11/1/18

Two Unconventional Books on Abraham Lincoln

By: Joseph Jay

Abraham Lincoln is somehow surviving his country's current "re-founding." Street and building names are being changed, monuments taken down in the place of new ones, and somehow ole' "Honest Abe" escapes the criticism leveled at other prominent Americans such as George Washington and Andrew Jackson. The reason that, at least for now, Lincoln is still seen as the hero of America's story is because of his reputation as "The Great Emancipator." He is effectively the 19th century's MLK. In the quest for egalitarian equality and universal political mobility Lincoln is a patriarch. The only problem is, the facts do not exactly fit the narrative. In fact, they don't fit at all.

Charles T. Pace has recently come out with a wonderful short book entitled Lincoln as He Was on Abraham Lincoln's life from childhood to the resupply boat headed to Fort Sumter. Abraham Lincoln, it can be concluded, was a political animal. In a way he was an abolitionist when it suited him, just as he was a Christian when it suited him. Pace destroys any mythology surrounding young Abraham Lincoln as a backwoodsman splitting rails. If anything, Lincoln was characterized in the words of his contemporaries as being "lazy." He was not much of a student either. At least not in the classical sense. The little he did read suited a pragmatic political end. Pace hangs the responsibility for the war on the shoulders of Lincoln, where it likely belongs due to his political maneuvering and rejection of all conciliatory efforts. The chapter on Fort Sumter is worth the price of the book. In his own words, and those of his contemporaries, the real Lincoln was a far cry from the downright falsehood spun about him today.

Another book published nine years ago by Thomas J. Dilorenzo tells the same story with a less biographical and more political focus. The Real Lincoln focuses on Lincoln's abuse and misuse of political power, his erosion of civil liberties, and ultimately his place as a founding father of American despotism. Dilorenzo pulls no punches. For those who think the War Between the States was about the emancipation of slaves, this book is the antidote. Not only is Lincoln exposed, but the early Republican party is indicted along with him.

Both books are written on a popular level and thoroughly researched and cited. Even for members of the cult of Lincoln worship, these two heavy hitters are good to have as opposition research materials.

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