just a defense, but a highly active expansionist ethos – today Cuba and the West, perhaps South America tomorrow. This is not an exaggeration.

    This is getting a little exotic, but in the extreme, N & S could have just partitioned the entire Americas S of Canadia, in a sort of Tehran Conference. I guess this would have been a little embarrassing vis-a-vis American ideals, and perhaps rather provocative to European powers. It could even wind up forcing a N-S alliance for a war against Europe — at which point, if they won, going through with the N-S divorce might feel rather odd.

    Still, some pretty wild stuff might get considered in preference to a slaughter of 800,000 men. Maybe some dude somewhere once gave it five or ten minutes’ thought.

    • VXXC says:

      Extending the Peculiar Institution Southwards: Cuba Immediately, Mexico next, Brazil Alliance; that “Dude” would be Jefferson Davis, former US Secretary of War and vigorous proponent of expanding Slavery. Cuba would have been taken nearly immediately upon Confederate Success in Holding their own country.

      Others here are also ignoring the Labor motives of the Republicans – Free Soilers who were probably more numerous and important at the time than abolitionists. The Core of Republicanism was that one should be paid for their labor.

      • Foseti says:

        Yes, and if the south lost, we’d invade Cuba and the Philippines, so clearly the south was the more expansionist!

  19. VXXC says:

    As noted above and by History had the United States remained as it was the Government would have remained in the Hands of Democrats, and Slavery would have certainly been extended southward and probably Westward.

    But History does not solve our problems – NOW, nor does it offer medicine that does not seem too bitter. For it’s not 1860 it’s 2013, the government is not in the hands of Feudal Southerners who wish to keep niggers in chains, it’s in the hands of Absolutist Progs who wish to make all men – but especially Whites – into Niggers on the welfare/prison plantations. They are quite advanced along this road and have a seemingly formidable engine of enserfment in the State they completely possess – seemingly. Certainly there is no political party opposing them worth mentioning. And under New Deal Government it doesn’t matter if there were, nor is your Anti-Versity fantasy going to get a tiny fraction of the traction it would need…then there’s the world we do live in NOW..which is quite bankrupt…oh and NOW the people arm at war mobilization speed for ..something…

    They – the Progs – do have one major defect in their machinations: The muscle needed to complete the plan, indeed for them to keep what they have already swindled. Muscle comes from…the very people they wish to finish placing into Helotry, their very kin. This is true of the police and the Military, and cuts across any skin lines.
    The most intense object of Prog Hate at the moment is of course what Tomasky calls “The Confederacy” or M’ruicas Gun Culture, which is the Scotch-Irish Martial Culture, which tends to benignly utterly infect everyone who contacts it. Even Liberals like to shoot guns for instance, and Hollywood is hardly immune to it’s considerable charms.

    Said culture is not only Americas Military backbone since before the Revolution, it’s the greatest well of martial vigor and military manpower on the planet NOW [and perhaps since the Tartars].

    We may consider the tableau of the Mad Dwarf of Gotham. He has his dainty feet in the Iron boots of Tyranny and look! He has not the muscle to even walk about in them himself…nor the sense to extract his effeeties. He snarls and impotently bellows imprecations. This is the situation of all the Progs, Mad Dwarves that have manipulated procedures into who knows what fate.**
    BUT he has alarmed the citizenry into arming faster than the arms and weapons can be delivered, agitated the police [who are caught in the middle] and there’s a silent 3d party watching in ..resignation…the Military. Doubt it not.

    [The resignation is most now are resigned to – fate. For a couple of years. We feel the eyes of fate on our backs…we are of course creatures of sharpened instincts.]

    So we have the picture of the worst of tyrants – mad and impotent – with three dangerous entities staring in increasing horror first at him, and then at each other…here is the picture of America on the eve of the Great Question.

    **console with this – the dwarves fate is sealed with the 1st volley.
    There is no manipulation of the procedural outcome where their power isn’t instantly destroyed in a whiff of cordite.

    • Anonymous says:

      Awesome, but is it really accurate? All kinds of crank internet commenters seem to think the military are contemplating “stepping in”, but is that realistic? Is there any evidence (even anecdotal) that this is being discussed?

