Lincoln Was Pro-Slavery

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Mike McGavick, Republican candidate from Washington for the U.S. Senate, has a common view of abortion. He wants to restrict it -- he favors requiring parental consent, banning late-term abortions, no federal funds -- and he believes that abortion is wrong.

But he would not abolish it by law. He wants to get rid of abortion gradually, recognizing the fact that the law of the land protects the right to abortion, and that the people simply won't accept a law banning it.

Many on the far right -- and I don't use that term pejoratively, because I am on the far right -- believe that this means he is pro-choice, that he is no different from current Senator Maria Cantwell (even though, on its face, that's false, as she opposes such restrictions as he favors).

But more importantly, is this a valid position? History may be instructive. A certain other Republican was running for the Senate too, 150 years ago, and he said that slavery should be restricted: it should not be allowed to spread, we should not open up the slave trade again, and so on. But we should keep it safe and legal: don't change the law any time soon, and do protect the rights of slaveowners. He said:

When Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery than we, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it, in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia,-to their own native land. But a moment's reflection would convince me, that whatever of high hope, (as I think there is) there may be in this, in the long run, its sudden execution is impossible. ... It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives, which should not, in its stringency, be more likely to carry a free man into slavery, than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an innocent one.

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for permitting slavery to go into our own free territory, than it would for reviving the African slave-trade by law. The law which forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and that which has so long forbid the taking of them to Nebraska, can hardly be distinguished on any moral principle; and the repeal of the former could find quite as plausible excuses as that of the latter.
There's nothing new or outrageous about a position which recognizes a terrible societal ill, and says we should not abolish it immediately simply because the cure would likely be worse than the disease.

Of course, Lincoln was not elected that year. And when he became President, he could not prevent secession, despite his willingness to keep slavery alive in the South. So maybe this is not the best position to have.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on March 23, 2006 1:03 PM.

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