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Why Abraham Lincoln Refused to Respect Jefferson Davis

Ron is a student of the American Civil War and writes about it frequently. His focus is not so much on the battles as on the people.

Abraham Lincoln as painted by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1887

Abraham Lincoln as painted by George Peter Alexander Healy in 1887

History records that Jefferson Davis was the first president of the Confederate States of America. But there was one man who never conceded to Davis the dignity of that title. That man was Abraham Lincoln. During the entire course of the Civil War, the words “President Davis” never once escaped the lips of the President of the United States; and that fact was a fundamental element of the strategy that insured there would never be a second president of the Confederacy.

Was the Confederacy a new nation?

By the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States on March 4, 1861, the Confederate States of America already considered itself a going concern as a separate and independent nation. A provisional constitution was unanimously ratified on February 8, 1861, and on February 18, 1861 Jefferson Davis was sworn in as chief executive of the aspiring new nation. In his inaugural address, Davis spoke forcefully of “the separate existence and independence we have asserted.” He went on to say, “We have entered upon the career of independence, and it must be inflexibly pursued.” Davis maintained his inflexible view that the Confederate States constituted a new nation entirely separate from the United States until the day he died.

To Lincoln Secession Was a Constitutional Impossibility

But that view of the Confederacy as the legitimate national government over states that had seceded from the Union was one that Abraham Lincoln was equally inflexible in denying. In his own inaugural address, the new president, lawyer that he was, presented what amounted to a legal brief justifying his conviction that “the Union of these States is perpetual.” To his mind secession was inherently unconstitutional because, “It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination.” Lincoln made it clear that the Union would fight, if necessary, to maintain its own integrity, saying that it was “the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.”

Finally, as he closed his speech, the new President spoke directly to the people of the seceded Southern states. “In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine,” he said, “is the momentous issue of civil war.”

That sentence epitomizes Abraham Lincoln’s entire approach to the issue of secession. He considered it a constitutional impossibility, and would never, by word, action, or implication, officially concede that it had been successfully accomplished. That’s why, when he directly addressed citizens of the states that three weeks before had installed Jefferson Davis as president of what they claimed to be a separate nation, Lincoln still spoke of them as “my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen.”

The Confederate States

The Confederate States

For Lincoln the Confederacy Was Not a Nation – Except When It Was

In theology, the concepts of orthodoxy and orthopraxy are closely related. Orthodoxy relates to correct belief, while orthopraxy has to do with correct action. Ideally, belief and action should be in perfect alignment. But, as many who attempt to put their faith into practice have experienced, it is sometimes difficult to ensure that your course of action always conforms to your sincerely held beliefs.

Very soon after the start of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln found himself caught between the constitutional orthodoxy that “the Union of these States is perpetual,” and the apparent inconsistencies required to practically apply that concept in the context of a fraternal conflict.

If, as Lincoln unwaveringly maintained, the people of the Southern states were still part of the Union, then any of them who took up arms against the US government were by definition guilty of treason. When such people were captured, whether on the battlefield or otherwise, they were legally liable to the penalty of death. But, precisely because he still considered them to be US citizens, it was impossible for Lincoln to treat the tens of thousands of Southerners who flocked to enlist in Confederate military service simply as traitors to be tried and executed.

In his proclamation asking the states to bring out 75,000 militiamen to put down the rebellion, Lincoln acknowledged that the Confederate armies constituted “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” In other words, it was simply not practical to deal with all the individuals in arms for the Confederacy as mere criminals. Moreover, unlike even the largest of normal criminal conspiracies, the size of the Confederate forces gave them the power of effective retaliation for any penalties exacted upon their soldiers. When Lincoln considered treating the crews of rebel privateers that captured or destroyed Union merchant ships as pirates, subject under international law to be hung, Confederate threats to hang captured Union officers in retaliation caused him to drop the idea.

A similar paradox arose when Lincoln decided to institute a naval blockade of Southern ports to deny the South the ability to import arms and other products from Europe. According to international law, a blockade could only be employed between warring nations, and not by a single nation against its own people. But understanding that the blockade was a powerful and indeed necessary strategic weapon in winning the war, Lincoln unabashedly imposed it while still refusing absolutely to acknowledge the nationhood of the Confederacy.

