A Plagiarist's Contribution to Lincoln Idolatry

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Doris Kearns Goodwin is a museum-quality specimen of a "court historian" — an intellectual or pseudo-intellectual who is devoted to pulling the wool over the public’s eyes by portraying even the most immoral, corrupt, and sleazy politicians as great, wise, and altruistic men. Far better men than their subjects, in fact. She earned this designation by writing so-called "psychohistories" of FDR, Lyndon Johnson, the Kennedy family and, most recently, Lincoln.

Psychohistory became an academic fad in the 1960s, when Doris Kearns was a graduate student in political science at Harvard. It is essentially an enterprise in which those who are not especially well trained in psychology (her degree is in political science) play amateur psychologist while authoring biographies of famous people. It is a very dark art in which almost any devious or even murderous act by the state can be (and has been) excused or rationalized. Not all psychohistory is as dubious as this, but a good bit of it is — including all of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s books.

Murray Rothbard explained the role of the court historian in an essay entitled "The State" in his book, For a New Liberty. "[S]ince the early origins of the state," he wrote, "its rulers have always turned, as a necessary bolster to their rule, to an alliance with society’s class of intellectuals. The masses do not create their own abstract ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and promulgated by the body of intellectuals . . ."

Moreover, "the alliance is based on a quid pro quo: on the one hand, the intellectuals spread among the masses the idea that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable . . . . In return for this panoply of ideology, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security." The intellectuals use academic jargon to portray themselves as "scientific experts" who assist our rulers in the practice of what they call "statesmanship," a pleasant-sounding euphemism for what normal people would think of as plain old, down-and-dirty politics.

Court historians develop a "worshipful and fawning attitude" toward their rulers, Rothbard wrote, and this attitude is especially prevalent "toward the office and person of the president." Doris Kearns Goodwin’s whitewashing of the Johnson presidency, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Contrary to the great Robert Caro’s biographical masterpieces on Johnson (The Path to Power; Means of Ascent; and Master of the Senate), who is portrayed there as arguably the dirtiest, nastiest, lying, corrupt politician of the twentieth century, Goodwin informs us that Johnson was really "formidable," "fascinating," "graceful," "generous," "dazzling," "giving," "generous," and much more.

She met Johnson as a White House intern while still in graduate school, and ended up on the White House staff. After Johnson left office our confessed plagiarist (to be discussed in more detail below) spent a great deal of time with Johnson in Texas preparing his biography. The man some thirty years her senior would crawl into her bed at 5:30 A.M. every morning, she wrote, so that she could "listen" to him talk. "I had reminded him of his dead mother," she writes in the introduction to Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. (Am I the only one who thinks it is bizarre for a married woman to admit publicly that she allowed a married man to slip into her bed before dawn because she reminded him of his dead mother?). She has been rewarded ever since with giant book contracts, television gigs, fame, and fortune. It’s good to be a court historian.

Plagiarism 101

The January 18, 2002 issue of The Weekly Standard "outed" Doris Kearns Goodwin as a plagiarist, proving that her book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, used numerous phrases and sentences without attribution from three other books: Time to Remember by Rose Kennedy; The Lost Prince by Hank Searl; and Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times, by Lynne McTaggart. Once this was made public — and the almost identical phrases in Goodwin’s book placed side by side of the originals from which she plagiarized in numerous newspaper and magazine articles, Goodwin admitted that she had previously reached a large "private settlement" with Lynne McTaggart for plagiarizing her work. Part of the settlement required Goodwin and her publisher to footnote McTaggart’s words in future print runs of her book.

Such a thing would normally ruin any normal intellectual, but not a valued court historian who has lionized all the major champions of Big Government in recent decades — FDR, Johnson, the Kennedys. The Boston Globe came to Goodwin’s defense, claiming that she only lifted "two or three paragraphs" (see Bo Crader, "Lynn McTaggart on Doris Kearns Goodwin," The Weekly Standard online, January 23, 2002). McTaggart shot that down, however, by responding that there were in fact "dozens and dozens" of words, phrases, and whole paragraphs taken verbatim from her book by Goodwin.

Other court historians then attempted to resurrect Goodwin’s reputation, for the good of "the cause." Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Morton Blum, Robert Dallek and Sena Wilentz were among a group of court historians who wrote a letter to the New York Times (published on Oct. 25, 2003) trying to argue that "Ms. Goodwin did not intentionally pass off someone else’s words as her own." But writing in the Nov. 13, 2003 issue of Slate online, Timothy Noah brought up the embarrassing fact (to Schlesinger & Co.) that the American Historical Association’s "Statement on Plagiarism" does not recognize exemptions based on intent. Professor Rick Shenkman of George Mason University surveyed plagiarism standards at universities across America and found that none of them provide an exemption for intent.

Goodwin has also been accused of being a serial plagiarizer. An August 2002 Los Angeles Times story by Peter King reported that there were many passages in Goodwin’s book on the Roosevelts, No Ordinary Time, that were apparently lifted directly from Joseph Lash’s Eleanor and Franklin and Hugh Gregory Gallagher’s FDR’s Splendid Deception (See Timothy Noah, "Historians Rewrite History: The Campaign to Exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin, Slate online, Nov. 13, 2003).

Despite all the proof of plagiarism that would ruin other intellectuals, the only "penalty" Goodwin suffered was having to disappear from her usual forum on national television for a few months and to resign from the Pulitzer Prize Committee. After that, she would soon be rewarded with a fat contract from Simon and Schuster to write a "political biography" of Abraham Lincoln, the movie rights to which were purchased by Steven Spielberg before the book was even published. It’s good to be a court historian.

The Latest Lincoln Whitewash

Goodwin’s new book on Lincoln, like almost all others, doesn’t even bother to make the pretense of being a scholarly search for historical truth. The book is entitled Team of Rivals, and the subtitle is "The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." Of course, to court historians like Goodwin "political genius" is always a good thing, for what politicians demonstrate their ingenuity in is fooling the public into going along with bigger and bigger government, which always means less and less freedom and prosperity (and more and more power and prestige for court historians). (In the acknowledgments to her book on Johnson, Goodwin thanks a gaggle of Ivy League and literary leftists including John Kenneth Galbraith and Studs Terkel).

Murray Rothbard had a very different take on Lincoln’s "political genius." In an essay entitled "Two Just Wars: 1776 and 1861" (John Denson, ed., The Costs of War), Rothbard admitted that Lincoln was indeed a "master politician." But if history teaches us anything about politicians, he continued, it is that a masterful politician is one who is a masterful "liar, conniver, and manipulator." Proponents of the free society should fear "master politicians," not idolize or deify them.

Goodwin engages in an amusing orgy of worshipful exaggeration and pure hokum in her first two chapters, describing Abe as a "political genius" characterized by "decency," "morality," "kindness," sensitivity," "compassion," "honesty," and "empathy." To Goodwin it was moral, kind, sensitive, and compassionate to micromanage the waging of war on fellow civilians as well as combatants for four long years, including the bombing and burning of entire cities and the killing of thousands of civilians. She writes of Lincoln’s supposed "abhorrence of hurting another" and his "remarkable empathy" towards those who were "in pain" (p. 104).

He was supposedly "our only poet-president" (she apparently doesn’t think there’s anything poetic about Jefferson’s writings, including the Declaration of Independence, or George Washington’s Farewell Address, among many others). And on top of all that, Lincoln was "uncommonly tenderhearted"; an "acolyte of pure reason and remorseless logic" who had "daunting concentration, phenomenal memory, acute reasoning faculties, and interpretive penetration." He was a man "who had never met his intellectual equal"; "the very embodiment of good temper and affability"; and "his magnanimity always served him well." He was a "master among men" (no pun intended, presumably, with the "master-slave" language).

Goodwin’s apparent purpose in all this lavish praise for Lincoln’s intellect is to excuse or cover up the fact that he had less than one year of formal education and probably never even read The Federalist Papers. This did not stop him, however, from claiming to re-found America.

Goodwin cannot deny that Lincoln was not a believer in God, never joined a church, and often mocked Christians and Christianity (nor can anyone else). So she soft-pedals the fact by writing of "Lincoln’s inability to take refuge in the concept of a Christian heaven." And rather than pointing out what a colossal hypocrite he was to invoke Scripture so often in his political speeches, she instead uses his absence of faith to suggest that we should feel ever more sorry for him because he "confronted the loss of loved ones without prospect of finding them in the afterlife." She voices no special sympathy in the book for the 600,000 Americans who died in Lincoln’s war, or for their families, but repeatedly explains why we should feel especially sorry for poor old depressed Abe.

The book compares Lincoln to three of his rivals to become president: William Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates (who would serve, respectively, as his secretary of state, secretary of the treasury, and attorney general). In keeping with the court historian’s practice of describing our rulers as wiser, more moral, and even handsomer than the rest of us, Goodwin portrays these men and their families as nearly Perfect People. Frances Seward was "a tall, slender, comely woman, with large black eyes, an elegant neck, and a passionate commitment to women’s rights and the antislavery cause."

