Mayan and Aztec “Terrorism” Vs. Christopher Columbus

This is a combining of three previous posts to make it easier for those looking for refutation to the Left’s understanding of Columbus Day. Another resource is this excellent video.

A multicultural approach to the conquest of Mexico usually does not investigate the tragedy of the collision between 16th-century imperial Spain and the Aztec Empire. More often it renders the conquest as melodrama between a mostly noble indigenous people slaughtered by a mostly toxic European Christian culture, acting true to its imperialistic and colonialist traditions and values.

In other words, there is little attention given to Aztec imperialism, colonialism, slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism, but rather a great deal of emphasis on Aztec sophisticated time-reckoning, monumental building skills, and social stratification. To explain the miraculous defeat of the huge Mexican empire by a few rag-tag, greedy conquistadors, discussion would not entail the innate savagery of the Aztecs that drove neighboring indigenous tribes to ally themselves with Cortés. 

(VICTOR DAVIS HANSON)

The following conglomeration of responses to two seperate persons in a LONGER VIDEO where some Native-Americans express their “dislike” of Christopher Columbus.

Subjects dealt with are:

  • Christopher Columbus being the “first terrorist” on the America’s;
  • That land possession was something brought by Westerners;
  • or that Columbus “came to America” at all!

  • Michael Harner, in his 1977 article The Enigma of Aztec Sacrifice, estimates the number of persons sacrificed in central Mexico in the 15th century as high as 250,000 per year. Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl, a Mexica descendant and the author of Codex Ixtlilxochitl, estimated that one in five children of the Mexica subjects was killed annually. Victor Davis Hanson argues that a claim by Don Carlos Zumárraga of 20,000 per annum is “more plausible.”…. (Hanson, who accepts the 80,000+ estimate, also notes that it exceeded “the daily murder record at either Auschwitz or Dachau.”) (WIKI)

So the above video show that Christopher Columbus, the Spaniards, nor even Hitler reached the amount of terrorism on people quite like the pre-Colombian indigenous people of the Americas. Here is a small portion from a paper I wrote detailing some of this, followed by an excerpt from a site detailing some of this:

Literature from the Mesoamerica is so very rich and full of the traditions of the people there that it is a welcome challenge to add this flavoring into the classroom. From a historical view Latin literature can be very effective in showing how a culture is influenced over time by another. The Spanish influence on Mesoamerica is still to this day incredibly prevalent; much like the English fingerprint is on North America. The terms should almost be B.S., before Spain, and A.S., after Spain. Norton makes the point in fact that “[m]any of the folktales from Mexico, South and Central America, and southwestern part of the United States reflect a blending of cultures” (Norton et al, 2001, p. 146).

Who could not write of the clash of civilizations represented in the men of Cortez and Montezuma? Unfortunately much of this historical fiction is more fictionalized than history. An exemplary text used to illustrate this in the classroom would be Montezuma’s Daughter by Rider Haggard (1980), originally written in 1894. The myth had already started that the Spaniards were merely there for gold, and killed for it exclusively. While there is a place for literature to express cultural mores and values, even going so far as comforting people away from their homeland, it should still apply to history somewhat. Norton mentions that the “choices of materials to be read and discussed may reflect… moral messages” (Norton, p. 3). Some in the teaching profession can use Latino literature to paint history with broad strokes, thus passing moral messages on to the classroom, guiding, influencing them.

Rarely does one hear in the social studies class, literature class, or history class that Cortez’s small band of men (even with horses) couldn’t have defeated Montezuma’s large army, unless that is, there were defectors. Why would people want to defect from the Aztec culture and join with foreigners? Montezuma had this peculiar habit of taking areas over, grabbing the young men from said area, bringing them back to a temple and while still alive cut their hearts out and throw their bodies down the altar steps (rotten.com, used 4-14-06). This caused many to join the forces of Cortez, making him a more formidable force resulting in forcefully bringing to a halt Aztec pagan sacrifice and setting up Christian icons instead. Incan and Mayan cultures sacrificed humans as well, sometimes 200 children at once.