Lincoln Snubs Jefferson Davis Again and Again

In a number of ways Abraham Lincoln found it necessary, on a practical level, to deal with the Confederacy as though it was a separate nation. But one thing he never compromised was his insistence that no such government as the Confederate States of America existed.

That’s why when Jefferson Davis, prior to the onset of hostilities, sent a letter to President Lincoln asking him to receive envoys appointed by Davis “For the purpose of establishing friendly relations between the Confederate States and the United States,” Lincoln refused to receive the envoys or even to acknowledge the letter.

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That was just the first of several snubs the US president delivered to the man whose pretensions as president of a supposedly sovereign Confederate nation he never accepted. By June of 1864 Davis was driven to complain in a letter to North Carolina Governor Zebulon Vance:

We have made three distinct efforts to communicate with the authorities at Washington, and have been invariably unsuccessful… No answer has ever been received… a few months ago, a gentleman was sent whose position, character and reputation were such as to insure his reception, if the enemy were not determined to receive no proposals whatever from the (Confederate) Government…

The final sentence in this paragraph shows that Jefferson Davis fully understood the message Abraham Lincoln was sending him. Davis said,

To attempt again (in the face of these repeated rejections of all conference with us) to send commissioners or agents to propose peace, is to invite insult and contumely, and to subject ourselves to indignity without the slightest chance of being listened to.

That was it in a nutshell. As Davis realized, nothing he said to the United States government, or Abraham Lincoln, in his capacity as president of the Confederate States would have “the slightest chance of being listened to.”

Davis Tries to Find Ways to Get Lincoln to Acknowledge Him

Davis apparently fully understood this reality almost from the beginning of the conflict. In July of 1863 he authorized Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens (the gentleman of position, character and reputation mentioned in the Vance letter) to attempt to go to Washington under a flag of truce to meet with President Lincoln. The purpose was to negotiate a more humane system for the treatment of prisoners of war.

Perfectly aware that Lincoln would take no notice of any communication from him in his role as Confederate president, Davis provided Stephens with two almost identical letters addressed to Lincoln. The first was signed by Davis “as Commander-in-Chief of the land and naval forces now waging war against the United States,” and was addressed to Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief of the US forces. Stephens was instructed that if Lincoln refused to receive that letter because it did not address him as President of the United States, Stephens was to give him the second letter, which differed from the first only in being signed by Davis as CSA president, and addressed to Lincoln as US president.

In the end, Lincoln would accept neither version of the letter, nor Stephens himself. Never allowed to cross Union lines, all Stephens got for his efforts was a curt and barely polite note signed by Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, saying that “The customary agents and channels are adequate for all needful military communications and conferences between the United States and the insurgents.”

To Lincoln, Jefferson Davis Was Nothing More Than a Leader of Insurgents

That word “insurgents” became Lincoln’s characteristic official term for all members of the Confederate military and government. That applied especially to Jefferson Davis.

For example, in his annual address to a joint session of Congress in December of 1864, President Lincoln made direct reference to Jefferson Davis in a speech for the first time. But, as in every other public statement he made during the war, Lincoln never mentioned Davis by name, and certainly not by his title as Confederate president. Wanting the nation to understand that there was no chance of productive peace negotiations with Davis, Lincoln told the Congress,

It seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. He would accept nothing short of severance of the Union- precisely what we will not and cannot give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft- repeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. He cannot voluntarily reaccept the Union; we cannot voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war and decided by victory. If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him, he is beaten.

“Insurgent leader.” That was the only title Abraham Lincoln would ever apply to Jefferson Davis.

Jefferson Davis's farewell Senate speech justifying secession

Lincoln Was Willing to Negotiate With Davis Only As the Rebel Military Leader

Lincoln freely acknowledged that Davis was the leader who controlled the Confederate armies. That was a matter of undeniable fact, and Lincoln had no problem addressing Davis on that basis. For example, in a famous July 1864 letter addressed “To Whom It May Concern,” Lincoln affirmed that:

"Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States, will be received and considered by the Executive Government of the United States."

That “authority that can control the armies now at war against the United States” was, of course, Jefferson Davis.

When Francis Preston Blair, Sr., patriarch of a prominent political family allied with Lincoln, initiated a self-appointed “shuttle diplomacy” mission between Richmond and Washington in an attempt to negotiate a termination of the war, Lincoln gave him a note to be shown to Davis setting forth the terms under which Lincoln was willing to open negotiations. But the note was addressed not directly to Davis, but to Blair, authorizing him to “say to him (Davis) that I have constantly been, am now, and shall continue, ready to receive any agent whom he, or any other influential person now resisting the national authority, may informally send to me, with the view of securing peace to the people of our one common country.”