Kate Chase, the widowed Stuart Chase’s daughter, was "beautiful and ambitious" as well as "brilliant." Julia Coalter Bates was "an attractive, sturdy, woman." And on and on.

Like almost all books on Lincoln, history is distorted from the very first chapter. Goodwin never passes up a chance to praise Lincoln’s political "genius," and she does on page 9 by remarking that his February 27, 1860 speech at the Cooper Union in New York City was "the pinnacle of his success" in lobbying for the Republican presidential nomination. But she misses the point entirely about why the speech was such a success before a large New York City audience of 1500. It was a success because in the speech Lincoln pledged that the Republican Party would never interfere with southern slavery, thereby eliminating the prospect that large numbers of black people would ever live among New Yorkers and compete with them for jobs. Slavery’s "presence among us makes that toleration and protection [of slavery] a necessity," he said. How’s that for "brilliant" logic: We must keep slavery because it already exists. All the constitutional guarantees of slavery should be "fully and fairly, maintained," said "the great emancipator," a line that drew a thunderous applause from the New Yorkers.

The crowd also cheered his support for the Republican Party’s opposition to the extension of slavery into the territories for the same reasons. As University of Virginia historian, Professor Michael Holt, writes in his recent book, The Fate of Their Country, "Many northern whites . . . wanted to keep slaves out of the West in order to keep blacks out. The North was a pervasively racist society where free blacks suffered social, economic, and political discrimination. Bigots, they sought to bar African-American slaves from the West." This is another reason why New Yorkers cheered Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech. This, and the fact that they knew that he was also a lifelong advocate of "colonization" — of deporting all of the free blacks in the U.S. to Africa, Haiti, Central America, anywhere but here.

Incredibly, Goodwin makes nothing of the fact that the notoriously crooked and corrupt New York/Tammany Hall political boss Thurlow Weed was the first to assist Lincoln in planning his presidential campaign. To Goodwin Weed was simply another successful old Whig "statesman" like Lincoln.

Goodwin also points out (p. 88) that until he joined the Republican Party Lincoln "would remain a Steadfast Whig" like Seward, Bates, and Chase. She also correctly states that after his election as president, the top requirement for members of his cabinet was that they had to be former Whigs. But she completely misses the significance of this point — of the total victory of the old Whigs. For the previous thirty years the Whig Party was the party of Henry Clay’s "American System," period. Lincoln toiled as much as anyone in the political trenches of the Whig Party for decades to attempt to secure the planks of this "system" — protectionist tariffs, a monopoly central bank run by the federal government, and corporate welfare for the railroad and road-building industries (and later, free land giveaways). This is why they were Whigs: they were the political water carriers of the mostly northern business and banking elite, as their political descendants, the Republican Party, still are to this day. Lincoln filled his cabinet with former Whigs like himself so as to guarantee that the old Whig economic agenda would be a top priority.

The distinguishing feature of these neo-mercantilist policies was that they were all tools of political plunder that primarily benefited the rich and politically well connected at the expense of the rest of society. But Goodwin merely recites the standard description of them by fellow Lincoln idolaters like Gabor Boritt, that the policies were somehow motivated by a desire that "all men should receive a full reward for their labors." There’s no mention of the actual effects of the policies, which many generations of economists have deemed to be plunder and harmful to prosperity. Only motivations matter to Lincoln idolaters like Goodwin and Boritt, who always portray Abe’s motivations as nothing less than angelic.

Students of politics have understood for literally centuries that the key to success in democratic politics is to use the coercive powers of the state to dispense concentrated benefits (through spending, tariffs that block competition, etc.) on well-organized special interest groups while dispersing and disguising the costs among the general population. The so-called "American System" was a textbook example of this age-old recipe for political plunder. But as Rothbard noted in his essay on the state, there has always been an unholy alliance between the state and certain intellectuals, with the intellectuals playing the role of "experts" who attempt to fool the public into believing that policies that in fact benefit only a small number of special interests are really in "the public interest" or "for the good of society." This is the role that is played here by Goodwin (who has a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard and surely must understand all of this) and by all other Lincoln cultists who comment on the economic policies of the nineteenth century Whig/Republican regime. Protectionist tariffs that make all goods more expensive for all consumers, depress the economy generally, and disproportionately harm export-reliant industries like agriculture, says Goodwin, were supposedly motivated by Lincoln’s alleged desire that every American have "an unfettered start, and fair chance, in the race of life." Of course, politicians always claim in their speeches that their motivations and policies are pure as the driven snow. The only way a free society can be maintained is if a large enough segment of the public is educated enough (especially in economics) to see through these lies and deceptions and educate their fellow citizens about them. This job is made all the more difficult by the constant drumbeat of misinformation that comes from the court historian class.

