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.
With the adoption by the 2nd Continental Congress of the Declaration of Independence, 13 independent British colonies became states under the US Congress.
What came first? Id say Congress came first.
A "couple of minor errors?"
Good grief, that's pathetic.
When DiLorenzo has Lincoln serving in the Illinois Assembly in 1857 when he didn't, that's not a "minor" error.
It's especially disturbing because, apparently, he simply made it up.
Moreover, the source he used to make Lincoln a supporter of "deportation" of free blacks lacks evidence for his claim, too. Dr. D. didn't check his sources, when they fit his bias. And it turns out they were wrong.
The most comical of his errors is the citation of the words of the VA clergyman as though they were Lincoln's; the most blantanly pro-CSA of the small ones is his account of the military campaigns, and especially his claiming that the Army of the Potomac didn't get within 50 yards of the CSA lines at Fredericksburg; the deepest is that he never even notices that J.Q. Adams and Madison distinguished, as did Lincoln and nearly the whole founding tradition, legal secession and natural rights based revolution. The next deepest of his errors is a failure to distinguish perfect social and political equality from the issue of slavery. This leads him to use abolitionists against Lincoln, an to pretend that it is a great discovery of his that Lincoln's resistance to slavery was politically distinct from Phillips, Garrison, et. al., a fact known to any literate person for a century or more.
He gives no evidence for the take he wants the reader to have on the Gen. Dix/John Howard affair, he misreads David Donald, he persists in a lunatic reading of the Bank issue in the debates and in the Dred Scott speech, he misleadingly truncates a key quote on the Fugitve Slave law, he takes an historically naive and unsupported view of the possibility of peaceful emancipation, and makes a dozen or more similar slips or omissions or false insinuations.
The book is a mess.
And the more its folly is exposed, the better.
"Wide Awake" for Lincoln,
What came first? Id say Congress came first.
So you point to the Declaration. The one that calls the states FREE and INDEPENDENT. (Wasn't it Lincoln that pretty much led the way in not referring to the United States, and instead called it Union?)
I've never heard anybody call the "Continental Congress" the "U.S. Congress" before. Did you just do that?
I believe our form of government started in 1788, that's when our Congress was put in place. Not 1776.
I'm sure you know several of the states have their own separate constitutions going back to 1776.
Thanks for the review.
A good, clear, up-front citation is honesty. Hiding it is the opposite.
Good post, and good work.
The neo-rebs need all the coals of fire they can get.
I was interested to see that DiLorenzo was a member of the League of the South, which at one time had a "humor" site linked to them that glorified John Wilkes Booth.
Every once in a while the neo-rebs on FR will tote out this charge against Lincoln. Then they sulk when one asks for proof.
Actually, they do a lot of sulking, for various reasons.