A review of The Lincolns in the White House (Pangaeus Press, 2023) by Kevin Orlin Johnson

Kevin Orlin Johnson is a brilliant researcher who has doggedly pursued original source material for the truth about Abraham Lincoln. And it doesn’t matter how many libraries he has to visit and how many un-indexed collections of papers written with quill pens he has to read. He is also an entertaining writer with a brassy style that is often confrontational, sometimes impudent and defiant, but never ever rude. Well, almost never. Still, his prose is entertaining, compelling, and humorous depending on your view. Lincoln scholars, who Dr. Johnson dubs “Lincolnolators,” will grit their teeth when they get into the book at say, middle of page one. After that they will be well advised to locate the nearest defibrillator and read only in teams of two if they choose to continue.

So, if you want to be entertained and enlightened with the paradox that is the life and record of Lincoln as a man, attorney, and President – TLITWH is going to be your book.

What do I mean by the word paradox? Just as the definition of the word means self-contradiction, absurdity, and impossibility – yet with a slim ray of truth seeming to shine through – so it is with the Lincoln we all know and many worship. Johnson clearly shows time and time again that the true Lincoln of the Nineteenth century is an impossible contradiction vis-à-vis the carefully packaged savior of the Union in the Twenty-first century.

Nowhere in the book is this more evident than the document ordering the sale of slaves owned by Lincoln through his wife’s inheritance in 1850. Johnson found this document in the University of Chicago library and reproduced it in his book for all to see. Lincoln could have freed those enslaved African-Americans, as we are assured today by the Lincolnolators that he clearly would have done had he ever been in the position to do so. But he didn’t. Apparently he believed in money more than freedom, and this has implications even today. The Lincoln worshipers – historian Gabor Boritt applies the word “Gospel” to Lincoln’s utterances – are simply wrong; and Johnson shows in dozens of ways how they don’t care if they are wrong as long as they can sustain the false façade of emancipator. In humble adoration of Lincoln, Mario Cuomo says his life is part of “American scripture.” Yet, you see Lincoln was happy taking the monetary proceeds of the sale of human beings in bondage – whose fate was entirely in his hands – and leaving their servile condition as is. Lincolnolators say it is the context that matters about freedom and slavery, and Lincoln’s heart was in the right place in spite of his actions. Dr. Goebbles couldn’t make this stuff up.

It gets better. In TLITWH Johnson shows that as an attorney Lincoln represented slave owners who wanted to recover their runaway slaves. The Great Emancipator brought shackles with him to the courthouse to ensure the slaves were properly returned to their owner. Why does this matter? It doesn’t to the Lincoln scholars who rationalize the behavior of the Sixteenth President. So, you have the man who happily started the bloodiest war in world history up until 1861 (in terms of battle deaths), ostensibly to free slaves that he could have, but didn’t free just a decade earlier. I wonder if the slaves Lincoln sold survived to see their freedom in 1865? Johnson proves that Lincoln’s actions were not dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. It was dedicated to the proposition that, “I want my money.”

TLITWH is filled with other stories about the Lincolns you have never heard of, or stories you are familiar with that are corrected about 180-degrees opposite of what you learned in school and in traditional Lincoln literature. All are based on meticulous original research that cannot be refuted – only ignored.

At 680 pages this book could easily be made into three volumes, making the size and scope of each a bit more manageable for even the dedicated reader. Nevertheless, everyone who is not in a state of self-delusion about Lincoln will want to read and retain this book as a valuable resource.

John Avery Emison

John Avery Emison is a sixth generation Tennessean who holds a Ph.D. from Oregon State University and has worked for more than 15 years in environmental management in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    No northern State ever freed a slave. If so, you would have heard them crowing as if they raised the sun every morning (the sun doesn’t rise, the Earth turns). Lincoln was a railroad lawyer…a shyster…full of shyst…he was a communist…at heart…he didn’t want slavery to “expand” because he didn’t want the north to be controlled by those Southerners who never gave an inch…because TAXES FROM TARIFFS AREN’T MEASURED IN INCHES.

    The South was the aggressor in the War…it’s all the fault of the South…the north was forced to go South to enforce laws and collect taxes….the same laws fedgov couldn’t be bothered to enforce when it came to northern “liberty” laws…or northern theft of Southern property…of course, had the north really been anything other than materialistic in their relations with the South, the north could have boycotted Southern cotton…they could have bought market-priced cotton instead of subsidized cotton to the tune of a 20 plus percent discount.

    Lincoln was elected by 48ers…nearly all of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin went republican…bunch of commies who still, to this day vote for everything commies hold dear. Lincoln forged a nation from a union of States…and as a result, we get the covidscam and attacks on the family…while States attempting to enforce their borders from illegal aliens get federal court interference.

    Prays for lincoln…pray he was buried in a coffin too short for his frame.

  • Ken says:

    TLITWH sounds like TOITWH for contradiction and spin.

  • Paul Yarbrough says:

    “…and Lincoln’s heart was in the right place…”
    Just what bilge Yankee talk radio gives us every day.

  • Gordon says:

    Lincoln surely committed unalterable damage to the Republic. After 50 years, I remember my father’s short description, offered from a time before I cared about such things, of Abraham Lincoln as “a snake”.

    Having said that – and the view doesn’t gain me friends – if John Wilkes Booth had stuck to acting LINCOLNS In the WHITE HOUSE would never have been written. He got what he wanted and expected and was prepared to let Southerners go home to rebuild their homes and lives, unmolested, if little assisted. Grant’s great magnanimity at Appomattox and Sherman’s weeks after the assassination are evidence of intentions before radicals filled the void in leadership…. and the rest is history.

    The alternative history is hard to imagine but there would be diminished mutual resentment and the burn of a century and a half’s worth of salt in our wounds would have been spared.

    • William Quinton Platt III says:

      I think old Abe would have just gone where the political winds blew him. He was no leader…he followed the crowd.

      • Gordon says:

        The Radicals were never going away but the War was never greatly popular in the North anyway. Besides Copperhead sentiment, wartime hardship wasn’t felt in the North as in the South and many Northern casualties were immigrants and mercenary Germans and Irish. To the citizenry of the North, surrender formalized conditions of peace; I doubt an appetite for vengeance. Newly popular after Atlanta, whether Lincoln could have remained so for four more years is debatable but his vacancy and martyrdom were a gift to the Radicals and must have gained them support from the population. Booth possibly heard one of Lincoln’s last addresses, hinting at negro suffrage. I think it probable but without accompanying disenfranchisement of whites.

        In studying history we shouldn’t stop after finding what we’re looking for but here I go: No friend of Lincoln, Edgar Lee Masters writes in LINCOLN: THE MAN, “For no strength of human thinking can discover that Lincoln’s death did any good and the history of the country might have been fairer and better if Lincoln had lived his term out… the radicals in congress were soon to turn on each other, and on the men who tried to preserve some sanity in the affairs of the nation”.

        After finding what I was looking for, Masters further writes that Lincoln “might have fallen disastrously into the clutches of the Stevenses and others, who were bent now on the utmost measures of punishment and humiliation for the South”. I’m very fair.

  • Valerie Protopapas says:

    General McClellan despised Lincoln (and it showed)! Why?? Because McClellan, like Lincoln, was a lawyer for the railroad and he knew just who and what the “new President” was. Even that high office could not bestow upon Lincoln anything worthy of admiration. He was indeed, a shyster. Unfortunately for America, he was in the right place at the right time and finished the destruction of the Constitution, a document he had rejected as interfering with the GOVERNMENT he had sworn to protect when he was inaugurated. That the oath was to preserve, protect, defend and OBEY that same Constitution tells you all you need to know about Abraham Lincoln.

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