The Mythical Abraham Lincoln
July 1, 2022 | View PDF
On May 30th, the Lincoln Memorial celebrated its 100th birthday. Named after Abraham Lincoln, one memorial feature is the symbol of fasces (rods bundled together and bound with a red strap), which is also the symbol of fascism. How could there be a more accurate description of the philosophy of Abe Lincoln? Many share similar views, including author Greg L. Durand in America's Caesar: The Decline and Fall of Republican Government in the United States of America.
After reading about Lincoln over time and writing a book where he was a central figure, it became clear that the reference to “Honest Abe” was almost certainly facetious, something akin to calling a portly individual “slim.” Many others have come to the same conclusion.
In 1832, Lincoln expressed his political philosophy: “My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of a national bank. I am in favor of the internal improvement system, and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles...” (Wikisource) Whether representing the Whigs or Republicans, Lincoln’s beliefs remained consistent.
Lincoln was well known for his penchant for both telling and listening to dirty jokes, often followed with spasmodic laughter. He wrote a sarcastic, biblically structured piece entitled The Chronicles of Reuben, which implied the homosexuality of Billy Grigsby, brother of Aaron Grigsby (Aaron married Lincoln’s sister, Sarah. Lincoln felt Aaron’s negligence led to his sister’ death during childbirth.) This was a bold topic in an era with a moral code. Within his “inner circle” Lincoln was known as a religious skeptic, often accused of being an “infidel,” an “agnostic,” and an “atheist.” The accusers included Cornelius Vanderbilt, law partner William Herndon, bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, friend Samuel Hill, Judge David Davis, cousin Dennis Hanks, and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. However, when it came to the apotheosis (deification) of Lincoln, most of these same individuals were on board with the mythology.
As a lawyer, Lincoln represented a variety of individuals, including his 1847 representation of Kentucky slave owner, Robert Matson. However, he knew real money and power came from representing corporate and banking interests—and he was good at it. Lincoln won several cases that directly benefitted the railroad industry, e.g., Barret v. Alton and Sangamon (1851), Hurd v. Rock Island Bridge Company (1856), Illinois Central Railroad v. County of McLean and George Parke (1857) and Illinois Central Railroad v. Morrison (1857). Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Enabling Act on July 1, 1862, creating the Union Pacific Railroad Company. This assured the fortunes of several “elite” American families. Furthermore, Lincoln decided one railroad terminus would be in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he owned suddenly more valuable property. Often portrayed as the “country bumpkin,” Lincoln was the highest paid lawyer in America and his services were in high demand.
Another pre-presidential event involved Lincoln’s role in nearly bankrupting the State of Illinois. He was part of the “Long Nine” which was made up of seven members of the house and two senators from Sangamon County, Illinois. The name came from the fact that all members were over six feet tall and politically similar. This group’s rampant spending on corporate welfare and internal improvements nearly broke the State.
Once elected, Lincoln repeatedly refused to negotiate with the South. Using a plan devised by Gustavus Fox, Lincoln sent reinforcements to Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens. The South retaliated against these acts of war, but since Southern Independence failed, the myth that the South started the war persists. Then, claiming the South did not “literally” leave the Union, Lincoln proceeded to violate the U.S. Constitution via illegally suspending the writ of habeas corpus, blockading Southern ports (he claimed were still in the union), suppressing free speech (e.g., Clement Vallandigham), suppressing the press (hundreds of newspapers censored or shut down), treasonously allowing the invasion of a State (Maryland), illegally allowing the creation of a State (West Virginia) from another State (Virginia), violating the Fugitive Slave Law, violating international law (Trent Affair), etc. The Emancipation Proclamation ruse supposedly freed slaves out of Union control and left enslaved those within its control. Lincoln was a true champion when it came to trashing the constitution and denying the right of self-government to the South.
As we celebrate July 4th and the American Colonies’ secession from the British Empire, we also have to look at the way Lincoln helped transform the country of sovereign, voluntary, independent States into a forced, centralized “union” where a State would thereafter be extremely reluctant to seek independence. Those who love centralization and leviathan will always admire Lincoln whereas those who believe in decentralized, voluntary government will always recognize Lincoln for his legacy of destroying those principles.
Sources: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Life_and_Works_of_Abraham_Lincoln/Volume_3/I_Am_Humble_Abraham_Lincoln; Union At All Costs: From Confederation to Consolidation, by John M. Taylor