Unmasking Lincoln, Part Three: Christophobe, Bigot, and Capitalist Stooge

Lincoln's admirers have said that he was motivated by a commitment to equality and a respect for African American slaves.  The unpalatable truth is that  Lincoln's racial attitudes are closer to those of the KKK than to those of the NAACP.  As early as 1837 Lincoln argued that "The Congress of the United States has no power under the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different states."  His Emancipation Proclamation was a strictly political act designed to appeal to European liberals.  In fact, it only applied to slaves outside Lincoln's jurisdiction, not to slaves held in the slave states within the Union. 

In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln expressed his racism with brutal frankness: "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social or political equality of the white and black races [applause]--...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...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 equality."  In the first debate, he also stated: "I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.  I believe I have no lawful right to do so." 

Early in his career, Lincoln had favored the deportation of blacks to Africa or Latin America-, which would have required a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing, but, realizing the impracticality of such schemes, he was "in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."  Lincoln's racism was no piece of campaign rhetoric: From first to last he favored racial separation and white hegemony, and if he sometimes spoke out of both sides of his mouth on this question, it was because such duplicity was natural to him.      

Lincoln justified his dictatorial acts on the grounds that he was saving the Union, but since he routinely violated the Constitution on which that Union was based, he is a little like the man who beats his wife in order to save the marriage.  Until the Southern states actually seceded, Lincoln had never contradicted an earlier statement he had made, endorsing the right to secede:  

"Any people anywhere...have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better," adding that "Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much territory as they inhabit."  To make it clear that this was no casual obiter dicta, he also said: "This is a most valuable, a most sacred right--a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world." 

The worship of Lincoln was an almost natural phenomenon in the years after the War Between the States.  More recently, Lincoln is honored for the ideological revolution he fathered, a revolution that converted a moderate and balanced republic into the kind of Jacobin democracy practiced by Danton  and Robespierre.  Like Robespierre, Lincoln was an anti-Christian who loved to misuse religious language.  As M.E. Bradford put it: "His habit of wrapping up his policy in the idiom of Holy Scripture, concealing within the Trojan horse of his gasconade and moral superiority, an agenda that would never have been approved if presented in any other form."        

Such religious language is especially offensive in the mouth of a skeptic.  As his stepmother said of the young Lincoln's religion: "Abe had no particular religion--didn't think of these questions at that time, if he ever did," and as one early biographer put it, "When he went to church at all, he went to mock and came away to mimic".  He frequently spoke against the divinity of Christ, repeating the old slander against Our Lord’s blessed mother, and there is no sign that he changed his mind. 

This mixture of messianic language and cynical brutality is commonplace among our own rulers, particularly in domestic politics, where the ideology of Civil Rights and Human Rights are invoked to justify wars of conquest and the subversion of every obstacle to totalitarian government.  Back in the 1960's there were well-meaning idealists who thought that Southern states ought to grant voting rights and other privileges to the African Americans citizens.  Many were content to fight these battles locally in a civil manner, trying to persuade their neighbors while maintaining respect for the federal constitution.  Others however, on the principle that might makes right, invoked the power of the federal government, whose agents were all too happy to step in and impose a second Reconstruction.  

But how do these human rights work in practice?  Before 1965 black southerners, it is certainly true, enjoyed fewer civil and political rights than whites; now, we are all equally disenfranchised and disempowered.  There is no point in blaming blacks, who were merely the unfortunate tool of power-seeking lawyers and politicians.   They are far worse off today than they have ever been in the history of this country.  Of course, there are talented and intelligent black men and women in every profession, and that is as it should be, but for every Walter Williams, there must be dozens of black Americans condemned to pass miserable lives in the underworld or in the American gulag of public housing.  Even a brain-damaged law professor ought to be able to read the statistics on poverty, crime, welfare dependence,  and drug addiction, and, even if we are to take the line of Louis Farrakhan--who claims the FBI created AIDS, knowing that black males are preeminently sexual sociopaths and intravenous drug users--we cannot blind ourselves to the reality of what the welfare state has done to Americanh blacks.  

We are all in the same boat.  A few years ago in Alexandria, Virginia, a black mother, sick of seeing her neighborhood  being overwhelmed by drug peddlers, prostitutes, drive-by shooters, and thugs, succeeded in having an anti-loitering ordinance passed, only to see it challenged by the NAACP.  What kind of civil rights organization, she asked, puts drug dealers back on the streets of a black neighborhood?  Good question.      

