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The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War Paperback – December 2, 2003
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—Joseph Sobran, commentator and nationally syndicated columnist
"Today's federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. Thomas J. DiLorenzo gives an account of how this came about in The Real Lincoln."
—Walter E. Williams, from the foreword
"A peacefully negotiated secession was the best way to handle all the problems facing America in 1860. A war of coercion was Lincoln's creation. It sometimes takes a century of more to bring an important historical event into perspective. This study does just that and leaves the reader asking, 'Why didn't we know this before?' "
—Donald Livingston, professor of philosophy, Emory University
"Professor DiLorenzo has penetrated to the very heart and core of American history with a laser beam of fact and analysis."
—Clyde Wilson, professor of history, University of South Carolina, and editor, The John C. Calhoun Papers
From the Inside Flap
Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain's? In "The Real Lincoln, author Thomas J. DiLorenzo uncovers a side of Lincoln not told in many history books and overshadowed by the immense Lincoln legend.
Through extensive research and meticulous documentation, DiLorenzo portrays the sixteenth president as a man who devoted his political career to revolutionizing the American form of government from one that was very limited in scope and highly decentralized--as the Founding Fathers intended--to a highly centralized, activist state. Standing in his way, however, was the South, with its independent states, its resistance to the national government, and its reliance on unfettered free trade. To accomplish his goals, Lincoln subverted the Constitution, trampled states' rights, and launched a devastating Civil War, whose wounds haunt us still. According to this provacative book, 600,000 American soldiers did not die for the honorable cause of ending slavery but for the dubious agenda of sacrificing the independence of the states to the supremacy of the federal government, which has been tightening its vise grip on our republic to thisvery day.
You will discover a side of Lincoln that you were probably never taught in school--a side that calls into question the very myths that surround him and helps explain the true origins of a bloody, and perhaps, unnecessary war.
"A devastating critique of America's most famous president."
--Joseph Sobran, commentator and nationally syndicated columnist
"Today's federal government is considerably at odds with that envisioned by the framers of the Constitution. Thomas J. DiLorenzo gives an account of How this come about in The Real Lincoln."
--Walter E. Williams, from the foreword
"A peacefully negotiated secession was the best way to handle all the problems facing Americans in 1860. A war of coercion was Lincoln's creation. It sometimes takes a century or more to bring an important historical event into perspective. This study does just that and leaves the reader asking, 'Why didn't we know this before?'"
--Donald Livingston, professor of philosophy, Emory University
"Professor DiLorenzo has penetrated to the very heart and core of American history with a laser beam of fact and analysis."
--Clyde Wilson, professor of history, University of South Carolina, and editor, The John C. Calhoun Papers
"From the Hardcover edition.
- Item Weight : 11 ounces
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0761526463
- ISBN-13 : 978-0761526469
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
- Publisher : Crown Forum; Reprint edition (December 2, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #102,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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DiLorenzo’s Imaginary Lincoln
DiLorenzo’s ideal government is one that governs as little as possible. The author is, of course, entitled to his belief. The problem is he imagines Abraham Lincoln’s major motivation was as simple and single-minded as his own. His thought seems to be: Big government is bad. Bigger government is worse. Lincoln did the most of anyone to centralize the government; therefore, Lincoln has to be the worst villain in history.
DiLorenzo spends many pages spelling out Lincoln’s political agenda. Yes, Lincoln favored tariffs to protect national industries. He supported government spending on projects such as roads and infrastructure. He backed the intercontinental railroad and a homestead act with government support. All that is correct. However to jump to the conclusion that expanding government was Lincoln’s monomaniacal plot for which he was willing to cause a war and condemn hundreds of thousands to death is as breathtaking as it is unbelievable and completely unsupported by the author.
