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The Treasury of Counterfeit Virtue

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!”

—Robert Burns

A few years ago, a well-known conservative historian lamented that the American public was not morally engaged to undergo sacrifice after the September 11 attacks, unlike it was in its heroic response to Fort Sumter and Pearl Harbor.

Wait a minute.  Pearl Harbor and September 11 were massive sneak attacks by foreign enemies.  The reduction of Fort Sumter was preceded by a gentlemanly warning, was bloodless, and the garrison was allowed to depart with honor.  It would not have happened at all if Abraham Lincoln had not maneuvered to bring it about.  Think about this.  Why should Southerners (free Americans) permit a fort that had been built with their tax money for their protection to be used as a base to conquer and extort taxes from them, when every other federal post in the South had already been peacefully transferred pending a political settlement of the issues raised by secession?  One can become outraged at Fort Sumter only by placing a higher value on the will of the political party controlling the machinery of government than on the core purpose of a free regime to protect the people.

Nor did Lincoln’s call after Fort Sumter for 75,000 troops to suppress “the rebellion” evoke unity and determination. ...

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