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The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War.

The Real Lincoln--A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, 361 pp, $15.95, softcover, ISBN 0761526463, New York, N.Y, Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Over many decades an entire industry of "Lincoln scholars" has created a fantasy--the Lincoln myth. It is the legend that today supports the ideological cornerstone of big government in America. In this shocking, well-documented book, DiLorenzo exposes Lincoln and destroys the myth.

Lincoln, DiLorenzo writes, was a tyrant who changed the purpose of American government from the defense of individual liberty to the quest for empire and the pursuit of egalitarianism (socialism). Far from saving the Union, he destroyed it as a voluntary confederation of states. The people no longer would be sovereign, but insteadthe federal government would be.

Like Franklin Roosevelt, Lincoln was a consummate fence-straddling politician--a conniver, manipulator, and liar. For example, in 1848 he had stated, "Any people anywhere ... have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better." In addition, he was opposed to racial equality, and he worked to colonize all American blacks in Liberia, Haiti, Central America, or anywhere but in the United States. William Lloyd Garrison, who had advocated Northern secession as an anti-slavery measure, called him "The President of African Colonization."

Dozens of countries had ended slavery peacefully during the late 18th and 19th centuries. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863 as a political gimmick, a war measure passed as an act of desperation, when world opinion held that the South was winning the war because it had dealt several major military defeats to the North.

The Founding Fathers considered the right of secession to be the fundamental principle of political philosophy. Jefferson and Madison authored the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 to little criticism. These supported the "policy of nullification" that allowed states to nullify the acts of the federal government they considered unconstitutional.

After Jefferson was elected president in 1800, the New England Federalists tried for more than a decade to secede from the Union, and even held a secession convention in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1814. During the War of 1812, New England was in rebellion, fearing it would be taxed into poverty. The governor of Massachusetts announced that the federal government had failed to live up to the terms of the Constitution, and refused to send troops to the war, in effect seceding temporarily from the Union. Even until just before the Civil War, numerous editorials in Northern newspapers reflected widespread sentiment in favor of allowing the Southern states to secede peacefully. In 1831 South Carolina's Sen. John C. Calhoun presciently posed the question, "... (is) ours ... a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail?"

About two years later, Lincoln's fellow Whig, Daniel Webster, along with the New England Federalist icon Joseph Story, rewrote history by developing the "spectacular lie" that the federal government somehow had created the states. It later became Lincoln's central rationale for denying the right of secession to the Southern states, which he decried as "an ingenious sophism." Lincoln was a worse tyrant than was George III, DiLorenzo maintains. Lincoln suspended the Constitution and habeas corpus; launched a military invasion without the consent of Congress; imprisoned thousands of Northern citizens without trial; shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisoned dozens of their owners and publishers; censored all telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; confiscated firearms; interfered with elections using federal troops; and deported his most outspoken critic, Democratic Ohio Congressman Clement Vallandigham.

Secretary of State William Seward established a secret police force that imprisoned thousands, including newspaper editors and owners, priests, and preachers. Fort Lafayette, in New York harbor, housed so many political prisoners that it was known as the American Bastille. Many prominent Maryland businessmen, as well as most of the Maryland legislature, ended up there. No trials were held because there was no legal process at all.

With the Civil War, Lincoln perpetrated one of the greatest war crimes in history, in DiLorenzo's view. The 620,000 battlefield related deaths alone would be 5 million with today's population. Lincoln abandoned both international law and the accepted moral code of civilized societies in waging total war against civilians. Southern men were executed for refusing to take a loyalty oath to the Lincoln government. Burning entire Southern towns was an essential feature of his war strategy, even though it served no military purpose. Hundreds of Southern churches were torched, with priests and ministers imprisoned. Towns in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Georgia ceased to exist, with the women and children homeless and fearful of starvation.

At Meridian, Mississippi, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman stated, "For five days, 10,000 of our men worked hard ... in that work of destruction, with axes, sledges, crowbars, clawbars, and with fire, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing the work well done. Meridian ... no longer exists." Sherman later destroyed more than 90 percent of Atlanta, bombing the city day and night. When his chief engineer was dismayed at seeing so many corpses of women and young children in the streets of Atlanta, Sherman replied that they were "a beautiful sight."

In late 1864, after the Confederate army had left the Shenandoah Valley, General Grant ordered "one more trip" down the valley, pillaging, plundering, and burning everything in sight, with such devastation that "the crows flying over it would need to pack their own lunches." Sheridan's 35,000 infantry and three divisions of cavalry faced no military opposition at all, but terrorized the defenseless women, children, and old men.

Instead of being the Great Emancipator, Lincoln was the Great Centralizer, the patron saint of centralized governmental power. During his 32 years in politics he was devoted to the "American System," an economic agenda championed by Kentucky slave-owner Henry Clay. This was an extension of the Hamiltonian political tradition that included protectionist tariffs, taxpayer subsidies for railroads and other corporations, and the nationalization of the money supply. It was the same corrupt mercantilist system from which the colonists had fled.

Lincoln's collectivist philosophy was a precursor to our warfare/welfare state that, with its income taxation, large standing army, and intrusive foreign policy, has resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans at war, and a strong central government that confiscates nearly half of national income in taxes--more even than was taken from medieval serfs, DiLorenzo notes.

Lincoln, together with Grant and Sherman, set an ominous precedent for totalitarian rulers of the 20th century, "with their willingness to mass-murder dissenters--whether they be 'recalcitrant Southerners,' Mormons, or Indians" (p. 221). Even Karl Marx understood this when he wrote to Lincoln in November 1864: "Sir: We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority."

The Lincoln myth--that Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union--is history as ideology. It is just one example of the results of our failed government-run public school system--from kindergarten through college and university--that Richard Ebeling has termed "an intellectual sieve of collectivism." DiLorenzo's The Real Lincoln is a long overdue "revisionist" history that every American should read.

Jerome C. Arnett, Jr., M.D.

Helvetia, WV
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Author:Arnett, Jerome C., Jr.
Publication:Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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