Abraham Lincoln Photo Album

Abraham Lincoln Before The War  
Abraham Lincoln Before the Cicil War

To Lincoln's mind the sum of pro-slavery theology was this: "Suppose the Rev. Dr. Ross has a slave named Sambo and the question is, 'Is it the will of God that Sambo be a slave?' The Almighty gives no straight answer and His revelation, the Bible, gives none. So the answer is left to Dr. Ross to decide, as he sits in the shade, with gloves on his hands, eating the bread that Sambo is earning in the burning sun."

Abraham Lincoln 1862    
Abe Lincoln as President

"Gentlemen. Can your states do better than adopting a policy of compensated emancipation? I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision to emancipate gradually. Looking only to the stern facts of the war, can you do better in any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relation of the states to the [Federal Government] shall be practically restored, without disturbance to the institution; and if this were done, my whole duty, under the constitution, would be performed. But it is not done. We must accomplish it by war and by the mere friction of war the institution will be gone."

(Speaking at the White House to representatives of the Border States, July 12, 1862. Sixty days later, just forty-eight hours after the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln invoked the law of war against the Constitution to seize the property of loyal citizens living in the South, by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation.)

Lincoln in 1865    

"The war is nearly over. . . Then the government forces must be withdrawn from the southern States. Sooner or later we must take them away. Now, what I want you to do is this: Do all you can, in any and every way you can, to get the ballot into the hands of the freedman! We must make voters of them before we take away the troops. The ballot will be their only protection after the bayonet is gone, and they will sure need all they can get. I can see just how it will be."

(Lincoln speaking shortly before Booth killed him. It took the young American generation of the Sixties to get their ballot back.)


No need to cling to myth when the facts are laid out and easy to absorb. And Lincoln's mind is being affected by all this too, the evidence is clear. Before Antietam he has been thinking "There's a chance I can get them back in by playing my role according to the Constitution; after Antietam he realizes they are never coming back, so now there is no point in courting the loyalists who live in the South and he turns to the law of war as his authority to wage war, the constitution no longer a governor of his actions. Hence the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation merely gives notice that if you are a loyal United States citizen living in the South tough luck, I'm confiscating your property without due process of law (the constitution) because the law of war allows it.

In every war since Lincoln's this is the argument American presidents make to behave as tyrants, Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson, and now Bush, same words, same argument. Only the courts can attempt to block the behavior and the courts more often than not have stepped out of the argument, leaving the president to act as he wants. Only when the wars are over and the dust has settled does the Supreme Court step back in and pronounce presidential action "unconstitutional." The lesson citizens must learn is that the law of war trumps the Constitution and always will. (think of the Japanese American citizens taken from the homes in the night, rounded up and held without trial or access to lawyers in concentration camps for four years. Constitutional? Of course not. Authorized by the law of war, Most definitely.



General Lee's 1862 staff officers

Sectors of Operations

Sharpsburg Campaign: Photo Album

Exhibit Documents Collected by Joseph Ryan


The Battle of Antietam did not happen by accident, it was carefully planned, which turns the focus on Lee himself, the kind of man, general, that he was. He didn't wander around in confusion. He had a purpose, a mindset, an objective which he realized through maneuver.

If McClellan had seen through the ruse and had the courage, he would have raced straight for Crampton's Gap and Harper's Ferry, determined to wipe out McLaws's two divisions in Pleasant Valley and try to get between Lee and the Potomac, crushing Lee before he can reunite with Jackson.

If nothing else was certain, the movement would certainly have forced Lee to race for Williamsport and get back into Virginia. At which point, using the Ferry as his base, McClellan (if he had courage) would move toward Winchester to engage Jackson and Lee.......... Author               Position Paper

Joe Ryan

Joe Ryan Original Works

@ AmericanCivilWar.com

About the author:
Joe Ryan is a Los Angeles trial lawyer who has traveled the route of the Army of Northern Virginia, from Richmond to Gettysburg several times.

American Civil War Exhibits