There it was, again. Even when communicating semi-directly with the Confederate president, Lincoln was extremely careful to never communicate acceptance, even implicitly, of the legitimacy of Davis’s position. To Lincoln, Jefferson Davis was no president, but only an “influential person now resisting the national authority.”

Lincoln Finally Meets With a Delegation Sent by Davis

Blair’s initiative did not bring about peace. But it did lead to a meeting between Lincoln and representatives sent by Davis in an attempt to find some common ground for negotiation. Vice President Alexander Stephens led a team of three Confederate commissioners who met with Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Lincoln received them not as officials of the Confederate government, but as “influential persons” who represented another “influential person” back in Richmond, Jefferson Davis.

This “Hampton Roads Peace Conference,” held on February 3, 1865, bore no fruit. The insuperable obstacle was Jefferson Davis’s insistence that he would negotiate only “for the purpose of securing peace to the two countries,” while Lincoln was adamant that the basis of negotiation could only be “securing peace to the people of our one common country” (emphasis added).

Alexander Stephens

Alexander Stephens

The meeting was a cordial one, even punctuated by a few laughs. Lincoln and Stephens had known one another before the war, and spoke as friends. But the president made very clear that he viewed the Confederates simply as Americans who had unlawfully taken up arms against their rightful government.

When he later reported on the conference to his Cabinet, President Lincoln quoted one of the Southern delegates as stating, “Well, according to your view of the case we are all guilty of treason, and liable to be hanged.”

After a brief pause, Mr. Lincoln replied, “Yes, that is so.”

“Well,” the Southerner continued, “we suppose that would necessarily be your view of our case, but we never had much fear of being hanged while you were President.”

Interior Secretary John Palmer Usher recalled that from the President’s manner as he recounted this episode, it was clear that Lincoln considered the Confederates’ confidence that he wouldn’t hang them a compliment.

One Nation or Two? An Irreconcilable Difference

In their report to Davis, subsequently published in both Southern and Northern newspapers, the Confederate commissioners said:

"(T)he enemy refused to enter into negotiations with the Confederate States, or any one of them separately… We understood from him that no terms or proposals of any treaty or agreement, looking to an ultimate settlement, would be entertained or made by him with the authorities of the Confederate States, because that would be a recognition of their existence as a separate Power, which under no circumstances would be done."

Lincoln's Refusal to Respect Jefferson Davis Was a Strategic Necessity

Abraham Lincoln would never give to Jefferson Davis any respect or recognition as a true head of state, not because of any personal animosity or disdain, but because to do so would be to implicitly recognize the nationhood of the Confederacy. And to do that would be to concede the very issue on which the war was being fought.

This, for Abraham Lincoln, was the ground on which he took his stand from the beginning to the end of the Civil War. He believed, and more importantly, was able to convince the American people to believe, that throughout four years of bloody conflict the rebellious Southerners remained “dissatisfied fellow-countrymen,” and not alien residents of a foreign country.

The Power of Lincoln's Idea

It was that idea that drew Northern men in their hundreds of thousands to volunteer for military service, putting their lives on the line to preserve the Union.

It was because of that idea that Northerners, soldiers and civilians as well, gained strength to continue to support President Lincoln through all the devastating Union military setbacks that seemed to occur on a regular basis throughout much of the war. They saw themselves as patriotically fighting for the survival of the nation, North and South, rather than as invaders attempting to conquer another country.

And it was that idea that shaped Northerners’ attitude toward their former enemies when the fighting was over. After Robert E. Lee surrendered the most important Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, virtually ending the war, General Grant took steps to insure that his own army’s celebrations of victory did not unnecessarily humiliate the devastated Southern soldiers. “The war is over,” he said, “the rebels are again our countrymen.” (Of course, to Lincoln, they had never ceased being “our countrymen”).

And finally, Abraham Lincoln’s unwavering commitment to the belief that all Americans, North and South, remained citizens of a single, united nation came to be shared even by former rebels.

Sam Watkins was a soldier who served in Confederate armies from the beginning of the conflict in 1861 until the war ended in 1865.

Confederate Private Sam Watkins

Confederate Private Sam Watkins

In his post-war memoir, Company Aytch, Watkins expresses Lincoln’s idea in his own way:

"America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided."

