Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A species of prudence

Mac Owens argues that Lincoln was an effective military leader. Another very good essay on the war, albeit slightly longer than the norm. If Mac keeps this up, these will turn into a book! And that would be fine by me.     

Discussions - 56 Comments

If Ashbrook keeps this up, it will have to change it's name...;)

To what?

Seriously, what?

It appears some prefer to live in myth and half-truths than deal with the reality of Lincon, the Civil War, and slavery.

"And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories."

What a wise thing to say. To use a poker analogy Lincoln wanted generals who were tight aggressive...patient but able to strike hard...always looking to seize upon the weakest point...but patient enough to allow those weaknesses to develop instead of fabricating them.

There is, of course, the old saw that the Confederacy could never have won because the material strength of the North was so great. For instance, Shelby Foote made this claim during Ken Burns' magnificent PBS series on the Civil War. But it turns out that the materially weaker side has prevailed in war about half of the time over the last 200 years. One of the things I have tried to do with my series on the war is how close Lee came to achieving victory on a number of occasions. The North was not predestined to win. Who wins or loses any war depends on the respective strategic choices and actions of the combatants. There are better and worse strategies.

I am reminded of an old story that the late Harry Summers used to tell about Vietnam. When the Nixon adminstration took office in 1969, the DoD fed all the material it possessed about the relative material strength of the United States and North Vietnam into a Cray computer. The analysts then asked the computer, "when will we win?" The computer whirred for about 30 seconds and spit out the answer: "you won in 1964."

The fact is that resources, no matter how great, must be organized for victory. The United States failed to do this during Vietnam. But Lincoln accomlished this feat during the War of the Rebellion.

To what? Seriously, what?

Despite your hyperbole, it is clear that Lincoln and the history of our federal system post civil war is, how shall we say, "problematic". The fact that Ashbrook never brings this out or takes it on (left up to posters here) means Ashbrook is not really fulfilling it's stated mission IMO...

Ultimately, American men were going to have to go down South, and as Sherman said, "kill off that 250,000" he deemed responsible for the war and for continuing the war.

Mac Owens said that resources needed to be "organized for victory;" and that's true.

But it's more than that. For the North to win, they were going to have to grind down the South. And there was NO guarantee that the North was always going to have the wisdom, the stamina and the sheer grit necessary to prevail.

Shelby Foote was asked his opinion on which battle saw the greatest display of martial valour. He replied Fredericksburg; and mentioned the REPEATED Union charges to break through the Confederate position. Again, there was no guarantee that the Union wouldn't lose heart after such repeated failures.

Materiale is clearly important for war. But only someone who doesn't know war would suggest that it can displace courage, spirit, elan.

The French held in 1914, because their leadership and their troops had the fire to hold, then counterattack. In 1940, a better supplied and maintained French Army collapsed in weeks, actually, they collapsed IN DAYS. As soon as the Germans captured Sedan, it was over.

The Germans won not just because of their mastery of Blitzkrieg tactics, not just because of their newly formed Panzer divisions. They won because they WANTED it more. I'm not saying that desire is decisive, for not everyone who wants something more than the other guy is the one to get it. Certainly not in war. But within the soul of an Army must burn a flame, a fire. And when that fire descends on a battlefield, it consumes an opponent. Just utterly devours them.

In the beginning of the Civil War, the newly stylized Army of Northern Virginia had that fire, had that zeal, had that drive. They had it all. So much so that they fascinate to this day. But the fire that burned in that Army could not vitalize the entire South. Southern elan had no answer for Sherman, for "Uncle Billy," and for his grim determination to make secession pay. And to pay dearly.

I really am on board with Mac's project of showing the ways the South could have won, focusing on both statesmanship/generalship and chance as important factors in its defeat. I hope he will turn his attention soon to the South's numerous and often shameful blunders in the West as the prelude to Sherman's basically uncontested march to the sea etc. and the disastrous campaign that culminated in the extremely one-sided Battle of Nashville. The length and horrible bloodiness of the war depended on Lee being great, but not quite great enough or lucky enough. But the eventual defeat of Lee's army was made inevitable by the South's collapse in the West.


