Lincoln Myth Preservation


“Abraham Lincoln remains the central historical figure in modern America; the only others who can compete with him in their influence on the present and the degree accorded them are Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Rev. “Dr.” Martin Luther King, Jr.  Neoconservative defenders of Lincoln have performed philosophical somersaults, maintaining that Lincoln was simultaneously a conservative and progressive, that he preserved the Union even while transforming it, and that he had to violate the Constitution in order to save it.

For the leading lights of the historical profession as well as the punditocracy, Lincoln remains a mythological figure whose greatness, essential goodness, and heroism goes unquestioned.  They tolerate no independent analysis or revisionism; instead, they fiercely guard a set of axioms: The North was right, the South was wrong; the cause of the war was slavery and only slavery; the war was inevitable; the Southern “rebellion” was wicked and had to be crushed; secession was unconstitutional; Northern methods of was were moral, appropriate and necessary to victory; Lincoln’s economic policies ushered in a modern
industrial society of unprecedented wealth.”

H.A. Scott Trask