Skip to comments.The Unreal Lincoln: Loyola College Professor Flunks Out
Posted on 05/07/2002 11:31:24 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
The Unreal Lincoln: Loyola College Professor Flunks Out
By ERIK ROOT
A war of unkind words has afflicted the WorldNetDaily website over a forthcoming book by Loyola College economics professor Thomas DiLorenzo entitled The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. The controversy began when a friend of DiLorenzos, Ilana Mercer, wrote a glowing review of the yet to be released book claiming that, if anything, Lincoln left a legacy of corruption. Richard Ferrier and David Quackenbush of the Declaration Foundation responded to the review (since the book was not released) with all smoke, no gun. DiLorenzo then jumped into the fray with more ad hominem which prompted Quackenbush to write apparent inaccuracies. The debate seemed to have ended with DiLorenzos let the ad hominem begin. According to WorldNetDaily, both DiLorenzo and Quackenbush will get one more chance to respond to each other after the book officially releases.
Most of the unkind words happen to come from DiLorenzo who tries to turn the tables claiming that all the ad hominem attacks emanate from his critics. This does not preclude him from bellowing Ferrier and Quackenbush are "irrational," hysterical, ill-mannered, "ideologically blind zealots," etc., at the same time he faults them for personal smears. But that is the preferred tactic when a professors peers find his "scholarly research" wanting. Charming indeed.
In the WorldNetDaily correspondence it is evident that DiLorenzo has not considered in a dispassionate manner the meaning of the words that Ferrier and Quackenbush utilize: statesmanship, reason, prudence, natural right, compact. Ferrier and Quackenbush use these words deliberately and purposely; they must be understood before one can comprehend the Founding as well its fulfillment in Lincoln. DiLorenzo glosses over these words as if they had no meaning and at one point irrationally invokes the word reason to discredit his detractors. This is modern rationalism on display. Despite DiLorenzos lucubration, I will address those points not covered by Declaration Foundation representatives since they did an ample job of refuting Dilorenzo on that which they chose to address. Since I too have not read the book (though I have requested a review copy from the publisher) I will devote myself to what Dilorenzo wrote in response to his critics. Ultimately, DiLorenzo has not uncovered anything new about Lincoln, but is parroting tired and old arguments which emanated many years ago from Paleo-cons and Libertarians.
As with most scholars who attack Lincoln, they do not base their research on primary sources but on secondary. When they refer to primary material they take it out of context. Let us first consider his use of secondary sources. He invokes Roy Basler (the editor of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln), Pulitzer Prize winning Lincoln biographer David Donald, H.L. Mencken, 1000 northern newspapers, Clinton Rossiter, and finally abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. This list is curious and lends credence to the impression that DiLorenzo has not considered the totality of the evidence, or that he understands the differences between abolitionism and the Founding itself. In other words, DiLorenzo seems to understand Lincoln better than Lincoln understood himself. We ought to be wary of such arrogance.
Against his secondary sources, there are a cloud of witnesses. To name a few: David Potter, Don Fehrenbacher, Lord Charnwood, Charles Kesler, Thomas G. West, and ultimately, the foremost scholar on Lincoln alive today, Harry V. Jaffa. It appears that DiLorenzo has not weighed anything written by Jaffa (or anyone else in the forgoing list) for he answers most every objection DiLorenzo raises, and did so almost 50 years ago.