Other than Lee and his flashy victories, what did Southerners have to sustain their faith in ultimate victory? They had nothing, nothing but Lee and their fierce determination to prove they were truly the sons of their Revolutionary forefathers.

It's important to put an end to creeping historical determinism. Which is the historical corollary to Marxian economics, where some glorified notion of historical process dictates the outcome. You see signs of it all around, especially in deliberations on foreign policy.

Few concede that our victory in the Cold War was nor foreordained. That's how the Liberals skate away from what otherwise would be a crushing indictment of their behavior, post 1968.

Only military historians know how close Hitler was to winning the whole damn shooting match. If he had neutralized Great Britain, he would have had another year to build several more Panzer divisions, more time to train the forces of his allies, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Finland, and then the blow that he delivered against Stalin would have been decisive. In our own history, had Great Britain thrown in with the South, the Union would have had an absolute nightmare on their hands. Real Politick dictated such a move by Great Britain, for divide et impera is usually wise policy. But Britain listened instead to that small whisper in the mind, that trembling vibration in the depth of the soul. They heeded conscience; they refused the overture of the Confederacy. Turning back to the Second World War, what if Halifax's views prevailed over those of Churchill, for as you recall Halifax favoured a negotiated settlement with Hitler after France was laid low. Churchill was not popular then with the Tory establishment. Chamberlain and Halifax were both architects of appeasement, but both maintained positions in Churchill's Cabinet. Such was still the measure of their political strength. And both men were more popular with the establishment. It's not difficult to picture Churchill being removed by the Tories and replaced with someone like Halifax. How many of us grasp how dramatic was Churchill's destruction of the French Fleet in July and August, 1940. Many American newspapers were then printing stories detailing how a combination of the German, the Italian and the captured French Fleet would first secure control of the English Channel, then ferry across a German invasion force. And no one doubted what would happen if the Germans got across: England would fall. Just as everybody else who stood against Hitler had fallen.

And then Hitler would have controlled his own fleet, his own U-Boats, the captured French AND the newly captured Royal Navy. Not to mention the Axis would have also enjoyed control of the Italian Navy.

Which would have placed US, the good ole' USA, in a serious predicament.

When the French folded fast, it triggered a panic up on the Hill. When FDR demanded 50,000 planes, some thought him far-fetched, but Congress authorized it.

Look at how 'Nam has been treated. It's portrayed thus: "We lost, we were ALWAYS going to lose, and those who foolishly continued the struggle were either ignorant or bloodthirsty, usually both." That's the long and the short of it.

No wonder kids are bored by history. When it's presented without drama, without alternatives, without imagination, ------------------ who would be interested? The historical determinist has made history a thing for geeks and nerds.

We have Eros stripped from intimacy, removing passion and fire between man and woman.

We have Mars stripped from War.

We have chance stripped from history.

Well, I object to ALL of it.

We need Mars for war AND we need Mars in council. We must understand that there is no grand historical force that drives us along whether we will or not.

And lastly, regarding Eros, ---------------------------------------------------- well, we have to insist upon genuine eroticism. Real passion, real fire, real stakes involved.

Someone ought to write a book on how the many morbid strains of Liberalism has made the world a more boring place.

The '68ers have a great deal to answer for.

Interesting...and well said Dan. You can deserve to win...relentless perseverence and good decisions can overcome a bad starting point. Those who have the upperhand must still act in such a way as to deserve to win. Mike Caro's dictum on life poker and history is as follows: You are always even, you must seek out opportunities that put you in a position to get lucky...a series of good decisions can go a long ways towards leveling the field...and oftentimes our best decisions occur as a reaction to the blowups of others(Rashness) You have to proceed with vigilance in seeking out opportunities to make others take the worst of it.

