On November 19, 1863, America permanently shifted from being a Republic of Republics (U.S. Const., Art. IV, §4) guaranteeing to the States the right to govern themselves under God to an egalitarian Empire at the control of a presumptuous 10 square mile plot of land on the east side of the Potomac River. The shift had been occurring for around forty years with the regional jealousies and rivalries between North and South over the use of, versus the right to collect, taxes for the “internal improvement” projects that almost universally went to improve the North. But on November 19, 1863, Union President Abraham Lincoln delivered his now infamous speech, The Gettysburg Address, permanently codifying his view of an America according to Lincoln.
The Gettysburg Address was a radical shift from what our Framers had in fact believed and did in 1776. First, in America according to Lincoln, the Union was “born” in 1776. This is historical fallacy at best, and fraud at worst. In 1776, not one Union, but Thirteen separate States were created out of the formerly Thirteen English colonies. “United,” lower case in the document, the States combined their efforts to separate from England, and the Crown did eventually recognise the independence of each separate State. The Paris Peace Treaty of 1783 was not between the King and “The United States,” as a singular proper noun, rather it was between the King and the “said United States,” plural, naming each of the Thirteen states making it abundantly clear that the King did not view the various States as a nation, and neither did they. The several states, united, had, under God’s Providence, through war, achieved “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them.”
From whence did America derive this notion of the separate and equal rights to self-government under God? In 1620, God set on this continent a group of men committed to the creation of a better ordering of government, “for the Glory of God” and the preservation and “Advancement of the Christian Faith.” Self-government, under God, by a Christian People emerged on this continent as the fundamental propositions of the American People as early as 1620 in the Mayflower Compact.
However, in America according to Lincoln, America was created upon one, singular proposition, that “all men are created equal.” Is such a claim justifiable? Contrast Lincoln’s opinion with the truth. Firstly, THE proposition of the Declaration? In truth, the “all men are created equal” clause was one (1) of the several self-evident truths acknowledged by the Signers of the Declaration. The sentence started, “We hold THESE TRUTHS to be self evident.” There was no singular proposition offered in 1776. “These truths” also included being (2) endowed by God with unalienable Rights to (3) Life, (4) Liberty and the (5) Pursuit of Happiness.
But that is not all. Yet another self-evident truth Lincoln failed to recognise, but our Founders acknowledged, was that (6) God institutes Governments among men (7) by their consent to (8) secure rights. Furthermore, governments (like England leading up to 1776, or the Union leading up to 1861) that trample those rights give rise to the (9) right of the governed to alter or abolish that tyrannical government. It is not difficult to surmise why Lincoln did not acknowledge this right of the Southern People.
Even further, now the tenth proposition upon which America was established, that upon altering or abolishing the old government, the people, when establishing a new one, shall (10) lays its Foundations on such principles (the former nine) and (11) organise its Powers in such a way as they believe will effect their Safety and Happiness.
Perhaps, after seven score and two years of having the American view according to Lincoln projected into the Declaration, a proper reading of the Equality Clause is in order. Let’s look at the words as written in 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal …” First, what was the purpose of the Declaration in the minds of the creators and signers of the document? To profess to the King, and the World, that each of the several States had assumed to itself the equal station and right inherent in all the Nations of the World, and united they were ready to stand, hopefully in peace, but if necessary in war, before the King.
Second, who holds these truths to be self-evident? “We.” The Declaration was not a document for individuals – it was written in the plural. “All men” does not mean “Each individual man.” “The People” does not mean “Each and Every Person.” Singular pronouns existed in 1776 – if the Founders intended by the Declaration to make a profession of the belief in individual equality and rights, they would have written the document in the singular. But they did not. Rather, the document was offered by the several united States as a declaration to the King. The States are the “We,” as represented by their duly elected ambassadors, not the group of individual signors.
Thus the “Equality Clause” must be read in the same context as the rest of the truths. The proposition to which the Framers committed themselves was not the claim that each individual person in America was created equal. Rather, “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, entitle[s] them,” the People in the States, to the separate and equal rights of all Peoples to government by the consent of the governed, under God by a Christian People. “Them,” not “Him” was the word chosen, and it should be noticed. “They,” the People in their corporate capacity (the State), had rights as against the King.
The principles upon which America was founded provide far more liberty and security than any individualistic egalitarian dream imagined by Lincoln or his followers. Whenever liberals or conservatives use The Gettysburg Address to puff-up their position, they promote the “progressive” and Lincolnian view of America, and lead it only further down the road of tyranny. Consider, from the “conservative” side, George W. Bush has used the Equality Clause according to Lincoln to promote his War of Terror. From the liberal side, it has been used to promote the right to commit sodomy. Either way, it undermines the American view of Law and Government.
Just one example. In a decision by the Supreme Court of Vermont, “civil unions” were imposed upon the people of Vermont. As justification for their decision the majority on the Court declared, “even the most aristocratic of southern Whig planters … were pushed into creating an egalitarian ideology that would be and even as early as 1776 was being turned against themselves.” G. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787 (1996) as quoted in Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194 (1999). According to the Lincolnian View, a great egalitarian Pandora’s box was opened in 1776.
The second paragraph of The Gettysburg Address hints at the idea that “any nation so conceived and dedicated” would, by necessity, have to fight a “great civil war” so that the nation “shall have a new birth of freedom” through the shedding of blood. America according to Lincoln requires blood-shed and revolution. The “great civil war” was indeed carried out, by Lincoln, to ensure that his view of America would prevail against the American view of law and government. Lincoln imposed a war upon the Southern people who merely claimed their equal right to confederate self-government under God by a Christian People. For doing what America’s founders had in 1776, by abolishing in their jurisdictions a Government that was destructive to those rights, Lincoln waged war against the American view of law and government as expressed by the confederated Southern States.
Prudence, indeed, did dictate that the union government long established was not changed for a light and transient cause. Rather, Southern men were willing to suffer from 1825 through 1861, while the Evils of the Union were sufferable. But after a long train of abuses and usurpations by the union government of the Rights of the States and the People to govern themselves, several of the formerly united States sought to peaceably withdraw from the Union. No great and bloody “civil war” would have ensued had Lincoln permitted South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee to peaceably leave the Union as permitted by the U.S. Constitution and the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God. However, like King George, the Pride of Empire being too great a sin, Lincoln responded with war and invasion against a People seeking only to be American. The war was no contest for power, and thus by definition was not a “civil war.” Rather, it was a war by Lincoln and his conspirators to deny the Southern People their separate and equal right to self-government, under God, by a Christian People. It was, as I have heard, the War When Lincoln and the North Invaded America.
On the battlefields of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the American view of Law and Government was replaced with Lincoln’s view when the confederate armies suffered their fatal blows. America according to Lincoln has prevailed since that day. It is the official story of the educators, politicians and historians. America according to Lincoln is presently being taught at the National Constitution Center from June 10 through November 4, 2005. You are forewarned. But America according to Lincoln is nothing close to the American view of Law and Government that you can read about in this journal. Herein you will find that, while subjugated, the American view of Law and Government is far from dead.
For further reading on the undercurrent of thought guiding this essay, please read The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition, by Willmoore Kendall and George W. Carey, Louisiana State University Press (1970).
Scott T. Whiteman is a Reformed Christian, husband, and father of three. He is a practicing attorney in the State of Maryland, and served as Campaign Manager for Michael A. Peroutka as he ran for President in 2004. He is available for radio or TV interviews, or for speeches, by contacting him at (410) 760-7897 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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