A lot of this history is bypassed with much of the Mesoamerica literature in the search for national pride and identity. Pride and prejudice is a great conversation to have unfolded by Latino literature, or any of the multicultural writings. Tribal conflicts, territorial rights, or wanting to become a “doctor instead of a bullfighter” are all topics that Western children can relate to, learn essential values from, or see history from a different perspective….

(For references, see my papar, “LATINO LITERATURE“)

The first time I ran into information noting the incredibly evil culture, and how it was ultimately defeated (showing, absolute greed can still have VERY positive aspects to it), was a post on ROTTEN.COM

The funny thing about Montezuma isn’t really that he was a deranged,despotic, cannabilistic, pedophiliac practitioner of human sacrifice with legendary diarrhea.

Well, OK, that is pretty funny. But the really funny thing is how many towns, high schools and rotary clubs are named after the guy. There’s Montezuma, Iowa; Montezuma, Georgia; Montezuma, Kansas; Montezuma, New York; Montezuma Castle National Park in Arizona; Montezuma, Costa Rica; Montezuma, New Mexico… The list goes on and on and on.

What were these people thinking? Do they want you to think their town is full of cannibals? Are they proud of their explosive diarrhea? What was the runner-up name for the town? Hitler, New Mexico? Torquemada? Georgia? De Sade? Kansas?

Montezuma was the emperor of the Aztecs in the 16th century — right about the time that the good times were coming to an end. (Montezuma is the Anglicized version of the Spanish Moctezuma, which is a Spaniardized version of one of those seemingly unpronounceable Aztec names.)

While the coming of the White Man provides a convenient scapegoat for Aztec apologists, the fact is that Montezuma was not a barrel of laughs even before Cortez dropped the Conquistadors in his lap.

Montezuma was a conquering king, who frequently waged war against his neighbors in a pretty successful effort to expand his empire. He kept the gods on his side with a regular regimen of human sacrifice. While the Aztecs had a long history of ritualistic human sacrifice, the art had never known a patron like Montezuma.

At the time, such sacrifices were performed with ritual daggers atop the Aztec pyramids. According to some accounts, Montezuma sacrificed tens of thousands of prisoners at a time, which is a good trick considering each one had to be individually killed.

A 1590 account detailed the procedure: “The usual method of sacrifice was to open the victim’s chest, pull out his heart while he was still alive, and then knock the man down, rolling him down the temple steps, which were awash with blood.” It wasn’t the most efficient procedure. Who knows what Montezuma could have accomplished with a gas chamber, a guillotine, or a submachine gun?

Apparently the gods were appreciative of all this bloodshed, because Montezuma apparently had a pretty good run, annexing several nearby kingdoms and allegedly running a virtual police state with an iron fist….


…let’s move to Columbus and the charge of genocide. The historical Columbus was a Christian explorer. Howard Zinn makes it sound like Columbus came looking for nothing but gold, but Columbus was equally driven by a spirit of exploration and adventure. When we read Columbus’s diaries we see that his motives were complex: he wanted to get rich by discovering new trade routes, but he also wanted to find the Garden of Eden, which he believed was an actual undiscovered place. Of course Columbus didn’t come looking for America; he didn’t know that the American continent existed. Since the Muslims controlled the trade routes of the Arabian Sea, he was looking for a new way to the Far East. Specifically he was looking for India, and that’s why he called the native peoples “Indians.” It is easy to laugh at Columbus’s naïveté, except that he wasn’t entirely wrong. Anthropological research has established that the native people of the Americas did originally come from Asia. Most likely they came across the Bering Strait before the continents drifted apart.