DiLorenzo claims Lincoln was not sincere about slavery before 1854 and barely mentioned it before that time. He enlists Garrisons opinion to emphasize that Lincoln was opportunistic and cared not a wit about slavery before 1854. Garrison said that Lincoln had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in him. However, Lord Charnwood (to name but one biographer) describes a different Lincoln when the future president and some friends happened upon a New Orleans slave auction in 1831. Charnwood writes that they viewed that event with disdain and that the people viewed slavery with "horror" in the "home circle." Fehrenbacher is just one scholar who catalogues the fact that the southern opinion of slavery changed from a necessary evil to a positive good. By the 1850s the issue of slavery was a consuming topic not only for Lincoln, but the entire Union. Still, we do not hear from the Loyola professor of any opportunistic slavery proponents. If it was not a consuming topic there would not have been an increase in proslavery literature prior to Lincolns entry into national politics. Proslavery William and Mary professor, Thomas Roderick Dew, would not have seen fit to write treatises defending the institution beginning in the 1830s. Similarly, John C. Calhoun declared in the late 1830s-40s that the Founding was defective and that blacks deserved enslavement. This proliferation of pro-slavery opinion is what forced Lincoln to address the subject increasingly as the 1850s approached.
Like the secessionists, abolitionists rejected the Revolution. They believed that there was something inherently racist, so to speak, about the Founding. In principle, both the slave-holding states and the abolitionists thought it defective. In this sense they were on the same side. Garrison faulted Lincoln because he wanted to keep the Union together; Lincoln emphasized that the Union could only last if it adhered to the principles of the Founding. Abolitionists wished to throw out slavery via unconstitutional means and the South wished to secede via the same. Therefore, to invoke Garrison as a witness to Lincolns lack of dedication to emancipation is faulty and a stretch at best. It only demonstrates DiLorenzos lack of understanding about the era. The abolitionists wanted to effect their ends, republic be damned (and incidentally, this is the major problem with the abolitionist movement for their desire would have done more to entrench slavery). These undercurrents underscore the Lyceum Speech which (contrary to Dilorenzos ebullient assertions) gives insight into Lincolns political thought, and by extension, slavery, way before 1854. The year was 1838.
Like his 1842 Temperance Address, in the speech before the Young Mens Lyceum, slavery does not hold the predominant position that it does in his later speeches. According to Jaffa, Lincoln is more concerned with the overarching problem of evil passions of which slavery is but one. In other words, the evils of slavery are no less addressed in these speeches than in his later utterances. The passions, if left to rule, are ultimately destructive:
...if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.
Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.
The question recurs "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his childrens liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primmers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars."
The rule of law, not mob law, is the counteracting agent to arbitrary rule. The rule of law in the union points to an abstract truth without which it would mean nothing and would be mutable. Lincoln detected Americans were straying from that abstract truth articulated by the Founders when he said in the same speech that that the Founding principles "are [now] decayed, and crumbled away." America needs to be re-baptized, if you will, in the abstract truth of the Founding. This consistency is evident in the 1859 letter to Henry Pierce:
But soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. One would start with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. And yet they are denied, and evaded, with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them glittering generalities; another bluntly calls them self evident lies; and still others insidiously argue that they apply only to "superior races."
What is the self-evident truth that Calhoun thought was a lie? All men are created equal. Despite DiLorenzos "discovery" that slavery had little to do with the Civil War, primary documents contradict him. Alexander Stephens, the vice-president of the Confederacy, confirmed the predominance of the slavery issue in his Cornerstone speech:
But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago.
So much for slavery not being the central issue of the war. It is clear from the above speech that southern opinion of the equality of human beings changed. Slavery was not a necessary evil, but was now a positive good that God had sanctioned. DiLorenzo fails to even acknowledge this fact and this makes his entire work questionable. He goes further and falsifies Lincolns record in so many instances that this response would be more prolix if I addressed every point he misconstrued. In the face of the preponderance of the evidence, it appears DiLorenzos political agenda is clouding his judgment. Ultimately, we have to wonder whether this professor considered everything before he wrote the book, or even if he understands complex political thought. In the end, what was in Lincolns heart? Only he and God know. What we do have before us are Lincolns words and his actions. Each is consistent with the other provided we keep his words in context. This Dilorenzo refuses to do, and that makes his work apocryphal.
Root is Local Government Editor for Carolina Journal, the monthly newspaper of the John Locke Foundation, also available on-line at CarolinaJournal.com.