Working from his preconceived conclusion that Lincoln was malevolence personified because of his support for a larger government, DiLorenzo tries to “enlighten” those of us who naively think Lincoln’s actions toward emancipating slaves reflect his humanity. The author emphasizes that Lincoln did not believe in the total equality of blacks and whites. True but hardly shocking. Of course, he cites Lincoln’s statement in his 1858 debate with Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln states his belief that there is a physical difference between the races that will make it impossible to live in “perfect equality” and that the white race should be superior. Lincoln stated that slavery was legal under the Constitution, as it was. Lincoln also believed that all races were entitled to the natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
From these statements, DiLorenzo theorizes a contradiction, from which he leaps to the conclusion that Lincoln’s statements were a sham to gain political support. But what makes the statements contradictory?
Lincoln never states the races are totally equal and lists rights for blacks that he opposes. Lincoln says nevertheless they are equal in some ways. The author sees that distinction as a contradiction.
He points out blacks would never be totally equal with the limited rights Lincoln thought they should have. He tosses in every statement about the races being unequal. The pounding away and piling on are apparently reminders that Lincoln is really really bad.
DiLorenzo claims, inaccurately, that Lincoln’s views were well within the mainstream of thought. If that were true, why did Douglas keep trying to call him an abolitionist? Who would believe the accusations? Compare what Lincoln said to the language of Douglas, “I do not doubt that he [Lincoln] …believes that the Almighty made the Negro equal to the white man. He believes the Negro is his brother. I do not believe the Negro is any kin of mine at all.” Addressing equality, “they [blacks] never should have in either political or social or in any other respect whatsoever.” In the debates, Douglas compared slaves to farm produce.
Without question, Lincoln extended humanity to blacks, to a lesser degree than to whites. But that partial extension made him much more enlightened and pro-black than almost any other white citizen at the time. There was no political gain from his stance. On the contrary, it gave his opponent a way to attack him.
Why not peaceful Emancipation?
Here DiLorenzo exhibits the selective exclusion of history that might explain Lincoln’s actions to someone less obsessed with blackening his reputation. The simple answer to why there was not a peaceful emancipation was that slaveholders went to war to protect and expand slavery. States seceded and stole federal arms and armories in anticipation of the coming war between the time Lincoln was elected and his inauguration. Confederates started the shooting war. Lincoln understood that to negotiate with the Confederacy was to recognize its existence as a separate nation, which he was not willing to do.
DiLorenzo’s questions about why Lincoln did not allow military officers to free slaves early in the war skip over one of Lincoln’s early achievements in the war. At the start of the war, four Border States tried to stay neutral. They were unwilling to toss out the Constitution for the benefit of enslaving others but they wanted to hang on to the right of slavery, which the Constitution guaranteed. By a variety of means, Lincoln persuaded four out of the four to join the war on the Union side, shrinking the area of the rebellion and simplifying the military task before America. Even the author admits Lincoln was intelligent. For the entire war, Lincoln managed to keep the slave states fighting on the Union side, which meant he had to move cautiously on the issue of slavery.
Lincoln’s statement “if I could free the slaves…” the author interprets "if" as indicating a willingness to ignore the Constitution. Rather an odd conclusion for an author. Most writers understand “if” makes the statement conditional. The song lyric, "if I had Aladdin’s lamp for only a day" is based on not having the lamp
And of course, there are critics of the Emancipation Proclamation. DiLorenzo has found many of them. The author searches Lincoln’s explanation that it was a war edict for every possible hidden malicious motive under the sun, rather than accepting his explanation. Border states grumbled but remained on the Union side. It made possible intervention by European powers on the side of the Confederacy politically untenable.
Chapters in the book about economics and secession reflect the author’s tendency to natter on and on about trivia. The author excoriates Lincoln for not recognizing the ancient and honorable right of secession — so ancient and honorable that it has been tried a grand total of once. Various parts of the country have grumbled about conditions and muttered, “We ought to secede,” but none but the Confederate states took the idea seriously enough to actually attempt it.
John C. Calhoun, who popularized the concept, saw it as a bargaining chip to use while negotiating with the country as a whole. He probably would have been horrified to learn that any state would try it.
Since that time, the Supreme Court ruled secession is unconstitutional. And the Confederacy lost the Civil War. So that train left the station so long ago that it’s hard to locate the rails under the weeds that have covered them. The author’s work is meticulous and irrelevant.