We know that, as a consequence of contact with Columbus and the Europeans who came after him, the native population in the Americas plummeted. By some estimates, more than 80 percent of the Indians perished. This is the basis for the charge of genocide. But there was no genocide. Millions of Indians died as a result of diseases they contracted from their exposure to the white man: smallpox, measles, cholera, and typhus. There is one isolated allega­tion of Sir Jeffrey Amherst (whose name graces Amherst College) approving a strategy to vanquish a hostile Indian tribe by giving the Indians smallpox-infected blankets. Even here, however, it’s not clear the scheme was actually carried out. As historian William McNeill documents in Plagues and Peoples, the white man generally transmit­ted his diseases to the Indians without knowing it, and the Indians died in large numbers because they had not developed immunities to those diseases. This is tragedy on a grand scale, but it is not geno­cide, because genocide implies an intention to wipe out a people. McNeill points out that Europeans themselves had contracted lethal diseases, including the pneumonic and the bubonic plagues, from Mongol invaders from the Asian steppes. The Europeans didn’t have immunities, and during the “Black Death” of the fourteenth century one-third of the population of Europe was wiped out. But no one calls these plagues genocide, because they weren’t.

It’s true that Columbus developed strong prejudices about the native peoples he first encountered—he was prejudiced in favor of them. He praised the intelligence, generosity, and lack of guile among the Tainos, contrasting these qualities with Spanish vices. Subsequent explorers such as Pedro Alvares Cabral, Amerigo Ves­pucci (from whom we get the name “America”), and Walter Raleigh registered similar positive impressions. So where did Europeans get the idea that Indians were “savages”? Actually, they got it from their experience with the Indians. While the Indians Columbus met on his first voyage were hospitable and friendly, on subsequent voyages Columbus was horrified to discover that a number of sailors he had left behind had been killed and possibly eaten by the cannibalistic Arawaks.

When Bernal Diaz arrived in Mexico with the swashbuckling army of Hernán Cortes, he and his fellow Spaniards saw things they had never seen before. Indeed they witnessed one of the most gruesome spectacles ever seen, something akin to what American soldiers saw after World War II when they entered the Nazi con­centration camps. As Diaz describes the Aztecs, in an account generally corroborated by modern scholars, “They strike open the wretched Indian’s chest with flint knives and hastily tear out the palpitating heart which, with the blood, they present to the idols in whose name they have performed the sacrifice. Then they cut off the arms, thighs and head, eating the arms and thighs at their ceremonial banquets.” Huge numbers of Indians—typically cap­tives in war—were sacrificed, sometimes hundreds in a single day. Yet in a comic attempt to diminish the cruelty of the Aztecs, How­ard Zinn remarks that their mass murder “did not erase a certain innocence” and he accuses Cortes of nefarious conduct “turning Aztec against Aztec.”

If the Aztecs of Mexico seemed especially bloodthirsty, they were rivaled by the Incas of South America who also erected sacrificial mounds on which they performed elaborate rites of human sacrifice, so that their altars were drenched with blood, bones were strewn everywhere, and priests collapsed from exhaustion from stabbing their victims.

Even while Europeans were startled and appalled at such blood­thirstiness, there was a countercurrent of admiration for what Euro­peans saw as the Indians’ better qualities. Starting with Columbus and continuing through the next few centuries, native Indians were regarded as “noble savages.” They were admired for their dignity stoicism, and bravery. In reality, the native Indians probably had these qualities in the same proportion as human beings elsewhere on the planet. The idealization of them as “noble savages” seems to be a projection of European fantasies about primitive innocence onto the natives. We too—and especially modern progressives-have the same fantasies. Unlike us, however, the Spanish were forced to confront the reality of Aztec and Inca behavior. Today we have an appreciation for the achievements of Aztec and Inca culture, such as its social organization and temple architecture; but we cannot fault the Spanish for being “distracted” by the mass murder they witnessed. Not all the European hostility to the Indians was the result of irrational prejudice.

While the Spanish conquistadores were surprised to see humans sacrificed in droves, they were not shocked to witness slavery, the subjugation of women, or brutal treatment of war captives—these were familiar enough practices from their own culture. Moreover, in conquering the Indians, and establishing alien rule over them, the Spanish were doing to the Indians nothing more than the Indians had done to each other. So from the point of view of the native Indian people, one empire, that of Spain, replaced another, that of the Aztecs. Did life for the native Indian get worse? It’s very hard to say. The ordinary Indian might now have a higher risk of disease, but he certainly had a lower risk of finding himself under the lurid glare of the obsidian knife.

What, then, distinguished the Spanish from the Indians? The Peruvian writer and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa offers an arresting answer. The conquistadores who came to the Americas, he concedes, were “semi-literate, implacable and greedy.” They were clearly believers in the conquest ethic—land is yours if you can take it. Yet these semi-literate greedy swordsmen, without knowing it, also brought with them something new to the Americas. They brought with them the ideas of Western civilization, from Athenian rationalism to Judeo-Christian ideas of human brotherhood to more modern conceptions of self-government, human rights, and property rights. Some of these ideas were nascent and newly developing even in the West. Nevertheless, they were there, and without intending to do so, the conquistadors brought them to the Americas.

To appreciate what Vargas Llosa is saying, consider an astonishing series of events that took place in Spain in the early sixteenth century. At the urging of a group of Spanish clergy, the king of Spain called a halt to Spanish expansion in the Americas, pending the resolution of the question of whether American Indians had souls and could be justly enslaved. This seems odd, and even appalling, to us today, but we should not miss its significance. Historian Lewis Hanke writes that never before or since has a powerful emperor “ordered his conquests to cease until it was decided if they were just.” The king’s actions were in response to petitions by a group of Spanish priests, led by Bartolomé de las Casas. Las Casas defended the Indians in a famous debate held at Valladolid in Spain. On the other side was an Aristotelian scholar, Juan Sepulveda, who relied on Aristotle’s concept of the “natural slave” to argue that Indians were inferior and therefore could be subjugated. Las Casas coun­tered that Indians were human beings with the same dignity and spiritual nature as the Spanish. Today Las Casas is portrayed as a heroic eccentric, but his basic position prevailed at Valladolid. It was endorsed by the pope, who declared in his bull Sublimns Deus, “Indians… are by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possessions of their property… nor should they be in any way enslaved; should the contrary happen it shall be null and of no effect.” Papal bulls and even royal edicts were largely ignored thou­sands of miles away—there were no effective mechanisms of enforce­ment. The conquest ethic prevailed. Even so, over time the principles of Valladolid and Sublimus Deus provided the moral foundation for the enfranchisement of Indians. Indians could themselves appeal to Western ideas of equality, dignity, and property rights in order to resist subjugation, enforce treaties, and get some of their land back….

[….]

The white men who settled America didn’t come as foreign invad­ers; they came as settlers. Unlike the Spanish, who ruled Mexico from afar, the English families who arrived in America left everything behind and staked their lives on the new world. In other words, they came as immigrants. We can say, of course, that immigration doesn’t confer any privileges, and just because you come here to settle doesn’t mean you have a right to the land that is here, but then that logic would also apply to the Indians.

DINESH D’SOUZA, America: Imagine a World Without Her (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2014), 93-97, 98.

On June 23, 1865, in what was the last land battle of the war, Confederate Brigadier General and Cherokee Chief, Stand Watie, finally surrendered his predominantly Cherokee, Oklahoma Indian force to the Union. He was the last Confederate General “standing.”

  • …That same month, Watie’s command surprised a group of soldiers that included troops from the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry who were cutting hay for livestock at the fort. Instead of accepting the surrender of the African Americans, the Confederates killed 40 of them. Such exploits earned Watie promotion to brigadier general… (HISTORY BUFF)

One should see my stuff on the topics as well:

  1. (Editor’s note: A recent federal bill memorializing as a National Historic Trail what has come to be known as the Cherokee Indian Trail of Tears is based on false history, argues William R. Higginbotham. In this article, the Texas-based writer delves into the historic record and concludes that about 840 Indians not the 4,000 figure commonly accepted died in the 1837-38 trek west; that the government-financed march was conducted by the Indians themselves; and that the phrase “Trail of Tears” was a label that was added 70 years later under questionable circumstances.) The problem with some of our accounts of history is that they have been manipulated to fit conclusions not borne out by facts. Nothing could be more intellectually dishonest. This is about a vivid case in point.