I am not per se against stripping chance or fortune(as Machiavelli would say)from history. In this I agree with both Mike Caro and Winston Churchill who both said that a good principle is that over the long run good and bad luck cancels itself out. Strategically when one has the upperhand one is more free to can take actions that have more variance. One must put pressure on those who are behind to constantly threaten them with annihilation...but at the same time one still has to beware of rashness, because the table can turn quickly.

If there is a universal truth about strategy it is this...always act in such a way so that the reaction of your opponent causes him to make the biggest mistake possible. Get him to attack you when and where you are strongest...and attack him always when you have the best advantage you can expect. Discover what the ennemy wants you to do and then dissapoint him. Realise when a great situation has turned ugly and do not be stuborn or rash in chasing victory into deafeat. One must be able to change gears quickly and addapt to circumstances. As Sun Tzu says in the Art of War"In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack--the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of manuvers." If there is a historical law that governs the outcomes of wars it is that those who can play small pots when they are behind and huge pots when they are ahead...stand to come out the best because they have rationally deduced positive expectations working for them. Make the least of a bad situation and the most of a good one.

All of this is a lot easier said than done. I know that I am only capable of it on rare occations...which is to say not at all since it must be a constant endevor. There are but a few heaven born captains in history...

"He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning may be called a heaven-born captain."-Sun Tzu, The Art of War

"The War of the Rebellion."

Ugh! You have got to be kidding me. The most accurate name of the War is the one DiLorenzo coined, the War to Prevent Southern Independence, because that is exactly what it was. An aggressive assault on a sovereign and independent nation that had lawfully and peacefully seceded.

What gives the South the right to break away from the Union? I think there is disagreement over if the South could lawfully secede. Strangely enough I am reading Rawl's Political Liberalism(1993)...very interesting and deep concept this "overlapping consensus"...and his "fact of oppression"...Dan are you suggesting that the south was justified in seceding because "overlapping consensus" became impossible due to a series of "untractable burdens of judgement"? What would Rawls say...interesting and complex question but I think he would side with Lincoln...but then again he might not...what is reasonable pluralism?

When does pluralism and diversity win out over "the fact of oppression" and when does it loose?

Mac Owens says that "strategy helps to establish a priority among ends. Since means are limited, not everything can be done. Strategy ensures that choices are made among competing ends. As Frederick the Great observed, "he who tries to defend everything ends up defending nothing." He also said that for Lincoln the main thing was preserving the Union.

For the Machiavellian prince strategy is morality(is there such a thing as morality or ethics that is not a directive establishing priority among ends?) I want to know upon what grounds the preservation of the Union was an immoral act. About the only way I know how to make the argument is to give greater importance to "untractable burdens of judgement" but even if the south believed it was morally justified in maintaining slavery at all costs...I still think it is a difficult to argue either way that this represents a reasonable pluralism.

Lincoln himself recognizes this in his second inaugural "Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully."

Lincoln understands the tragedy of "untractable burdens of judgement" but he doesn't go so far as to morally justify slavery just because the southern belief system upheld it. He goes on to say:" If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

And in which the South illegally held another country's property expecting nothing to come of it.

(If you want to continue that flawed analogy)

I am directing my comment to Dan P., by the way.

To be fair to Dan I think there was considerably more debate at that time about the right to sucession, than there is today. Ironically Northern newspapers published many editorials claiming the right, Alex de Toqueville even suggested that the United States would have difficulty preventing the sucession of a state...ext...But all of these points if they count as points only tell us what Jefferson knew; that in a Republic diversity of thought leads to varying conceptions of the reasonable...and that opinion should be free as long as reason and dialogue is left to combat it. The question to be decided was: is it more reasonable to let the south secede, or more reasonable to go to war to preserve the Union?

