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Senator John C. Breckinridge: The Courage to Speak Out

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Published on: December 8, 2014

“The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887)

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln invaded Kentucky, which was trying to stay neutral in the civil war.  Lincoln’s military governor, General Anderson, started arresting recalcitrant Kentuckians.  The Kentucky delegation, including Senator John C. Breckinridge went to Washington in the summer of 1861 to denounce the tyranny of the Lincoln administration in Congress.  The Fuhrer, Mr. Lincoln, had already shut down the Maryland state legislature for questioning his power.  Guns were confiscated as they were later in Missouri and no doubt in Kentucky.  Breckinridge had the courage to speak out even though he knew that exercising his constitutionally “guaranteed” right to free speech would put him in serious danger of disappearing, without trial, into a faraway prison.  The North, terrorized by its firsthand understanding of just how far Lincoln was willing to go, had lost its collective mind.  Cowards, as such, always identify with a bully who can intimidate them with troops, shut down their newspapers, and imprison them without trial. 

Here is the address Senator Breckinridge published to the people of Kentucky upon fleeing to the South in order to avoid being imprisoned by Lincoln for speaking as if he were a free man.  It is a clear lesson about why the Lincoln myth must be destroyed as the cornerstone of modern American tyranny.  The liberals who have been attempting to control our minds for two generations are about to start experiencing the hell of a whole new and competing historical consciousness, both north and south.   We can now go around the educational establishment, to expose those who have been programmed by it, to new information which they will never get from the government schools.  

Bowling Green, Kentucky, October 8, 1861.

In obedience, as I supposed, to your wishes, I proceeded to Washington, and at the special session of Congress, in July, spoke and voted against the whole war policy of the President and Congress; demanding, in addition, for Kentucky, the right to refuse, not men only, but money also, to the war, for I would have blushed to meet you with the confession that I had purchased for you exemption from the perils of the battle-field, and the shame of waging war against your Southern brethren, by hiring others to do the work you shrunk from performing. During that memorable session a very small body of Senators and Representatives, even beneath the shadow of a military despotism, resisted the usurpations of the Executive, and, with what degree of dignity and firmness, they willingly submit to the judgment of the world.

Their efforts were unavailing, yet they may prove valuable hereafter, as another added to former examples of many protests against the progress of tyranny.

On my return to Kentucky, at the close of the late special session of Congress, it was my purpose immediately to resign the office of Senator. The verbal and written remonstrances of many friends in different parts of the State induced me to postpone the execution of my purpose; but the time has arrived to carry it into effect, and accordingly I now hereby return the trust into your hands…. In the House of Representatives it was declared that the South should be reduced to ‘abject submission,’ or their institutions be overthrown. In the Senate it was said that, if necessary, the South should be depopulated and repeopled from the North; and an eminent Senator expressed a desire that the President should be made dictator. This was superfluous, since they had already clothed him with dictatorial powers. In the midst of these proceedings, no plea for the Constitution is listened to in the North; here and there a few heroic voices are feebly heard protesting against the progress of despotism, but, for the most part, beyond the military lines, mobs and anarchy rule the hour.

The great mass of the Northern people seem anxious to sunder every safeguard of freedom; they eagerly offer to the Government what no European monarch would dare to demand. The President and his generals are unable to pick up the liberties of the people as rapidly as they are thrown at their feet…. In every form by which you could give direct expression to your will, you declared for neutrality. A large majority of the people at the May and August elections voted for the neutrality and peace of Kentucky. The press, the public speakers, the candidates—with exceptions in favor of the Government at Washington so rare as not to need mention—planted themselves on this position. You voted for it, and you meant it. You were promised it, and you expected it…. Look now at the condition of Kentucky, and see how your expectations have been realized—how these promises have been redeemed…. General Anderson, the military dictator of Kentucky, announces in one of his proclamations that he will arrest no one who does not act, write, or speak in opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s Government. It would have completed the idea if he had added, or think in opposition to it. Look at the condition of our State under the rule of our new protectors. They have suppressed the freedom of speech and of the press. They seize people by military force upon mere suspicion, and impose on them oaths unknown to the laws. Other citizens they imprison without warrant, and carry them out of the State, so that the writ of habeas corpus cannot reach them.

Every day foreign armed bands are making seizures among the people. Hundreds of citizens, old and young, venerable magistrates, whose lives have been distinguished by the love of the people, have been compelled to fly from their homes and families to escape imprisonment and exile at the hands of Northern and German soldiers, under the orders of Mr. Lincoln and his military subordinates. While yet holding an important political trust, confided by Kentucky, I was compelled to leave my home and family, or suffer imprisonment and exile. If it is asked why I did not meet the arrest and seek a trial, my answer is, that I would have welcomed an arrest to be followed by a judge and jury; but you well know that I could not have secured these constitutional rights. I would have been transported beyond the State, to languish in some Federal fortress during the pleasure of the oppressor. Witness the fate of Morehead and his Kentucky associates in their distant and gloomy prison.

The case of the gentleman just mentioned is an example of many others, and it meets every element in a definition of despotism. If it should occur in England it would be righted, or it would overturn the British Empire. He is a citizen and native of Kentucky. As a member of the Legislature, Speaker of the House, Representative in Congress from the Ashland district, and Governor of the State, you have known, trusted, and honored him during a public service of a quarter of a century. He is eminent for his ability, his amiable character, and his blameless life. Yet this man, without indictment, without warrant, without accusation, but by the order of President Lincoln, was seized at midnight, in his own house, and in the midst of his own family, and led through the streets of Louisville, as I am informed, with his hands crossed and pinioned before him—was carried out of the State and district, and now lies a prisoner in a fortress in New York Harbor, a thousand miles away…. The Constitution of the United States, which these invaders unconstitutionally swear every citizen whom they unconstitutionally seize to support, has been wholly abolished. It is as much forgotten as if it lay away back in the twilight of history. The facts I have enumerated show that the very rights most carefully reserved by it to the States and to individuals have been most conspicuously violated….

Your fellow-citizen, (Signed) John C. Breckinridge – Quoted from The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (pp. 401-402) Davis, Jefferson (2012-05-16) Kindle Edition.

The “German soldiers” referred to by Breckinridge in this sad story were probably associated with the German “forty-eighters” — fugitives from the failed European revolutions of 1848.  They were leftist radicals who loved Lincoln because of his clear intention to obliterate regional government and impose one version of reason and justice on everyone by force.

Very few contemporary Americans have read about the tyranny imposed not only on the South, but the North, by Lincoln and his allies in the military who not only intimidated, but blatantly violated the rights of those who understood that freedom was dead on the North American continent and said so.  Let us pray that the central government of the United States will not be allowed to shut down the internet before the American people become truly educated for the first time in two generations.  

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