President Abraham Lincoln: The Unconstitutional President

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President Abraham Lincoln: The Unconstitutional President

The Lincoln few Northerners know


By Bill Steigerwald, TRIBUNE-REVIEW, Sunday, August 22, 2004


We can't help it. We were brought up Yankee. As children of the North we were taught in our government schools to worship Abe Lincoln's sacred words and great deeds.

We were told Honest Abe was a saint among wicked politicians; a superhero who saved the Union. A moral paragon who emancipated the slaves.

We were taught Washington and Jefferson were great men, but flawed. The Slavery Thing, you know. But Lincoln, most historians agree, was our greatest American president.

Now we are political adults. But most of us still believe the childish fairy tales about St. Abe that our Southern brothers have seen through for 144 years.

I was quickly reminded how blindly we Yankees revere Lincoln last week after I referred in my Magazines column to an interview with libertarian economist/historian Thomas DiLorenzo in Southern Partisan magazine.

DiLorenzo, author of the 2002 best-seller "The Real Lincoln," argues that Lincoln was not only a "tyrant" but the Founding Father of the big national government we suffer under today.

When my column was posted on, I got a slew of passionate e-mails from angry Southerners who, missing my Yankee sarcasm, thought I idolized Lincoln.

They also all mistakenly believed I was disagreeing with DiLorenzo, a Pennsylvania native who, it is safe to say, has fully rejected the Yankee-made myth of Lincoln.

DiLorenzo, a modern Jeffersonian, argues that the historical record clearly shows that Lincoln was a white supremacist, an enemy of free-market capitalism and a political opportunist in the pocket of the North's big banks, railroads and industries.

Much worse, DiLorenzo says, Lincoln started a war that killed 620,000 souls, not to free slaves or save the Union, but to hold on to the tariff revenue of the seceding Southern states - which provided 95 percent of the federal budget.

Contrary to the design of the U.S. Constitution, Lincoln wanted a strong central government, not a voluntary confederation of sovereign states. A state's constitutional right to secede was twisted into an act of treason and an excuse for war.

During wartime, the state's power grows and even the most benign leaders are forced to take despotic measures. But Lincoln was suspiciously good at playing American dictator. Here, according to DiLorenzo, are a few of Abe's tyrannical acts:

"He started a war without the consent of Congress; illegally declared martial law; illegally blockaded Southern ports; illegally suspended habeas corpus and arrested tens of thousands of political opponents; illegally orchestrated the secession of West Virginia; shut down hundreds of opposition newspapers and imprisoned their editors and owners ... ."

He also "ignored the Ninth and Tenth amendments; orchestrated the rigging of Northern elections; introduced the slavery of conscription and income taxation; waged war on Southern civilians and ... created an enormous political patronage system that survives today."

So Lincoln was no god. And the more you learn about what he did, not just wrote or said, the more you understand why liberal and conservative lovers of big government adore him and so many Southerners hate him.

It sounds sacrilegious or un-American. But no one today - Yankee or Reb -- who believes in personal freedom, limited government, the sanctity of the Constitution, free trade and the political values of the Founders should idolize "The American Caesar."

(Related reading below.)

Recommended Reading: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. Description: It hardly seems possible that there is more to say about someone who has been subjected to such minute scrutiny in thousands of books and articles. Yet, Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln manages to raise fresh and morally probing questions, challenging the image of the martyred 16th president that has been fashioned carefully in marble and bronze, sentimentalism and myth. In doing so, DiLorenzo does not follow the lead of M. E. Bradford or other Southern agrarians. He writes primarily not as a defender of the Old South and its institutions, culture, and traditions, but as a libertarian enemy of the Leviathan state. Continued below...

DiLorenzo holds Lincoln and his war responsible for the triumph of "big government" and the birth of the ubiquitous, suffocating modern U.S. state. He seeks to replace the nation’s memory of Lincoln as the “Great Emancipator” with the record of Lincoln as the “Great Centralizer.”

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Recommended Reading: Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe. Description: While many view our 16th president as the nation’s greatest president and hero, Tom Dilorenzo, through his scholarly research, exposes the many unconstitutional decisions of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Unmasked, a best-seller, reveals that ‘other side’ – the inglorious character – of the nation’s greatest tyrant and totalitarian. Continued below...

A book that is hailed by many and harshly criticized by others, Lincoln Unmasked, nevertheless, is a thought-provoking study and view of Lincoln that was not taught in our public school system. (Also available in hardcover: Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.)

Try the Search Engine for Related Studies: Did President Abraham Lincoln Violate the US Constitution? List of Constitutional Violations, Supreme Court Chief Justice Decisions, Rulings, Southern Secession Decision, South States Rights Ruling

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