Slavery is Wrong, How Can Abortion be Right?

By Daniel Mallock (July 2019)


Here Comes the Wind, Benny Andrews, 1980



When a thing can be done it does not follow that that thing ought to be done.


Those who observe a growing conflict and speculate as to what it means and what might happen are not necessarily supporters of the conflict itself. Such was the case with Abraham Lincoln after his House Divided speech of June, 1858, and his address at Cooper Union of February, 1860, both of which called for the restriction of the extension of the slavery system in the United States.


As the several states of the South now line up once again in opposition to the federal authority in pursuit of the protection of their rights, ironically, the right to protect others as opposed to enslaving them, it is clear that a national crisis is underway. Who can say in which ways the crisis will develop, how it will expand (or be alleviated), and who and what will suffer on account of it?


As the states of the south pass laws to protect their unborn citizens from infanticidal mothers (and directly challenge Roe v. Wade), and the states of the north and west redouble their efforts to assert their views that killing their children is both perfectly correct and legal—a practice protected by the Constitution of the United States don’t-you-know—the American house is once again tragically divided.


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That a mother can kill her unborn child for whatever reason and stand beside the Constitution to justify the deed does not make it right, it just makes it legal.


This abysmal Supreme Court decision was important in motivating Abraham Lincoln in his run against Stephen Douglas (who supported Popular Sovereignty on the territories question) for Senate in 1858, then later for President in 1860.


During the last week of the 1860 presidential campaign, in which he again faced Douglas, a Democrat, Lincoln was at the Illinois State House in Springfield. In a conversation with one of the leaders of Illinois politics, Lincoln said,


I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me I believe I am ready. I am nothing but truth is everything.[1]


What then awaits our generations that kill their children? The killing of children is wrong—but we have not, as a society, yet come to see its moral evil and wrongness. Why?


Alexander Stephens, congressman of Georgia, friend and former colleague of Lincoln, and later the Vice President of the Confederate States, knew full well that slavery was the essential issue of that hour and believed that a war was coming because of it. He knew that Lincoln’s election, and the great conflict over slavery, would spark a national schism.


Men will be cutting one another’s throats in a little while. In less than twelve months we shall be in a war and that the bloodiest in history. Men seem to be utterly blinded to the future. What is to become of us then? God only knows. The Union will certainly be disrupted.[2]


Such an appalling outcome was unavoidable, in the view of the future Vice President of the Confederacy, “because there are not virtue, and patriotism and sense enough left in the country to avoid it.”[3]


If slavery is wrong and was certainly the central issue that sundered the country and brought civil war and tragedy and horror, then the killing of children by their mothers (and their medical providers) is just as significant and likely more so.


When a thing that can be done is done but ought not to be done, citizens must step forward and say that it is wrong and ought to be banned, just as slavery was banned. Such things can be done without war and pestilence.


Who would go to war for the purpose of protecting the rights of mothers to murder their children?


Those who held slaves, bought and sold them, and upheld the slave system, espousing its value on cultural, race supremacy, and economic arguments, finally went to war to uphold their Constitutional rights to keep black people enslaved. That the national law supported slavery via the Constitution did not make it right—it simply made it legal.


[4] Our American courts are driven by precedent, founded upon it; but our state and national legislatures are not so bound; thus, the anti-abortion legislation now coming from anti-child murder states like Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and Louisiana—all of them, ironically, former slave states (except Missouri which was a border state). Such laws are direct challenges to bad precedent and ought to be encouraged. However, the courts themselves are not literally enslaved by precedent, sometimes “demonstrably erroneous decisions,” like Roe and Dred Scott, can be challenged and defeated.




Being opposed to a thing that is legal, though it is wrong, is an unpopular position among those with an intrenched love and support for that legally protected wrong thing. More so, those who profit from that thing that is wrong are the greatest defenders of it.


Just a month after Lincoln’s election in 1860, and citing his election as a cause, South Carolina seceded from the Union. In the government of South Carolina’s Ordnance of Secession, the document with which they declared their justification for leaving the Union and rebelling against it, protection of the slavery system was the center of their complaint.





On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.



—South Carolina’s Ordnance of Secession, adopted December 24, 1860.


