Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Abraham Lincoln



by Rochelle Ascher

The year was 1860. Abraham Lincoln had just been elected President
of the United States. Of 303 possible electoral votes, Lincoln
had received only 180; of the popular vote, he received 1.8
million votes, while his three opponents together received 2.8
million votes. In 15 states, Lincoln received no electoral votes.
In ten states, he received not a single popular vote, largely
because the southern states refused to put him on the ballot.
In the four months before his inauguration, South Carolina,
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana had seceded from the
Union. Other southern states were to secede in rapid order.
By the time Lincoln entered office in March of 1861, the Civil
War was only weeks away.
The Buchanan administration which Lincoln succeeded was entirely
treasonous--in fact indistinguishable from the Supreme Council
of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (which became synonymous
with the Confederacy). By 1860, these anti-Union radicals operated
directly from the White House, led by former Attorney General
Caleb Cushing, a lawyer for the Boston opium cartel. Both Howell
Cobb, secretary of the treasury--and the most powerful member
of the cabinet--and Vice President John C. Breckinridge, were
Sovereign Grand Inspector Generals and active members of the
Scottish Rite.
These Freemasonic traitors had been working actively for months
to disarm the northern federal arsenals and equip the southern
rebel states. Citizens demonstrated throughout northern cities,
as tons of military hardware were stolen and shipped south for
an attack against the United States.
The situation facing Lincoln upon inauguration was the worst
the United States had ever faced. The British had installed
a series of traitorous Presidents who had all but dismantled
the U.S. economy. Jackson, Tyler, Polk, Pierce, and Buchanan
had destroyed the basic institutions of the U.S. economy, moving
control out of the hands of the Whig industrialists and bankers,
and into the hands of British financiers working through the
banking houses of Boston and New York.
This led to a series of bank failures and depressions. In 1857,
the U.S. economy went bust. Business came to a standstill. Hunger
was widespread. The Treasury was bankrupt: Congress had not
been paid. In his {Shall We Have Peace?}, Henry C. Carey, one
of Lincoln's closest collaborators and economic advisers, described
the situation in this way:
``Had it been possible on the 4th of March, 1861, to take a
bird's-eye view of the whole Union, the phenomena presenting
themselves for examination would have been as follows:
``@sb^Millions of men and women would have been seen who were
wholly or partially unemployed, because of the inability to
find persons able and willing to pay for service.
``@sb^Hundreds of thousands of workmen, farmers and shopkeepers
would have been seen holding articles of various kinds for which
no purchasers could be found.
``@sb^Tens of thousands of country traders would have been seen
poring over their books seeking, but vainly seeking, to discover
in what direction they might look for obtaining the means with
which to discharge their city debts.
``@sb^Thousands of city traders would have been seen endeavoring
to discover how they might obtain the means with which to pay
their notes.
``@sb^Thousands of mills, factories, furnaces, and workshops
large and small, would have been seen standing idle while surrounded
by persons who desired to be employed; and
``@sb^Tens of thousands of bank, factory and railroad proprietors
would have been seen despairing of obtaining dividends by means
of which they might be enabled to go to market.
``High above all these would have been seen a National Treasury
wholly empty, and to all appearance little likely ever again
to be filled.''
Thaddeus Stevens, who became one of the strongest proponents
of Reconstruction following the Civil War, also described the
state of the economy in the period right before the war began,
in a speech March 18, 1858 in the U.S. House of Representatives
entitled ``State Governments Republican in Form'':
``It became evident that Mr. Buchanan was to be the last of
Southern Presidents, and his Cabinet being almost wholly devoted
to the interests of slavery, set themselves boldly at work to
weaken the North and strengthen the South. They transferred
most of the best weapons of war from the North, where they were
manufactured, to the South, where they could readily be seized.
They plunged the nation into a heavy debt in time of peace.
When the Treasury was bare of cash they robbed it of millions
of bonds, and whatever else they could lay hands on. They fastened
upon us an incipient free-trade system, which impaired our revenues,
paralyzed our national industry, and compelled the exportation
of our immense production of gold. They have reduce our Navy
to an unserviceable condition, or dispersed it to the farthest
oceans. Our little Army was on the Pacific coast, sequestered
in Utah, or defending the Southern States from their own Indians.''
A major threat of assassination loomed even before Lincoln was
inaugurated. First, an assassination plot in Baltimore was uncovered,
requiring the President to be hidden on a train which secretly
brought him to Washington. Upon his arrival, as he was preparing
to assume office, the armed Knights of the Golden Circle were
preparing to kill the new President and seize the capital. General
Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. military, had moved the
headquarters of the U.S. Army out of Washington, D.C. when
the traitorous Franklin Pierce had been elected in 1852. Scott
deployed thousands of troops, bomb experts, and special police
to every conceivable vantage point for a likely assassin. Earlier,
Scott had prevented secessionists from disrupting the counting
of the electoral ballots in Washington.