Facts about a presidential candidate that would sound absolutely alarming to any sane person living in a democracy are excused away by Goodwin. For example, she does note that Lincoln’s family had a history of mental illness, that he suffered severe depression himself, that he was a megalomaniac as well as one of the most arrogant human beings anyone would ever hope to encounter. (Another recent book on Lincoln argues that his mental illness "made him stronger"!). As Goodwin writes, "Conscious of his superior powers and the extraordinary reach of his mind and sensibilities, Lincoln feared from his earliest days that these qualities would never . . . bring him recognition among his fellows." A politician with a history of mental illness, and who is aggressively arrogant and ambitious beyond belief, is a frightening prospect. Just read almost anything the founding fathers wrote about the need to control and constrain politics and politicians with "the chains of the Constitution," as Jefferson put it.

The proper way to interpret these facts, Goodwin advises us, is to feel sorry for old Abe, who suffered "tremendous sadness" whenever he thought that his superhuman powers would not be recognized "by his fellows."

Although this is supposed to be a book about Lincoln’s "political genius" most of the means by which Lincoln eventually grabbed on to dictatorial powers are not mentioned. There is no mention of his long career of writing anonymous letters to the editor smearing his political opponents, for example. There is no mention that he was a wealthy and politically-connected railroad industry lobbyist. In discussing the Lincoln presidency Goodwin makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that literally tens of thousands of northern political dissenters were imprisoned without due process, that hundreds of opposition newspapers were shut down, that elections were rigged, that West Virginia was illegally separated from the rest of the state, that all telegraph communication was censored, private firearms were confiscated in violation of the Second Amendment, habeas corpus was illegally suspended, and that for these reasons, among others, generations of scholars have written of "the Lincoln dictatorship." She doesn’t even cite the two pro-Lincoln books that catalogue all of this — Constitutional Problems under Lincoln by James Randall and Fate of Liberty by Mark Neely — despite all her boasts of having spent ten years researching and writing the book (which has several thousand footnotes).

Goodwin never attempts to compare any of Lincoln’s political pronouncements to his actions, as should always be done in judging any politician. This is typical of all "Lincoln scholars." She follows Harry Jaffa in making a Very Big Deal of Lincoln’s statement that "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent." But Lincoln not only supported, but was the secret author of a constitutional amendment that passed the House and Senate shortly before his inauguration that would have forbidden the federal government from ever interfering with southern slavery ("the first thirteenth amendment"). To Lincoln, it was perfectly OK for one man to govern another man without his consent as long as everyone continued to pay federal taxes. He welcomed the slave-owning border states into his union with open arms. It was perfectly fine for one man to govern another man without that man’s consent as long as they all remained part of the union and paid federal taxes. Moreover, his invasion of the southern states was nothing if it was not a war against consent. The south no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C., and Lincoln waged the bloodiest war in American history for four long years to deprive them of that right.

Like Jaffa and other Lincoln cultists, Goodwin ignores or makes lame excuses for most of Lincoln’s more unsavory speeches, like his famous White Superiority Speech given in Peoria, Illinois, where he strongly opposed any semblance of equality of the white and black races, opposed "making citizens of Negroes," opposed making voters or jurors of them, opposed inter-racial marriage, and even used the words "superior" and "inferior" to define the "appropriate" relation between the races. He supported the Illinois Black Codes and was a "manager" of the Illinois Colonization Society, which sought to deport all the free blacks out of the state. He also supported the Illinois constitution’s provision to prohibit black people from migrating into the state. He once defended a slave owner named Robert Matson who sought to re-acquire his runaway slaves (he lost the case). As a man of the nineteenth century North, he was an extreme racial bigot, a fact that is always swept under the rug. Thus, perhaps the biggest lie that is told in Team of Rivals is the statement on page 207 that "armies of scholars, meticulously investigating every aspect of [Lincoln's] life, have failed to find a single act of racial bigotry on his part." In reality, these so-called "armies of scholars" are not scholars at all but armies of court historians who have distorted, covered up, and lied about the real Lincoln.

