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How Lincoln Saved the World
By Ed Driscoll · December 14, 2007 02:09 PM · The Future and its Enemies

Just recorded a really terrific interview hosted by Austin Bay for an upcoming segment of PJM Political, in which Austin interviewed Michael Knox Beran, who wrote "How Lincoln Saved the World" for City Journal:

In the fall of 1862, when Lincoln told Congress, “We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best, hope of earth,” the fate of liberty hung in the balance in three great nations: Russia, where Alexander II sought to promote liberal reform; Germany, where Otto von Bismarck applied his dark genius to the destruction of the Rechtsstaat (rule-of-law state); and America itself.

Those three powers—Russia, Germany, and the United States—would go on to dominate the twentieth century. Only one did not become a slave empire. Had Lincoln not forced his revolution in 1861, American slavery might have survived into the twentieth century, deriving fresh strength from new weapons in the coercive arsenal—“scientific” racism, social Darwinism, jingoistic imperialism, the ostensibly benevolent doctrines of paternalism. The coercive party in America, unbroken in spirit, might have realized its dream of a Caribbean slave empire. Cuba and the Philippines, after their conquest by the United States, might have become permanent slave colonies. Such a nation would have had little reason to resist Bismarck’s Second Reich, Hitler’s third one, or Russia’s Bolshevik empire.

The historical probabilities would have been no less grim had Lincoln, after initiating his revolution, failed to preserve the U.S. as a unitary free state. The Southern Republic, having gained its independence, would almost certainly have formed alliances with regimes grounded in its own coercive philosophy; the successors of Jefferson Davis would have had every incentive to link arms with the successors of Otto von Bismarck.

None of this came to pass. The virtue of Lincoln preserved the liberties of America. In the decades that followed, the nation that he saved played a decisive part in vindicating the freedom of peoples around the world.

Michael explores those thoughts further in his new book, Forge of Empires 1861–1871: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made, which sounds equally well worth your time.



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