In the end, it was not only Abraham Lincoln’s armies that prevailed, but his unwavering belief that the United States of America, North and South, was and would forever be, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

© 2013 Ronald E Franklin

Comments

Will Outlaw on May 23, 2019:

The biggest mistake the United States of America made was not executing every single confederate who fought against the U.S.A.

gconey on April 30, 2017:

this is very interesting stuff Ron. another great article.

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on April 04, 2016:

Thanks, hubber8893. I think you're right that Abraham Lincoln imparted a lot of strength to the nation in its most severe time of trial. He was the difference maker.

Sourav Rana on April 04, 2016:

A strong nation like US could only be built as a result of strong actions and prudent thought, which the President Abraham Lincoln imparted it in the beginning of its journey. Great info Ronelfran

Ronald E Franklin (author) from Mechanicsburg, PA on March 13, 2016:

Thanks, Hxprof. I think the Confederacy had the potential to become a nation, but that prize had to be won on the battlefield, not just asserted by politicians. Was the US really a nation when it proclaimed independence on July 4, 1776, or did it become a nation in 1783 when the war for independence was won? I think the latter. Same with the Confederacy. As Lincoln said, Confederate nationhood was an issue that could only be "tried by war and decided by victory." The Confederacy claimed to be a separate nation, but failed to back up that claim in the only way that matters, by victory on the battlefield.

Hxprof on March 13, 2016:

Great article Ronald. I wanted to vote in the poll but couldn't, because the answer I'd have given is different from either option. I believe that Lincoln was right in not referring to Davis as President Davis, but I believe also that the south was a separate nation - it had its own elected government, laws, military and of course, a culture drastically different from that of the north; most southerners considered the Confederacy to be a separate nation. Because Lincoln never gave up on the idea that the south was a part of the Union, the south could never achieve leverage in diplomacy as an entity - it gave the Union a sort of high ground.

Larry Wall on August 15, 2015:

Thank you.

John D Wilson from Earth on August 15, 2015:

You do the same, Larry.

Larry Wall on August 15, 2015:

Prior to the constitution, we had the Articles of Confederation, which let each state set its own rules or laws. Commerce among the states was in shambles. Enforcing uniform laws is different than telling each individual how to live.

I never said our system of government was perfect. No institution created by man is perfect. The NSA issue is a perplexing one, and I am not in total disagreement with you. As a nation, we once thought we were free from attacks by foreign powers. Today, we know that is not true. It was tragically proved to us with the 9-11 attack. Thus the NSA may be needed. Congress needs to quit bickering over minor issues. The representatives and senators need to set party loyalty and the overwhelming desire for re-election and concentrate on business.

Our nation has undergone a lot of change. The Civil War was a major turning point. It preserved the union, eventually eliminated slavery and set the stage for legislation that would take 100 years to enact, recognizing that all people, not just white people, had the unalienable rights to the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I do not agree with your opinion about Lincoln. Had it not been for his action and unwavering desire to preserve the union, I think we would be a bunch of segmented regions with no central government.

We take a lot of things that the federal government for granted. It was federal troops, i.e. military that fought WWI and WWII. They also fought in Korea, Vietnam, Iran, Israel and many other places. Perhaps being the global police force was not the intent of the founding fathers. However, I feel relatively safe that we will not be invaded, and all of us put in prison camps. We are not free from attack--9-11 proved that. However, as a nation we are the strongest nation on earth. Some countries may have a better health system, but if invaded, they will look to us. We have lived peacefully with Canada. The border between the U.S. and Canada is the longest uncontested border in the world. That says something good. Building a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the country reminds me of the "show me your papers" in all the post-war movies about Europe. President Lincoln was not perfect. Just ask yourself what you would have done in his place. How would you preserve the union, his number on priority, free the slaves and do so in a manner that would not enrage the border states where there was slavery, but not to the extent of the deep South?

The federal government is massive. However, it does things like keep television channels from hijacking the frequency used by other stations. It provides a strong military, despite its flaws FEMA is an aid in most disasters. We have a common currency. Interstate commerce is protected and the amendment that gives you and I the right to pursue this conversation, the First Amendment, is a result of the authority granted to the federal government. We tried a weak central government with the Articles of Confederation. It did not work. That is why we have a Constitution that has served us well and can be changed if needed. It is not easy, and that was intentional. We have a court of last resort, the Supreme Court, where decisions have been made that gradually extended all rights to all Americans, including women and Black Americans.