The Republic Threatened

The most telling description of the situation the country faced
following Lincoln's election, is clear from an interchange between
Lincoln himself, and one of his closest friends, Judge Gillespie,
in the days before the inauguration. As late nineteenth-century
muckracker and historian Ida Tarbell reports it, ``He sat with
his head lying upon his arms, which were folded over the back
of his chair, as I have often seen him sit on our travels after
an exciting day in court. Suddenly he roused himself. `Gillespie,'
said he, `I would willingly take out of my life a period in
years equal to the two months which intervene between now and
my inauguration to take the oath of office now.' `Why?' I asked.
`Because every hour adds to the difficulties I am called upon
to meet, and the present administration does nothing to check
the tendency toward dissolution. I, who have been called to
meet this awful responsibility, am compelled to remain here,
doing nothing to avert it or lessen its force when it comes
to me.'
``I said that the condition of which he spoke was such as had
never risen before, and that it might lead to the amendment
of such an obvious defect in the federal Constitution. `It is
not of myself I complain,' he said, with more bitterness than
I ever heard him speak, before, or after. `But every day adds
to the difficulty of the situation, and makes the outlook more
gloomy. Secession is being fostered rather than repressed, and
if the doctrine meets with a general acceptance in the border
States, it will be a great blow to the government.'
``Our talk then turned upon the possibility of avoiding a war.
`It is only possible,' said Mr. Lincoln, `upon the consent of
this government to the erection of a foreign slave government
out of the present slave States. I see the duty devolving upon
me. {I have read, upon my knees, the story of Gethsemane, where
the Son of God prayed in vain that the cup of bitterness might
pass from him. I am in the Garden of Gethsemane now, and my
cup of bitterness is full and overflowing....'}
``I then told him that as Christ's prayer was not answered and
his crucifixion had redeemed the great part of the world from
paganism to Christianity, so the sacrifice demanded of him might
be a great beneficence. Little did I then think how prophetic
were my words to be, or what a great sacrifice he was called
to make.'' [emphasis added]
This was far more than a fight between North and South--between
slave states and free states. As Henry Carey details in his
{The Slave Trade: Foreign and Domestic,} slavery never existed
without free trade, nor free trade without slave labor. What
was literally at stake was the continued existence of the only
nation in the world that had successfully defeated (even if
only partially) the British system of free trade and established
a republic based on natural law and American System economics.
For this, the British crown had never forgiven the Americans,
and became increasingly embittered toward the young republic
from the time of Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.
In his book {Treason in America,} Anton Chaitkin details the
30-year plot by the British-backed and inspired Freemasons to
dismantle the American System and replace it with the British
system of slavery and free trade. Suffice it here to say the
conflict represented the crucial turning point in world history
to determine the future possibility of any successful opposition
to the British system anywhere in the world. So when Lincoln
referred to the Garden of Gethsemane, he was most accurate.

