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In Defence of Abraham Lincoln

January 28, 2011

abraham-lincoln-picture.jpgBy Dick Thomson (for

"The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty." -       Abraham Lincoln

No American, perhaps, has been so mythologized as Abraham Lincoln.

In part, the myths were of his own making. Lincoln often concealed an immense intellect and political fortitude behind language, imagery and ideas familiar to the common man. While some myths have elevated Lincoln to messianic heights, recently others have debased him with unfounded innuendo and accusation, both versions obscuring his true legacy.

Of particular interest is the Potemkin village of Lincoln advocacy among certain Republican circles today. There is Lewis Lehrman, a PNAC member and co-author of Ron Paul's "The Case for Gold," who attempts in "Lincoln at Peoria" to cement the image of The Great Emancipator without reference to the economic and Constitutional struggles of the Civil War.

Then there is a peculiar grouping around nonagenarian Harry Jaffa, speechwriter to Barry Goldwater and student of neocon guru Leo Strauss. Jaffa and his acolytes at the Claremont Institute see Lincoln, like Moses liberating the Israelites, as the fulfillment of the Declaration of Independence. In 1959's "Crisis of the House Divided," Jaffa casts Lincoln and Douglas in Plato's dialogue between Socrates, who advocates the objective reality of justice (natural law), and Thrasymachus, who argues that justice corresponds only with the interests of the powerful (positive law).

Strauss scholar Shadia Drury has shown that Jaffa's mentor believed Plato's real sympathies were with Thrasymachus, which suggests Jaffa's work is in effect an "exoteric" softball.


Poised to hit Harry Jaffa's softball is Thomas DiLorenzo, hailing from the Mises Institute and Jesuit Loyola University Maryland. DiLorenzo's only public debate seems to have been against Jaffa, at the Claremont Institute in 2002. In "Lincoln Unmasked" and "The Real Lincoln," DiLorenzo throws predictable mud at Lincoln, but with an interesting inaccuracy on all counts:

• Lincoln started the Civil War. In truth, the Southern states seceded, without any attempt at legal process, before Lincoln's inauguration.

• Lincoln was a dictator. In Constitutional terms, the Confederacy was an insurrection, not a secession. As such, Lincoln had the Constitutional rights to suspend habeas corpus (a privilege, not a right) and suppress the insurrection as commander-in-chief of the US military, which he did.

• Slavery would have died on its own. The oft-cited example of England's  successful abolitionist movement is not relevant, as England, unlike the American Confederacy in 1861, was not a vast, untamed, free trade paradise thriving on cotton exports. The explicit reason for Southern secession was to protect and expand slavery, whatever the rationale.

Lincoln was clear on his willingness to permit slavery in existing slave states, leaving new territories like Kansas and Nebraska free. The slave trade was not withering but exploding in 1861, and Confederate leaders had their sights not only on the new territories, but Cuba, Mexico, Central America and beyond.

• Lincoln was a "Whig Mercantilist" and the political heir of Alexander Hamilton. DiLorenzo argues this point at length, and is absolutely correct. He is only one of the only popular Lincoln writers to discuss at length Lincoln's economic program of protective tariffs, national banking and internal improvements, though with he dismisses them as being ineffective and opposed to Constitutional principles.


Libertarians like DiLorenzo make an a priori association of the US Constitution with free trade, state's rights and small central government. While this was clearly the prescription of Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith and Lord Shelburne, one must look to history and not the Mises Institute to find what "the founders" intended.

Why was the Constitutional Convention called in 1787? Precisely because  lack of an assertive central government with authority over trade, taxation and credit had left the post-Revolutionary colonies a squabbling mess and laughing stock of the developed world. The distinctions between the US Constitution and the Articles of Confederation can be seen in Alexander Hamilton's contributions to the "Federalist Papers" and his reports on credit and manufacuture.

The new federal government assumed the debts of the states, and the congress was granted sole authority over tariffs, taxes and money. The First National Bank was established with the second law passed by the US Congress. Our nation is called the "United States," not the "Federation of Sovereign States," and our Constitution does not provide for secession or any states' rights in trade, currency or other matters pertaining to the "general welfare," as indicated in the Constitution's pointed preamble, and Article I: Section 8.