THE FEDERALIST has this excellent article that should be read in full:

…..“Long before the white European knew a North American continent existed, Indians of the Northern Plains were massacring entire villages,” says George Franklin Feldman in the book Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America: A History Forgotten.” “And not just killed, but mutilated. Hands and feet were cut off, each body’s head was scalped, the remains were left scattered around the village, which was burned.”

Less Pocahontas and More Blood Sacrifice

When thinking of pre-Columbian America, forget what you’ve seen in the Disney movies. Think “slavery, cannibalism and mass human sacrifice.” From the Aztecs to the Iroquois, that was life among the indigenous peoples before Columbus arrived.

For all the talk from the angry and indigenous about European slavery, it turns out that pre-Columbian America was virtually one huge slave camp. According to “Slavery and Native Americans in British North America and the United States: 1600 to 1865,” by Tony Seybert, “Most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America.”

“Enslaved warriors sometimes endured mutilation or torture that could end in death as part of a grief ritual for relatives slain in battle. Some Indians cut off one foot of their captives to keep them from running away.”

Things changed when the Europeans arrived, however: “Indians found that British settlers… eagerly purchased or captured Indians to use as forced labor. More and more, Indians began selling war captives to whites.”

That’s right: Pocahontas and her pals were slave traders. If you were an Indian lucky enough to be sold to a European slave master, that turned out to be a good thing, relatively speaking. At least you didn’t end up in a scene from “Indiana Jones And The Temple of Doom.”

Ritual human sacrifice was widespread in the Americas. The Incas, for example, practiced ritual human sacrifice to appease their gods, either executing captive warriors or “their own specially raised, perfectly formed children,” according to Kim MacQuarrie, author of “The Last Days of the Incas.”

The Aztecs, on the other hand, were more into the “volume, volume, VOLUME” approach to ritual human slaughter. At the re-consecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487, the Aztecs performed a mass human sacrifice of an estimated 80,000 enslaved captives in four days.

Also Widespread Torture and Cannibalism

According to an eyewitness account of “indigenous peoples” at work—in this case, the Iroquois in 1642, as observed by the Rev. Father Barthelemy Vimont’s “The Jesuit Relations”—captives had their fingers cut off, were forced to set each other on fire, had their skinned stripped off and, in one captured warrior’s case, “the torture continued throughout the night, building to a fervor, finally ending at sunrise by cutting his scalp open, forcing sand into the wound, and dragging his mutilated body around the camp. When they had finished, the Iroquois carved up and ate parts of his body.”

Shocked? Don’t be. Cannibalism was also fairly common in the New World before (and after) Columbus arrived. According to numerous sources, the name “Mohawk” comes from the Algonquin for “flesh eaters.” Anthropologist Marvin Harris, author of “Cannibals and Kings,” reports that the Aztecs viewed their prisoners as “marching meat.”

The native peoples also had an odd obsession with heads. Scalping was a common practice among many tribes, while some like the Jivaro in the Andes were feared for their head-hunting, shrinking their victims’ heads to the size of an orange. Even sports involved severed heads. If you were lucky enough to survive a game of the wildly popular Meso-American ball (losers were often dispatched to paradise), your trophy could include an actual human head.

There Are No Pure Peoples in History

Slavery, torture, and cannibalism—tell me why we’re celebrating “Indigenous People’s Day” again? And we’re getting rid of Columbus Day to protest—what? The fact that one group of slavery-practicing violent people conquered another group of violent, blood-thirsty slavers? That’s a precis of the history of the Americas before Columbus arrived.

This has always been the fatal flaw of the Left’s politics of race guilt: Name the race that’s not “guilty”? Racism, violence, and conquest are part of the human condition, not the European one….

An Indigenous Peoples’ Day Monkey Wrench

On June 23, 1865, in what was the last land battle of the war, Confederate Brigadier General and Cherokee Chief, Stand Watie, finally surrendered his predominantly Cherokee, Oklahoma Indian force to the Union. He was the last Confederate General “standing.”