Pressure to Compromise

Massive pressure was mounted on Lincoln to compromise with the
secessionists. Not only was the new President faced with bankruptcy,
secession, and British-backed intrigue, upon inauguration he
met unabashed treason from within his own Cabinet. In fact,
Lincoln's orders to respond to the firing upon Fort Sumter were
countermanded by his own secretary of state, William Seward.
Seward's original advice to Lincoln was that he must not reinforce
Sumter, but let the extremist southerners secede--they would
surely come back to the Union in a few years! When Lincoln decided
to send reinforcements to Sumter, Seward began a series of meetings
with agents of the South Carolina secessionists whom he assured,
directly contrary to Lincoln's policy, that their steady preparations
for aggression would not be resisted! When Lincoln arranged
for a squadron of gunships and troop ships to be sent to reinforce
Sumter, Seward secretly arranged for the gunships to be diverted
to Florida. When Lincoln found out, he ordered Seward to reverse
his interference. Seward stalled long enough so that the gunships
were already streaming southward, and the commander, mistakenly
believing that he was going to Florida on Lincoln's orders,
refused to turn back on Seward's mid-course directive.
President Lincoln had been prevented from crushing the insurrection
while secession was still confined to the deep South. Still
advised to compromise by the majority of his cabinet, criticized
for taking the view that the rebellion was the work of a small
minority of conspirators rather than the broad expression of
sectional sentiment, Lincoln acted as he was never expected
to act. He immediately called for 75,000 volunteers to put down
the attempted coup d'etat. For the next four years, Lincoln
invoked the full powers of the presidency. The Civil War created
the emergency conditions for President Lincoln and his Whig
advisers to carry out the most sweeping reorganization of the
economy on the basis of American System principles since the
founding of the country.
The fact is that Lincoln faced treason, insurrection, and bankrputcy
within the first days of taking office, and yet within four
years not only smashed the British-run insurrection, but created
the greatest industrial giant the world had ever seen, is the
clearest testimony to the success of the American System of
Political-Economy. While fighting a war in which he led an army
that had over the course of the war, 3 million men at arms (out
of a total Northern population of 22 million), and in which
more than half a million men died, Lincoln:
@sb^organized a militia on a uniform basis;
@sb^built and equipped the largest army in the world;
@sb^reorganized the judicial system;
@sb^launched the steel industry; @sb^created a continental railroad
system; @sb^institutionalized scientific
agriculture, by methods including the Homestead Act, which provided
free western lands for farmers, the establishment of the Department
of Agriculture, and government promotion of a new era of farm
machinery and cheap tools;
@sb^established a system of free higher education throughout
the U.S.--the Land Grant College System;
@sb^pursued a policy of massive immigration to increase the
population as quickly as possible;
@sb^provided major government
support to all branches of science, through the U.S. Coast Survey
and the National Academy of Sciences;
@sb^organized the Bureau of Mines; @sb^organized governments
in the
Western territories; @sb^and, of course, abolished
slavery, freeing {4 million slaves.} This was accomplished by
reinstitution of the American System. The breathtaking economic
development program which Lincoln designed not only saved the
nation and won the war, but remained in effect long enough after
his assassination for the United States to become the world's
greatest industrial power, and remain so for more than a century
to come.

The American System

Lincoln's American System economic program:
@sb^created a national banking system;
@sb^reestablished national control
over banking, with cheap credit directed for productive purposes;
@sb^created a national currency for the first time in nearly
25 years (the greenback--$450 million worth);
@sb^increased government spending by 600 percent (to $300 million
per year);
@sb^implemented the highest protective tariff in U.S. history
(the Morrill Tariff);
@sb^promoted standardized and mass production nationwide; and
@sb^increased labor productivity by 50-70 percent.
In March of 1860, on the eve of the Republican convention which
nominated Lincoln to the presidency, Henry Carey, in his pamphlet
{Financial Crises, their Causes and Effects} (1859), spelled
out clearly the differences between the British and American
systems of economics, and Great Britain's plan to recolonize
the United States:
``The men who made the Revolution did so, because they were
tired of a system the essence of which was found in Lord Chatham's
declaration, that the colonists should not be permitted to make
for themselves `even as much as a single hobnail.' They were
sensible of the exhaustive character of a policy that compelled
them to make all their exchanges in a single market, thereby
enriching their foreign masters while ruining themselves. Against
this system they needed protection, and therefore did they make
the Revolution--seeking political independence as a means of
obtaining industrial and commercial independence. To render
that protection really effective, they formed a more perfect
union, whose first Congress gave us, as its first law, an act
for the protection of manufactures. Washington and his secretaries,
Hamilton and Jefferson, approved this course of action, and
in doing so were followed by all of Washington's successors,
down to General Jackson. For half a century, from 1783 to 1833,
such was the general tendency of our commercial policy, and
therefore was it that, notwithstanding the plunder of our merchants
under British Orders in Council and French Decrees, and notwithstanding
interferences with commerce by embargo and non-intercourse laws,
there occurred in that long period, in time of peace, no single
financial revulsion, involving suspension by our banks, or stoppage
of payment by the government. In all that period, there was,
consequently, a general tendency towards harmony between the
North and the South, in reference to the vexed question of slavery--both
Virginia and Maryland having, in 1832, showed themselves almost
prepared for abolition. Had the existing commercial policy been
maintained, the years that since have passed would have been
marked by daily growth of harmony, and of confidence in the
utility and permanence of our Union.
``Such, unhappily, was not to be the case. Even at that moment
South Carolina was preparing to assume that entire control of
our commercial policy which, with the exception of a single
presidential term [John Quincy Adams], she has since maintained--{thereby
forcing the Union back to that colonial system, emancipation
from which had been the primary object of the men who made the
``Forgetting all the lessons they [the Founding Fathers] had
taught, we have now so long been following in the direction
indicated by our British free trade `friends' ... that already
are they congratulating themselves upon the approaching dissolution
of the Union--and the entire reestablishment of British influence
over this northern portion of the continent....''
Abraham Lincoln defeated the British and restored the American
System--``the primary object of the men who made the Revolution.''
It was because of this that the British assassinated Abraham