The administrations of Lincoln and Grant were a trial run for the imperial government that has been replacing the old republic since 1932.  It was in Lincoln's administration that the government learned the dangerous lesson that to finance the schemes that enriched their supporters, the government only needed to print more money.  The Gilded Age of corruption in the Grant administrations was only a successor to Lincoln's wheeling and dealing.  As Bradford comments: "The euphemism of our time calls this "income redistribution", but it was theft in 1864, and it is theft today. "

Was Lincoln merely the unconscious dupe of New York interests?  Hardly.  Time after time his actions and statements reveal he knew what he was doing.  Although he refused to meet with representatives of the seceded states, he did meet with Col. John Baldwin of Virginia, before that state seceded.  The new President made it clear that he had already decided on a policy of coercion against the South, and when Baldwin told him to conciliate the Southern states by opening the port of Charleston with an accommodating 10% tariff, Lincoln—showing his true interest, as servant of Northeastern capital—asked: "What then would become of MY tariff. 

Between 1861 and 1864 the tariff rose from 18.8 % to 47.6%,and it stayed above 40% for all but two years down to the election of Woodrow Wilson. This was a systematic transfer of wealth from the agricultural producers to the pockets of the Eastern industrialists and money-men.  Lincoln, who always supported heavy taxes, was the lifelong friend to big business.  He virtually gave away a huge strip of the American people’s land to the Union Pacific.  These railroad land scams are among the worst in American history, because the railroad owners were able to sell their free land and with the profits they had not earned they were literally able to purchase the legislatures of middle-western and western states.  

This  corruption so great a scandal in Wisconsin that it led to the demand for state ownership of the railroads and encouraged the growth of socialism as a corrective to the arrogance of capital.  Robert La Follette, so often misrepresented by Marxists and their conservative allies as a radical leftist, was in fact the rarest of rare birds: an honest Republican politician who stood up to the power of monopoly capitalists who were growing fat off the corpses of American soldiers.  He also stood up to the imperialist lackeys on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin who had condemned his opposition to American entrance into the First World War. 

More to come...

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

5 Responses

  1. Robert Reavis says:

    I wonder why there is no hysterical news cycle asking for the removal of Lincoln’s historical monuments given these facts and our current political climate? But as soon as I ask the question I am reminded that this is exactly what some conservatives would propose or request as an antidote for the ahistorical removal of other monuments.
    Maybe Janice Joplin was right in singing blues for a freedom that had become “just another word for nothing left to lose.” But God help us if it is a remaining reality instead of a passing mood.

  2. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    You’re right, Janice did sing those lines written by Kris Kristofferson.

  3. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    A propos of tearing down Lincoln’s statues, I’ve told this story before but I’ll tell it again. I took a v very small group to meet the King of Serbia in one of his palaces in Belgrade. Someone noted the monument to the Red Army on the grounds and wondered why it had not been torn down. Alexander replied that it was a piece of history, and one could not repeal history by effacing symbols. Perhaps the answer was too pat, perhaps he was simply too timid to risk offending the Comrades, but he had a point.

    It is a feature of life under a despotism that symbols of an unloved predecessor are effaced and new holidays invented, new names give to old places…

  4. Clyde Wilson says:

    That the welfare system caused the sad condition of black America is phony Republican boilerplate.

  5. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    The welfare state harms every race, sex, ethnicity, and class that it subjugates. Naturally the various classes of victims are degraded in different ways, though there is always a strong tendency toward moral dissolution and dependence. Outbreaks of violence and mass-murder are almost the norm in subsaharan Africa, but in smaller tribal societies of one or two hundred people, the outbursts are more likely to be curtailed and the perpetrators punished by people who know them. I don’t know how many people it might have occurred to, but between the COVID lockdown and the lavish payments for not working sent out by the government, a lot more useless people have a great deal more time on their hands. If such people are whipped up by the media, subsidized by revolutionary NGO’s, and arms agitated by professionals, it is not unreasonable to expect the result we are witnessing. Neither slavery nor welfare created the problems of sloth and violence in “the community,” but while the former tended to repress these tendencies, the latter aggravated them.