Lincoln once made the observation that if slavery were a positive good then why weren’t people volunteering to become slaves? And, in our own troubled time, if not-yet-born children could speak would they say, “please abort me”?


) Lincoln was no friend of the slave system. During the time of the debates at a private event during which both Lincoln and Douglas were present, Lincoln was asked, “Do you know who Douglas is?” Knowing that Douglas himself would hear the answer, Lincoln replied,




any legal arguments or Constitutional “protections” that might support it. Sometimes laws are mistaken and must be changed or defeated (Dred Scott being another example of morally-wrong law).


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That some women who have had abortions now trot their experiences forward in public as a badge of honor, as if their abortion(s) were a positive and good thing worthy of applause and respect, shows further that so many are blind, and cannot see.


only, not the eradication of the slave system in its entirety. But the leaders and blind followers of the slave states considered any limits on the slavery system as a direct threat to their billions worth of investment in enslaved humans. They then formed a combination of slave holding states of like mind and, to protect their immoral institution, gathered themselves together in battle array and went to war against their kinsmen to protect their Constitutional rights to continue to hold black people in bondage and profit from the arrangement.


When the war ended and the Confederacy defeated and slavery destroyed many of the former Confederate survivors and participants explained that their secession, rebellion, and war-making was not at all about slavery and its protection (though at the start they had said that it was) but rather was about tariffs, northern animus, southern nationalism, states’ rights and, finally, the protection of the Constitution itself. That their concepts of protecting the Constitution were founded upon ensuring their rights to enslave black people not all in the South acknowledged though most all understood. These post-war disingenuous, misleading, and false explanations for a national catastrophe that they had themselves brought about did not convince everyone.





History has proven that bad laws can be enacted, that a radical few can manipulate, embolden and sway the masses, that countries of value can teeter and fall through the madness and confusion of their citizens. Most importantly, too, history teaches that people can justify the most appalling horrors to secure and advance an agenda that they value regardless of the wrongness of the thing they defend.


Holding humans in slavery is wrong (despite its having been protected under the Constitution) and, in our own time, regardless of Constitutional protections for abortion—the murder of children is as wrong now as slavery was then.


For many decades the defenders of child murder have perpetrated similar “lost cause” rhetorical convolutions and misrepresentations in fashion similar to some ex-Confederates and secession apologists. As of this writing, the efforts of the abortionists and their blind adherents have been generally successful.


The national debate on the subject is obfuscated by bizarre linkages and assertions of women’s empowerment and equal rights between the sexes, all of which have one single purpose—to obscure the ugly, immoral truth of the killing thing that they defend and applaud. A national battle is being waged between those who want to kill infants and those who want infants to be born and live.


It is important for the defenders of infanticide to assert that the murder of a not-yet-born child is not, in fact, a murder. This is the bizarre, disingenuous woman’s-health-care-decision argument deployed by many feminists, fans of child murder, and mainstream Democrat politicians who support abortion. All of this is a great lie and fraud whose purpose is to justify and minimize the slaughter of children.




Since the Civil War the wrongness of slavery is now abundantly clear yet, while we proclaim that enslaving people is wrong many Americans continue to assert, and the highest national law continues to sustain, that the murder of children by their mothers is not wrong.


The matter of abortion, about killing children, is not about the empowerment of women. How can it be that some women can feel empowered by having, and implementing, the right to kill their children? Some nations and cultures throughout history, and still today, believe that the murder of children is empowering, good, and acceptable—not this one.


There are challenges abroad and there are challenges here at home, but there is no more fundamental domestic fight than that over the controversy as to whether or not the murder of children is wrong and whether legal protections for it should be rescinded.


A nation such as ours at the height of economic, military, and cultural success and might should have as its national position that idea that innocent life is of great and unmeasurable value and that we, Americans, will protect and succor such individuals.


Therefore, in furtherance of this essential and foundational concept, the Supreme Court decision on Roe, allowing abortion anywhere in the several states must be overturned, and the authority of deciding if mothers should have the legal right to kill their children returned to the several states.


The position of the nation should be one of reverence and respect for life, and a written-in-law sentiment that our children are our greatest national treasures that we can have now and into the future. Under the law, after the overturning of Roe, each state will decide for itself if they want infanticide or not within their borders. Perhaps in some future not so far distant in time, all the states will recognize and acknowledge this vile killing practice for what it is, and abandon it.