Lincoln's Early Years

Contrary to most historical accounts, the American System policy
as adopted by Abraham Lincoln did not come out of the blue.
>From 1830, when, at the age of 21, Lincoln made his first election
day speech on ``internal improvements,'' until his assassination
April 14, 1865, Lincoln's entire life was dedicated to the American
System of the Founding Fathers. And contrary to the view of
most historians, he was not an enigma, a loner, someone who
emerged with these ideas out of nowhere; he was a {product of
and a critical part of a faction of American System Whigs totally
committed to reestablishing the American System and destroying
the British System of slavery and free trade.}
A brief look at Lincoln's early years makes this factional fight
quite clear. In 1830, Lincoln made his first election day speech.
While not a candidate himself, he announced his policy to be
that of the American System and his mentor Henry Clay: ``My
politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I
am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal
improvements system and a high protective tariff.'' [Lincoln,
{Collected Works.}]
The battle between British free trade and the American System
reached a {punctum saliens} in the 1832 presidential contest
between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay. This was also the year
that Lincoln made his first bid for public office--to the State
Legislature of Illinois.
In 1832, not only was there the infamous ``Nullification Crisis,''
but in that same year, Jackson vetoed the recharter of the the
Bank of the United States, and the next year withdrew U.S.
government funds from the bank.
The Nullification Crisis occurred when South Carolina threatened
to secede from the Union--not over slavery, but in opposition
to the protective tariff. Henry Carey's father, Mathew Carey,
a leading collaborator of Benjamin Franklin, circulated his
pamphlet titled {The Crisis--Appeal to the Good Sense of the
Nation Against the Spirit of Resistance and Dissolution of the
Congress did drastically lower the tariff--the Compromise Tariff
of 1833 was passed under southern blackmail threatening a civil
war--virtually eliminating all protection for American manufactures.
Lincoln lost his first bid for office; Henry Clay lost the presidential
election. And Andrew Jackson delivered the greatest coup d'etat
to the American System in the nation's history by destroying
the Bank of the United States.
At that time, the Bank held close to one-third of all bank deposits
in the country and made one-fifth of all bank loans. Millions
of dollars of the government's money were on deposit as well.
The bank's charter did not run out until 1836, but Clay, knowing
Jackson's hatred of the bank, successfully pushed Congress to
vote an early recharter in 1832. Jackson vetoed the recharter
and, on his orders, government deposits were withdrawn and placed
in state banks. Stripped of its business with the government,
the Bank of the United States was little more than an empty
shell by the time its charter officially ran out in 1836.
Jackson's withdrawal of funds from the National Bank may well
have been the greatest single act of treason in U.S. history.
The bank's destruction meant that the country had no national
currency. There was no funding for internal improvements, no
dirigist direction of credit. Private banks were completely
unregulated, and began to charge exorbitant interest rates.
Any hope that Clay and the Whigs had for industrializing the
South, as the way to end slavery and avoid civil war, were dashed.
The 89 state banks which received the U.S. government's deposits
(which Lincoln and Clay called Jackson's ``pet banks''), were
{unsound} to say the least. The Bank of the United States could
no longer stop state banks from issuing notes. (Prior to this,
the Bank of the United States could present notes for large
sums to an issuing state bank and demand payment in gold. This
kept the banks from issuing too much unsecured money.)
Wild banks sprang up everywhere, issuing large numbers of notes
with no specie (gold reserve) to back them up. Between 1830
and 1836, the amount lent by state banks rose from $137 million
to $475 million! These loans touched off wild speculation, especially
in land. Government land sales doubled, and then doubled again
in a single year. People paid the U.S. Treasury for land with
the worthless paper money of the wildest banks--who lent it
out over and over again.
Then, in an attempt to stop the wild speculation that he himself
had caused, Jackson pushed through the ``Specie Circular''--which
stipulated that the Treasury would only accept gold as payment
for the public lands. The sale of public lands collapsed.
There were runs on all the banks as people vainly attempted
to turn their bank notes into gold. Dozens of banks went under
overnight. The surviving banks refused to renew old loans or
make new ones. Businesses failed. Thousands were thrown out
of work. Riots by the unemployed swept Philadelphia and New
York. Farm prices collapsed by over 50 percent.
John Jacob Astor had formed the National Bank of New York to
replace the Bank of the United States--and placed James Gallatin
at its head. Gallatin, the son of Albert Gallatin, who as Jefferson
and Madison's treasury secretary almost singlehandedly destroyed
the Hamiltonian system, organized the ``Free Trade Movement''
with British support.
By 1837, the Free Trade Movement had achieved nearly all of
its objectives. The Bank of the United States was permanently
closed, and American industry was left completely unprotected,
both by the reduced tariff and a worldwide credit collapse initiated
by Bank of England credit restrictions. While civil war was
temporarily postponed, the Compromise Tariff and destruction
of the bank assured the Civil War would begin in deadly earnest
in 1861. Carey accused the ``British Secret Service'' of being
behind the nullifiers.