  • …That same month, Watie’s command surprised a group of soldiers that included troops from the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry who were cutting hay for livestock at the fort. Instead of accepting the surrender of the African Americans, the Confederates killed 40 of them. Such exploits earned Watie promotion to brigadier general… (HISTORY BUFF)

Larry Elder Debates Geraldo Rivera on Racism/Charlottesville

Actually, there is A LOT of information in this presentation. I found video for the audio played of Tim Russert challenging Claire McCaskill on intimating that George “Dubya” was racist via Hurricane Katrina (transcript below). The C-SPAN video/audio was not lined up well, so I fixed this for this upload. I include video of Biden’s “they’re-gonna putchya’ll back in chains.” And I include video of the Larry Elder v. Geraldo Rivera exchange.

Read it all at NEWSBUSTERS (2006):

Forgive the slowness of getting to this amazing exchange on Meet the Press, but with all the fuss that Chris Matthews and other national pundits have made over George Allen’s “Macaca” salutation, it’s amazing (and a testament to media Bush-loathing) that Missouri Democrat Senate challenger Claire McCaskill could completely copy rapper Kanye West and insist President Bush let people die in New Orleans because they were black, and nobody blinked. (Coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? Zero.) At least Tim Russert brought it up last Sunday, late in the Missouri Senate debate on Meet the Press. But McCaskill wouldn’t retract it. She was “acknowledging the feelings” of professional race-baiters and certain rappers who wear pink:

Russert: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?

McCaskill: Well, first, I was acknowledging how thousands and millions of Americans felt. The visual that we all saw in Hurricane Katrina was frankly, something none of us will ever forget. Incompetence turned tragic because the people there were unable to help themselves. This administration…

Russert: But do you think the president let people die because they were poor and black?

McCaskill: I do not, I do not believe the president is a racist. I was acknowledging the feelings of many, many Americans that this administration has left the most vulnerable, helpless—this administration has been about Wall Street and not about average Americans.

Russert: But do you apologize for this statement?

McCaskill: I, I think if it is misinterpreted that I was calling the president a racist…

Russert: Misinterpreted? “George Bush let people die on rooftops because they were poor and because they were black.”

McCaskill: That was—I was acknowledging what Americans believed at the time.

Russert: So you stand by it?

McCaskill: Absolutely, that’s what Americans believed. Now, I don’t believe he’s a racist, and if that—if people think—and maybe I shouldn’t have said it that way, Tim. Maybe I should have said it another way. I probably should have said it another way. But the feelings are real……

ESPN’s Gettysburg

TWITCHY has fun with General Lee’s doppelganger:

On Tuesday night, ESPN confirmed what people had been assured was not a satirical piece from The Onion, though it would have been a great one — announcer Robert Lee had been pulled from calling a college football game because it just “felt right” at the time, so soon after a woman had been killed while protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville.

In an email to reporters, ESPN said it all came down the simple coincidence of Lee’s name. We know that Merriam-Webster is quick to correct President Trump on Twitter whenever he goofs up, so we hope someone there is paying attention to Reuters’ feed today………

What Was the Civil War Over? (Updated)

First-things-first:

  • “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.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

What are we to make of this first part of the quote often ripped from it’s context (both in the letter as well as from the complexity of history) by leftist historians and unsuspecting persons. The first thing to do is to quote it in a fuller context:

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; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. (Read the whole letter)

The most important thing to remember is when this letter to Horace Greely was written, the Emancipation Act was on Lincolns desk.

  • Lincoln first discussed the proclamation to free the slaves with his cabinet in July 1862… the letter to Horace Greely was written in August 1862.

Again, President Abraham Lincoln informs his chief advisors and cabinet that he will issue a proclamation to free slaves, but adds that he will wait until the Union Army has achieved a substantial military victory to make the announcement, BEFORE writing to Greely. [Context is King.] Let us add some flavor to the obviously hard decisions on the Executive level in keeping both sides happy while tacking like a sailboat through choppy waters towards the big goal:

…Tugging him in the other direction were abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass and Horace Greeley. In his editorial, “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” Greeley assailed Lincoln for his soft treatment of slaveholders and for his unwillingness to enforce the Confiscation Acts, which called for the property, including slaves, of Confederates to be taken when their homes were captured by Union forces. Abolitionists saw the acts as a wedge to drive into the institution of slavery.

