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  Lincoln's Tax War


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Documented by the official acts and statements of the authorities who waged the War.

By Roger K. Broxton, President Confederate Heritage Fund

"My policy sought only to hold the public places and property not already wrested from the Government and to collect the revenue." July 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln's first Message to the U.S. Congress (Paragraph 5)

Lincoln and Congress declared in all official acts and statements the United States invaded the Confederate States only to collect a 40% Federal import tax, by changing the U.S., from a voluntary Union into a compulsory Union (needed to collect this tax); and not to abolish slavery.

No official act by Congress or Lincoln ever proclaimed a war to abolish slavery, not even the Emancipation Proclamation claimed such.

March 4, 1861 Lincoln stated in his First Inaugural Address:

"The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government (four Federal tax collection forts), and to collect the duties and imposts (import tax); but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere." (Paragraph 21)

"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." (Paragraph 4)

"I understand a proposed (Corwin) Amendment to the Constitution has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. Holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable." (Paragraph 32)

March 2, 1861 the U.S. Congress, by a two-thirds vote, passed the above Corwin Amendment, which guaranteed permanent slavery in the U.S., after most Southern States had withdrawn from the (then) voluntary Union. It was ratified by three Northern States: Ohio, Maryland and Illinois but by none of the Southern States.

On the very same day, Congress also passed the Morrill Tariff Act, (U.S. Statutes At Large 36th Congress, Session 2, Chapter 68), which raised the Federal sales tax on imports from an average 20% to an average 40%.

This then allowed Northern manufacturers to raise their prices 40% higher than prices were for European imports with no tariff.

Under the Morrill Tariff, pioneer farmers buying essentials, such as, a plow, axe, shovel, skillet, stove, etc… paid 40% Federal sales tax on the item, if imported from Europe, or 40% more in price, if bought from Northern manufacturers. Southerners paid most of these taxes, yet represented only one-third (1/3) of the U.S. population.

By passing the Morrill Tariff Act and Corwin Amendment together, the U.S. Congress offered the seceding States, this trade: Return to the Union and pay 40% tariffs and be guaranteed permanent slavery. The Confederate States refused the offer to return and on May 21, 1861 enacted an average 10% import tax.

December 25, 1860 South Carolina declared unfair taxes as a cause of secession in her Address of South Carolina to Slaveholding States:

"The British parliament undertook to tax the Colonies, to promote British interests. Between taxation without any representation, and taxation without a representation adequate to protection, there was no difference."

"And so with the Southern States towards the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation, they are in a minority in Congress."

"The people of the Southern States are not only taxed for the benefit of the Northern States, but after the taxes are collected, three-fourths (75%) of them are expended at the North." (Paragraphs 5-8)

January 29, 1861 in Causes of Secession, Georgia stated:
"The material prosperity of the North was greatly dependent on the Federal Government; that of the South not at all. In the first years of the Republic the navigating, commercial and manufacturing interests of the North (i.e. Wall Street industries) began to seek profit and aggrandizement at the expense of the agricultural interests."

"After having enjoyed (price) protection (by high tariffs) to the extent of from 15 to 200 per cent upon their entire business for above thirty years, the (low tariff) act of 1846 was passed. It avoided sudden change, but the principle was settled, and free trade, low duties (tariffs), and economy in public expenditures was the verdict of the American people."

"All these classes (Wall Street industries) saw this and felt it and cast about for new allies. The anti-slavery sentiment (abolitionists) of the North offered the best chance for success (reinstate high tariff)." (Paragraphs 1-3)

By financing the abolition movement, Wall Street gained the power needed to offer the trade (mentioned above) on March 2, 1861: guaranteed permanent slavery in the U.S., in exchange for the South paying the new 40% Federal import tax.

February 15, 1861 in Pittsburgh, U.S. President-elect Lincoln affirmed his priority for passage of a high tariff after his inauguration on March 4:

"The condition of the treasury at this time would seem to render an early revision of the tariff indispensable. The Morrill (tariff) bill, now pending before Congress, may or may not become a law. If, however, it shall not pass, I suppose the whole subject will be one of the most pressing and important for the next Congress." (Paragraph 4)

After the South had been forced back into the (now) compulsory Union under the 40% tax rate, Federal tax revenues mushroomed 300% to $170 million per year. Before the war, while the South was in the Union under the 20% tax rate, revenues had been $50 million per year. Source: U.S. Census Bureau Balance of Payments And Foreign Trade: 1821-1945 (Page 248)

How Lincoln Started His Tax War

April 8, 1861 Lincoln started the war by a surprise attack on Charleston Harbor with a fleet of U.S. warships led by the USS Harriet Lane to occupy Fort Sumter, a Federal tax collection fort in the territorial waters of South Carolina.

April 29, 1861 President Jefferson Davis described the South's response in self-defense in his Message To the Confederate States Congress:

"These preparations commenced in secrecy and on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of April transports and vessels of war with troops, munitions, and military supplies sailed from Northern ports bound southward."