You stated, "A sovereign man is free to do as he pleases, without the help of government. This is what the U.S. Constitution, and the bill of Rights were designed for." Your right to travel from state to state, the development of health and safety standards in the workplace, the right to disagree with your government and to voice your opinions, your right to bear arms, to be certain that troops will never be quartered in your home and knowing someone is watching the rivers and global weather patterns, so we can be aware of approaching floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters are protected.

You may have your opinion about President Lincoln. I have my views about Herbert Hoover, Andrew Jackson and others. Fortunately we live in a country where those rights are protected. I liked it better when Hub Pages did not put our pictures next to the comments. Then you were just talking to a fellow American, in most cases, but you did not know my color, my gender and no idea about my age, except what I might reveal to you.

I wrote a Hub the other day where I stated I was leaving Hub pages for a number of reasons. I will finish the debates that were in progress and answer questions directed to me, but I have written about 150 hubs. A few are not featured by my choice--out dated. I am 64, with some health issues, a loving wife, a son, who has more health problems than most people, (almost blind, suffered a brain injury in car accident and his birth mother (he is adopted) did all the wrong things early in her pregancy, and he is paying the price. However, with all of that and my own battles, such as being visually impaired (I can drive) and having a speech impediment, I can still voice my views. If I had been a German when Hitler was in power, I would have probably been killed for being inferior.

I am glad to be an American, and I know that if we veer off track, we will come back to our roots.

Have a good day.

John D Wilson from Earth on August 15, 2015:

Actually, I was wrong. volunteers from Canada and Britain fought in the Union.

If you don't think the founders felt that there would never be an insurrection, why do you think the had the "right to bear arms" in the bill of rights?

The founders knew that the inclination of government is to be all powerful. It's up to the citizenry to make sure that the federal government did not become centralized, that the states maintained a goodly amount of say in how the federal government operated.

Lincoln trashed the constitution - there's no doubt about that. You think it was justified, I do not.

You might also think that NSA spying on all citizens to "maintain freedom" is also a good idea, I do not. It's an infringement on our rights, just as Lincoln's trashing of the writ of habeas corpus.

We can disagree, that's fine.

The Marxists and socialists did not fight in the Civil War, but the concepts that Lincoln had, centralizing government, was right up their alley, thus they loved the guy.

It all depends on your view of freedom, I suppose.

No matter the case, a freeman does not rely on government to determine how he or she is going to live.

Babies, the sick and the uneducated need a nanny type government to make sure they survive.

Most of us who make up the citizenry of the U.S. are none of the above and should not need a nanny state to take care of us.

This inane concept that government knows best, has been proven wrong throughout the history of mankind.

Why people continue to think government is "good" when the founders themselves warned of the destructive powers of a centralized government is beyond my comprehension.

A sovereign man is free to do as he pleases, without the help of government. This is what the U.S. Constitution and the bill of Rights was designed for.

It was not designed for a pathetic group of citizens that rely on government to tell them how to behave and live.

Larry Wall on August 14, 2015:

Well, you did not identify the states that had was on the books that allowed slavery during the civil war. Maybe they did. I am sure they did. It is also possible there were other laws repealing those laws. It does happen.

I agree there should be a limit on contributions to candidates. I wrote a hub about that a long time ago, I guessed you missed it. One interesting I found was that the NRA does not donate a lot of money to Congressional candidates, because Congress can make no laws infringing on the right to bear arms." The NRA gives a ton of money to state legislators, because while the states cannot outlaw guns, they can set some restrictions.

As far as Lincoln trashing the constitution, the framers of that document did not envision a civil war. Thus sometimes in war or other emergencies, such as Hurricanes hitting the Gulf cost you have to improvise. By the way, Jefferson did not have the authority who allowed his delegates to negotiate the Louisiana purchase or "all lands drained by the Mississippi River."

Lyndon Johnson was the first president to sign Civil Rights legislation. That went against the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution. Does that make him a traitor?

I could find no record of foreigners fighting against the Union in the Civil War. France and England attempted to fight for the south, but was thwarted by the efforts of Sen William Seward, who held many political posts during his life.

