Skip to comments.The Unreal Lincoln: Loyola College Professor Flunks Out
Posted on 05/07/2002 11:31:24 AM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
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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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