Categorized | News, Opinion


I understand the Harrisburg Patriot-News newspaper in 2013 is retracting a famous (or infamous) editorial in 1863 concerning the Gettysburg Address by that President who should not be named!

Here’s the Fox article and a highlight or two:

One-hundred and fifty years after Abraham Lincoln passionately appealed for the preservation of the union in the Gettysburg Address, the Patriot-News of central Pennsylvania, known back then as the Patriot & Union, is retreating from its stance in 1863 that Abe’s Civil War speech was “silly.”

Well, let me take up the cudgels:  The Gettysburg Address is a remarkable speech, in that it is an almost flawless example of brevity, poetry and making every word count.  And the speech is certainly not silly.  But it is at best war propaganda as illustrated by this line from the speech:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

It is clear from these lines that Lincoln is comparing his conflict to the Revolution and stating his goal:  Holding the Union together by force (it does not matter if the Confederate States wanted to leave the Union or not, or acted legally or not, Lincoln was determined to act by force to hold the nation by force).  Of course the Revolution was conceived in Liberty and was in fact a secession movement, arguably less legal than what the Southern states did in 1861.

And please spare me the slavery issue.  I have said before and will say again that the Confederacy was foolish to break the Union and was brought about to maintain human bondage and racial superiority.  But that does not answer the question of the legality of secession.

There’s more, Lincoln claims that he and the Union armies are fighting to preserve democratic government!

…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I suppose the government of the people, by the people, for the people does not extend to those who legally and through democratic institutions sought to break that tie to the original Constitution and pursue their own path.  Besides, Lincoln did not believe in constitutional government and the Fox article proves it:

But the Patriot & Union, a “Copperhead” newspaper in the 1860s, vigorously supported the Democratic Party and, the newspaper says, was still seething after several top editors were arrested and jailed a year earlier by Union troops for suspicion of sedition.

Editors arrested?  For sedition?  Rather they were upholding the right of the Southern people to decide their own destiny, wrong as it was!  To paraphrase the Michigan state motto, if you seek the truth about Lincoln, look around you!  Try the books of Prof. Thomas DiLorenzo for the truth about the Lincoln myth.  But first, rent Copperhead the movie!

So I agree, the Gettysburg Address was not silly; it was rather propaganda.  Americans need to learn these painful truths and maybe the Lincoln as hero myths will end up like what the Patriot & Union had hoped for the words of the Gettysburg Address:  …that the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them, and that they shall no more be repeated or thought of…”

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. Gene Lefty says:

    Sandy, what is your contention? Is it that States should be able to leave the Union? I am somewhat new. Thanks

    • Sandy Sanders

      Well, let me say I don’t recommend the states actually leave the Union (except maybe Hawaii who we took and annexed against their will in 1900) but I do think the states have to have that right and thus I regard Lincoln as an anti-hero and enemy of liberty.

      Makes for some awkward moments as a Republican!


  2. Gene Lefty says:

    A question that I have had for quite awhile, what right did we have to take the land from the Indians? Do you think that it was justified, and, should we give it back to the Indians?

    It looks like history shows that the one with the biggest army, automatically has land rights to whatever it wants.

    Does the question then become how does that principle apply to individuals? Where does it all stop?

    • Sandy Sanders

      That is an interesting and troubling question in that there was certainly abuse and broken promises toward Native American groups and that is why I have come out for the VA tribes to have Federal sovereignty – even if it means casinos which I think is bad policy.

      But I cannot say we were wrong to conquer the new world I just think it should have been done more humanely. I cannot go back to the Stone Age when Europeans came to America.

      Thanks, Gene for asking tough questions!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Sandy, so you would admit that the United States and the World is objectively better off for the Union winning the Civil War, right?

    If that’s the case, can’t Lincoln just be viewed as a philosophically flawed President, but one whose actions contributed to a greater good? Andrew Jackson’s actions against the Native Americans were morally unjustifiable, but they did elevate the United States, contribute to her growth and were probably necessary to achieve what we have done.

    • Sandy Sanders

      As a practical matter, you are right. The world is better off and even the South is better off (although there was about 80 years or so of neglect of the Southland from 1865 to about the 1930s.) but that does not condone or justify the anti-liberty actions of Lincoln.

      BTW, the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was also for disunion because he felt that either the North should secede to form a republic without slavery or the South would secede and take slavery with them and he was indifferent to which way it happened.



Leave a Reply to Sandy Sanders Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

Sign up for Virginia Right Once Daily Email Digest

No Spam - ever! We send a daily email with the posts of the previous day. Unsubscribe at any time.
* = required field

Follow Us Anywhere!