Considering the communications system of the Civil War period, I don't think the Marxists, and Socialist played a big part. However, those factions, as long as they did not advocate the forcible overthrow of the U.S. government were free to voice their views and opinions. That is what the Revolutionary War was about. We really did not win that war. England just decided it was too much trouble to continue the fight.

\\\

John D Wilson from Earth on August 14, 2015:

Larry,

"Are you recommending that white collar criminals be treated as slaves?"

No idea what you're talking about.

These states still had laws on the books that allowed slavery during the civil war - IN THE NORHT - PART OF THE UNION.

Who knows what would have happened if the states had succeeded in holding on to the rights - I know it wouldn't be the fascists that we ahed in D.C. right now.

If you're happy with the corruption, knock yourself out.

I'm not happy that my congress and president are bought off and paid for by the powers that be. And it needs to change.

And until it does, whether you like it or not, the u.s. is a fascist country.

Lincoln was the main force behind the consolidation of power in D.C.

No president up to his time had ever declared marshall law, trashed the constitution, used foreign soldiers to fight against fellow Americans.

You want to hold Lincoln as a hero, again, knock yourself out.

Lincoln was loved by the Marxists and Socialists for a reason - he corrupted the U.S.

Cheers

junko on August 14, 2015:

No Larry my final sentence didn't suggest white collar criminal be treated as slaves. It was made to let claptona know I was coming from the point of view of a descendant of slaves. My point was, if non-violent drugs users are sentence to mandatory minimum for breaking laws design to protect them from harming themselves and others White collar crimes should be treated the same as black or blue collar crimes for the harm caused to we the people by the thief of billions from the millions they suppose to serve. I live in New Orleans the mentally ill are living in residential group homes all across the city. The future Governor will embrace ACA it was refused to spite the President by being in total disagreement with any and all he stood for good or bad. I know the record of Louisiana and got it straight. I was born and raised in Louisiana. You are barking up the wrong tree Larry, I have no bone to pick with you and you have none to pick with me, we are in the same place but different views.

Larry Wall on August 14, 2015:

Junko:

Just to set the record straight as to what happened in Louisiana. Louisiana did not establish a market exchange for the ACA. It refused to accept expanded Medicaid supplements. A few out-dated mental hospitals closed and one charity hospital closed. The state developed an agreement with the LSU medical School and the Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center to maintain mental health clinics throughout the state. Our governor is running for President. He is not going to win. His polling numbers are at the bottom. He is a very intelligent person, but he lost sight of his goals.

Corruption exists at all levels of government. If you put it on a percentage basis, there is probably more corruption at the local level than the state or federal--not more dollars, just a higher percentage.

Finally. I do not understand your final sentence. Are you recommending that white collar criminals be treated as slaves? If you do we have different attitudes--vastly different.

junko on August 14, 2015:

claptona, A very great part of State's Rights propaganda is the Federal Government's interference in a states right to be wrong. Southern states like Louisiana who's Governor's refused Obamacare are excepting billions of Federal dollars to provide healthcare for the poor to use at the State's discretion. In Louisiana the Governor closed mental health hospitals. The State was able to receive billions in Federal funds for the care of the mentally ill and poor citizens of the state from the Feds. The health funds were for discretionary spending, (State's Rights). State Rights are financially supported by the the Federal Government but states also want self determination and no control from their Benefactors. If the Federal Government is the enemy of the people as conservatives say, why do they want and need federal funding and the poor and underclass people who needs jobs don't or shouldn't need Federal help. Corruption is not only on the Federal level but state and local levels also, capitalism breeds corruption, selfishness and greed if its out of control. Mandatory minimum sentences for white collar crimes would slow corruption and lower that National debt. Do you know where I am coming from claptona? Slavery.

Larry Wall on August 14, 2015:

claptona

I was a newspaper reporter for 16 yeas after earning my journalism degrees and minors in history and government. I am not an expert, but I am not an alarmist. Lincoln was not the precursor to the fascism movementwe have in the U.S. today which is pathetic group in that they have no purpose, support or any strength. Lincoln probably had the most difficult presidency of any president. He was trying and succeeded in preserving the union. Assumed that he had failed. The confederacy would have become a nation of slaves. The comment that he only free the southern slaves is meaningless. Because a northern state did not have a law prohibiting slavery does not mean they supported it. The absence of a law does not guarantee or prevent any action. Lincoln's freeing of the salves through the Emancipation Proclamation, was meaningless until the Union won the war. It took generations for Black Americans to achi