It's official. The Catholic Knight is retired.  I'm hanging up the helmet and passing the torch. There will be no more articles, no more commentaries, no more calls to action. THIS BLOG IS CLOSED. I've spent a very long time thinking about this, I believe the time has come, and is a bit overdue.  I want to thank my readers for everything, but most especially for your encouragement and your willingness to go out there and fight the good fight. So, that being the case, I've spend the last several weeks looking for bloggers who are fairly active, and best represent something akin to the way I think and what I believe.  I recommend the following blogs for my readers to bookmark and check on regularly. Pick one as your favourite, or pick them all. They are all great..... In His Majesty's Service, THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Lincoln Myth

THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I started reading books about Abraham Lincoln back in 2003, and it wasn't long before I realised that something didn't seem right. So I dug deeper, and in time I came to the conclusion that Lincoln not only ran the Union side of the Civil War very poorly, but that he was actually the CAUSE of the Civil War, and that our over sized federal government today, for all its big spending and heavy taxation, is the direct product of Lincoln's actions and the things that happened following his death. I came to the conclusion that Abraham Lincoln represented the direct antithesis of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and that Lincoln's War was everything the Founding Fathers of America opposed in 1776. In other words, I discovered that Lincoln was every bit the tyrant as old King George III, if not worse! I came to despise Lincoln and everything he represented. It amazes me that Americans continue to put his image on our money, and that his enormous statue occupies one of the largest monuments in Washington DC. He was a monster of a president. It is nice to hear my opinions validated by two very astute historians. One of them, Dr. Thomas E. Woods, is a devout Catholic.

I cannot stress this enough.  Are children are being lied to.  You were lied to!  They lied to me too.  Of course, I don't blame my elementary school teachers, they were lied to as well.  Who is responsible for this?  I'm sure the Department of Education plays some role, but I've seen Hollywood and party establishment people on both sides (Democrat/Republican) push the Lincoln myth.

The truth is our whole modern republic is built on what Lincoln established in 1861 - 1865.  We live in a political system where we are told that it is 'okay' for the government to suspend the rights of certain people for various reasons.  We are told that it is 'okay' for the federal government to make war on its own people if those people should ever dare talk about repeating the actions called for in America's Declaration of Independence (1776).  We are told that it is 'okay' for the government to suspend the civil rights of all Americans when it suspects that drugs, guns, terrorism or abnormal religious practices might be involved.  We are told it is 'okay' for our government to send our military to the ends of the earth, picking fights with whomever we choose, to 'make the world safe for democracy.'  This is Lincoln's America -- and what a glorious empire it is!  Ancient Rome pales in comparison.

I must also point out here that the Lincoln myth is deeply connected to anti-Catholicism and Know-Nothingism here in the United States. Shortly after Lincoln's assassination in 1865, the remnants of the old Know-Nothing Party immediately went to work blaming the pope (and Catholics in general) for the assassination. Their conspiracy theories amounted to little, as there were about a dozen conspiracy theories circulating at the time, implicating everyone from Vice President Andrew Johnson, to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, to Union bankers. The anti-Catholic theories were not given much credence until 1884 when a disaffected Canadian Catholic priest named Charles Chiniquy became a Presbyterian minister and started circulating all sorts of bizarre stories about the Catholic Church, including an alleged plot by the Jesuits to assassinate Lincoln. Chiniquy offered no tangible proof for his grand conspiracy, as disaffected anti-Catholics rarely do, but his writings lit a firestorm in America's Protestant churches, particularly in the Northern states.

This mythology continues today among extreme Fundamentalist groups and hard-core Leftist groups, both virulently anti-Catholic and eager to connect the papacy to the Lincoln assassination. This is where Americanism enters, for those who initially pushed the Lincoln assassination myth, along with the Lincoln legacy myth, were hard-core Americanists, who believed the United States stood above religion and that religion itself was subject to American government and ideals. The heirs of this anti-Catholic Americanism are still with us today, and continue to push the Lincoln legacy and assassination myths on the Internet.


Tabitha said...

wow its nice to know that i was lied to in school about him. i wonder if his choices resulted in his assination?

The Catholic Knight said...

Of course they did. His assassination was so obviously retribution for the war by angry Southerners. We know for sure there was a small group of conspirators. What we don't know is if they had wider support and if the conspiracy went much deeper. This is highly unlikely, as Lincoln was so hated by Americans in the South, than literally hundreds of thousands of Southerners would have liked to have been the one to pull the trigger. It just so happened that this one small group actually had the connections they needed to get close enough to him.

