After the publication of my 2002 book, The Real Lincoln, I continued to research and write on the topic. Among the things I’ve learned since then is that Abraham Lincoln was a far worse tyrant than I portrayed him as being in that book. A thousand times worse.
I’ve also learned that there is only one genuine Lincoln scholar in America — David Donald — and he’s retired. The rest are all Lincoln cultists and court historians. The cultists, like Harry Jaffa and his merry band of Straussians, ignore actual American history, fabricate a false history, or dabble in semantics and word games in order to portray The Great Centralizer as a god-like figure. They routinely refer to him as "Father Abraham" and compare him to Jesus or Moses. They do this because their agenda is not only the deification of Lincoln, but of executive power and nationalism in general.
Their modus operandi is to provide propaganda for the foreign policy imperialism wing of the Republican Party and for the cause of dictatorial executive power, a cause that George W. Bush has embraced wholeheartedly. They assist politicians like Newt Gingrich, who recently advocated the invasion and occupation of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea (Wall Street Journal Online, Sept. 7) in an article that began with a Lincoln quote and was peppered with other Lincoln quotes to make his case for what he calls "World War III."
The false legend of Abraham Lincoln that they have contrived is used as moral cover for foreign policy imperialism and the pursuit of empire. That’s why they have just announced that their Claremont Institute "statesmanship" award for 2006 will be presented at a black tie dinner to Victor Davis Hanson, the Lincoln-quoting, National Review Online propagandist for the war in Iraq (and for just about every unconstitutional, illegal, or immoral act the Bush administration has engaged in while prosecuting that unnecessary war).
The court historians run the gamut from hard-core leftists like Eric Foner, who opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union (saying Lincoln wouldn’t have allowed it) to mainstream liberals like Doris Kearns-Goodwin (author of Team of Rivals) and Mario Cuomo (author of Why Lincoln Matters: Today More than Ever, co-authored with Lincoln cult leader Harold Holzer). Like the Straussians, they too have found the false legend of Abraham Lincoln to be useful to their political agenda, whether it is socialism, as with Foner, or welfare statism, as with Goodwin and Cuomo.
In the academic world there exists a Church of Lincoln, but that church is built of straw (perhaps manure would be more accurate). The religious rhetoric that is used to describe Dishonest Abe, who was probably an atheist, is misleading and useless as far as understanding American history is concerned. That of course is the purpose of it.
The overwhelming majority of works on Lincoln judge him by his words and not his deeds. Any politician could be made to look like a saint with that methodology. And when some of his more dastardly deeds, such as micromanaging the waging of war on fellow citizens, are mentioned they are always obscured by a mountain of hollow excuses, rationales, cover-ups, and justifications.
The Lincoln cultists and court historians fancy themselves as gatekeepers of The Official Truth. They connive, network, and politic to censor opposing viewpoints, and often behave in a crude and boorish manner in doing so. Readers of LewRockwell.com know all about their hysterical and uncouth reaction to The Real Lincoln. Many of the same characters reacted just as hysterically (and foolishly) to Tom Woods’ Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.
But the gatekeepers are failing. The Gate is beginning to rust. My new book, Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe, released on October 10, is designed to quicken the rate of oxidization.
After a very brief summary of some of the key points that I made in The Real Lincoln, the next seventeen chapters of Lincoln Unmasked present entirely new material that sheds new light on "Dishonest Abe" and on the gatekeepers as well. (The final five chapters are grouped under the heading, "The Politics of the Lincoln Cult.")
Many of the most famous quotes of Lincoln are proven fakes, for example. He never even said "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all the people all the time." The Lincoln cultists and court historians use many of these fake quotes to present a false image of their "Father Abraham."
I also devote a chapter to the meeting Lincoln had with a number of free black men in which he implored them to lead by example and migrate to Liberia, in Africa. Fortunately for them, they ignored his plea.
Lincoln was a white supremacist all his life (as were most white people of his era) and it was actions such as this that caused some of the most prominent abolitionists to vigorously denounce him and his regime as phonies and fakes with regard to their pronouncements about human freedom. I devote a chapter to such denunciations by the great libertarian/abolitionist from Massachusetts, Lysander Spooner.
One of the most insidious acts of the gatekeepers is keeping Americans from understanding their true history as a people. The Jeffersonian, states’ rights tradition, for example, has been whitewashed from the history books thanks to the efforts of several generations of gatekeepers and court historians. I explain the truth about states’ rights, which was an important Northern as well as a Southern political doctrine prior to 1865. I also explain some of Dishonest Abe’s Big Lies about the doctrine and why he was truly the anti-Jefferson.
In The Real Lincoln I made the case that Lincoln’s (and the Republican Party’s) "real agenda" was the old Hamilton/Clay mercantilist agenda of protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare, central banking, the creation of a giant political patronage machine, and the pursuit of an empire that would rival the British empire. Lincoln Unmasked takes this much further and goes into more detail about the true mercantilist origins of the Republican Party (which hasn’t changed much); Lincoln’s personal corruption as a railroad industry lobbyist; the fact that he literally owed everything, politically, to northern protectionists; and his key role in cementing central banking into place in America. These topics were all mentioned in The Real Lincoln, but in different ways and not in as much detail as in Lincoln Unmasked.
Several chapters are devoted to just how the Lincoln cultists employ the Lincoln legend to "justify" foreign policy imperialism, "totalitarian bureaucracy" at home, the abolition of civil liberties, blind obedience to the state, and even imprisoning opponents of the regime’s wars. All of this is patently un-American, and the "sainted" Lincoln is invoked to "justify" it by the Lincoln cult.
Readers of Lincoln Unmasked will also learn that, since the publication of The Real Lincoln, a number of books have been published by very distinguished authors that support or confirm my analysis. This includes a book by a New York Times editorial writer, a former U.S. Navy Secretary, a distinguished University of Virginia historian, a liberal who writes for Harper’s, The New Yorker, and The New Republic, a "popular historian" who has authored a dozen books, a well-known journalist, and a prominent business historian. The "gate" really is beginning to rust.
Over the past several years I have received hundreds (maybe thousands) of emails from people who have read my writings about Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, his imprisonment of thousands of Northern war dissenters, his shutting down of hundreds of opposition newspapers, his not-so-hidden economic agenda, and other well-documented facts and have asked: "Why wasn’t I taught that in school?" Or, "I was a history major in college and I never heard of that!" The chapters of Lincoln Unmasked devoted to the gatekeepers explain why.
I have also received countless emails asking me for reading suggestions. Lincoln Unmasked includes an appendix on "What They Don’t Want You to Read." Read the Lincoln cultists (if you can stand it) and read some of my suggested readings, and decide for yourself what’s true and what’s not about Dishonest Abe, his war, and his legacy.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, (Three Rivers Press/Random House). His next book, to be published in October, is Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe (Crown Forum/Random House).