Big Lincoln Lie Exposed
Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas DiLorenzo: The
Myth That Democracy = Freedom
I will say
then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about
in any way the social and political equality of the white and black
races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters
or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor
to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this
that there is a physical difference between the white and black
races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together
on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they
cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the
position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man
am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white
Lincoln, Debate with Stephen Douglas, Sept. 18, 1858, in Abraham
Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858 (New York: Library
of America, 1989), pp. 636-637.
These are the
words of the real Lincoln, who was as much a white supremacist as
any man of his time. In fact, he was a much more extreme
white supremacist than most, for he advocated "colonization"
or the deportation of black people from America for his entire adult
life. As soon as he entered politics in the early 1830s he became
a "manager" of the Illinois Colonization Society which
sought to use state tax funds to deport the small number of free
blacks living in Illinois out of the state (the state amended its
constitution in 1848 to prohibit the immigration of black people
into the state, an amendment that Lincoln supported).
in the footsteps of his idol, Henry Clay, who was the president
of the American Colonization Society, and quoted Clay often on the
subject. During his presidency he established a colonization office
in the Department of Interior and funded it with $600,000, while
working diligently to plan on deporting black people to Liberia,
Haiti, Jamaica, Central America, the West Indies – anywhere but
facts have long presented a problem for the purveyors of the comic
book/fairy tale history of Lincoln that has been taught to Americans
for generations. For they suggest that, rather than being a racial
saint, as the comic book/fairy tale version of history contends,
the exact opposite is true. The Lincoln cult has mostly covered
up these truths by seeing to it that they rarely, if ever, make
it into the public school textbooks. But just in case the truth
does seep out, the Cult has concocted several excuses, "justifications,"
and rationales for Lincoln’s extreme racist language and actions.
that is associated with Princeton University historian James McPherson
is that "Honest Abe" was lying when he spoke of colonization
in connection with emancipation (as he always did) so as to soften
Northern opposition to emancipation. This is called the "lullaby
theory" among Lincoln cultists. Lincoln himself never said
any such thing; McPherson simply fabricated the story out of thin
A second excuse
is an equally unfounded theory that is not based on anything Lincoln
himself ever said. It is a speculation that, sometime in 1863, Lincoln
experienced some kind of divine transformation and was no longer
the extreme racist and white supremacist that his speeches had established
him as being for his entire adult life. Lincoln cultists naively
contend that because Lincoln quit making speeches about colonization,
he must have abandoned the idea.
politicians always do their best to keep the public in the dark
with regard to their political machinations; they do not make public
speeches announcing every bit of their strategies and conniving.
It is not unusual for a politician to keep his plans to himself,
and this is true of Lincoln as much as any politician. The divine
transformation theory is based on an extraordinarily naïve
view of the political world.
Both of these
theories have been demolishd in a monumental new book entitled Colonization
after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement,
by Phillip W. Magness of American University and Sebastian N. Page
of Oxford University. Based on newly-rediscovered documents in the
American and British National Archives, including letters signed
by Lincoln himself, these researchers have established that Lincoln
continued to pursue colonization right up to the days before his
assassination, when he discussed plans with General Benjamin Butler
to deport the freed slaves. There was no divine transformation;
and McPherson’s "lullaby" is in reality a fake alibi.
Page meticulously document how, during the last two years of Lincoln’s
presidency, work on various colonization plans "progressed
. . . often aided by the president’s direct encouragement and approval"
(p. 10). Lengthy discussions took place with the British and Dutch
governments, which were negotiating on behalf of business interests
in their own countries that were experiencing labor shortages in
such places as British Honduras, Guiana, and elsewhere.
the Emancipation Proclamation (which only "freed" slaves
where the government could not do so – in "rebel territory")
was issued, Lincoln was hard at work on his various colonization
projects. Magness and Page cite British Foreign Minister Lord Lyons
as saying in a dispatch to London that "The President of the
United States sent for me yesterday, and upon my presenting myself,
told me that he had been for some time anxious to speak to me in
an informal and unofficial manner on the subject of promoting the
emigration of colored people from this country to British colonies"
Lincoln met with one Thomas Malcom of the Pennsylvania Colonization
Society to discuss deporting Pennsylvania blacks to Liberia; and
sent an emissary to visit the "contraband camps" (where
captured Southern slaves were kept) to find "recruits"
for colonization to Honduras.
The most pro-colonization
member of Lincoln’s cabinet, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair,
publicly announced that the "destined glory" of any freed
slaves "is to be consummated in the American tropics"
(p. 35). Interestingly, the first black man to ever hold an administrative
position in the U.S. government was J. Willis Menard, who favored
black colonization. He was employed as a clerk in the colonization
Page document that colonization remained the official policy of
the Lincoln administration throughout 1864 and early 1865, with
several plans being foiled by bureaucratic bungling, corruption,
and political bickering. Lincoln is said to have completely lost
his temper over such failures.
in his life General Benjamin Butler recalled a "colonization
interview" that he had with Lincoln two days before the assassination.
"What shall we do with the negroes after they are free?",
Lincoln is said to have asked the general. According to Butler,
Lincoln then said, "I can hardly believe that the South and
North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes"
(p. 109). Butler then proposed deporting the freed slaves to Panama
to dig a canal, decades before the actual Panama Canal was dug.
"There is meat in that, General Butler, there is meat in that,"
Lincoln reportedly said.
scholars accepted that this meeting occurred, but then Lincoln cultist/excuse
fabricator Mark E. Neely claimed that the meeting could not have
happened because Butler was not in Washington on the day he said
the meeting took place. Magness and Page disprove Neely’s conjecture
and conclude that "the meeting itself indisputedly happened."
after Emancipation proves unequivocally that "colonization
remained on the table well beyond the Emancipation Proclamation,"
contrary to the "accepted wisdom" of James McPherson and
other Lincoln cultists. Magness and Page conclude that "The
prospect that the ‘Great Emancipator’ subscribed to colonizationist
beliefs, particularly at the end of his life, seems to completely
dispel his popular reputation as a racial egalitarian." Yes,
J. DiLorenzo [send him mail]
is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the
author of The
Real Lincoln; Lincoln
Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe
Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton’s
Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution
– And What It Means for America Today.
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