In the end, Lincoln's assassination was probably the worst thing that could happen to Southern whites, and the best thing that could happen to Southern blacks. Had Lincoln lived, it is doubtful that Reconstruction (Occupation) would have ever occurred, as Lincoln believed in "hard war, easy peace." However, Lincoln was also a racist. So had he lived, he would have most certainly instituted his "colonization plan" which involved deporting every single black person in America back to Africa to establish an American colony on the Western African coast. That colony was already started by that time, and still exists today. It's called Liberia, and if you look at Liberia's flag, it is virtually identical to the American flag. Lincoln's assassination prevented Liberia from becoming the American beach head in Africa that he intended it to be. Had Lincoln lived, there would scarcely be a black in all the United States by the turn of the century, and the entire West Coast of Africa would have swelled in black-American population to become a mirror image of the United States. Who knows, by now Liberia might have spread across the continent to become the "United States of Africa," but at an extremely hefty cost, as American slaves and freedmen would have had a hard road to travel over there. It would have been a real uphill battle and tens of thousands of lives would have been lost.

Thankfully, for American blacks, Lincoln never lived long enough to see his plans through.

Jonathan Prester said...

Eagle standards, deifying emperors, Caesar on the coinage, imperial expansion, centralized autocracy with vestigial legislature... wait, were we talking about ancient Rome or the U.S.?

The Catholic Knight said...

Modern American culture spends a lot of time obsessing on 20th century European dictators, yet this guy (Abraham Lincoln) practically wrote the book for them. With the exception of the little German dictator, there is nothing the others did that hadn't already been pioneered by this American president.

HaroldC said...

Let us not forget the Republican campaign slogan used for years that the War. 'Rum, Romanism & Rebellion' was their characterisation of Democrats.

Harry said...

You are correct in asserting that Lincoln did some very objectionable things during his presidency. After all, he suspended Habeas Corpus and approved of martial laws. But try to think about the context of the Civil War. That conflict was very chaotic and people, especially in Maryland and the Border States were very divided. Regardless of Lincoln's feeling about rights and democracy, he was forced to do the necessary thing by suspending Habeas Corpus and ignoring Ex Parte Merryman. The man made mistakes, sure, but he did what leaders were supposed to do during crises as extreme as the Civil War. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

And such measures weren't limited to the Union either. It was the Confederacy that passed the first conscription act in American history in 1862. That was harsh, but that's the reality of wartime experience. The Confederacy needed all the manpower it could get so it had to enact that law. Civil wars are especially ugly affairs, but the reality was that the situation had become so critical that extreme measures had to be put into place.

I understand if you dislike Lincoln. But please look at the larger historical context and do not try to impose present-day values onto history. It wouldn't increase our understanding of the past. It would only add to our misunderstanding of it.

The Catholic Knight said...

I respectfully disagree. Lincoln was the CAUSE of the Civil War. The things he did after the war started are just icing on the cake.

Harry said...

You have a right to uphold your views on this area of history. It still divides many Americans even today. But to say that Lincoln was the SOLE cause of the Civil War is gross oversimplification. Tensions between states and the federal government were already there even before Lincoln was elected in 1860. Slavery, The Nullification Crisis, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and Bleeding Kansas all combined to create the powder keg that exploded when the South Carolina troops fired on Fort Sumter. Added to that there were countless other causes that contributed, such as the rapid industrialization of the North, which created a different culture there.

From a Southerner's point of view, Lincoln did have a major part in starting the war. But he also wanted to avoid war as much as any Southerner or Northerner. Remember that he was born in Kentucky, despite living out a lot of his youth in Illinois and even said, "I, too, am a Kentuckian." And the Federal soldiers at Fort Sumter didn't fire until they were fired upon. And even after the Confederacy was formed, not all Southerners thought Lincoln's election was sufficient justification for starting a war.

My point in writing this is that you are entitled to say that you don't like Lincoln. But I only wish to caution you this: to single Lincoln out as a warmonger would be to ignore the larger historical context. I am from Houston, Texas, and study the Civil War myself. But even if historians disagree on what the causes of the Civil War are, they nevertheless agreed that there were multiple causes and not just a single cause. Even if Lincoln was never elected, tensions between the North and South would have exploded in another way sooner or later. We don't live in a world where slavery still exists in the United States, but at least try to empathize with the feelings of 1860 Americans. And I cannot stress this enough: to look at history with only our own modern point of view is the same as rejecting historical reality.

The Catholic Knight said...

Harry, thank you for your kind explanation and caution. Please know I do take your words seriously.

That being said, I am fully aware of the context of history in this case, and because of that, I stand by my opinion on Lincoln. Here is why. The issues you cited that set the backdrop for 1860 were effectively solved with the secession of the Southern states. This is based on the precedence set by the original 13 colonies in the Declaration of Independence.

This is what the whole thing boils down to. The crux of self-government is the right to secede. If people do not have the right to secede and establish a new government, than they are not truly free. For 'whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.'

The original 13 colonies did not seek to overthrow the British crown. They did not seek to dissolve Parliament in London. No, what they sought to do (and succeeded in doing) was break away from the British Empire (secede) and establish their own government for themselves. So here is the deal. Either human beings have the right to do this, or else they do not. If they do, than only a tyrant will try to stop them with force. Such was the case with King George III of England, so was the case with Abraham Lincoln of the Union. In historical context, full and complete historical context, the Southern states were not only right in their solution to the growing problems, but they were also consistent with the Founders of the United States.

Lincoln's response to this was inexcusable. To deny the Southern states their right to secede is to deny the Founding Fathers of America their justification for doing the same. Lincoln in effect nullified the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.....

The Catholic Knight said...

....Lincoln repeatedly made it clear that he did not recognise the secession of the Southern states, and that he would enforce the Morrill Tariff on those states, even if it meant bloodshed. The reason why he was supplying Fort Sumpter in Charleston was to do just that. He notified the governor of South Carolina in advance to provoke him, hoping to start a fight, and give him the political cover he needed for an invasion. Stop and think about it for a second. This would be the equivalent of Canada setting up a garrison on Ellis Island in New York Harbour to stop every ship coming in and collect a Canadian tax! South Carolina had already declared her independence. She regarded herself as a separate nation from the United States. Lincoln's actions were an act of war. General Beauregard (a learned Catholic) understood what was happening. By supplying Fort Sumpter, Lincoln was fortifying his troops for an invasion right in their back yard. The bombardment of Fort Sumpter was justified as repelling an invading army. Sadly, it was just the excuse Lincoln was looking for to commence his plans to make good on his promise of bloodshed.

My point is simply this. Lincoln was the Commander and Chief of the Union's armed forces. The buck stopped with him. He was the one who made the decision to raise and army for invasion. He was the one who made the decision to provoke South Carolina into a fight. He was the one who chose to retaliate with a full scale invasion instead of a localized response. He was the one who chose the path of war, and rejected every offer of peace the Confederacy made. He would accept nothing short of complete surrender. He made war on his own people. He could have EASILY stopped it all -- yet he refused.

At least King George III understood that to escalate the war in the colonies would have meant a humanitarian crisis. So he ended it. Lincoln didn't care. He pushed forward with the war and actually ordered a humanitarian crisis (Lyon's Occupation of Missouri, and Sherman's March to the Sea). There is no way this man could be considered a good president or a decent human being. He was evil in every sense of the word.

Harry said...

As a Southerner myself I can sympathize with your opinion of Lincoln. I see that you made your points clear in your response, and you cited good historical evidence to support your statements. But I think you are placing too much blame on Lincoln himself. What about his cabinet? And Congress? The latter was immediately dominated by Republicans when the South seceded. Whatever Lincoln's personal motivations were, the radical, warmongering politicians must have pressured him into calling for troops. That is not to say Lincoln was free of blame. He was the commander-in-chief, as you said, but his authority wouldn't be as far-reaching as you also said without Congressional support. The Supreme Court was opposed to Lincoln (as in Ex Parte Merryman) but if Congress followed the same path, there would have been no Fort Sumter or Civil War to begin with. Remember that the United States has three branches of government. If blame is to be laid on Northern leadership for the war, then it's Lincoln AND Congress to blame, not Lincoln alone. I am not trying to vindicate Lincoln here, but as a historian I would like to see a full, balanced presentation of history, especially one as contentious as the Civil War.