The Fight for Internal Improvements

When Jackson closed the Bank, he also stopped federal support
for road, canal, and railway construction, putting the brakes
on pioneer settlement of the West. But American Whigs fought
to continue the internal improvements construction policy with
the action of state governments to replace the missing federal
Lincoln led this fight from the age of 24 as a state legislator
in Illinois. As the leader of the famous group of Whig legislators
from Sangamon County, the ``Long Nine,'' (so-called because
all were over six feet tall), he sought to turn the mud- and
ice-bound Midwest into the new industrial center of the continent,
beginning with the construction of railways and canals to crisscross
Illinois. The ``Illinois Improvement Program'' or as it came
to be known simply as Lincoln called it, ``The System,'' centered
on two major projects: construction of the Illinois-Michigan
canal, and a 3,000-mile railroad system.
The canal between the Chicago and Illinois River would link
Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River. This would complete
the longtime ``grand design'' of the republican faction for
an unbroken water line of communications between the East Coast
and the Mississippi Basin via the Hudson River and the Great
Lakes: The other man-made link in this system was the recently
completed Erie Canal. Together, they would radically change
the course of American history by opening the Midwest to rapid
settlement and industrialization.
The growth of manufacturing in Illinois, because of the state's
exceptional transportation facilities, was the most rapid and
remarkable in the industrial history of the United States. In
1835, when the town of Chicago was incorporated, there were
150 inhabitants, whose main livelihood was trading with the
Indians. In that year, 70 bushels of wheat were shipped out
of that struggling little town. In 1836, major excavations for
the canal began. By 1850, two years after the canal's completion,
Chicago exploded to nearly 30,000 people, becoming the 18th-largest
city in the United States, and was shipping out 2 million bushels
of wheat a year!
And it was not just Chicago. When Lincoln came into the legislature
in 1834, there were barely 2,000 people living in the entire
northern part of the state, from Peoria to the Wisconsin state
line. By 1855, there were 175,000 people living in dozens of
new towns along the canal.
In 1836, Lincoln made internal improvements the major issue
of his re-election campaign. The destruction of the bank by
Jackson had caused great problems. All had seen the Erie Canal
completed in 1825, and its construction debts paid off 11 years
later. At that time, the mood of the country was in favor of
a commitment to internal improvements--when Michigan entered
the Union in 1837 its constitution {required} internal improvements.
Lincoln moved to the forefront of the state's fight. In 1837,
Illinois passed an Omnibus Bill ($10 million)--for two trunk
railroads, the Illinois Central and the Northern Cross, quartering
the state north to south and east to west, with six spurs connecting
the largest towns, and investments in roads and rivers. This
was in addition to the $8.5 million to complete the Illinois-Michigan
canal. As Whig leader of the House, Lincoln wrote most of the
internal improvement legislation. He supported the establishment
of a state bank, but only because of the destruction of the
National Bank.