This is why Southern oligarchs, with sympathy from Jefferson, openly opposed the ratification of the Constitution. To read the "anti-federalist papers" is like reading today's Tea Party and right-wing conspiracy propaganda.


"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." -       Abraham Lincoln

To call public infrastructure, debt-free public currency, and an economic policy that advanced wages and industrialization - as opposed to a slave-based, de facto British colony - "anti- Constitutional" or "un-American" is just plain stupid.

We all want "liberty," but the world is, as Lincoln understood, full of wolves clamoring for the sheep to be let out of the pen. A Constitutional Republic, and the "American System" of political economy, commenced by Hamilton and codified by Lincoln, allows the individual the maximum freedom and opportunity possible without opening himself and his fellow man to exploitation and worse. Expecting freedom to reign without the regulating influence of government was a fantasy even in the time of the founders. We should be thankful that the wisest among them were also the most assertive.

William McKinley - like Hamilton, Lincoln and John F. Kennedy silenced by the British empire - expressed Lincoln's legacy well:

 "[W]hether a thing is cheap or dear depends upon what we can earn by our daily labor. Free trade cheapens the product by cheapening the producer. Protection cheapens the product by elevating the producer. Under free trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave. Protection is but the law of nature, the law of self-preservation, of self-development, of securing the highest and best destiny of the race of man."

Scruples - the game of moral dillemas

Comments for "In Defence of Abraham Lincoln"

Tony B responds to author said (January 30, 2011):

The "author's response" to my criticism of his article was only about his take on Lincoln's personality without a single word about his greenbacks and the benefit they gave to the American people. If you are going to write something positive about Lincoln, his monetary policy is it, there is very little else about the man to praise. He could have also mentioned that when Lincoln needed railroads to fight the war, his advisers wanted to buy the rails from England because they were cheaper. But Lincoln told them no, in that case "we" would have the rails and England would have the money, but if they are bought from Americans, "we" have both.

His further characterization of Jackson, anti-federalists, et al, seals his agenda and intent in stone for me. I wouldn't believe a word from this guy.

AF said (January 30, 2011):

I see Lincoln in much the same light as JFK. Both had obvious flaws, contradictions, and could be criticized for moral or unethical actions. Both were killed by gunshots to the head. Accidents in politics virtually never occur, so they must have pissed off the Controllers, plain and simple.

They may have shaken hands with a few, sat at the dinner tables of some, taken a few bucks from them and maybe even bedded a couple, BUT at some point both men refused to follow the script, got a bee in their bonnets over it, and made fateful enemies. The Controllers (aka money men, Central Bankers, Pharaohs of Finance, Rabbis of Usury, Cabalists of Industry) killed both men for the same reasons, and as such, must be viewed as heroes to the common man. Warts and all.

JCW said (January 30, 2011):

Great article on Lincoln... I didn't realize how many people hated Lincoln. I have read a great deal on Lincoln and am by no means an expert, but after a little research one cannot come away with an idea of Lincoln as a destroyer.

Lincoln's sole purpose was to keep the Union intact. Essentially the Union of the United States of America was not going to be dissolved on his watch. Did he do things that in a peaceful, perfect world violate the Constitution, sure... He saw the influence of international bankers and he beat them (except of course he was assassinated by them). Sure he had seances in the White House, but one gets the feeling he was just codling his wife after loosing one of his children to sickness. One must not forget that as the war continued on Lincoln became more God centered in his speeches. It's strange what I am about to write but I almost feel that Lincoln was the final sacrifice of a terrible war. There is no doubt that America started to move into the direction of a strong central government after the Civil War, but it was not because of some sinister plot devised by Lincoln. I believe Lincoln did what he thought was right thing for the United States at the time and that the end justified the means.

It's a funny thing about studying history; one only sees it through the eyes of the historian. I can see why we are doomed to repea

Isaiah14 said (January 30, 2011):

Lincoln destroyed the Constitution. We are where we are today because of Lincoln. Remember, he had seances in the White House, and he conducted an unnecessary war. He was also assassinated by Mary Todd.


And the moon is made of blue cheese.


Karen said (January 30, 2011):

"We must also thank the Russians for coming to our aid and preventing both France and England from joining the war on the side of the Confederacy."