Letter to Horace Greeley
Written during the heart of the Civil War, this is one of Lincoln's most famous letters. Horace Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, a few days earlier had addressed an editorial to Lincoln called "The Prayer of Twenty Millions." In it, he demanded emancipation for the country's slaves and implied that Lincoln's administration lacked direction and resolve.
Lincoln wrote his letter to Greeley when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer. His response revealed the vision he possessed about the preservation of the Union. The letter, which received universal acclaim in the North, stands as a classic statement of Lincoln's constitutional responsibilities.
Executive Mansion, Washington, August 22, 1862.
Hon. Horace Greeley:
I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable [sic] in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
Yours, A. Lincoln.
The first one, maybe two times you pull the chair out from under someone to see their reaction, are funny. After that, it's sort of pathetic.
By Geoff Metcalf
I have now interviewed both Dr. Tom DiLorenzo and Dr. Richard Ferrier regarding our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. I entered the controversy intrigued, but really without a dog in the fight. As I have too often said, "It is not a question of who is right or wrong but what is right or wrong that counts."
I am not a Lincoln hater and I don't idolize the man. Like most of you, I am an interested student.
As usual, both sides have merits and shortfalls. However, in the wake of the two interviews, myriad e-mails and having read, "The Real Lincoln" and the Lincoln-Douglas debates, I have reached personal conclusions.
But, frankly, my conclusions are tainted. I have a few pet peeves. Honesty, to me, is important both in content and in character. I consider "Duty, Honor, Country" as more than a cute phrase, but a credo. Oaths are important, significant, and not to be entered into or broken cavalierly.
When any person swears a sacred oath to "preserve and protect the Constitution," they have made a lifelong commitment. I am routinely annoyed and offended by people who take the oath and subsequently (by thought, deed and action) undermine, abrogate or attempt to alter the very document that they have sworn to "preserve and protect."
I consider those who violate that oath as being guilty of fraud, perjury and treason.
When I interviewed DiLorenzo I told him he had provided me with an epiphany. I have frequently noted that when the framers were forming the republic, Jefferson and Hamilton had a long series of debates. Jefferson was arguing for states' rights, and Hamilton wanted a big federal bureaucracy ? like we have now. Historically, Jefferson won the debate.
I have been trying to figure out at what point in our history Jefferson lost. I used to think it was inertia building until 1913, and then FDR. But actually, Lincoln should get the credit for defeating Jefferson for Hamilton.
DiLorenzo said, "One of the main themes of my book is that Abraham Lincoln was the political son of Alexander Hamilton ? Lincoln took up the Hamiltonian mantle of big, centralized government, centralized planning, autocratic leadership. The great debates between the Jeffersonians and the Hamiltonians were ended at gunpoint under the directorship of Abraham Lincoln, in my view. And I think that debate was ended by 1865."
I am more convinced than ever that DiLorenzo is right about that.
Ferrier told me his complaints with DiLorenzo were "falsehood in details, sloppiness of scholarship and a fundamentally wrong-headed view of the role of Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence, and American history and our political philosophy."
I'll get to the "falsehood" charge, but "a fundamentally wrong-headed view of the role of Lincoln" is really a kinda high-handed and pretentious way of saying, "I'm right and he's wrong." Although DiLorenzo didn't say so, I suspect he probably feels the same way about Ferrier and his other critics. By extension and association, Ferrier also must feel Professor Walter Williams has a "fundamentally wrong-headed view of the role of Lincoln."
Ferrier made some good points. However, in my view, in one defense, he further diminishes his idol as disingenuous, calculating and adroit at parsing "weasel words."
In discussing slavery, he confirmed Lincoln said, "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between white and black races, and I have never said anything to the contrary." He corrected the DiLorenzo citation, but said, "Lincoln, who was a lawyer and was careful with his words, did not say 'I do not believe in that equality. I do not think it is a good thing.' He said, 'I have no purpose to introduce it.' Those are the words of a careful lawyerly politician ?"
