Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A New Nation, Conceived in Liberty

There's an interesting article about the history (and legality) of seceding from the Union. Apparently, it wasn't all that uncommon to seriously debate the subject back in the day. And even before the debacle of November 2004, there are people out there who have been working to secede for some time. It makes for a good read. But something in the article leapt out at me:

And if saving the union was Lincoln's sole purpose, then breaking the law appeared to be his method. One wonders what kind of union he hoped in the end to save. As DiLorenzo notes, Lincoln was the first and only president to suspend habeas corpus. He shut down hundreds of newspapers that preached peace or criticized his administration, arrested thousands of political dissenters en masse, censored telegraph communications, used federal troops to intervene in elections, even deported a congressional opponent. Church ministers too felt his heavy hand: They were threatened with imprisonment if they failed to include at the beginning of each service a prayer for Lincoln and the preservation of the union.

According to Edward S. Corwin, writing in 1947 in his book "Total War and the Constitution," Lincoln probably "invented" the war-powers doctrine that has since provided such convenient legal cover for militarist ventures issuing from the White House. Oddly appropriate, then, that George W. Bush, announcing "victory" in his war, should have landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Following the attacks of Sept. 11, some news outlets, notably the New York Times, went so far, not incorrectly perhaps, as to dub Bush "Lincolnesque."

It really puts it in perspective, doesn't it? Putin doesn't run his country as ruthlessly as Lincoln did. As angry and pessimistic as I am, sometimes it's good to take a step back and honestly reflect on all the progress we've made. Bush may have put us back a few steps on the road to legitimate freedom, but we've come a long way since Jefferson's slaves, Lincoln's political prisoners, and FDR's internment camps. We just have to keep fighting, and history will (eventually) declare us victorious.

No comments: