For decades, I have worked to make the Mises Institute the world center for Misesian and Rothbardian economics it has become, and I’m glad to say that our Board of Directors has chosen a new president, Tom DiLorenzo, who is a great scholar and who will lead the Institute to new victories for freedom and Austrian economics. In this week’s column, I’d like to discuss some of Tom’s ideas.
Tom is best known to the public for his demolition of the Abraham Lincoln myth. Lincoln was no friend to freedom but a centralizer who was a precursor to the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Here is a sample of what Tom has to say about Lincoln:
“The following is the foreword that I have written for the outstanding new piece of Lincoln scholarship, Lincoln as He Really Was, by Charles T. Pace.
Despite the fact that there are well over 10,000 books in print about Abraham Lincoln it is almost impossible for the average American – or anyone else – to know the truth about the real Lincoln. Having given hundreds of public presentations, appeared on dozens of radio talk shows (including the Rush Limbaugh Radio Show), and participated in numerous debates on the subject of Lincoln, I have learned that the average American knows nothing at all about the man except for the few slogans and platitudes that we are all taught in elementary school (and then repeated endlessly in the popular culture).
As an elementary school student in the Pennsylvania public schools I was taught that Lincoln was so honest that he once walked six miles to return a penny to a merchant who had mistakenly undercharged him. Decades later, when I debated Harry Jaffa who, like the man he called “Father Abraham,” was a student of rhetoric (but not of American history), Jaffa assured the Oakland, California audience of several hundred that Lincoln’s political speeches were in fact “the words of God.” (This presumably did not include his dirty jokes, for which was famous).
Abraham Lincoln is the only American president that has literally been deified like a Roman emperor (Like Julius Caesar, his image is the first to be placed on his country’s coinage). Lincoln’s deification eventually spread to the presidency, and then to the entire federal government. The Lincoln myth is thus the ideological cornerstone of the global American empire, and has been for generations. As Robert Penn Warren wrote in The Legacy of the Civil War, the deification of Lincoln (and of the government in general) has been used to argue that the “Civil War” left the U.S. government with “a treasury of virtue,” a “plenary indulgence, for all sins past, present, and future.” Consequently, American foreign policy intervention anywhere in the world is said to be always virtuous, by definition, because it is, well, American.
For more than 150 years this “treasury” of false virtue has been invoked to “justify” the slaughter of the Plains Indians from 1865-1898; the mass murder of some 200,000 Filipinos at the turn of the century; the imperialistic Spanish-American War; entry into Europe’s war in 1918; and myriad other interventions, from Korea to Vietnam to Somalia, Lebanon, Bosnia, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Yugoslavia, Haiti, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and on and on. It is all a part of “our diplomacy of righteousness, with the slogan of unconditional surrender and universal spiritual rehabilitation for others” (emphasis added), wrote Robert Penn Warren. Professor Mel Bradford called the Lincolnian rhetoric that is the ideological basis for all this interventionism “the rhetoric of continuing revolution.”
This revolutionary rhetoric is alive and well today. When Newt Gingrich authored a Wall Street Journal article in which he advocated the military invasion of Iran, Syria, and North Korea during the George W. Bush administration, he naturally titled the article “Lincoln and Bush,” implying that such belligerence would be “Lincolnesque” and therefore should not be questioned. When the Marxist historian Eric Foner of Columbia University opposed the breakup of the Soviet Union in an October 1991 article in The Nation magazine he titled the article “Lincoln’s Lesson.” Unlike Gorbachev, he said, Lincoln would never have let the Soviet satellite states secede in peace.
The Communist Party USA used to hold “Lincoln-Lenin Day” rallies and had a giant portrait of Lincoln in its New York City offices. Even the former dictator of Pakistan, Pervez Musharref, invoked Lincoln’s unconstitutional suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus to “justify” martial law in his country. The deification of Lincoln has become a useful rhetorical tool for tyrants, militarists, and enemies of freedom everywhere.
Americans have been progressively dumbed down about Lincoln thanks to the avalanche of myths, superstitions, and propaganda produced by generations of “Lincoln scholars.” It wasn’t always that way, however. During his lifetime Lincoln was actually the most hated and detested of all American presidents, as documented by historian Larry Tagg in The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President. For example, on page 435 of his book Larry Tagg cites an 1864 Harpers Weekly article that compiled a list of terms that the Northern press used to describe Lincoln including “Filthy Story-Teller, Ignoramus Abe, Despot, Old Scoundrel . . . Perjurer, Liar, Robber, Thief, Swindler, Braggart, Tyrant, Buffoon, Fiend, Usurper, Butcher, Monster . . .”
