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The Real Cause of the Civil War

“Lincoln did not launch a military invasion of the South to free the slaves. No serious student of history could deny this fact. In 1861 Lincoln’s position—and the position of the Republican Party—was that Southern slavery was secure: He had no intention of disturbing it; and even if he did, it would be unconstitutional to do so. This is what he said in his First Inaugural Address. The Republican Party, led by Lincoln, was in favor of Southern slavery because its leaders feared the spectacle of emancipated slaves residing in their own Northern states. Lincoln’s own state of Illinois had recently amended its constitution to prohibit the emigration of black people into the state, as had several other Northern states. Most Northern states had adopted Black Codes that discriminated in the most inhumane ways against freed blacks. Such discriminatory laws existed in the North decades before they were adopted in the South. There were very few blacks in the North in 1861, and most Northern voters wanted it to remain that way.

As of 1861 Lincoln and the Republicans were opposed only to the extension of slavery into the new territories. One reason they gave for this opposition was that they wanted to preserve the territories as the exclusive domain of the white race. A second reason articulated by Lincoln was the desire to avoid the further artificial inflation of Southern (i.e., Democratic Party) representation in Congress that was created by the three-fifths clause of the Constitution…

[Lincoln] wanted to use military force to destroy once and for all the doctrines of federalism and states’ rights that had, since the founding of the republic, frustrated ambitious politicians like himself who wanted a highly centralized and greatly enlarged state…The major opposition to such plans, for some seventy years, had come mostly from Southern statesmen such as Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, and Calhoun.”

From The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo, pp. 257-258