Thank you for mentioning that Stephen. Let's also not forget the price the Russians paid for that when the Rothschilds' corrupted Congress passed the unconstitutional Federal Reserve Act that other commenters have pointed out is the source of the impending financial holocaust America is facing. The bankers stole the money required to set it up the FR from the deposits the Tsar of Russia placed in Rothschilds affiliated banks (Rockefeller, Morgan, Schiff, Goldman et al are just Rothschilds fronts) following the Rothschilds instigated 1905 uprising. This is according to research done by Jiri Luna for Under the Sign of the Scorpion.

Tens of millions of innocent Russian Christians were murdered, enslaved and looted by the bogus Rothschilds funded "communists" (the Gore family benefactor Armand Hammer among them) who were in fact just a bunch of international criminals known today as "the Oligarchs" and Jewish to the point that there was a TV series about them on Israeli TV where they bragged about their huge successes in ripping off the Russian people yet again.

Some day, there will be a great payback. The mills of the Gods grind slow but fine indeed.

Author Reply: said (January 30, 2011):

The variety of comments to my Lincoln article are a testament to how many different ways Lincoln has been represented.

Tony B. says "It's not possible to be more dishonest than to link Lincoln and Hamilton." As mentioned in the article, a direct line
of political economy, called "the American System" can be traced from Hamilton to Lincoln.

Lincoln often referred to himself as a "Henry Clay whig," which is DiLorenzo's proof that Lincoln was a tyrant. Whigs like Clay and
Daniel Webster came out of the Federalists (Hamilton's party), and carried his program of tariffs, national banking and internal
improvements. Anyone willing to educate themselves can compare Henry C. Carey's (Lincoln's economic advisor) "The Harmony of
Interests" to Hamilton's essays and reports and see what Lincoln's program was and where it came from.

The anti-federalists have left only a scattered trail of empty demagogy that is used to whip up various tornadoes of bulls###. The
legacy of Andrew Jackson – Clay's chief rival, democrat, Indian killer and lackey of Aaron Burr – was to kill national banking and plunge the nation into depression. He was so opposed to federal power that blocked attempts to build dirt postal roads in the south.

David said (January 30, 2011):

Another fan letter from another Lincoln idolater? What a novelty that is. Dick Thomson's disingenuous screed boils down to the same one used for the last 145-plus years: "We won, therefore we have the moral high ground." That it appears on your site (which has been blowing the whistle on totalitarian creep for many years) is ironic in that Lincoln did to America in the 19th century what Hitler did to Europe in the last century: force scattered states at the point of a bloody bayonet into an empire which, even as we speak, is sputtering on its last legs, bankrupted by wars, inflation, tyranny (at home and abroad) and taxation, not to mention an overextended and exhausted military.

Doubly ironic is that I hear more secession talk today from states like Michigan, Washington, the Dakotas, Wyoming, than I hear from the "cradle of the Confederacy", now that Americans of every stripe realize that autocracy eventually enslaves all but the select few at the top of the chain. He tries to defend the indefensible by parroting the standard "history is written by the victors", which has been the excuse of every dictator since Julius Caesar. The war was about far more than the small percentage of slave-owning Southerners (6%) wanting to cling to their mint-julep-sipping.

Tony B said (January 30, 2011):

This article is laced with errors - or more likely lies - in both directions. Both pro-Lincoln and anti-Lincoln.

But it is pure libertarian dishonesty to couple Lincoln to that fink of all finks, Alexander Hamilton. Of course, the connecting reference is to Lincoln's monetary policy - the famed Lincoln greenbacks - which saved the American people untold billions of dollars in interest for the use of their own money until the damned federal reserve bankers - Hamilton's real "political heirs" - made certain they were no longer circulated so that their worthless bank credit at usury was the only medium of exchange hapless Americans could use. That "bank credit" is the one and only reason for the present day disaster of the wrecked economy under which we suffer.

The revolutionary war against Britain was fought, in truth, against Rothschild's private gold coins, which were forced on the wildly prosperous colonies but never in enough volume for business to survive. The colonies had previously each printed their own colonial money, the forced demise of which quickly put them in essentially the same crashed economy situation the United States is in today under the fed. Economically totally beholden to usurious private bankers who simply raped them.

Hamilton, with mason G. Washington's blessing, made certain that the new nation states, which had just "won" that war with Britain over precisely the Rothschild monetary ruination of the economies of the colonies - not some silly tea tax, was immediately put under a domestic bank exactly like Rothschild's, even with many of the very same stock holders. In a very few years it had almost destroyed the new nation states.

