My thinking on this is due, in no small part, to historian William Davis's book Look Away: A History of the Confederate States of America. As Davis demonstrates, the CSA was dominated by aristocacy, hostile to democracy, committed to chattel slavery & the repugnant doctrine of white supremacy, intolerant of dissent -- in other words, committed to oligarichal rule. It is beyond me how anyone attached to a political perspective like conservatism, with its commitment to natural law and tradition, or libertarianism, with its commitment to individual liberty and personal choice, could be considered compatible with the statist, revolutionary, unlawful slavocracy that the Confederacy sought to defend.
While it has become distressingly fashionable in some libertarian circles to castigate Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln stands not only as the first Republican president in our nation's history, he is one of the great conservative leaders of the Anglo-American political tradition. It is Lincoln's cause -- the cause of equal liberty under the law within the Union -- that is the conservative cause in our nation's history. It was the cause of Washington, of John Adams, and of the Republican Party of Lincoln's day and of our own day. It was Lincoln who understood the imperative of freedom, of the rule of law, of the simple justice of treating each human being as precisely that: a human being. It is unfathomable that a conservative or libertarian would want to attack Lincoln. Here are just a few quotes from Lincoln that demonstrate his essentially conservative and freedom-oriented political philosophy:
- "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy."
- "Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."
- "I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause."
- "Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built."
- "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent."
- "Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as a heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors."
- "You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence."