“The problem with Lincoln is the problem with America,” said my friend Clyde Wilson when I asked him for a blurb for my new book, The Problem with Lincoln (Regnery, 2020).  That in fact is the theme of the book, written seventeen years after my first book on the subject, The Real Lincoln (TRL), as I shall explain.  A secondary theme comes from something that an academic reviewer of The Real Lincoln wrote at the end of his review seventeen years ago:  “Lincoln was even worse” than I portrayed him as being. 

How was Lincoln “worse”; let us count the ways.  Lincoln was in fact an even more extreme racist and white supremacist (a typical man of the North, in other words) than I argued in TRL.  This speaks volumes not just of Lincoln but of the Lincoln cult in academe that has covered up these truths for generations.  In The Problem with Lincoln I document page after page of his own statements and declarations demonstrating this point, something that should inspire the current crop of left-wing “protesters,” arsonists, and vandals to begin dismantling all the Lincoln statues that scar the land. 

For generations, the Lincoln cult has attempted to cover these plain historical facts up by saying that slick old Abe was simply pandering to the pervasively-racist white Northern electorate when he opposed making citizens of black people, or allowing them to intermarry with whites, and to deport them to Africa, Central America — anywhere but the U.S.  “Honest Abe” was obsessively lying through his teeth his entire adult life, in other words.  That is their defense. 

This argument was discredited forever with the publication of the book Colonization After Emancipation by Phil Magness and Sebastian Page, in which they prove that Lincoln was plotting with William Seward until his dying day to deport all black people, including the soon-to-be-freed-slaves, to various locations in the tropics and in Africa.  These authors uncovered correspondence between Lincoln and various foreign governments regarding the purchase of land for the deported black people from America that dates almost to the day of the assassination.  I tell the story in my new book.   

Magness and Page also debunk the Lincoln cult’s century-old tale that Lincoln suddenly gave up on his lifelong advocacy of “colonization” (a.k.a. deportation) in 1863.  Lincoln made racist and white supremacist statements all through his life, whether he was running for political office or not because they were his true beliefs. He was “a man of his times,” as the saying goes, and anything but the racial saint that the Lincoln cult has falsely portrayed him as being.

The Problem with Lincoln goes much further than TRL in showing that the War to Prevent Southern Independence, like all wars in human history, was primarily about money and political power, not humanitarianism.  All of the corruption of the British empire with its corporate welfare subsidies, protectionist tariffs (“protecting” consumers from lower prices, as John C. Calhoun once remarked), a corrupt, politicized national banking system, and the vast waste of blood and treasure on imperialistic wars was the result of Lincoln’s Americanized version of the French Revolution.  That, in fact, was always the dream of the “nationalist” tradition in American politics, beginning with Hamilton and the Yankee Federalists.

Comparing the first inaugural addresses of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln, I think I prove conclusively that both men knew – and stated publicly for all the world to hear – that there would likely be a war over tax collection if the South refused to continue to pay a tariff tribute to Washington, D.C.  Of course, the South would not do so any more than the American colonists wanted to continue to pay taxes to King George III.  In his first inaugural address Lincoln essentially drew a line in the sand and effectively said:  Pay up or die. “There needs to be no invasion of any state,” he said, as long as Southerners continued to be good little obedient taxpaying serfs to Washington, D.C.   It was basically a colossal act of Mafia-style extortion a million times worse than anything the largest criminal gang in the world has even dreamed of doing.  I say this as a student of Murray Rothbard, who once pointed out that states that behave in such a manner are little different in their purpose than any criminal gang; the only difference is that it is a much, much bigger and better-armed criminal gang. 

Lincoln and the Republican Party obviously committed treason by invading the free and independent states of the South.  That is, if one defines treason as the U.S. Constitution does, as “levying war upon the United States” or “giving Aid and Comfort to their Enemies” (Article 3, Section 3).  “United States” is in the plural here, as it is on all the founding documents, indicating the individual states, not something called “the United States government in Washington, D.C.”  I show how Lincoln behaved like a tyrannical dictator when he took it upon himself to redefine treason to mean any criticism of himself and his policies, and to have the military arrest and imprison thousands of Northern critics.  This was what George Washington called “usurpation” of the Constitution in his Farewell Address, something that he believed could destroy the Constitution itself and render it meaningless.  That of course is what Lincoln did, along with destroying the voluntary union of the founders and replacing it with a coerced union held together by extreme violence, much more like the old Soviet union than the original American union. 

To this day, we hear the ignorant voices at places like National Review making the perverted Lincoln argument about treasonous Southerners with their never-ending displays of hatred for the South of past generations as well as the current one.   It really is a sickness, fueled by the mumbo jumbo of faux “scholars” associated with “the Straussian school” of political rhetoric, a school that I make quite a few choice comments about in The Problem with Lincoln.

The Problem with Lincoln also goes much further than TRL in showing what a savage psychopath Lincoln was in waging total war against people who he claimed to be his own fellow American citizens.  I make use of the work of Brian Cisco and several “mainstream” writers on the subject whose facts I invoke without including their voluminous excuses, rationales, and lies and diversions about the subject.  Reading “mainstream” books about Lincoln’s war is like reading a compendium of legal defense briefs for The War Crimes Trial of Abraham Lincoln.   My writings drive the Lincoln cult so mad because I state the historical facts without the “spin” of lies and deceptions that they have spent generations cultivating.

After TRL was published there were several good books that appeared on how the West ended slavery peacefully, especially one by Jim Powell entitled Greatest Emancipations.  Hardly any Americans know a single thing about this – that the whole world, including the Northern states in the U.S., ended slavery peacefully without a major “war of emancipation” or of any other kind.  They falsely believe that a war that led to the death of as many as 850,000 Americans, according to the latest forensic research, was necessary to end slavery.  I call this Lincoln’s biggest failure. 

All state power is based on an avalanche of lies about the morality, superiority, grandiosity, and wisdom of the state, and the alleged failures, dangers, and evil of individual freedom, the civil society, private property, decentralization, and constitutionalism.  Throughout the book I discuss how “Honest Abe” was no different from so many other tyrants, in that he was a skilled liar, conniver, and manipulator, the three defining traits of a “master politician” according to the late Murray Rothbard.  I also demonstrate how the academic Lincoln cult has really done little more over the past 150 years than amplify and expand upon Lincoln’s lying ways, so much so that it is virtually impossible for the average citizen to known anything about the real Lincoln.

Other interesting research that emerged since the publication of TRL has to do with documentation about how Lincoln was arguably the most hated and reviled of all American presidents during his own lifetime.  (See The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln by Larry Tagg).  And not by the South but by the North.  I tell the story of how this hated and despised machine politician from Illinois was turned into a secular saint by the Republican Party propaganda machine (with significant help from the hyper-politicized New England clergy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries).

The book includes ten appendices of primary documents that your Average American “educated” in government schools has probably never seen or even heard of:  The Crittenden-Johnson Resolution (a.k.a. War Aims Resolution) that denied the war was being fought over slavery; Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley in which he says the same thing; Jefferson Davis’ first inaugural address; Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address; the constitutional ratification documents of New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, which declare the right to reclaim the powers delegated to the federal government should it fail to promote their happiness; the Corwin Amendment, promoted by Lincoln, that would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery; and the Emancipation Proclamation, with the sections highlighted where it says that it only applies to Confederate territory where it was, by definition, not possible for anyone to be emancipated by the U.S. government.

My hope is that at least some readers of The Problem with Lincoln will have thoughts of doing what Brion McClanahan suggests in his blurb for the book, and visit the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. not with Bibles, prayer rugs, or rosary beads in their hands, but “with sledgehammers.” 

Thomas DiLorenzo

Thomas DiLorenzo is an economics professor at Loyola University in Maryland and is the author of The Problem with Socialism, The Real Lincoln, Lincoln Unmasked, and Hamilton's Curse.

One Comment

  • Shaan Sandhu says:

    Excellent book! Abraham Lincoln is certainly the worst president this country has had. I even put him below FDR and finding a president worse than FDR is impossibly difficult…

Leave a Reply