Dear Mr. Aguelzo,
Sadly, you have bought into the Lincoln myth hook, line and sinker. A superb wordsmith, Lincoln was able to hide his unconstitutional and criminal behavior including his many war crimes with fine words, but his actions - as with all "actions" - spoke far louder than his glorious verbiage.
Lincoln had no desire to "interfere" with slavery. There are more than sufficient quotes from the man himself to doubt that fact. As well, Lincoln quietly pushed the Congress to offer the original 13th Amendment - the so-called "Corwin Amendment" to the Constitution which would have placed slavery into that document in perpetuity. Lincoln did this because what he really wanted from the South was the MONEY the federal government received from the obscene tariffs placed upon imports, tariffs that fell mostly upon the South which paid 75%+ of the federal revenues. It was the MONEY Lincoln wanted from the South and and he was willing to have slavery forever in order to keep those revenues.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than a war strategy as he himself admitted. He did not free one slave. Indeed, prior to the E. P., when a Union commander in a border state actually freed slaves held in that territory, Lincoln ordered them returned to their masters. Neither did the E.P. free slaves in any state remaining in the Union such as the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware and Kentucky or in Southern territory held by the Union.
So if actual emancipation was not the intention of the proclamation, what was? Simple. By "freeing" slaves in states no longer in the Union, Lincoln hoped to encourage servile insurrection such as had happened in the Nat Turner matter. If slaves rose up - especially in the cotton states where the black population was enormous - the President hoped that Southern whites serving in the Confederate army would desert and return home to protect their families. If that occurred, it would end any military response to the Northern invasion and the war would be over. But Southerners knew better. The slaves did not rise up but most remained in their homes even when the Yankees came. Often these same slaves paid with their lives at the hands of the invaders when they tried to help those with whom they had lived all their lives and whom they considered to be their own families.
As for Lincoln saving "the central idea" of America, that is even further from the truth. He destroyed the Constitution and the Republic, replacing the sovereign States and the will of the People (the consent of the governed) with a monolithic central authority, the fate of the Republic that Patrick Henry had prophysied when the Constitution was adopted. Lincoln believed in centralization. His administration and his military were filled with "48ers," Germans who fled their socialist revolutions in Europe and came to the United States. Indeed, Marx adored Lincoln for, among other things, his belief in the centralization of power in the federal government and the decrease of power outside of that institution. There are books now published which make this connection irrefutably.
And, of course, Lincoln played hob with the Constitution. Among many other things, he:
1] nullified the 10th amendment, taking powers upon himself and the central government forbidden by that Amendment.
2] declared war on those Southern states which had seceded (as was their constitutional right), the only act declared as treason in Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution; as well, the power to declare war was limited to the Congress which wasn't even in session. Even the excuse for war - the alleged unprovoked attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederate government - was a lie and a set-up as Lincoln himself admitted in letters to Agustus Fox and Otto Browning. It must be remembered that it is not the side the fires the first shot that starts a war, but the side that causes that shot to be fired - and that was the United States!
3] Lincoln suspended habeas corpus which was an act reserved for Congress alone and when Chief Justice Taney of the Supreme Court demurred, Lincoln sent along a warrant for Taney's arrest. It was never served, but Taney and the rest of the Court realized that they were in danger of permanent incarceration without recourse as long as Lincoln was in power so, in effect, he silenced the highest court in the land.
4] Lincoln used the military to influence the election of 1864 and it may well be that his "victory" was as constitutional - and as legitimate - as his previous actions.
5] Lincoln presided over the waging of total war which included the deaths of over a million people (when you include civilians) and acts so barbarous that the European nations were aghast. Indeed, the Nazis learned a lot from and in many cases copied the actions of Lincoln's "noble warriors."
No, Lincoln preserved nothing of the "central idea" of America. By the time he was through, America had a very different "central idea," the idea of centralization - that is, all power residing in the federal government and everything that the government wanted done considered "legal" no matter how unconstitutional! This new philosophy was further entrenched with the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which changed the selection of Senators (the Upper Chamber of Congress) from a matter of the State legislatures to a direct vote such as is found in the House (the Lower Chamber of Congress). By doing this, Lincoln's political "heirs" further degraded the position of the no longer sovereign States in the government of the nation. Of course, you must remember, that the greatest power to prevent the tyranny of the federal government was the power of the sovereign States! With that gone, nothing could stop the ever increasing power in Washington.
Mr. Aguelzo, in effect, Abraham Lincoln presided over the death of the nation founded in 1776 and brought forth a centralized empire more in keeping with that which arose in Europe than that which was envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Of course, you won't hear these facts presented in our present politically correct revisionist version of "history" - which hasn't changed all the much from the "winner's version" of history after the War of Secession - but that changes nothing. Ignoring the facts and the truth does not render them invalid and eternal reiteration of falsehood and myths does not gain them one inch of validity.
Thank you for your courtesy.
Huntington Station, New York
Huntington Station, New York