Mr. Lincoln The Socialist

by Al Benson Jr.

Over the years I have contended that Abraham Lincoln was a socialist–not that he was a card-carrying member of some socialist group, but rather that his mindset had that bent. In that contention I have met all manner of reactions, everything from some who agree with me (and many do), to outright ridicule from Lincoln lovers in the North (and some in the South, too). Many seem to feel, although they would not express it in those terms, that Mr. Lincoln should be elevated to the level of Deity. Also, I have run across almost complete apathy in much of the South, and other sections of the country as well. Southern folks at least used to know that Mr. Lincoln had been a less-than-desirable president; they knew he had been responsible for alot of bad things during the "late unpleasantness" and that was about it. Many, no matter what their persuasion, had the thought (planted) in the back of their heads that, for all his faults, Lincoln was, at least, a "good" man. The contention that he was some kind of socialist really shakes them up, and mostly, they just don’t want to hear anymore on the subject. It’s not that they are apathetic–it’s just that they don’t know and they don’t care. Please don’t rattle their chain or rock their boat–just leave them fat and happy with their illusions.

Many years ago now, when I first began reading about the goodly number of socialists and outright Communists in Mr. Lincoln’s armies, I began to have these nagging little doubts that, maybe, just maybe, Mr. Lincoln was not the honest, country hayseed that his promoters tried to make him out to be.

You often find tidbits of interesting history in places you would seldom look for them. For instance, I have never really cared for Carl Sandburg’s six volume story of the life of Lincoln. I felt that much of it was just shameless promotion of the "great emancipator." Yet there had to be some truth in it.

Often that truth has been sanitized so that we don’t quite grasp all its importance, but it is there. I will cite one small example. In chapter 22 of the first volume, on pages 84-85, Sandburg mentioned one Robert Owen, a "rich English businessman" who bought land in New Harmony, Indiana. He mentioned that Owen gave a speech before Congress telling how "…he and his companions were going to find a new way for people to live their lives together, without fighting, cheating, or exploiting one another…they would share and share alike, each for all and all for each."

Owen did, indeed, have a "new" way for the people in America to live together–it was and is, called socialism! Then Sandburg informed us that Mr. Lincoln knew about this colony of Owen’s and, according to Sandburg "The scheme lighted up Abe Lincoln’s heart." It is interesting that Mr. Sandburg didn’t bother to tell his readers that Mr. Owen was a socialist and that his colony in Indiana was a socialist experiment, one that ultimately failed because of its socialism. Surely Sandburg must have been aware of that, given his own background (which will be dealt with in a later article). Why didn’t he bother to inform his readers?

And if Lincoln, even in those early years of his life, was aware of Owen’s undertaking, he must have had some idea of what Owen was all about. Lincoln, even as a young man, was ambitious. He was no country bumpkin.

Later in life, when Mr. Lincoln broke into politics, he was a great admirer of Henry Clay and of Clay’s "vision" for America. For those who may not know alot about Henry Clay, I would recommend a very revelatory article written by Thomas DiLorenzo that appeared in the March, 1998 issue of The Free Market, published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The title of Professor DiLorenzo’s article was Henry Clay–National Socialist. Space will not permit here, but DiLorenzo aptly sets forth a blistering critique of Clay’s socialism.

Lincoln eulogized Clay when he said "During my whole political life, I have loved and revered (Clay) as a leader and teacher." If Clay was a socialist and Lincoln considered him a great teacher and leader, what does that tell you about where Lincoln was coming from?

We are able to glean even further confirmation of Lincoln’s socialist leanings from establishment "historian" James M. McPherson. In his book Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution McPherson has noted, on pages 24-25: "Lincoln championed the leaders of the European revolutions of 1848; in turn, a man who knew something about those revolutions–Karl Marx–praised Lincoln in 1865 as ‘the single-minded son of the working class’ who had led his ‘country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world." Stop and ponder just what Marx was referring to, and the language he used–"reconstruction of a social world." In actuality, neither Marx nor Lincoln had much use for blacks, but they did make good cannor fodder, and they contained grist for the socialist propaganda mill, and so both Marx and Lincoln exalted their "esteem" for them in their public pronouncements. Privately it was altogether something else. Marx even signed a letter to Lincoln, with others, congratulating him on his re-election in 1864, and Lincoln reportedly responded warmly. It was just enough of this kind of information that led Donnie Kennedy and I to write our new book Red Republicans And Lincoln’s Marxists (www.oldsouthbooks.com) in which we pointed out clearly the socialist origins of the Republican Party and Lincoln’s affinity for socialists and Communists.

In this book we dealt with the fact of a noted socialist and Communist presence in the Union Armies during the War of Northern Aggression. For years this was a studiously ignored fact. No one that wrote about the war talked about it–you weren’t supposed to be aware of it or even dare to think in those terms at all. Were you to become aware of a major socialist presence in the Union Armies, it just might begin to change your perception of what the war was really all about (Marxist revolution). I realise that, for the average Southerner, it was about liberty and repelling the invasion of his homeland; for the Yankee, it was about empire, financial gain, and growing centralized government control over everyone’s lives and control over people’s lives was the elixir of life for the socialists. The fact that Communists and socialists from the failed 1848 revolts in Europe flocked to join Lincoln’s armies is only now beginning to be dealt with, and even now, most authors who do mention it tend to downplay the significance of it and to try to move their readers along to the "more important" things, such as who won which battle where. Don’t dwell too long on Lincoln and his socialist buddies. It might change your perspective and we can’t have too much of that now, can we.

Lincoln’s entire life reveals an ongoing affinity for socialism and for those that practiced and promoted it. Once this is fully grasped, it will enable us to lay hold of the fact that, for the federal government in Washington, D.C. in the 1860s, the Northern victory in the War of Northern Aggression was another giant step in the program of socialist revolution that would, in time, reveal itself as the New World Order.

Copyright � 2006-2011 Al Benson, Jr.

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