The National Bank

Jackson's withdrawal of funds from the National Bank brought
on the worst depression the nation had ever seen. All federal
support for internal improvements collapsed. The canal did limp
along, largely because of Lincoln's efforts to secure private
funding by Nicholas Biddle and others. (Biddle had been head
of the Second Bank of the United States.) But without federal
support, the ``System'' was stalled. By 1839, when the depression
hit full force, there was growing popular opposition to spending
any more money on internal improvements. All work ceased on
the canal in 1842--not to begin again until 1846.
Lincoln attacked Jackson's destruction of the Bank of the United
States as the source of the collapse. In 1837, Lincoln wrote
his first political pamphlet on banking in response to the crisis.
The national Whig leadership was greatly impressed by his defense
of the National Bank, and printed the pamphlet in full for national
circulation. It was reprinted in all of the Whig press, including
the {National Intelligencer,} the most important Whig newspaper
in the country.
During Lincoln's last years in the legislature (he was re-elected
in 1836, but due to his pro-bank stance, came in last in 1840),
his views of American System economics came to be voiced chiefly
on the presidential campaign trail.
In 1839-40, the idea of a national bank was under attack--the
British organized a populist movement against ``big bankers''--and
many blamed the crisis of 1837 not on Jackson's withdrawal of
the funds from the bank, but on greedy bankers. A lot of what
Lincoln had fought for in Illinois was compromised or abandoned,
but he stuck to his views.
In the election of 1840, the Whigs wanted to throw all discussion
of the issues out the window, hoping to win on the basis of
the depression alone. Lincoln refused to go along. Lincoln
supported William Henry Harrison, his party's nominee, but also
decided to {stake a full year's campaigning on the question
of national banking}. His first clashes came in the late fall
of 1839--in debates with free-trade proponent Stephen Douglas
and others.
In his key campaign speech on the National Bank, Lincoln said:
``We do not pretend that the National Bank can establish and
maintain a sound and uniform state of currency in the country
{in spite of} the national government; but we do say, that it
has established and maintained such a currency, and can do so
again, {by the aid} of that government; and we further say,
{that no duty is more imperative on that government than the
duty it owes to the people, of furnishing them a sound and uniform
currency}.''[Lincoln, {Collected Works.}]
Lincoln compared the functioning of a national bank to Van Buren's
proposed ``independent Treasury'' or ``Sub-Treasury.'' Van Buren's
proposal went one step beyond Jackson's destruction of the bank
to propose that the government handle its funds solely through
its own officers as an ``independent Treasury.'' This was considered
so outrageous that Congress voted it down three times.
Lincoln first argued that the existence of a National Bank is
guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. This was critical,
given Jackson's statement about ``the dangerous power wielded
by the Bank of the United States and its {repugnance} to our
Constitution.'' Lincoln quoted the Founding Fathers: ``... a
majority of the Revolutionary patriarchs, whoever acted officially
upon the question commencing with General Washington and embracing
General Jackson, the larger number of the Signers of the Declaration
and the framers of the Constitution, who were in the Congress
of 1791 have decided upon their oaths that such a bank is constitutional.''
He then argued that the real purpose of the Van Buren ``independent
Treasury'' was to contract the amount of currency in circulation
and force collection of revenue in specie--denying the population
the use of a national currency.
Lincoln then documented that, during the entire period of time
in which the Bank of the U.S. existed, the country prospered:
``If before, or after that period, derangement occurred in the
currency, it proves nothing. The Bank could not be expected
to regulate the currency either {before} it got into successful
operation, or {after} it was crippled and thrown into death
convulsions, by the removal of the deposits from it, and other
hostile measures of the Government against it. We do not pretend
that a National Bank can establish and maintain a sound and
uniform state of currency in the country, in {spite} of the
National Government; but we do say, that it has established
and maintained such a currency, and can do so again, by the
{aid} of that Government; and we further say, that no duty is
more imperative on that Government, than the duty it owes the
people, of furnishing them a sound and uniform currency.''
Lincoln concluded with an attack on Jackson and Van Buren, saying:
``... there is no parallel between the {``errors''} of the
present and the late administrations, and those of former times,
and that Mr. Van Buren is wholly out of the line of all precedents.''
[Lincoln, {Collected Works.}]
The unique quality of political leadership and morality represented
by Lincoln during this campaign is reflected in the following
excerpt from one of his most famous speeches from the campaign
trail: ``Mr. Lamborn refers to the late elections in the States,
and from their results, confidently predicts that every State
in the Union will vote for Mr. Van Buren at the next Presidential
election. Address {that} argument to {cowards} and to {knaves};
with the {free} and the {brave} it will effect nothing. It {may}
be true, if it {must}, let it. Many free countries have lost
their liberty, and {ours may} lose hers; but if she shall, be
it my proudest plume, not that I was the {last} to desert, but
that I {never} deserted her. I know that the great volcano at
Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns
there, is belching forth a lava of political corruption, in
a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity
over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair
to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing, while on its
bosom are riding like demons on the waves of Hell, the imps
of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those who dare
resist its destroying course, with the hopelessness of their
efforts; and knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept
away. Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.
The {probability} that we may fall in the struggle {ought not}
to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just;
it {shall not} deter me. If I ever feel the soul within me elevate
and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty
Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country,
deserted by all the world beside, and I, standing up boldly
and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors.
Here, without contemplating consequences, before High Heaven,
and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the
just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty,
and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly
adopt the oath that I take. Let non faulter [sic], who thinks
he is right, and we may succeed. But, if after all, we shall
fail, be it so. We still have the proud consolation of saying
to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our country's
freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adored
of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death,
we NEVER faultered in defending.'' [Lincoln, {Collected Works.}]
Lincoln's arguments made the rounds of the federal papers in
his state, and became the ``Whig textbook'' of Illinois. He
became editor of {The Old Soldier}, the campaign newspaper of
the Illinois Whigs. The paper emphasized economic questions,
particularly the Bank of the United States versus the Sub-Treasury.
In editorial after editorial, Lincoln argued ``that a new movement
for a national bank is absolutely necessary.''
Harrison won the election overwhelmingly--but lost in Illinois,
a staunchly Jacksonian state. Lincoln ran {last} on the losing
electoral slate. Despite the unpopularity of his stand on the
National Bank, Lincoln never wavered. Though it meant a break
with the national party leadership, Lincoln stood his ground.
As reported by G.S. Boritt, 30 years later, his law partner,
in referring back to the 1840 campaign, saw it as a turning
point in Lincoln's life. Said Billy Herndon, ``I think it grew
and bloomed and developed into beauty, etc., in the year 1840
{exactly}. Mr. Lincoln told me that his ideas of something burst
in him in 1840.''
President Harrison appointed as Treasury Secretary Thomas Ewing
of Ohio, stepfather of the future Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman,
and a coleader of the Whigs with Clay. The program was clear:
a new national bank, high tariffs, and internal improvements.
Harrison was elected President in November of 1840 and assumed
office on March 4, 1841. The very healthy Harrison died one
month later, his death first attributed to acute intestinal
distress and then variously to ``bilious pleurisy'' and pneumonia.
No autopsy was performed on the body. While little is known
of the sudden cause of death of President Harrison, the events
that follow make clear {cui bono.} The economic policy of the
nation was forcibly returned to the British system.
Vice President John Tyler of
Virginia immediately took over the presidency; he was the first
to succeed to the office in this manner. Tyler soon made it
clear that he had no intention of carrying out the program of
the Whigs or the dead President. When Congress passed the long-awaited
bill restoring the Bank of the United States, Tyler vetoed it.