In other words Lincoln was using Clintonian verbiage carefully qualifying the definition of what "is" is. So, when Lincoln said, "I have no purpose," Ferrier says he meant, "I don't at the moment intend to bring about such equality." And if he had said anything else in Illinois in the 1850s, he couldn't have been elected to dogcatcher. So Lincoln (according to Dr. Ferrier) was being duplicitous ? in other words, dishonest.
Both these professors score points in the debate. DiLorenzo apparently misstates citations and uses quotes to support his position and ignores quotes that undercut it. By the way, Ferrier likewise seems comfortable ignoring facts that contradict his preconceived opinion.
DiLorenzo and Ferrier are academics and scholars. I am not. However, a lot of the things Lincoln did were specifically designed to abrogate, eviscerate and destroy the very document to which he swore an oath. For Ferrier and company to say, "Well, gosh, the other guys were doing it too," is not an adequate defense.
Karen DeCoster has been accused of excess in her criticism of Lincoln. However, in my view, she is right when she says he was, "A conniving and manipulative man ? he was nowhere near what old guard historians would have us believe."
Sorry. I called DiLorenzo a huckster so many times, my fingers wouldn't type the letters "HUCK" any more.
But Walt what other problems would there be in the 1830s and 1840s? I was assured this nation was plugging right along until the evil South decided to secede because of slavery and not money!!! I am completely shocked that an organization that prides itself in pointing out government waste and spending would get behind such a man as lincoln and Clay with their American System, which in every way shape and form argued that it was the government's responsibility to take care of us and build our infrastructure for us, and had done such a great job in Illinois, not to mention New York!! < /sarcasm>
Yep - it's like when try too hard to prove something; we overcompensate to in an attempt to justify ourselves. Such is the case here with Lincoln worship.
LOL. That's OK. Apart from a few "here we go again" tirades, I have ignored the DiLorenzo related threads. It really does seem tiresome.
We are assured by the taker of the 1850 census that:
A) property in slaves was the largest species of property in the country
B) There were more slave holders in the south than there were real property holders in the north.
Money in slaves was the issue, if you like.
But what I won't agree with, and its overblown inclusion in the above article festered as I read the whole thing is this:
...comprehend the Founding as well its fulfillment in Lincoln.
Now, stating that the Lincoln Presidency and all its impact was the Fulfullment of the Founding is simply diefication where it isn't warrented. Lincoln makes clear as much in the Greely letter and elsewhere. A man of his time, thrust into dealing with the Civil War by forces bigger than himself, making actions based on his stated motives, some of which had bad consequences he could not foresee for the Union that he held so paramount, does not make him and his actions the manifest destiny of the nation or its fulfillment with a Federal supremacy.
I can respect some contending that without a stronger Federal nature we couldn't have been as effective on the world stage in the 20th century...that's a reasonable claim and on a good day, might even get some grudging acceptance from me. But Fulfillment? For actions periferal to his overall battle? Hardly.
Not only did Alexander Stepens himself repeatedly declare the so called conerstone speech a forgery fabricated by a military occupation newspaper but there's not a single witness who ever came forward to confirm that Stephens ever spoke those words. You'll have to do better than that to back your revisionist BS.
This is probably the single dumbest thing about the Founders that I have ever read on FR, and that's saying a lot. To simplify the Jefferson-Hamilton debate about the nature of federalism -- an intellectual argument that went on for over 70 years -- like this is beyond ignorant and beyond stupid. It is positively imbecilic.
So Hamilton wanted "a big bureaucracy" huh? And Thomas Jefferson, admirer of the French Reign of Terror and slave-owner, is the very model of personal liberty, is he? And ol' Abe Lincoln was the Hitlerian figure who implemented the evil designs of Alexander Machiavelli, was he?
Geoff Metcalf is dumb enough to be a FReeper. What's his screen name?
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