President Andrew Jackson put a crimp in the banker's rapine for a time but it was Lincoln, for all his faults, who saved the nation from that worst possible economic slavery for generations after his death with his free, government created greenbacks.

It is not possible to be more dishonest than to link Lincoln and Hamilton. There is no way to do it in ignorance. It's part of a dishonest agenda. It's the difference between white & black, up & down, in & out, life & death. It can be nothing else than libertarian lie to further their purposely dysfunctional economic theories in an attempt to establish inescapable monopoly capitalism on everyone forever.

Stephen said (January 29, 2011):

It is about time somebody defends Lincoln. Without his decisive action we would once again have become a police state British Colony as it was Lord Palmerston behind the conspiracy to divide and conquer the USA. The conspiracy had already taken Mexico to our south with the French Maximilien. Shame of you Doug and all you that don't seek out primary documentation and know the truth first hand. We must also thank the Russians for coming to our aid and preventing both France and England from joining the war on the side of the Confederacy.

Unfortunately the British have taken us over through the banking system, this being at the root of the economic catastrophe awaiting us. We need to take the Constitution back and get the filthy congress and Obama out-but soon, or there will be no USA left. Attacks on Lincoln are direct attacks upon the Constitution and the blood of our ancestors. Lincoln's attackers are lead by modern day Palmerstons, Mazzinis and Albert Pikes. Shame on them for misleading so many! Shame on them for the blood of millions of Americans to be spilled.

Dan said (January 29, 2011):

I used to make the usual excuses for Lincoln. In American school children were heavily conditioned to believe in centralized Federal government, so aggrandizing the Lincoln meme is mandatory.

When you grow up, if one can set aside the image and study the history again, it's clear that the Civil War was an atrocity done to this nation to serve the interests of a clique of power brokers. Study Lincoln's career. He was President for only 4 years, he had been a Congressman for only two years. Did you know that? He didn't respect the Constitution, Courts, or Congress at all. The only way that he could override them was civil war.
We've got to wise up and quit worshiping politicians.

In the case of DiLorenzo he does the other thing which is demonizes the figurehead. Either way, Lincoln's role is blown out of proportion, taking our attention off the real planners in the margins.

Pyrrhus said (January 29, 2011):

A very nice article about President A. Lincoln. I found your opening Lincoln quote very interesting because it not only reminded me of the biblical "wolf and sheep" quote by Isaiah 11:6, but it also reminded me of a similar quote made by the great Greek General & Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas (1871-1941.)

During the Greek Communist civil unrest, he proclaimed that he will make the wolf walk hand in hand with the lamb. And this was accomplished. General Metaxas was a rationalist, he acknowledged that one can never make the wolf extinct, we can never rid ourselves of the wolf, however we can prevent him from getting stronger, detain him and reject him.

In the end, love will create peace, not genocide. If you kill all the wolves, a possible stronger more powerful wolf like creature may evolve from other dogs or beasts, in my opinion.

Pyrrhus of

Chad said (January 29, 2011):

hey henry i want to thank you for the article titled in defense of Abraham Lincoln. I've defended this man on so many websites I've lost count. people forget that the winners write history, and the men who had Lincoln murdered we're most definitely the only winners of the civil war. he was going to let the south up easy, and they couldn't have that. I've always suspected that the foundation of what would become the unconstitutional and criminal federal reserve was first laid by the bullet that entered Abraham Lincolns brain.

Doug said (January 29, 2011):

In regards to Dick Thomson's piece about defending Lincoln....This man has obviously not done his research, or he is just plain dishonest! Of course he fails to mention what a terrorist Lincoln was....having his political opposition beaten up, jailed, even murdered. Lincoln's reign of terror lasted far too long and calling him the Great Emancipator? Please do your research, Dick...if you did/do you would have/will find out that he certainly was far from great, and was forced to emancipate in order to bring slaves into the army so his side would win the war they were in grave danger of losing! His wife's family had slaves for decades and Lincoln himself was not anti-slavery either. Dick Thomson seems to be nothing more than another revisionist historian, trying to continue the lies of the elite so the people never learn the truth. Shame on you Dick Thomson!

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at