Skip to comments.A Note On Footnotes(Lincoln Bashing)
Posted on 06/20/2002 1:32:23 PM PDT by WhiskeyPapa
A Note on Footnotes
When I was younger I hated the fuss and bother of adding proper footnotes to my papers. I never thought my teachers would read them, and I almost never used them in the books I was reading. Some genres, like the science fiction I used to consume in bulk, didn't even have them. And when I indulged my appetite for history books, where they were to be found, I never looked at them.
All that has changed for me since I discovered the awful screed, The Real Lincoln, by Professor DiLorenzo. That book, which so completely misunderstands Lincoln's character and statesmanship, has made me a footnote addict, and opened my eyes to the extent of lies and half truths found in Southern revisionist writing.
It all started when I read the surprising claim that "in virtually every one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln made it a point to champion the nationalization of money ..." I had read the debates and taught them for over a decade, and I had never noticed this agenda of Lincoln's, so I looked for a footnote to help me locate the passage I had missed. Not there. Not only the footnote, but, as I found after several hours of intense re-reading, not the agenda either.
But there were a number of footnotes, taking me to the sources for other surprising claims, such as that Lincoln had mocked the claim that "all men are created equal[!]" I looked that one up in the place the footnote pointed to and ... NOT THERE! Then I did a word search on the complete Lincoln internet site. And I found the quote. Lincoln was citing another man's words, and stating his strong disagreement with them!
Another footnote in DiLorenzo's book is given to back up the claim that Lincoln, as a member of the Illinois legislature in 1857, urged a yes vote on a bill to spend money to deport free blacks. Wait a minute ... Lincoln wasn't in the legislature in '57. Checking the book cited, I found that it didn't say he was. Professor DiLorenzo had just made up that part. But the other book did say that Lincoln had supported the spending, and gave ... you guessed it ... footnotes. So I checked them. There are two, and neither one takes you to evidence of any kind for the claim.
Another search like this, in another revisionist book on Lincoln, turned up a spurious racist quote from Lincoln whose real original was in Tom Dixon's novel, The Clansman. That's the book used as the basis for the famous film, The Birth of a Nation.
All these are examples of false or unsourced claims intended to damage Lincoln, and one way you can sniff them out is by their odor of hatred, and their strangeness. "Lincoln didn't say that!" you think to yourself, and, sure enough, you find that he didn't.
Other cases are harder to track down, because they do sound like the words of the man in question. There is a little list of pro-enterprise and pro-responsibility sentences attributed to Lincoln which surfaces from time to time in GOP gatherings. I used to have a copy, but it's long gone now. No great loss, since Lincoln never said or wrote those things.
Many Americans, including President Reagan, used to quote Tocqueville in a long and moving passage that includes the words, "America is great because she is good." A lovely sentiment, and it sounds like Tocqueville. But it's not in Democracy in America, as was pointed out in the Weekly Standard a few years ago.
I guess there isn't too much damage done by this last instance, though truth is at all times to be honored. The lies told about Lincoln are quite another matter, and if you ever enter the eerie world of anti-Lincoln "scholarship, keep in mind what [I believe] Ronald Reagan really did say when he was President: "Trust, but verify!" And do follow a few of the footnotes.
Yea they did as a result of a call from congress in May of '76 to break ties with England and form their own governments.
BTW. Do you really think that Washignton, Madison and the rest spent the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia crafting a constitution that would allow any group of conniving self-serving politicians to ignore at their pleasure. The idea was not to create a structure that would collapse in the first storm or be destroyed by opportunists but to create a lasting government that would benefit all. Taking a hike because you don't like the outcome of an election is not what they had in mind unless you think they were damn fools. But of course, the Confederates did call them damn fools in so many words even rejecting the Declaration principles of all men being created equal so it's no surprise to find the neo-confederates rejecting those ideals either.
Maybe, but maybe not. I'll bet DiLorenzo had sources such as this from the white sheet school of history.
You won't get a rise out of the neo-rebs on this.
They have to maintain that the framers met, and changed nothing at all, or even went backwards from the Arts. of Confed, which pledged a perpetual union. You have to assume that the "disorders" that G. Washington spoke of didn't faze anyone.
It's just another reason their logic is straight from "1984". Freedom is slavery, up is down, the Union is not a union.
To anyone familiar with that battle claim is clearly a reference to the sunken road where confederates took up their position at the base of Marye's Heights. DiLorenzo's claim is a perfectly reasonable presentation of what historically happened there. Most estimates of the battle put the closest distance the federals made it toward the stone wall at about 50 yards away. The most liberal estimate claims that the distance of 25 yards reached by a small portion of a single division out of a failed charge by Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys. This is unlikely as Humphreys' attack, in which he originally ordered a bayonet charge on the wall, was nothing short of disastrous. It was wiped out in two sweeps with Humphreys himself having two horses shot out from under him and barely escaping back to the trench. Conservative estimates put the mark at between around 75 yards. What is definately known is that:
A.The closest position the yankees could even come close to holding was a ravine 150 yards back.
B. Not a single yankee force successfully made it to the wall in front of the road in front of the hill upon which the confederates staked their position during the charge, dead or alive.
C. Most of the casualties fell at around the 100 yard mark, the point where troops along the wall unleashed a full open fire.
1. A complaint over DiLorenzo's characterization of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
2. A complaint about the erronious context quotation by Lincoln.
3. A complaint about the 1857 date.
4. A complaint about an erronious Lincoln quote stated by another author than DiLorenzo that itself had come from a novel.
5. A blanket declaration of void against DiLorenzo's book, supposedly supported by these previous points.
Giving each a due examination, one finds they are nothing but more of the same this particular author has been shouting over and over and over again for several months.
It has been charged that Ferrier has built his entire case against DiLorenzo on 4-5 complaints that he repeats over and over and over again. He has denied this charge, each time asserting there to be "dozens" of unnamed other incidents like his 4-5 complaints. One would think that Ferrier would give some examples of these "dozens" of other complaints to better his case, and I know for a fact that Ferrier has been asked to do so. The above article was a perfect chance for him to do so. Examining its main points, it is clear that he did not. Ferrier made a grand total of three charges against DiLorenzo in this article, all of which he has previously made. Let's take a closer look
The first two of those three have been overanalyzed and hyped so obsessively by Ferrier that little room remains for any substantial further discussion of them on his part.
The one I marked #2 is about a single quote of Lincoln that was printed out of context in DiLorenzo's work and accordingly misinterpreted by accident. DiLorenzo immediately retracted it upon discovery of the error and has since corrected it for future publications. It is simply absurd to attempt to use this complaint to beat him with, as it is no longer even a valid complaint nor does it pertain to any of the significant arguments put forth by DiLorenzo in the book.
The complaint I marked as #1 comes from a single once sentence assertion in DiLorenzo's book regarding the issue of bank policy in the Lincoln Douglas debates. Ferrier conveniently leaves out the complete picture of this issue. It stems from where DiLorenzo asserted the presence of the bank issue having been mentioned in the debates. DiLorenzo overstated his characterization of their prominence, but is correct in asserting the issue to have been mentioned. When Ferrier originally raised the issue of this point, he turned to, as proof, a quotation by James McPherson asserting that "not a word" was said about the issue in any of the debates and declared the issue settled. McPherson's quotation, it turns out, was itself erronious as words were definately said, though they were not prominent as DiLorenzo characterized them. Now Ferrier exempts his earlier mention of this from his discussion, yet lodges the same complaint for what seems like the gazillionth time. He further does so to no significant end, as he fails to again address the major argument of DiLorenzo about Lincoln's economic agenda. Economics emerged only briefly in the debates, but more importantly were indisputably present in Lincoln's statements and letters of the same time and the years that followed.