  20. […] Foseti reads an unusual biography of Lincoln. […]

  21. MC says:

    There is not one historical leader that would have let half his country walk away without a fight. You’re putting Lincoln up against a completely ahistorical standard.

  22. Toddy Cat says:

    For what it’s worth, I do not believe Master’s account of how the Philippine Insurrection started is generally believed to be correct today.

    • Foseti says:

      Yes, which is super strange. His account of the Philippines War is completely mainstream. I guess it’s different when you invade an oppressed people instead of an oppressor people, even when the circumstances are otherwise identical.

  23. RS says:

    The US South was pretty fevery — malarious, inter alia — which seems to be a fair part of how it got so into Black slavery. It’s worth noting that non-arid points south of ol Florida were even worse — with little hope for radical improvement (quinine was an early ‘discovery’, actually probably discovered by indigenes IIRC, but Pasteur and Koch et al had their heyday more like from the 70s or mid-80s.) I believe the Panama Canal was blasted right around 1900 and the toll was pretty high. I guess passengers running through there must have stuck largely to their cabins.

    In fact it’s not clear to me how Africans failed to replace Mestizos in the non-arid American tropics, seeing as virtually all these tropical infections are from there. The microbes anyway ; I am less clear on macroparasites like worms. Now it’s true a lot of tropical Latins have some African heritage, and I don’t doubt it’s at least a little enriched in alleles aimed against these infections.

    This has two or three main saliences I can think of. Firstly an expanded CSA might still have been weaker than the North in industry and high-potency (Europid) troops, though it might have been pretty rich. Second, expansion would have wound the CSA even tighter round the staff of slavery — pretty much zero Whites would’ve wanted to be out in some tropical canebrakes as slaveless freeholders or whatever, whereas I think about >80% of Whites in the secesh states were non-slaveowners. And third, the nation would have to’ve ended up with a rather harsher culture, because tropical slavery is nastier than the peculiar institution in good ol Tennessee. Poor bastards of any race died down there left and right, which is probably why you didn’t (I understand) run slaves there on a scale that promotes a halfway humane bond between you and them, and you wouldn’t develop one anyway even if you did, ’cause they all just die all the time anyway. Mr Celine seems to have found the Africk scene — the toll of random death and agony, and the hard hearts it engendered — about as horrifying as the Western Front, where he got blown up.

    • RS says:

      The ‘Black Seminole’ escapee slave and slave-descended pops of Florida, who go waaaay back, were observed to live rather richer than the Injun village next to whom they would settle. Bigger houses, better crops. They were probably more healthy and energetic in the sickly new postcolumbian Florida, and more virilized. Yet they lived in a sort of vassalage to the Seminole, due to their inferior mezzo-scale sociomilitary organization. I take it ten of them were more than a match for ten ‘Noles, and this is why the latter did not succeed in taxing them much. But in times of serious military insecurity and energization, they recognized the need to pipe down and accept most of the orders of the more organized, restrained, more recipro-altruistic race.

  24. RS says:

    > There is not one historical leader that would have let half his country walk away without a fight. You’re putting Lincoln up against a completely ahistorical standard.

    Well, touche. We’re on a holiday from history, as Jehu would say. Malthusian logic and the broader logic of general insecurity didn’t grind to a halt in 1800: it slowly unwound. There is fear, and pressure of toil and desperation in the world, to this day. There was more in 1860. Dividing the mighty power bloc this country represented could conceivably have gotten this country way more involved in a lot of shit. Endangerments, which means alliances, alignments . . . which can mean wars — power-on-power wars not proxy wars. Some of which have been filthy * dirty.

    I am not a patriot. But a pan-European and to some extent pan-human. –And one who considers the very 1776-89 inception of this country under heady haute-Enlightenment propaganda — which to its credit was gracious enough not to be too connected to actual realities here — to have been considerably dangerous . . . though it could have (and often seemed to) turn out a lot better under certain circumstances. I would rather have seen this country divided in the 1860s ; that does not necessarily mean it was the best thing for this country considered unto itself.

  25. […] – The WSJ thinks Obama should follow the Constitution, just like Lincoln. Sigh […]

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  31. brueckenbauer says:

    Thank you. I only knew (and admired) Masters as a poet, but I always have thought about him as a standard “progressive” of his time,

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