An Incontrovertible Basis for Life


The abortion issue is not a complex one with rhetorical, mental, and spiritual confusions involved, though its defenders assert that it is. It is a matter of simple logic upon which the cornerstone of science and civilization rests.

  1. If #1 is true, then the murder of children by their mothers is a crime against morality and against humanity.
  2. a false concept.
  3. If infanticide is wrong then the country in which it is practiced ought to ban it, and contend that a nation of laws and justice and freedom does not allow the murder of its children by anybody including their mothers or their mother’s medical provider.
  4. If it is true that nature itself dictates that women carry children and give birth, and not men, then the responsibility of birth rests incontrovertibly upon the females of the society. Should they wish to never carry a child, they should never have unprotected sex, and should they have sex and then conceive, then the child should not be killed as it is the very embodiment of innocence and good. How does one justify the murder of a child when there are ready alternatives that will alleviate the responsibility of child rearing from the disinterested, unwilling/unable or hostile mother, and allow the child to retain its life?
  5. If a woman of the country cares not to raise a child which she is carrying she ought not to be allowed to kill the child but rather allowed to give that child to a family who will raise him/her. Lack of desire to carry and rear a child does not give a woman the right to kill that child. She does not have that right because the murder of unborn children is wrong.
  6. There is little contention that the murder of born children is certainly wrong. The lie that abortion supporters tell is that unborn children are not proper humans and have no lawful or moral protections until they emerge from the womb (in some states, some Democrat political leaders would extend abortion even after birth). This is a great fraud which all who contend in this debate fully know but the abortion advocates must embrace to support their goal. Their goal is to protect their right to murder their children.
  7. It is wrong to murder children, born or unborn.
  8. Slavery was once protected by the Constitution, though it was wrong to do so.
  9. The murder of children is now protected by the Constitution, though it is wrong to do so.
  10. Any law at the national level that protects the murder of children must be defeated.
  11. Any politician who supports the murder of children must not be elected and, if elected, opposed and defeated at the earliest electoral opportunity.
  12. The blind must be made to see, and the laws that support their blindness—utterly, totally, and fully ended.


Times Out of Joint


The abortion matter is so abundantly morally clear yet now profoundly muddied by a culture that devalues life, wisdom, and the defense of the right. Some deeply troubled people do not even believe in the existence of “right” —only in what each individual considers to be the right. This bizarre, self-absorbed, Hobbesian, anti-human, amoral, humanist world-view is contrary to the concept of a just nation built upon laws and institutions.


In such a vexed climate as this few have taken up this matter as too difficult, too controversial, too heightened. Such were most likely the feelings of those who opposed slavery all the while it was protected by the Constitution. In that climate then and in this, now, certainly these similar struggles to defeat an injustice have like elements of challenge.


There were times when Abraham Lincoln himself seemed to be a sort of ghost standing on a platform in broad daylight before thousands of people solemnly unwrapping the sheets about their old laws and murmuring of forgotten oaths and wasted sacrifices.[9]


In May, 1856, amidst the violence over slavery in the territories on the Missouri/Kansas border which saw hundreds killed, Lincoln spoke at a Republican party rally in Springfield, Illinois.




The Confederate Monuments


Since the Confederacy was founded upon slavery and its protection should Confederate monuments be allowed to stand? The answer must be “yes.”


This apparent contradiction is fundamental to understanding American history.


After the war, our forefathers forgave one another and re-united the country. This forgiveness (and subsequent re-unification of the country) is one of the essential lessons of the Civil War for the future generations.


Our forebears forgave each other and moved forward together as one united nation—without slavery. Statues and monuments and memorials to Confederate soldiers and leaders are acknowledgements in stone and bronze by the victors that the vanquished were not only defeated enemies in war, but brothers (and sisters) once again going forward into the future.


These monuments are silent lessons to us of mistakes made, courage exhibited, magnanimity in victory, and national unity into the future. If our boys and girls in blue forgave our boys and girls in gray then who are we to cancel their lessons and abandon their forgiveness? This was a conflict fought and resolved by previous generations which only relates to us now because of radical agitation to reignite old, resolved controversies for current political purposes. It is the self-destructive height of ignorance and anti-history.