Goodwin puts a rather sophomoric spin on many of Lincoln’s more notorious acts. For example, she does document that not only did he support the constitutional amendment that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with southern slavery, but the amendment was his idea. After he was elected but before he was inaugurated "He instructed Seward to introduce these proposals in the Senate Committee of Thirteen without indicating they issued from Springfield. The first resolved that u2018the Constitution should never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the states.’" Another recommendation that he instructed Seward to get through Congress was that "all state personal liberty laws in opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law be repealed" (p. 296). A number of northern states invoked the Jeffersonian states’ rights doctrine to enact such laws which effectively nullified the Fugitive Slave Law within their states. Lincoln sought federal legislation that would have overridden these "personal liberty laws," as they were called.

Rather than drawing the obvious conclusion — that Lincoln wasn’t particularly interested in the wellbeing of southern slaves, and that he was a colossal hypocrite and an enemy of freedom — Goodwin praises these odious positions because "they held the Republican Party together."

Goodwin doesn’t seem to notice the importance of the fact that when Seward announced these two positions in a speech in Boston, "the galleries erupted in thunderous applause." This was because the vast majority of New Englanders were happy to see southern slavery persist; they did not want any liberated black people living among them. They applauded thunderously to Seward’s appeal to repeal the personal liberty laws for the same reason: they wanted the few free blacks that lived among them to be sent away as well.

Lincoln’s political handler, the devious Tammany Hall political hack Thurlow Weed, "loved the speech," writes Goodwin. Lincoln wrote Seward a letter of congratulations, but then lied about being the author of the ideas. The lies were OK according to Goodwin, though, because they "kept his fractious party together."

Although it was the southern states that were invaded by the largest army ever assembled in the history of the world, and nearly the entire war was fought south of the Mason-Dixon line, with vast stretches of the region laid waste with entire towns and cities burned to the ground, Goodwin’s only sympathy is with the North. Readers are supposed to feel sorrow for the fact that, during the war, "the residents of Washington lived in a state of constant fear," and "elsewhere in the North, anxiety was nearly as great." Poor babies. Moreover, there is hardly any talk of death at all in this very large book, apart from than the death of Lincoln’s son and a former girlfriend. When Goodwin discusses the New York City draft riots of July 1863 she notes that a regiment of federal soldiers finally "ended" the "mob violence" but fails to mention how it was ended. Acting upon direct orders from Lincoln, some 15,000 federal soldiers were sent from the recently-concluded Battle of Gettysburg and ordered to fire into the crowds. Hundreds, maybe thousands were killed in the streets of New York. Yet to Goodwin it was the draft protests that were "disgraceful" (p. 538), not the killing of thousands of protesters by federal soldiers.

The biggest assault on personal liberty in all of American history, the illegal suspension of habeas corpus by Lincoln, is dealt with in two short paragraphs in Goodwin’s 916-page book. The reader learns almost nothing about it, which of course is the idea. She does mention that this illegal act "aroused the wrath" of chief justice Roger B. Taney, but there is no explanation at all of what Taney said in his opinion. Nor is there any mention of the fact that Lincoln responded to Taney’s opinion by issuing an arrest warrant for the chief justice, one of the most dictatorial and tyrannical acts by any president in American history. Nor does the reader learn that in 1866 the U.S. Supreme Court backed Taney’s opinion (Ex Parte Milligan) that Lincoln had in fact acted illegally, ruling that no one — not the president nor Congress — can suspend habeas corpus where the civil courts are still operating, as they were in Maryland in 1861.

Nor is there any mention of Seward’s notorious role as the head of a secret KGB-style police force that was in charge of rounding up and imprisoning thousands of political dissenters without due process. Seward is always portrayed instead as "a great statesman" and a close personal friend and confidant of poor, depressed old Abe.

Not surprisingly, Goodwin’s discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation is, shall we say, biased and incomplete. She does admit that it did not apply to the border states that were still part of the union, but the excuse she makes for this is that Lincoln "had no constitutional authority" there. But wait a minute. Lincoln never admitted that the southern states ever left the union. To him, they were part of the United States. If the Emancipation Proclamation applied to Mississippi it should therefore have applied to Maryland as well.

The true explanation, as opposed to the one given by Goodwin and most other Lincoln cultists, is that Lincoln’s position was: "You can keep your slaves as long as you continue to pay taxes to the federal government." Thus, parts of the union where slavery existed were specifically exempted, as were various parts of the south, such as in Louisiana, where the Union Army controlled the territory. The Emancipation Proclamation only "freed" slaves where it was impossible to do so. This is another important fact that Goodwin leaves out.