But if you are critical of Lincoln and the Union, why not do the same critical analysis on the Confederacy? Neither the Union nor the Confederacy were perfect. On the Kansas-Missouri border, Rebel bushwhackers and guerrillas did as much damage as Federal jayhawkers and redlegs, most famously in the Sack of Lawrence, Kansas. In my home state of Texas Confederate troops killed a group of German settlers who were fleeing to Mexico in the Nueces Massacre. Confederate soldiers under General Nathan Bedford Forrest also massacred surrendering Federal Colored soldiers at Fort Pillow. And the Andersonville prison camp was an inhuman detainment facility for captured Federal troops.

Not all Southerners were enthusiastic about Confederate rule either. The famous Sam Houston was pro-Union, a sentiment that resulted in his removal from his position as Governor of Texas. When the Federal Navy went on its campaign to capture New Orleans in 1862, they would have almost certainly failed had it not been for the mutiny of the Confederate garrisons at Forts Jackson and St. Philip. And, most famously, West Virginia actually seceded from the Confederacy to join the Union. The list of problems could go on and on. My request to you is this: when presenting civil war history, please take into account the whole story of this complex war. It wasn't all a black-and-white (or blue and gray, for that matter) affair. It wasn't a war between perfect good and perfect evil. it was a bitter, horrific, messy fight that went beyond absolute notions of good or bad.

I sincerely apologize if I had offended you in some way by my language, for I am far from a perfect writer of essays. But as a historian I must stress my opinion that history must be presented as fully as possible. History isn't simply a collection of stories from the past. It is culture, heritage. What happened in the past still echoes to the present day. We cannot change history, but we must learn from it.

The Catholic Knight said...

Thank you for all your information, and I was not offended at all by your remarks. This is good stuff we're hashing out here, and our readers will benefit.

Indeed, Lincoln is not fully to blame for the war, but he does bear the lion's share of the blame. Congress never declared war on the Southern states because Lincoln refused to recognise their secession. So as far as Congress was concerned it was an internal police affair, and the congressional record officially names the conflict the 'War of the Rebellion'. Indeed we can find atrocities on both sides, as war has a way of doing that. You're right in saying that things were not all black and white, and I never intended to imply that the South was pure. It was not.

The general premise of this entire thread is to debunk the Lincoln mythology. The man is depicted in Ameican history as a demigod of mythical proportions. Children are taught from a very early age to admire him. I find this sickening. Where the man in question G.W. Bush or William J. Clinton, I think most people would be mortified. The point of this thread is to knock Lincoln down to size. He was a man, a very flawed man, and he made some very bad decisions, that ultimately cost a whole lot of human lives. Yet it seems, to question his demigod status is almost tantamount to un-American. There is something wrong with a nation that does this to its former leaders. Perhaps if Lincoln had been a little more deserving, someone akin to George Washington, it might be excusable. Such as he was however, I believe other motives are afoot. Lincoln set a precedence that is with is to this day, giving the USA more the characteristics of an empire than a union. It seems that to preserve an empire, one must hire myth makers to make the Empire's history larger than life. Lincoln is regarded as one of America's Founding Fathers, but his presidency came some 80 years after the founding of the United States. Is it because he is more of a 're-founder' than an actual Founder? Is it because the nation Lincoln re-founded was an empire, built on the ashes of the old republic? I think so, and in an empire that functions as the exact antithesis of what the Founding Fathers created in 1776, one must do a little myth making to make sure it all holds together.

Thank you for your contribution to this thread. It was excellent! Please feel free to post here anytime.

Anonymous said...

The question we must ask is how do we unbrainwash ourselves from the Lincoln myth as well as any other myths such as the one that says we are a democracy.

Confederate Papist said...

This is a timely post as I just got done reading a book by Thomas DiLorenzo, "The Real Lincoln.."

Lincoln was a follower of Henry Clay, who was a follower of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founders. Hamilton was famous for wanting a more centralised government, a central bank and "internal improvements", aka, corporate welfare today; all of which was embraced by Lincoln, and amongst all of the other things previously cited, fulled implemented while Lincoln was conducting the invasion. Lincoln had his fellow GOP compatriots in congress enacting these policies while he was micromanaging the military's actions against the Confederacy.
How many Northern newspapers were shut down? How many Northern citizens were imprisoned by Lincoln, including the grandson of FS Key and the mayor of NYC, for opposing the actions of the administration? How many preachers and priests in the North were imprisoned because they did not "pray for the president" during Sunday Services/Mass? Is it normal for an administration to arrest and deport a Northern congressman for opposing administration policy?
All of these actions were allowed to happen, and rubber-stamped by the tyrant Lincoln.