|Happy Birthday, Mr.|
Lincoln. Let's look at
One of the following two descriptions describes the Union administration during the Civil War, and the other describes the Confederate administration. See if you can guess which is which.
- This side placed a heavy focus on traditional Constitutional rights, particularly the 10th Amendment. However, they certainly did not disregard the rest of the freedoms. Additionally, one of the most powerful men in the administration was Jewish and Jews served freely in the Army. In fact, Jews were treated better by this administration than they had been by almost every other government in history. Furthermore, property rights were valued, and land was rarely seized by the government except as a last resort.
- On the other hand, this side suspended habeus corpus for its citizens and authorized indefinite detentions. Of the Ten amendments in the original American Bill of Rights, the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and arguably the Tenth all were ignored. Material opposing the government was banned and strict limits were imposed on what people were allowed to do. Furthermore, the lead general of this army was a notorious anti-Semite who would dishonorably discharge Jews for no reason other than their religion. Additionally, the President of this country stated that he did not care about the plight of the slaves, only about winning the war.
|Judah Benjamin, the first|
Jewish Cabinet member
in North America by over 40
years. He was the second-most
powerful man in the Confederacy,
making him the highest-ranked
Jewish politician in North
America to date.
Well, the first description describes the Confederate States of America and the Jewish man in question was Judah Benjamin. Benjamin held various cabinet positions and was the second-most powerful man in the Confederacy after Jefferson Davis. The USA did not have a Jewish Cabinet member until 1906 when Oscar Strauss became Secretary of Commerce and Labor. No Jew was even elected Governor of a State until 1887 when Washington Bartlett became governor of California. And yes, General (and later President) Grant was a known anti-Semite who kicked Jews out of the Army for their religion. So clearly the South isn't the only racists.
In fact, most Northerners did not even consider the South racist. Although Lincoln was an abolitionist, even he did not believe in full rights for African-Americans. Nobody really did, North or South. So the North didn't win that area of rights by much. Meanwhile, the Confederacy gave Jews far more rights and recognition than they had in the North. While Antisemitism ran rampant in the Union, it was virtually unheard of in the South.
Then there were the Constitutional violations committed by the Birthday Boy himself, Abe Lincoln. We criticize the Obama and Bush administrations for suspending habeus corpus to terrorists. Well, Lincoln did so for everybody. Even something as simple as a curfew violation could earn you an indefinite detention until they figured out what to do with you. Anyone who dared disagree with the government in public was thrown in jail. Sure, there were Southerners who disagreed with Jefferson Davis, but he let them speak out as long as they did so peacefully.
Additionally, there are questions as to whether Lincoln should have gone to war in the first place. Before the Civil War, it was considered proper to say "the United State are...." Now, of course, we say "The United States is...." Why the difference? Well, it used to be that the United States was recognized as just that - a Union of States. In fact, the Tenth Amendment protects the rights of the individual states.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
|Ironically, the South cared more|
about our Constiution than we did.
Yes, slavery was wrong. Indisputably, the ownership of another human being should be banned. But this war wasn't just about slavery. It was about states' rights. Rights Lincoln denied them. The President himself said
If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union
|We know slavery is wrong. But |
we're not the "good guys"either in
the Civil War.
The reason why is simple. People don't want to think that Lincoln could have been wrong. After all, wouldn't that make the South right? But that's because people think in absolutes. Either the Union was wrong about everything or they were right about everything. And if the former is true, slavery is ok. But we can't think in absolutes. That's the problem. The South was wrong to support and practice slavery. And the North was wrong for its Antisemitic views and its Unconstitutional practices. So to answer the initial question - there are no "good guys" here. Each side had some very atrocious views. But that's not how we remember it today.