Dear Dr. Franklin:
I saw your question to Mr. Whorters about Lincoln and why anyone should “have a problem” with a man who, in your opinion was “the greatest American” (never mind President) who ever lived. Well, sir, I most strongly disagree; I have a tremendous problem with the man. Indeed, I would posit that had Hitler been successful, he probably would have had a lot of Germans 140 years after WWII agreeing with your assessment of Lincoln; that is, that he was “the greatest German” who ever lived. And, in fact, something can be said for the fact that Hitler did indeed raise Germany out of the despair engendered by WWI and the economic depression which debased her currency, starved her people and strangled her industries. Yet, I’m sure you would also agree that these positive contributions do not begin to offset the evils that the man did not only to Germany, but the rest of the world as well. In the case of Lincoln, unlike Hitler, I really cannot even think of any positive contributions.
You might say that he freed the slaves – but you would be wrong. In a sleight-of-hand attempt to get rabid abolitionists off his back (Lincoln hated abolitionists – his comment to Harriet Beecher Stowe was not a compliment!) he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in territory he did not hold but failed to free one slave from the territory of the United States. Hence, Ulysses S. Grant continued to own slaves after Robert E. Lee’s had been freed. Lincoln wanted the Fugitive Slave Law not only extended but enforced. Lincoln helped draft and worked to have passed the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution which would have enshrined slavery in that document. As well, when it became obvious that slavery would end with the victory of the Union, Lincoln proposed and even delegated funds to a New York firm to found colonies for freed blacks in Africa and the West Indies – I have newspaper accounts of efforts made to move former slaves to Haiti and their treatment in that country and on their journey. It may also interest you to know that during the war, Lincoln was aware that slave ships were still being constructed in northern shipyards and the last slave ship captured by the British was taken off the coast of Cuba, flying the American flag in 1862! I have enclosed above, some of the things that Lincoln himself had to say about this issue.
But even if Lincoln had been sincere in his desire to free the slaves – he certainly was sincere in his desire to save the Union – that matters not at all. Sincerity is no guarantee of right thinking or right action. I am reminded of Jane Fonda’s plaintive – and stupid – remark many years ago, “I must be right, I’m so sincere!” Well, the folks who ran the Spanish Inquisition were equally sincere as was Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin, Hitler and all the miserable villains and murderers who have walked the earth since Cain. Somehow, decent men have never accepted the sincerity of the perpetrator as mitigating in any way the criminal act.
But Lincoln’s “sincerity” in wishing to maintain the Union had nothing to do with the glorious patriotic nonsense that was used by the North at the time and continues to be paraded about by “orthodox historians” (the winner’s propagandists) to this day. Lincoln wasn’t interested in the Constitution – hell, he destroyed that document for all intents and purposes leaving a dead shell to be resurrected at every election cycle. In fact, Lincoln and the federal government desperately needed the 75 to 80% tax revenues paid by the Southern states to support his fascistic involvement with Northern industrialists, shipping interests and the cost of running a State Tyranny. While the South paid the vast majority of the taxes forwarded to Washington through egregious tariffs, those states saw little or nothing in return for their money. Even Karl Marx – who admired Lincoln greatly and whose disciples filled Lincoln’s government and even his army – determined that the American Civil War (sic) was a “tax war”. Lincoln was a mercantilist and a believer – with Hamilton – of a very strong central government which functioned at the expense of the rights of the sovereign states and the people. Today, we are reaping the benefits of those policies as the nation sinks deeper and deeper into socialism and federal tyranny.
As for Lincoln’s “humanitarianism”, Sherman noted that Lincoln enjoyed his stories of the atrocities he committed in the South, laughing with glee at stories of murder, torture, burning, raping and destroying a helpless civilian population including “freed” slaves. The conduct of the war on the part of the Union was so barbaric that European governments – no strangers to total war – raised objections to it and General Sherman became a favorite role model for those generals who served under Adolf Hitler. As well, Lincoln’s treatment of the Indians prior to his election as President was distinctly “intolerant” and “racist” but, of course, none of this is permitted to tarnish the Cult of Lincoln.
As for honesty, again there is evidence that Lincoln bilked the railroad on whose behalf he acted as a lawyer out of the outrageous sum of $10,000 before he decided that politics offered a broader field of opportunities. Interestingly enough, Gen. George McClellan worked for that same railroad at the time and knew of Lincoln’s machinations. It is no wonder that as commanding general, McClellan showed no respect for then President Lincoln – he knew the man too well. In fact, Lincoln’s nickname “Honest Abe” was bestowed upon him in the same spirit as was the nickname of Robin Hood’s large companion, “Little John”. Lincoln was also a party to the treasonous trade that took place between the combatants during the war in which cotton, resin and other goods from the South were exchanged for food, medicine and weapons. Many “speculators”, North and South made fortunes in this trade and some suspect that when Lincoln – who had been marked for assassination early in the war – ceased to be of use (that is, the war was almost over), the assassination was given a blessing by both sides to take place. (see Charles Higham’s “Murdering Mr. Lincoln). Higham states that Lincoln did not profit from the trade, but one suspects that he feared to make any charge lest the “cultists” condemn his work out of hand.
No, sir. I do not believe that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest American or even the greatest American President or anything whatsoever “great” unless by that you mean the man who single-handedly did the “greatest damage” to the nation, murdering over 650,000 soldiers as well as countless civilians and waging war on those whom Lincoln himself stated were “estranged brethren”. If that was how Lincoln treated his “brethren” – estranged or otherwise – one must wonder what he did to his enemies. Then again, perhaps if we asked the Indians against whom he warred earlier in his career, we would discover same.
You know, even if a legitimate question could be raised regarding the constitutionality of secession or the concept of a “permanent union”, there can be absolutely no argument made for Lincoln’s war against eleven sovereign states, war crimes against hundreds of thousands of Americans, the extinction of basic human rights in the North including the suspension of habeas corpus and a war against the press – so much for the First Amendment! – and a host of other evils committed by Lincoln or at his order. If this is what you consider to be “the greatest American”, then your criteria for that judgment boggles at least my mind!
Sad to say, of course, Lincoln will never be brought to book on these many and grievous charges by virtue of the manner of his death. Like John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, no objective analysis can be made of these men, their lives, their actions, their intentions and their influence because they are considered “martyrs.” To my mind, the worse thing that John Wilkes Booth did – in his desire for immortality – was to bestow not only immortality, but an undeserved heroism upon Abraham Lincoln. Alas, I doubt that this nation will ever be free of his legend or his legacy – and that is indeed tragic.
Huntington Station, New York
SOME OF LINCOLN’S VIEWS