This all changed after the assassination as the Republican Party reveled in what Larry Tagg calls a “propaganda windfall.” They would rewrite history with the help of the New England clergy in order to impose on Americans their version of what is essentially a New England theocracy composed of a government of nannies, pests, busybodies, tyrants, and money-grubbing plutocrats (known as “Yankees” by some).
New England pastors who had excoriated Lincoln for four years all of a sudden “rewrote their Easter sermons to include a new, exalted view of Lincoln as an American Moses, a leader out of slavery, a national savior who was not allowed to cross over into the Promised Land” himself. Senator James Grimes of Iowa boasted that the Republican Party’s deification of Lincoln “has made it impossible to speak the truth about Abraham Lincoln hereafter.”
Senator Grimes was right. In his 1943 book, The Deification of Lincoln, historian Ira D. Cardiff wrote that by then Americans were not even “interested . . . in the real Lincoln. They desire a supernatural Lincoln, a Lincoln with none of the faults or frailties of the common man . . . a savior, leading us to democracy and liberty – though most said readers are not interested in democracy or liberty.” Moreover, said Cardiff, “a biography of Lincoln which told the truth about him would probably have great difficulty in finding a publisher.”
Well, no longer. Lincoln as He Really Was by Charles T. Pace is a refreshingly truthful antidote to the standard Lincoln mythology. It is refreshing because it is so fact-based and well documented and devoted to historical truth. Lincoln as He Really Was is not your typical boring, voluminous biography filled with thousands of disconnected (and often irrelevant) facts dug up by a dozen graduate research assistants and published by a card-carrying member of the Ivy League Lincoln cult. It is the first book since Edgar Lee Masters’ 1931 classic, Lincoln the Man, to attempt to reveal the truth about what kind of man Abraham Lincoln really was.
Based on voluminous research of Lincoln’s actions, first and foremost, and not just his rhetoric, Pace describes how Lincoln was an expert manipulator of people; extremely lazy when it came to physical labor (contrary to the “rail splitter” legend!); was not at all well read; and what he did read was almost exclusively books about speech-making and rhetoric, with titles such as Lessons in Elocution. The book confirms in spades what economist Murray N. Rothbard once said about Lincoln in an (online) essay entitled “Just War”: Lincoln was a “master politician,” said Rothbard, defined as one who is a masterful “liar, conniver, and manipulator.” He makes any “master politician” or our time look amateurish by comparison.
Lincoln never joined a church, and both his law partner William Herndon and his wife Mary Todd said he was not a Christian. His White House assistant, Colonel Ward Lamon, called him “an infidel.” His close associate Judge David Davis, whom he appointed to the Supreme Court, wrote that Lincoln “had no faith, in the Christian sense of the term.” But his mother read him Bible stories as a child, and later in life he studied the Bible for political purposes – to use religious rhetoric to sway the masses to favor his political positions. These positions were almost exclusively the Whig economic program of protectionism, corporate welfare, and a government-run national bank to dispense subsidies to politically-connected corporations, especially his former employers, the railroad corporations. He boasted of always being a “Henry Clay Man,” Clay being the leader of the party of the corrupt, corporate welfare-seeking plutocracy – the Northern Whigs and then the Republicans.
Pace shows what a political animal Lincoln really was, a “zealous party man” who honed his skills, such as they were, of personally attacking his political opponents with often over-the-top ad hominem assaults, similar to how the Marxists of his day, and our day, argue(d).
None of Lincoln’s family members voted for him, nor did 20 of the 23 ministers in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. He did not even carry his own county in the 1860 election. These are the people who knew him best.
Lincoln was a master story teller, many of which were notoriously vulgar and crude. He never passed up an opportunity to make a speech, writes Pace, as he spent years honing the skills of the master politician. He could sound like an abolitionist in front of a Massachusetts audience, and the exact opposite in Southern Illinois. His speeches were always vague and his positions hard to pin down, the hallmark of a successful politician. He viewed politics as “life itself” and was intensely partisan, routinely denouncing his political opponent as “villains.” He was a “born politician,” writes Pace. He was, in other words, the very kind of man that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison warned their fellow citizens about with their admonitions about how government needed to be “bound by the chains of the Constitution” (Jefferson). “[I]t is of great importance,” Madison wrote in Federalist 51, “to guard society against the oppression of its rulers.”
Lincoln invited no family members to his wedding; chose not to attend his own father’s funeral; and is said to have never had a real friend. He had a “preacher’s voice” with a practiced “metaphysical tone” and was not afraid to tell outrageous lies for political purposes. For example, he insisted that the South wanted to begin enslaving poor whites and immigrants and bring slavery back to New England, where it had ended for purely economic reasons. He denied that he wanted war, or to destroy the union, or to destroy the South, and then proceeded to do every one of those things.
Lincoln as He Really Was ends with a masterful exposition of how Lincoln used all the skills of the master politician, accumulated over three decades, to incite South Carolinians into firing on Fort Sumter in order to use the incident (where no one was harmed or killed) to “justify” waging war on the South. His war cost the lives of as many as 750,000 Americans according to the latest research in order to “save the union,” his professed war goal, and that of the U.S. Congress as well. Of course, in reality his war destroyed the voluntary union of states created by the founders and replaced it with a more Soviet-style, compulsory “union” held together by violence, death, mass killing, and coercion.
You, dear reader, may believe that there is something fishy about The Official History of Abraham Lincoln. Or perhaps you are incensed that you have been lied to all your life by the politically-controlled/politically-correct education establishment. If so, Lincoln as He Really Was is a must-read as a first step in your rehabilitation as an educated American citizen – or as the citizen of any other country. It will be especially helpful in allowing your children and grandchildren to have an opportunity to learn the truth about this important aspect of American history.”
Tom points out that Lincoln carried out and extended the statist ideas of Alexander Hamilton. He sees the conflict between the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian traditions as basic to American history, and there is no doubt which side he is on.
“In his essay, “Anatomy of the State,” Murray Rothbard wrote of how states preserve their power with a number of tools, most notably an alliance with “intellectuals.” In return for power, positions, and pelf, the “intellectuals” work diligently to persuade “the majority” that “their government is good, wise and, at least, inevitable.” This is the “the vital stock task of the intellectuals.” The “molding of opinion” is what “the State most desperately needs” if it is to maintain is powers, wrote Rothbard. The citizens themselves do not invent theories of the benevolent state; that is the job of the “intellectuals.”
In his outstanding new book, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (foreword by Ron Paul), historian Brion McClanahan explains with sterling scholarship how one “intellectual” in particular, Alexander Hamilton, invented out of whole cloth a mythical founding of the American state that bears no resemblance at all to the actual, historical founding. His intellectual successors, most notably Supreme Court justices John Marshall, Joseph Story, and Hugo Black, cemented this myth of the benevolent, consolidated, monopolistic state through decades of legal opinions based on a mountain of lies.
This of course is exactly what John C. Calhoun observed during his time when he wrote in his 1850 Disquisition on Government that a written constitution would inevitably be “rewritten” by “the party of government” in a way that would neuter it as a source of limitations on governmental powers.
Hamilton has become “the new hero of the Left,” writes McClanahan, for the Left has finally realized that he was “the architect of modern big government in America,” something that many conservatives have long failed to realize. Hamilton’s voluminous writings formed the bedrock for generations of legalistic arguments that perverted the Constitution and created the “insane modern leftist legal world.” It was Hamilton and his ideological heirs who invented the “loose construction” and “implied powers” theories of the constitution, which has so “screwed up” America.
McClanahan shows what a duplicitous liar Hamilton was, speaking out of both sides of his mouth, saying one thing in his Federalist Papers essays, and then spending the rest of his life doing exactly the opposite. He defended states’ rights and federalism in these essays but when pressed by Jefferson and Madison, he “would often backtrack and advance positions he favored during the Philadelphia Convention, namely for a supreme central authority with virtually unlimited power, particularly for the executive branch.” This was “the real Hamilton,” who “made a habit of lying when the need arose.”
It was Hamilton who first spread the outrageous, ahistorical lie that the states were never sovereign and that the Constitution was somehow ratified by “the whole people” and not by state conventions, as required by Article 7 of the Constitution itself. It was Hamilton who Calhoun must have been thinking about when he warned of “intellectuals” reinterpreting the constitution in a way that would essentially destroy it. Hamilton’s lifelong goal, as McClanahan demonstrates, was to subjugate the citizens of the states to the central government and render the states irrelevant and powerless. The most Hamiltonian of all presidents, Abraham Lincoln, finally achieved this goal.
The Machiavellian Hamilton as Treasury Secretary assumed the state war debts as a means of creating a giant system of political patronage. He put unemployed war veterans on the dole, thereby initiating the American welfare state. He led an invasion of Pennsylvania with 15,000 conscripts to attempt to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Nothing came of his invasion since all the whiskey tax “rebels” were pardoned by George Washington. Nevertheless, the invasion served Hamilton’s purpose of allowing him to denounce all resisters of state power as somehow being clones of the violent French Jacobins.
The subject of a national bank run by politicians out of the national capital was discussed at the constitutional convention and decisively rejected. Hamilton rewrote that history, too, to make the case for the constitutionality of central banking. His worshipful disciple, Chief Justice John Marshall, would cement this idea into place in his McCullock v. Maryland decision. Hamilton’s bogus arguments in favor of a central bank were “a turning point in American constitutional history” because that is where he invented the fantasy of “implied powers” of the Constitution. Once this path was taken, the constitution had the potential of becoming nothing more than a rubber stamp of approval of anything the state ever wished to do, limited only by the imaginations of Hamiltonian members of the judiciary
John Marshall was a virtual intellectual clone of Hamilton who spoke favorably of federalism, but codified federal supremacy and “implied powers” in his Supreme Court decisions, described in clear-as-a-bell writing by McClanahan.
Even more destructive of constitutional liberty were the writings of that great Bostonian blowhard, Justice Joseph Story (“Marshall’s right-hand man”), whose Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, written while he was both a Supreme Court justice and a Harvard law professor, have exerted enormous influence on the American legal and political systems. Like Marshall and Hamilton, Story “suffered from historical amnesia” and “manufactured an image of the American founding and American government that did not match the historical record.” He lied through his teeth, in other words, to advance the idea that the founding fathers created a consolidated, monopolistic, centralized state even more powerful and monopolistic than the British empire against which they had fought a war of secession. His lies that the states were never sovereign, that the central government is “sovereign” in all matters, implied powers, and all the rest, were repeated by Abraham Lincoln, beginning with his first inaugural address, as he “justified” committing treason by levying war upon the Southern states (the exact definition of treason in Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution). Hence, it is the Hamiltonian, nationalist myth, not Jeffersonian states’ rights and federalism, that made the “Civil War” inevitable. All of this, McClanahan points out, was always thought to be necessary by generations of Hamiltonians if they were to ever implement their economic policy program that Hamilton himself labeled “the American System.” This “system” of protectionist tariffs, central banking, corporate welfare, and a large public debt was anything but “American.” It was the rotten, corrupt, British system known as “mercantilism” brought to America.
Then there is the twentieth-century Hamiltonian Justice Hugo Black, FDR’s favorite Ku Klux Klansmen. Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1937, Black had been a member of the KKK ever since the early 1920s. He used his association with the KKK, and its “nationalist agenda” of ridding America of “immigrants, blacks, and Jews,” and its “anti-Catholic agenda,” to become prominent in Alabama politics. His rabid support for FDR’s presidential bids won him a seat on the Supreme Court.
Hugo Black’s main demolition of constitutional liberty came in the form of his opinions regarding the “incorporation” of the Bill of Rights to include the states. This was never intended by the founders, who said nothing in opposition to the state-sanctioned “official” religions that existed at the time, among other things.
Thanks to Hamiltonian Hugo, virtually every issue facing Americans today is a federal issue. His “incorporation doctrine” was the final nail in the coffin of American federalism, as McClanahan explains. This is why the federal judiciary claims “sovereignty” over almost everything, from same-sex marriage to “transgendger bathrooms,” all aspects of the welfare state – everything and anything. This is Hamilton’s America – a leftist lawyereaucracy hell bent on imposing totalitarian rule on the rest of us.
Don’t waste your money on that stupid New York City play about “Hamilton.” Spend a tiny fraction of that theater ticket money on How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America instead, and educate yourself and all of those around you about their real American history.” See this.
I must admit that I was delighted to read what Tom has to say about LRC:
”This past year  may well have been the greatest and most heroic for LewRockwell.com. It was a real separating-the-men-from-the-boys (or the-women-from-the-girls) moment. While so many of the D.C. “libertarians” and others in the Koch Foundation orbit were lecturing us about why we must obey the masking and lockdown mandates of mini-Mussolinies far and wide, from Lord Fauci to every pipsqueak small town mayor and city council, LRC authors doubled down in their research and examination of the seemingly endless power-grabbing claims of government bureaucrats everywhere.
Millions of people now know that Anthony Fauci is a duplicitous, weasel-like, bureaucratic liar — and an admitted liar at that — thanks to LRC. Thanks to the relentless efforts of the great Bill Sardi, the world has been educated about the phoniness of the planned-demic – and, more importantly, the importance of taking care of your own health and boosting your own immune system. As I was reminded by the physicians of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons when I spoke to their annual conference several years ago, “healthcare” is OUR responsibility; “medical care” is what they and all other doctors do. Bill Sardi has been a fount of valuable information on how to go about doing this, along with the equally great Dr. Mercola, whose articles grace LRC almost every day.
LRC readers were also blessed by being introduced to the writings of Jon Rappoport, another researcher/journalist like Bill Sardi, who refuses to have the wool pulled over his eyes or be intimidated by the insidious “public health” bureaucracy and its barking buffoonish supporters in the media.
The icing on the cake of contributions by these two great men were the daily postings of the Ron Paul Liberty Report on LRC, giving Ron and Dan an even wider audience.
Yours truly dove into the arcane world of “public health,” epidemiology, and especially alternative medicine, using my well-worn nose for B.S. coming from agents of the state. The result was dozens (or what seems like hundreds) of blogs in which I shared links to things that I learned from this literature. I was alarmed as much as I have ever been about how this was being used to impose totalitarianism on America. And by the way, we now know that there were actually fewer total deaths both worldwide and in the U.S. this year than there were last year. That means that there was no pandemic. Yes, a very bad virus – or something – came about, but it had a 99.7% survival rate, and did not cause even a tiny blip in the total annual death count number.
I believe I was the first to point out the creepy, immoral, and bizarre agenda of Bill Gates, as he explained in a “Ted Talk” that I posted on the blog. In that talk Gates, whose father was a eugenicist and a founder of the Seattle Planned Parenthood, announced that “we” need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the world to zero, eventually. There are two ways to go about this, he said: First, abortion, which Gates euphemistically called “reproductive health.” Second, with “vaccines.”
When I heard this I was confused. Aren’t vaccines supposed to improve health and longevity, which would increase the carbon dioxide emissions of humans? Not in Gates’s world. I found the answer with a little more research that led me to the news that Gates had been banned from several African countries after a “tetanus” vaccine that he had funded there was discovered to contain a sterilant. This discovery was made by the Kenyan government after an organization of Catholic doctors there observed several years of shockingly low fertility in the population.
So there you have it: The richest man in the world wants to spend billions on Third-World abortions and vaccines that will secretly sterilize millions of women. That’s how he proposes to eliminate so much carbon dioxide emissions – by eliminating as many humans as possible. Many others have outed Gates and his weird, James Bondish schemes to depopulate the planet with planned-demics as one of his primary weapons.
“Libertarian” lawyers have spent decades bragging about what defenders of economic freedom they are, and they have done many good things such as suing local governments for depriving so many people of employment opportunities through occupational licensing and other forms of regulatory evil. But when the state went Full Monty with its attacks on economic freedom with its “lockdowns” we heard nothing but crickets from the “libertarian lawyers.” Not so with LRC writers, who have made the case over and over again for how the lockdowns have NOT worked to slow the virus, but have done a “wonderful” job of impairing the economic liberties of literally millions of Americans. Shame on all of these “libertarian public interest lawyers” who have not used their skills to challenge the Mother of All Assaults on American Economic Liberty.
These are just a few of the things that helped me keep my sanity by reading and writing for LewRockwell.com in the past year and make me optimistic about progress that can be made against the current surge toward totalitarianism in 2021. If there is one thing that LRC readers have learned well during the past year, it is this: “Public health,” like war, is all about the health of the state. It is about the nationalization of people in the name of “health,” with its primary goal always and everywhere of being able to order us around, punish us, and dictate to us how we are to live our lives. It is another Trojan Horse of socialism, in other words, just like “global warming” or “climate change.”
Let’s do everything we can to support the great Tom DiLorenzo as he leads the Mises Institute in the years ahead!