In evaluating the author’s chapter Waging War on Civilians,
Again the author selects what he believes will show how terrible Lincoln was and ignores the rest. DiLorenzo states that Lincoln “micromanaged” aspects of the war. Lincoln made excellent use of the most advanced technology available – the telegraph. Lincoln could and did give general directions. He could find out what had happened days or sometimes only hours after the events. During Sherman’s march to the Sea, the barbarity of which the author lays at Lincoln’s feet, that army was completely out of communication with Washington, DC for months. Micromanaging at that time in history was impossible.
The author, grudgingly, in my opinion, admits that terrible things happen in wartime but goes on as far as he can to hold the distant president guilty for every horror committed.
DiLorenzo ignores President Lincoln’s General Orders No. 100, also known as the Lieber Code of 1863, which set clear rules for engaging with enemy combatants and clarified how Union soldiers should treat civilians, and in particular women. The Lieber Code established strict laws regarding wartime rape. Union military courts prosecuted at least 450 cases involving sexual crimes. But that doesn’t sound like something the worst person in history would do. Not surprisingly, you will not find out about it in this book.
Let us talk about what happened. The north did not start to fight the civil war to free the slaves. The Confederates started the war to protect and expand slavery. Every declaration by states that seceded gave that explanation. Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens did too. Let me repeat that. The civil war was fought to protect and expand slavery by the people who started the war — the Confederates.
Tariffs and taxes were barely mentioned.
The argument Lincoln could have done better applies equally to George Washington and every president between Washington and Lincoln. None were able to solve the fundamental conflict between freedom and holding people in bondage.
Abraham Lincoln did not oppose slavery. Dilorenzo asserted that Lincoln actually didn’t oppose the institution of slavery, so I went to check the primary source. After all, hadn’t everyone learned in school that Lincoln was the man who ended slavery? I looked at the president’s first inaugural address to discover that he clearly 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, and I have no inclination to do so.” Dilorenzo also quotes Lincoln saying, “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.” It’s hard to believe that this president would have laid down the lives of over 600,000 Americans to defend blacks given his opinion of them. To get a sense of perspective of the deaths under his watch, the number of fatalities would be comparable to 5 million Americans dying today.
Abraham Lincoln opposed states’ rights and favored centralized government. Since Lincoln didn’t seem to care about the emancipation of the slaves, as he himself stated, why did he enter the civil war? The South felt overtaxed and underrepresented in the Federal government, and as per the design of the Founding Fathers, wanted to secede from the Union. Yet if they left the Union, what would become of Lincoln’s dream of an expansive government? The point of allowing the state’s to leave the union was to insure that the Union would always work for the benefit of the states, not the other way around. As Dilorenzo describes, “Lincoln thought of himself as the heir to the Hamiltonian political tradition, which sought a much more centralized governmental system, one that would plan economic development with corporate subsidies financed by protectionist tariffs and the printing of money by the central government.”
When looking at the two values, emancipation and freeing slaves, historians must look at the motives of the president, as he stated, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
What does it mean to “save the Union”? It means forcing… at gunpoint… people to remain under the control of the Federal Government. What ever happened to “of the people, by the people, for the people”?
Lincoln’s story is complex, and the surface-level myth that is taught in schools today glosses over one of the most important, and deadly, periods of American history. Anyone who cares about the past and future of the most powerful country in the world should take the time to read “The Real Lincoln.”
It's refreshing to read a book by an author who has the courage and honesty to print ALL those not so popular quotes by Lincoln and to reveal his true attitudes, goals and agendas. Americans have been taught to see in Lincoln a man who never existed. The truth, however, is always better even if it's something hard to hear.
I for one am sick and tired of Yankee historians, press, politicians and educators who constantly demonize The South while worshipping Lincoln as some kind of savior. Its good to hear the truth. And that truth is, Lincoln was a tyrant and destroyed the old republic and the South. We never have fully recovered from the actions of this power hungry murderer. Probably never will.
Top reviews from other countries
In definitiva un libro interessante, anche se indubbiamente di parte, per chiunque si interessi di storia americana.