"That this maneuver (Lincoln's surprise attack) failed in its purpose was not the fault of those who contrived it. A heavy tempest delayed the arrival of the expedition."

"I directed a proposal to be made to the commander of Fort Sumter that we would abstain from directing our fire on Fort Sumter if he would promise not to open fire on our forces unless first attacked."

"This proposal was refused and the conclusion was reached that the design of the United States was to place the besieging (Confederate) force at Charleston between the simultaneous fire of the (U.S.) fleet and the fort."

"There remained, therefore, no alternative but to direct that the fort (Sumter) should at once be reduced (on April 12)." (Paragraphs 8-9) April 15, 1861 Lincoln declared war against the Confederate States:

"Whereas, the (revenue) laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course, now, therefore, I call forth the militia of the several States, to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed" (i.e., create a compulsory Union to collect tax). (Paragraphs 1-2) And again on April 19:

"Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has broken out and the laws of the United States for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed therein: Now, therefore, I have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the ports within the States aforesaid." (Paragraphs 1,4) Lincoln never mentioned slavery in his two war Proclamations.

Secession (Withdrawal From A Voluntary Union)

The Southern States were more right to withdraw from the voluntary Union called the United States than the 13 Colonies were to declare independence from Great Britain in 1776, because Britain formed the 13 Colonies, whereas, the 13 independent States formed the United States.

The Confederate States fought in self-defense for the States' right to remain "free, sovereign and independent", as promised in writing by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (last paragraph), the Articles of Confederation in 1778 (Article II), the Peace Treaty with Britain in 1783 (Article I) and the U.S. Constitution in 1789 (Amendment 10). April 29, 1861 President Jefferson Davis, in his Message To The Confederate States Congress, explained:

"During the war waged against Great Britain by her colonies on this continent a common danger impelled them to a close alliance and to the formation of a Confederation (in Article I, named ‘The United States of America')."

"The several States made explicit declaration in a distinct Article (II) - that ‘each State retains its Sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.'"

"The war of the Revolution was successfully waged, and resulted in the Treaty of Peace with Great Britain in 1783, by the terms of which the several States were each by name recognized to be independent (Article I)."

"The States endeavored in every possible form to exclude the idea that the separate and independent sovereignty of each State was merged into one common government and nation, and to impress in the Constitution its true character - that of a compact between independent States."

"An organization (Union) created by the States to secure the blessings of liberty and independence against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted into a machine for their (the States) control."

"The creature (federal government) has been exalted above its creators (the States)." (Paragraphs 1-2)

It is impossible for secession, for any reason or no reason, by the States that created a voluntary Union, to be a cause of war. If the Southern States could not withdraw in peace, then the U.S. can not secede from the United Nations in peace or France from the European Union, examples of voluntary unions, as once was the U.S.

Lincoln declared three times (above), the only cause of the war was "to collect the revenue" from Southerners by creating a new, compulsory Union. Secession and war are two very different events.

The War Over Slavery Deception

No official act by Congress or Lincoln ever proclaimed a war to abolish slavery, not even the Emancipation Proclamation; and, without such an official act, the war over slavery teaching remains completely false, offensive and divisive hate speech. Unless the North was fighting to end slavery, it was impossible for the South to be fighting to maintain slavery.

September 22, 1862, in his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln stated:

"I do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States" (i.e., reduce States into counties of the Federal government). (Paragraph 1)

Even in his Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln did not claim abolishing slavery was an object of his war. His Proclamation (Paragraph 3) offered Southern States three months to return to the Union (pay taxes) and keep their slaves. None did.

January 1, 1863, in his final Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln affirmed his only reason for issuing, was: "as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion" (Paragraph 4), by attempting to incite slave insurrections (that never occurred), as Britain did in 1776.

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order only, issued half-way through the War, never voted on by Congress, and exempted a million slaves under Lincoln's control from being freed, including General Grant's four slaves.

Mrs. Grant wrote in, The Personal Memoirs of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant:

"We rented our pretty little home (in St. Louis) and hired out our four servants to persons whom we knew and who promised to be kind to them. Eliza, Dan, Julia and John belonged to me. When I visited the General during the war, I nearly always had Julia with me as nurse." (Pages 82-83)

The Northern-controlled Congress refused to pass an Amendment abolishing slavery until January 31, 1865, three months before Appomattox. The only Amendment passed and before the States for ratification the entire war was their Corwin Amendment, which guaranteed permanent slavery in the U.S.

Only 5 of the 13 Confederate States mentioned slavery issues in their Secession Ordinances, i.e., the return of fugitive slaves, slavery in the U.S. territories and Federal abolition. By leaving the voluntary Union, these States abandoned all claims regarding the first two and the issue of Federal abolition was entirely eliminated as a cause of war by Lincoln's First Inaugural Address and the Corwin Amendment.

The only issue of contention remaining was the 40% Federal sales tax on Southerners, which required a compulsory Union to collect. The South was totally right! Lincoln was totally wrong! (Readers are welcome to copy and distribute)

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