Lincoln had been toying with the idea of emancipation for some time. He discussed it with his cabinet but decided that some military success was needed to give the measure credibility. In his response to Greeley’s editorial, Lincoln hinted at a change. In a rare public response to criticism, he articulated his policy by stating, “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.” Although this sounded noncommittal, Lincoln closed by stating, “I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

By hinting that ending slavery might become a goal of the war, Lincoln was preparing the public for the change in policy that would come one month later with the Emancipation Proclamation.

(History Channel)

Remember, history is complicated, as President, his position on slavery was initially less enlightened and more pragmatic (perhaps in an effort to keep the border states from seceding). Lincoln’s official position from his candidacy through the early years of the war was that he opposed expansion of slavery into new territory, but believed it could continue to exist in existing slave states. Even as the war went on, he grew into the role of “The Great Emancipator” rather than arriving as a finished product. At one point,

  1. he advocated for compensated emancipation (i.e. the government would buy slaves and free them)
  2. He also advocated for “re-colonization” back to Africa

Both those early fixes floated around as options to a problem that men-cannot-own-men would have ended slavery. Something he believed in ending, personally, all-the-time. [See his notes for the debate with Douglas below.] But it took a while to implement it in the the Union as official policy. Something this generation does not understand with their one-hour photo, half-hour pizza, email vs. snail mail… there is no understanding of the time [times] being discussed.

Put another way (trying to break this down “Barney Style“):

When he wrote that he had the draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in his desk drawer and had already presented it to his cabinet. He was responding to Greeley’s request for presidential action on abolition and apparently wanted to establish a basis in the public mind for accepting the Emancipation Proclamation. That basis was that he was trying to save the Union.

In other words, Lincoln was part of — in the end — the eradication of slavery. It is simply that one’s view of Lincoln depends on whether he gets credit for the destination he ultimately arrived at or not.

This same idea applies to discussions about ancient texts as well.


What caused the Civil War? Did the North care about abolishing slavery? Did the South secede because of slavery? Or was it about something else entirely…perhaps states’ rights? Colonel Ty Seidule, Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, settles the debate below:

Dennis Prager interviews Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Colonel Ty Seidule, about the recent Prager University video on the reasons for the Civil War (video at top). The idea that the war was over other reasons like states rights is true… the right for the Southern states to practice slavery. All one has to do is read the “Ordinance’s of Secession” from the seceding states:

A good place to touch base on these ordinances is here. Another great thing to do is read the debates between Lincoln and Douglas. Another resource are three videos found on a page on my site, dealing with some of these myths.

Two books I recommend on the issue are:

What This Cruel War Was Over ~ With letters from the soldiers themselves and battlefield communiques, what did the men on the ground think the war was over;

Half Slave and Half Free ~ One of the best books combining the time from our founding to the roots of the Civil War.

Here is a graph of the main grievances the states who left the union had… and the text is all the Reasons for Secession documents with the highest percentage of grievances, of which I will focus on the top six:

In other words, when the reasons for seceding were written the states wanted their own right to have slaves.

When the documents are broken down, Slavery is the main reason:

1) Each declaration makes the defense of slavery a clear objective.
2) Some states argue that slavery should be expanded.
3) Abolitionism is attacked as a method of inciting violent uprisings.
4) Mississippi and Georgia point out that slavery accounts for a huge portion of the Southern economy.

When it shifts to States Rights, it is still about the choice to keep slavery:

1) The states argue that the Union is a compact, one that can be annulled if the states are not satisfied with what they receive in return from other states and/or from the federal government.

[…sounds reasonable… but the above is qualified with the below…]

2) The states argue that the North’s reluctance to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 (mandating that fugitive slaves be returned to the South) means that the compact is no longer satisfactory.

These are the top SIX reasons for secession. The economy was another reason… but these concerns hinged on slavery. The election of Abraham Lincoln was a concern as well, this again was mainly because of slavery. 