She also fails to note that opinion makers around the world saw through the ruse and denounced the Proclamation as hypocritical and nothing but crass political theater since it only applied to "rebel territory." Instead, she misleads her readers once again by saying that the only criticism came from "conservatives" and southerners. This is unequivocally untrue.

Goodwin’s discussion of the imprisonment and deportation of Democratic Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Ohio is also hopelessly biased and, in places, factually incorrect. Vallandigham was Lincoln’s most outspoken critic in Congress. At a time when southern cities were being bombed and destroyed, tens of thousands of Americans were being killed, habeas corpus was suspended, opposition newspapers shut down, and civil liberties in the North all but nonexistent, Vallandigham gallantly protested. But to Goodwin the main source of "violence" at this point in time was not the bloodiest war in American history, but Congressman Vallandigham’s "violent antiwar speeches that attracted national attention" (p. 503).

Here Goodwin is at her best as a deceiving and misinforming court historian. She cartoonishly portrays Vallandigham as a demonic Snidely Whiplash type character (in contrast to all the daring and dashing Lincolnites), with "a vindictive, ghastly grin" and a voice that was "a piercing shriek." She makes no mention at all of the substance of what he said in his congressional speeches denouncing the suspension of habeas corpus, the shutting down of newspapers, etc., but only attempts to characterize Vallandigham as some kind of nut.

Another member of Congress who protested the illegal suspension of habeas corpus is described by Goodwin has having given Congress a "liquor-fueled harangue" in "language fit only for a drunken fishwife." None of the substance of his complaints are revealed, either.

Sixty-seven armed federal soldiers broke down the door to Vallandigham’s home in Dayton, Ohio in April of 1863 and hauled him off to a military prison. Goodwin cites a small Midwestern newspaper that was affiliated with the Republican Party as her source for her statement that Vallandigham supposedly fired several shots at the invaders. If he did, good for him, but the story seems extremely unlikely, considering the source. Vallandigham was sent to Tennessee, where the Confederates wanted nothing to do with him, so he went into exile in Canada where he became the Ohio Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nominee. This, too, "bothered" Lincoln according to Goodwin. She expresses no concern over the abolition of civil liberties that such actions entailed, including the dangerous precedent that was set. Her only concern is with Lincoln’s "feelings."

According to Goodwin it is not Vallandigham or his family that should be given any sympathy over this whole episode, but poor old suffering Abe, since the arrest "brought him pain." Not so much pain, however, that he would change his mind or his actions

When the Chicago Times reported on the imprisonment and deportation of Vallandigham it was "incendiary coverage," according to Goodwin, so the Lincoln administration shut the paper down. An Illinois newspaper. Lincoln’s entire cabinet protested Vallandigham’s arrest, but to no avail. Freedom of speech was not tolerated anywhere in the North by the Lincoln administration, and especially not in politics.

Goodwin claims that Lincoln’s overriding motivation was his deep and abiding love for "democracy." But he had a very odd idea of democracy. His "plan" for "reconstructing" the south, for example, involved denying the right to vote to any man (women did not have the right to vote) who had been in the Confederate army, served in the Confederate government, or who materially aided the army or soldiers in any way. That would have eliminated almost the entire male population from 16 to 50, and then some. Then, if ten percent of the adult male population could be found (it never was) that would take a loyalty oath and publicly denounce the Confederacy, claiming that they were opposed to it all along, then they would constitute the electoral "majority" that would eventually run state and local governments in the South.

This was called Lincoln’s "ten percent plan," which of course makes a mockery of the whole idea of "democracy." It is merely a recipe for a puppet government run by the Republican Party, i.e., by Lincoln. Goodwin makes no comment about the absurdity of it all, but praises the idea lavishly because, once again, "Lincoln had succeeded . . . in uniting the Republican Party." (Obviously, the Republican Party would have enthusiastically endorsed the idea of running all the southern state and local governments, thereby eliminating forever any possibility of Democratic Party opposition ever arising in the region.)

In summary, I suppose the best thing that can be said of Team of Rivals is that it could not possibly be as bad as the movie that Steven Spielberg may someday make based on it.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His latest book is How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold Story of Our Country’s History, from the Pilgrims to the Present (Crown Forum/Random House, August 2004).

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at LRC

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at Mises.org

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