His other complaint, which I marked #3, pertains to a footnote citation of another author. Ferrier has brought this one up as well. Going back to the cited author given as the source, one finds that, as one of Ferrier's academic friends who he asserts to be a Lincoln scholar put it, the error originated with the other author. DiLorenzo cited that other author and in doing so carried the earlier author's mistake.
Ferrier's inclusion of point #4 is unusual and of no consequence to DiLorenzo's book, therefore making me wonder why he included it in the first place.
As for his conclusion, a blanket dismissal of DiLorenzo's book, it is simply not substantiated. Yet again Ferrier only bothered to re-re-re-reassert a couple of the 4-5 talking point style complaints that have been lodged against DiLorenzo. Interestingly, those that he picked out of his 5 were ones that have either been settled and corrected, or are by no means as cut and dried as he presents them.
In short, more pettyness yet no substance.
If you believe otherwise, why then have the DiLorenzo critics failed to move beyond these 4-5 re-re-re-reasserted complaints against his book to the supposedly untold yet never substantiated "dozens" elsewhere in the book?
I've been following this debate for a while now and have gone back to see its parts from before I started following it. All I've seen is the same stuff over and over and over, and it all ammounts to the same 4-5 petty complaints, among them those included in this article by Ferrier.
Your reply is not worthy of further answer.
That should be, I'll "respond." To anyone who listens and thinks. I will not cast pearls before swine.
You characterize the "4 or 5 complaints" about DiLorenzo's book as "petty". I submit that they are not "petty" and in fact cast doubt on the credibility of the whole work. DiLorenzo has shown that he cannot be trusted.
How so? Have you no room for an honest mistake? DiLorenzo has indicated that perhaps the most major of these 4-5 complaints was an honest mistake, and took measures to correct it. I don't think it is reasonable to smear him over as a "liar" and "fraud" over that one error against him for a book of 300 pages.
A second of the oft-cited "errors," the 1857 thing, was a mistake made by somebody else that DiLorenzo transfered inadvertantly when he cited the earlier work as his source. That doesn't establish the charge "liar" against him either.
The rest of the complaints are almost all disputes over interpretations of quotes by other authors.
Further, I believe every one of these reasonably qualifies as "petty" and invite you to explain otherwise.
By all means, Richard. Why don't you just get what you've been aiming at all along done with?
Put on that blindfold.
Stick your index fingers in the super glue.
Put them in your ears.
Then jump up and down shouting "If I can't hear it or see it, it must not be there!"
It'll save us all a lot of trouble. You won't have to consciously avoid what you don't want to hear and those persons who attempt to make you hear it. And the rest of us will look at you, see an irrational raving loon who has blinded himself to the world, get a good laugh, and go on about our business.
Will you think in return after listening? I ask cause your indications thusfar have been otherwise.
Then again, I suppose some oysters can be stubborn. Have it your way though.
I could care not if you prefer to spend your days protecting a grain of sand while wallowing in muck, seaweed, and fish excrement. Just don't blame me for putting you there.
Also visit post 29 if you've got the chance.
I responded to this article in a perfectly reasonable fashion by noting it was all recycled and asking Richard where the substance was. Then he shows up to post a rude single line non-response.
Needless to say, he's not speaking to me now =)
I guess that's what happens when the noble lie of Lincoln is violated.
"Such is the tale; is there any possibility of making our citizens believe in it? Not in the present generation, he replied; there is no way of accomplishing this; but their sons may be made to believe in the tale, and their sons' sons, and posterity after them. I see the difficulty, I replied; yet the fostering of such a belief will make them care more for the city and for one another." - Plato, The Republic, ca. 380 B.C.
Please do not forget the part where DiLorenzo not only took a SECONDARY source as gospel (which ought to show you how bad his scholarship is), but ADDED in the "fact" that Lincoln was in the Illinois legislature.
That goes beyond a "mistake." That's technically known as "making stuff up."