Are you getting the picture?

Moving on…

Here is the History Channel:

In the mid-19th century, while the United States was experiencing an era of tremendous growth, a fundamental economic difference existed between the country’s northern and southern regions. While in the North, manufacturing and industry was well established, and agriculture was mostly limited to small-scale farms, the South’s economy was based on a system of large-scale farming that depended on the labor of black slaves to grow certain crops, especially cotton and tobacco. Growing abolitionist sentiment in the North after the 1830s and northern opposition to slavery’s extension into the new western territories led many southerners to fear that the existence of slavery in america–and thus the backbone of their economy–was in danger.

In 1854, the U.S. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which essentially opened all new territories to slavery by asserting the rule of popular sovereignty over congressional edict. Pro- and anti-slavery forces struggled violently in “Bleeding Kansas,” while opposition to the act in the North led to the formation of the Republican Party, a new political entity based on the principle of opposing slavery’s extension into the western territories. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dred Scott case (1857) confirmed the legality of slavery in the territories, the abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry in 1859 convinced more and more southerners that their northern neighbors were bent on the destruction of the “peculiar institution” that sustained them. Lincoln’s election in November 1860 was the final straw, and within three months seven southern states–South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas–had seceded from the United States….

In a discussion on the Civil War, I was challenged with a couple points, the first being that Lincoln didn’t care much about slaves/slavery and merely wanted to win the war for other reasons. And the other challenge was if the South was sooo racist, why did the South offer freedom to slaves who fought for them. Here is the comment:

I posted an article about Lincoln knowing it was “morally wrong,” but not even wanting to free the slaves, right? Lincoln wanted to win the war, and since the South offered freedom to slaves who fought for them first, then you kinda have to understand that Lincoln only wanted to win the war by following suit.

I first merely note some notes Lincoln had on him during his famous debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858, BEFORE the war. He wrote:

“If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B — why not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?

You say A is a white, and B is black. It is –color–, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be the slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? — You mean the whites are –intellectually– the superiors of the blacks, and therefore, have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.

But, say you, it is a question of –interest; and, if you can make it your –interest–, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.”

[go back]

Doesn’t sound like his views were an afterthought? These thought pre-dated the war. And if anyone reads that debate you will see slavery was foremost in the discussion.

Another point I make is from James W. Loewen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Vermont, is the author of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” and “The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader,” notes that this idea of blacks fighting for and being offered freedom was three weeks before the end of the war (via Live Science):

The argument over whether blacks took up arms to fight for the government that enslaved them is a bitter one, but historians have busted this myth, Deaton said.

“It’s just balderdash,” he said.

Loewen agreed.

“It’s completely false,” Loewen said. “One reason we know it’s false was that the Confederacy by policy flatly did not allow blacks to be soldiers until March of 1865.”

The idea had been brought up before, University of Tennessee historian Stephen Ash wrote in 2006 in the journal Reviews in American History. In January of 1864, Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne proposed enlisting slaves. When Confederate President Jefferson Davis heard the suggestion, Ash wrote, he “not only rejected the idea but also ordered that the subject be dropped and never discussed again in the army.”

About three weeks before the Civil War ended, however, a desperate Davis changed his tune. By that point, the war was lost and few, if any, blacks signed up.

White officers did bring their slaves to the front, where they were pressed into service doing laundry and cooking, Loewen said.

Fact #9: The Emancipation Proclamation led the way to total abolition of slavery in the United States.

With the Emancipation Proclamation, the aim of the war changed to include the freeing of slaves in addition to preserving the Union. Although the Proclamation initially freed only the slaves in the rebellious states, by the end of the war the Proclamation had influenced and prepared citizens to advocate and accept abolition for all slaves in both the North and South. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States, was passed on December 6th, 1865

Fact #10: Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation the crowning achievement of his presidency.

Heralded as the savior of the Union, President Lincoln actually considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be the most important aspect of his legacy. “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper,” he declared. “If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”

(SEE MORE: CivilWar.org)