A battle soon raged between Henry Clay and Tyler along the lines
of the American System policy. The entire cabinet, save Secretary
of State Daniel Webster, resigned. The British agent Caleb Cushing,
chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, organized
Congress to sustain the President's veto. The Whigs were unable
to muster the two-thirds majority necessary to override.
In the mid-1840s, Lincoln was active in the Illinois Whig party,
hoping to be the party's congressional candidate. In 1843, as
part of the 1844 presidential campaign, a Whig conclave adopted
his declaration of principles and appointed him to write an
address to the people of the state. Again, his declaration centered
on a high protective tariff, internal improvements, and the
need to restore the National Bank. He attacked direct taxation
and budget-cutting, showing how the tariff was more efficient
in increasing revenue.
The 1844 presidential campaign was between Clay, the Whig candidate
who had led the fight for the American System, and James K.
Polk, the Democratic candidate who was one of the worst free-trade
traitors to ever run for the U.S. presidency. For the first
time, Lincoln himself was not a candidate. While Lincoln remained
totally committed to Clay, he felt that Clay had compromised
his strong commitment to the American System in an attempt to
win the election. Lincoln toured the state again, making the
protective tariff, by the spring of 1844, the most important
issue of the campaign.
This campaign was an all-out battle between British free trade
and the American System. Lincoln charged the British with interference
in the election, accusing them of supporting Democrat Polk,
and flooding the country with money and political tracts against
the protective tariff. Their free trade associations spent @bp100,000
on behalf of Polk. The Liberty Party, a so-called ``anti-slavery''
third party, arguing that Clay was not sufficiently abolitionist,
ran their own candidate, James Birney. Between British funding
for the pro-slavery Polk, and British backing for the ``anti-slavery''
Birney, Clay was defeated.
The election of 1844 left Lincoln dissatisfied with the results--both
Clay's conduct, but also, he felt, his own shortcomings. He
decided to study economics more rigorously and totally master
the tariff question, which he did.
In 1846, Lincoln was nominated for the U.S. House of Representatives
from the 7th Congressional District of Illinois. The Democrats
under Polk were attempting to weaken the tariff and reestablish
the independent Sub-Treasury, so Lincoln ran on a protectionist,
anti-Sub-Treasury platform.
As soon as Polk had come into office, Congress passed two internal
improvement bills--and Polk vetoed them both. In response, the
newly elected Congressman Lincoln, before going to Washington,
organized the 1846 Chicago River and Harbor Convention--the
first national convention of its kind devoted to the American
System of protective tariffs and internal improvements.
Lincoln was one of the few delegates selected to address the
20,000 attendees. And of the 1,016 delegates from Illinois,
it was Lincoln who was elected to be a member of the permanent
organization established there.
In his first address to a national gathering on internal improvements,
Lincoln proposed the adoption of a unified national strategy--including
the creation of a federal agency for collecting statistical
information, which would make possible the selection of the
most essential improvement projects. The problem was that no
amount of talking would pass internal improvement bills over
executive vetoes. That would take defeating the Democrats in
the 1848 election.
Polk did not merely veto internal impovements. He systematically
dismantled the country at the behest of his British backers,
adding greatly to the already devastating damage done by Andrew
Jackson's dismantling of the Bank of the United States, and
by Van Buren's treason. Polk and the Democrats in 1846 passed
the Walker Tariff, dramatically lowering the protective tariff,
from approximately 35 percent average duties under the Clay
Tariff of 1842, to 22.5 percent.
In response, Lincoln wrote up all of his research on the need
for the protective tariff in a work called {Tariff Notes}.
Lincoln's 1847 {Tariff Notes} was virtually identical to the
writings of Henry Carey, starting with his earliest work in
support of a protective tariff, {Essay on the Rate of Wages}
(1835). Lincoln's law partner confirmed that Lincoln assiduously
studied all of Carey's writings.
Polk also passed the {Independent Treasury Act}--which completed
the treason Jackson had begun. {This act prevented the U.S.
Government from regulating the affairs of banks--and stipulated
that the government had to be treated like any other depositor!}
{To be continued.}
John Covici

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