Lincoln’s Leftist Associates—Part One
Posted on March 25, 2014
By Al Benson Jr.
The more you look at Abraham Lincoln the more his socialist proclivities jump out at you from whatever printed page you happen to be browsing. Once you have begun to grasp the fact of his socialist worldview then you can see things in reading about him that you just never noticed before.
I’ve seen articles that referred to radical Tom Paine, the supporter and promoter of the terrorist French Revolution, as “Lincoln’s hero.” If you have done any reading about Tom Paine and his views, that one statement should tell you something about Lincoln.
Awhile back, John Nichols, who writes for the Nation, did an article for the International Socialist Review which was entitled Reading Karl Marx with Abraham Lincoln–Utopian socialists, German communists, and other republicans. Very interesting title, and so very on target. The socialists don’t deny their involvement with Lincoln, they parade it right down Main Street, partly because they feel that decades of public “education” have rendered most Americans too dumb to realize what they are saying, and partly because they are just downright proud that Lincoln was among their number, whether he ever joined any socialist party or not (he didn’t, that we know of at this point). However, the mindset was there, which shows that socialism and communism in this country were a serious problem already by the middle of the 1800s.
Nichols noted Lincoln’s close association with Horace Greeley, who was a Utopian socialist. They served together in Congress, each for one term and Lincoln referred to Greeley as “Friend Greeley.” Greeley’s newspaper the New York Tribune, was probably the country’s most influential newspaper in the middle years of the 19th century. Greeley’s left-leaning thinking reflected that of Lincoln, when, in an address to Congress he stated that: “our idea is that labor needs not to combat but to command Capital.” A little of the “class struggle” technique there? Nichols also noted that Lincoln’s “involvement” wasn’t just with Horace Greeley, but also with “his sub-editors and writers, so much so that the first Republican president appointed one of Greeley’s most radical lieutenants—the Fourier-and Proudhon-inspired socialist and longtime editor of Marx’s European correspondence, Charles Dana—as his assistant secretary of war.” Dana was right under Edwin Stanton, another dictatorial soul. And it was Dana who hired Karl Marx to write for Greeley’s paper. So you’ve got all these socialists—Greeley, Lincoln, Dana, and Marx pushing and promoting one another in order to further their agenda. Greeley also made Albert Brisbane, another socialist, who had spent time in France during the 1820s, a columnist. Nichols said of Brisbane that, after his time in France, he returned to the United States “to spread the socialist gospel.” Marx and Brisbane were so radical that Greeley’s paper actually received criticism for spreading leftist views. That didn’t seem to bother Greeley. Nichols noted that “In the mid-1840s, explains historian Roy Marvin Robbins, ‘Greeley preached a new order of society with Brisbane’s socialist ideas as its basis.” Almost sounds as if he promoted a 19th century version of the New World Order. Could it be that when George Bush promoted the New World Order back in the early 1990s that he was really only referring to the second installment of it and that we had already been introduced to the first installment way back in the late 1840s?
Something the “history” books almost never even mention of refer to is the fact that Lincoln was a keen follower of everything that was going on in Europe in the 1840s. He was well aware of what was going on there in 1848—and he was all for it. The European situation was not a new thing for Lincoln. Even before 1848, some German radicals has started showing up in Illinois, Wisconsin, parts of Ohio and New York. One such was Gustav Koerner, a student revolutionary from the University of Munich.
Socialist revolutionary Koerner formed an alliance with Lincoln, which resulted in Koerner being one of seven person delegates-at-large who were named by Lincoln to serve at the Republican State Convention in May of 1860. This was the event that got Lincoln into the presidential race that year. Nichols stated in his article that: “Through Ko(e)rner, Lincoln met and befriended many of the German radicals who, after the failure of the 1848 revolution, fled to Illinois and neighboring Wisconsin. Along with Korner on Lincoln’s list of personal delegates-at-large to the 1860 convention was Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker,…” If you happen to have a copy of Walter Kennedy’s and my book Lincoln’s Marxists you can look up Comrade Hecker in it. Check him out on pages 172-174 if you have the book. Hecker was one of Lincoln’s socialist generals. He got a commission from Lincoln.
Another of Lincoln’s staunchest supporters was Karl Marx’s close associate, Joseph Weydemeyer. Weydemeyer continued to be in close touch with Karl Marx while allying himself with the new Republican Party and Lincoln’s presidential campaign. Part of the result of this was that Weydemeyer’s help to Lincoln’s efforts got him appointed to the staff of General John C. Fremont, yet another American left-leaning radical, as a technical aide.
Lincoln did much more than to simply request that the Forty-eighters enlist to help him. He became involved with their causes. One writer stated that “Lincoln was paying attention to those revolutionaries. While in Springfield, Illinois he sought to gain support for various leftist revolutionary movements in Europe. He was particularly interested at that time in the revolt of Lajos Kossuth in Hungary.
The point to this is that Lincoln was not just an armchair supporter of socialist and communist revolts in Europe. He knew many of those involved. He knew what they were all about, and not from a distance but from personal contact in many cases and he supported their efforts to create a new social(ist) order in Europe, one that would centralize everything in the hands of the leftists, all in the name of the “people.” When it didn’t work over there he gave them another shot at it here. Guess what? It worked here and as you can tell from what inhabits Washington, D.C. today, it’s still working.
To be continued.