Mr. Lincoln’s Biographer–One More Socialist

by Al Benson Jr.

Recently, in my article about Mr. Lincoln’s socialist tendencies, I believe I mentioned his biographer, Carl Sandburg. I briefly noted how Mr. Sandburg had soft-pedaled the socialism of Robert Owen of New Harmony, Indiana fame. I felt that Sandburg, as knowledgeable a man as he was, must have known something about the socialism or Robert Owen, yet mentioning Owen in his biography of Mr. Lincoln, he chose not to share that information with his readers. Being aware of Lincoln’s socialism, and finding that Mr. Sandburg chose not to deal with Owens’ socialism, it began to make me, with my suspicious mind, wonder just a bit.

Thus motivated, I did a little research on Mr. Sandburg and found that, lo and behold, he, like Mr. Lincoln, had socialist leanings and connections.

It seems that Sandburg moved to Wisconsin in the early 1900s, where he was a labor organizer for the Wisconsin Social-Democrats, and he also, at the time, wrote for a paper in Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Leader. He also became involved in the presidential campaign of Eugene V. Debs. In his book Reds In America originally published in 1924, author R. M. Whitney mentioned Eugene Debs in the same breath as William Z. Foster, Roger Baldwin, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn–all well-known Leftists or Communists. On page 180 of his book Whitney referred to Eugene Debs as "now out of jail after being pardoned for his anti-American activities during the war…"

In 1908 Carl Sandburg was married to Lillian Steichen, who was both a socialist and a schoolteacher. From 1910 through 1912 he worked as a secretary for the socialist mayor of Milwaukee, Emil Seidel. It has been reported that Sandburg, like several other writers, was considered to be a security risk by J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI kept a file on him. In 1918 he went to Sweden, and upon returning, was questioned by federal authorities and accused of supporting what the Bolsheviks were doing in Russia. Some, claiming Sandburg did not have a "political mind" have dismissed this charge. He and his socialist wife moved to Chicago sometime after 1912. In the 1930s he again became an active part of the Socialist movement. His six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln was done in the years from 1926 through 1939. It would appear that he may have been a participant in socialist activities during at least some of that period.

So, it should come as no surprise that Sandburg, well-known for his socialist leanings, should author a series of books on the socialist icon of the 19th century, Abraham Lincoln. If Sandburg did much research on Mr. Lincoln (and he must have done considerable) he would have had to be aware of Lincoln’s socialist tendencies and policies, and could, no doubt, be in complete sympathy with them, enough so that he would endeavor to present to his readers the socialist "great emancipator" in such a light as to seek to make his socialism as palatable as possible to most Americans, as indeed, it has become.

The fact that, under Mr. Lincoln’s administration, we got the Internal Revenue Service, a strong national bank, federal funding for and promotion of education, and federal funding for "internal improvements" is hardly ever mentioned. Such issues are just not openly discussed in politically correct "polite circles." Don’t want to pass out too much information that the "great unwashed" (general public) might pick up on, some of them might ask questions. Lincoln is mentioned as being a devoted disciple of Henry Clay, the father of "internal improvements" (read: socialism.) No one ever bothers to mention the fact that Clay’s "American System" of internal improvements was nothing more than socialism. Many "history" books have little or nothing to say about Clay’s program. Professor Thomas DiLorenzo, years ago, authored an article entitled Henry Clay: National Socialist which I have previously alluded to.

It would be a good mental exercise for any reading Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Mr. Lincoln to read it with both the socialism of Lincoln and Sandburg firmly in mind. That, coupled with a little knowledge of the Socialist movement in America in the 1800s would produce a view of Mr. Lincoln that is quite at odds with that which has been palmed off on a gullible American public. Carl Sandburg may or may not have had a "political mind" but he had a most definite affinity for socialism and he sought to promote that, unconsciously or otherwise, in his work on Lincoln.

Once the socialism of Lincoln is grasped, it leads you to begin to look at the Northern perspective of the War of Northern Aggression in an entirely different light. It now becomes a war to make the Union more centralized and consolidated, controlled centrally from Washington, regulated by Washington, and the technique of class struggle is promoted to divide one group against another–all in the name of "unity."

Until we begin to grapple with and grasp the fact that the War of Northern Aggression was, indeed, our French Revolution, from which we have never recovered, we will never get our history from 1865 to the present in its proper perspective. And writers like Carl Sandburg, with his smarmy approach to Lincoln’s socialism, will do nothing but harm our endeavors at accuracy, unless they are exposed. Whether he realized it or not, (and I think he did) Sandburg’s approach to the life of Mr. Lincoln was guaranteed to perpetuate myth, not fact.

Copyright � 2006-2009 Al Benson, Jr.
 
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