Lessons of a Contrary Past


Accepting the lessons of our forebears is a debt we owe to the past and to ourselves. If there is no learning, if there is no lesson, if there are no themes of reunification then the tragedy of the war is compounded over and over again. We are mandated by history and by nature to learn the lessons of the past.


But we do have such lessons and themes—one in particular from an unexpected source. Here is a speech that former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest gave toward the end of his life, at Memphis, Tennessee, July, 1875. Forrest had been one of the leading generals of the Confederacy and acknowledged by many in the post-war years, including Robert E. Lee, as the best commander of the war (Sherman, Johnston, and Davis appeared to concur on this assessment). Prior to the war, Forrest had been a slave trader through which activities he acquired great wealth all of which he lost during the war.


After the war, Forrest was the first Grand Wizard of the Klan, which he later ordered disbanded. Now widely reviled for these things, and the controversial battle at Fort Pillow in 1864, Forrest had an extraordinary change of heart in the post-war years which is now generally unknown and unacknowledged. He is a fitting example of the concept that people can learn and change and that reconciliation and forgiveness are real.


For this generation, Forrest’s post-war change and the forgiveness presented to him by some he had harmed the most is an important story that challenges ignorance and hatreds now so widespread in our troubled country, and merits acknowledgement and review.


This is the last public address General Forrest delivered. He gave this speech to a black organization, at their invitation, called the “Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association.” Prior to the address he was presented a bouquet of flowers by a black woman, which he gladly accepted. This speech is not commonly known, but ought to be.


Gentlemen, I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the Southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God’s earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. (Immense applause and laughter.) I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man, to depress none.






This speech by Forrest to a black organization, and the later fact that hundreds or more black people attended his funeral, is evidence that the contradictions of our history and ourselves were once understood, and now tragically forgot.


The bravery and sacrifices of both sides now belong to all of us, north and south, black and white, blue and gray—and the Confederate statues can speak one lesson or another to all. We ignore and eradicate our history at our grave peril.


Unifying the Contradictions of American History



Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a
     minute longer.)


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)


I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.


—Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, from Leaves of Grass, 1855


There is no contradiction in declaring that slavery and the killing of children are both wrong. Ours is a sometimes-difficult, contradictory history. There is much to learn and gain from our contrary history foremost, perhaps, is that the eradication of the moral evil of slavery carried such a high cost.


All of this is here for the taking now so that we avoid the mistakes of our forebears who were forced to endure war and horror to end their great wrong (slavery). Now, it is for us to end our generation’s great wrong (the murder of children), assert that we are not slaves to precedent, and do it without enmity, discord, and disunion.



An Invitation


A performance is scheduled at Ford’s Theater. Appreciators of the theater and all concerned parties hope (and pray) that the play will be a successful one, and that the event will be unmarred by anything unpleasant among the performers or the attendees.


Despite invitations having been sent far and wide every one of them has been declined.


All send their regrets at the missed opportunity and an evening’s entertainment lost, but the children are at home asleep and they cannot be left unattended.




[1] William Eleroy Curtis, The True Abraham Lincoln, (J.B. Lippincott, 1905), p.388.

[3] Rhodes, Ibid.

[5] “When the votes were tallied, Lincoln, who was not on the ballot in any Southern state, carried all of the North but one state in the popular vote.” (University of Virginia, Miller Center).

[6] Winston Churchill, The Crisis, (MacMillan, London, 1902), vol. 4, p.136.

[7] Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire Into The Condition of Affairs in The Late Insurrectionary States, (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1872), p.19.

[8] John G. Nicolay, A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln: Condensed from Nicolay and Hay’s Abraham Lincoln: A History, (Century, 1902), p.166.

[9] Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years-2, (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1945), vol. 2, p.136.

[10] Ward Hill Lamon, The Life of Abraham Lincoln: From His Birth to His Inauguration as President, (Applewood reprint, 1872), p.378.

[11] Jack Hurst, Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography, (Vintage, 1993), pp.366-7.


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Daniel Mallock is a historian of the Founding generation and of the Civil War and is the author of The New York Times Bestseller, Agony and Eloquence: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and a World of Revolution. He is a Contributing Editor at New English Review.

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