Come on Dan generate some historical immagination here...tell us how we would all have been better off had Lincoln allowed the south to break appart. Consider the implications for World War I and World War II...not to mention the cold war...not to mention the question of slavery. I would read a book that seriously considered all off these questions...but I still think that given American pre-eminence in the world today it is hard to argue that very many mistakes have occured in american history. Sure you can be Bastiat like about the can try to talk about the unseen consequences of our move towards centralization/socialism in terms of opportunities missed and innefficiencies created...but the question is...Given the context of world history and the progress of other nation has done as well as the United whatever the optimum statesmanship/political science is in the realm of forms we are closer to it than other nations. Even if at the time Lincoln made what might have appeared to be a mistake to certain reasonable lights, it is unclear to me with the aid of Hindsight how Lincoln is not vindicated.

My point was not to reignite the Lincoln/secession debate. My point was that it is irresponsible and (intentionally?) provocative for a scholar to use the terminology "War of the Rebellion." It was, in fact, Lincoln who was rebelling against the Constitution.

Civil War is of course wrong because the South was not fighting to take over and transform DC. The best neutral terminology is probably the War Between the States.

Sorry Dan. The official name of the conflict was the War of the Rebellion until, I believe the 1930s when Congress, in thrall of the Lost Cause school, changed it to the the Civil War. If you doubt this, look at the 128 volumes of The Official Records of war--the War of the Rebellion. By the way, Dan, I was raised in a Lost Cause household so I know the arguments by heart. I guess that makes me an apostate. Finally, I can't believe that any serious person cites DiLorenzo on anything. His book is a scholarly disgrace.

"Finally, I can't believe that any serious person cites DiLorenzo on anything. His book is a scholarly disgrace."

You mean the New York Times Best Seller The Real Lincoln? The book that advances some of the same arguments that Thomas Woods makes in his New York Times Bestseller, The Politically Incorrect Guide to History?

All Lincoln scholarship these days is partisan. DiLorenzo and Woods are certainly no less partisan than Jaffa.

I reviewed The Real Lincoln for the Washington Times when it first came out. Partisan is one thing, Shoddy scholarship is quite another. For instance, the only time that DiLorenzo actually quotes Lincoln, he gets it laughably wrong.

As for the rest of the book, it is a rehash of Confederate propaganda spiced up with touches of Marxist economic analysis. Indeed, to paraphrase what Harry V. Jaffa once said about the anti-Lincoln screeds of my old professor, the late Mel Bradford, everything in this book has its antecedents in Southern editorials during and after the Civil War.

One of DiLorenzo's silliest claims is that Lincoln could have achieved peaceful emancipation rather than plunging the country into a destructive war. Of course, this assertion simply ignores the fact that the South did not want to end slavery. Indeed, African slavery lay at the very foundation of Southern society. That peaceful emancipation was not a viable option is also illustrated by the fact that even the loyal slave states refused to accept Lincoln's repeated proposals for compensated emancipation. It was the failure of this idea that led Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and to propose the Thirteenth Amendment.

But DiLorenzo uncritically parrots the post-war Lost Cause argument that the war was not about slavery. The clearest illustration that this claim is a shibboleth is the fact that the event triggering the election of Lincoln and the subsequent breakup of the Union was the demand by the delegates from the deep South at the Democratic Convention in Charleston, held in April 1860, for an unprecedented expansion of federal power to enforce slavery in the federal territories. The majority of Democratic delegates refused such a federal guarantee. The deep South delegates then walked out, splitting the Democratic Party and ensuring that Lincoln would be elected by a plurality of votes. To reiterate, the South's demand at Charleston, far from having anything to do with states rights, was instead a call for an unprecedented expansion of federal power in defense of the institution of slavery.

Additionally, the Confederate Constitution itself favored slavery over states rights. For instance, since slavery was guaranteed "in any of the States or Territories, "any attempt by a Confederate state to abolish slavery would essentially be "null and void." Writing in 1961, the historian Arthur Bestor concluded that the Confederacy, at least with respect to slavery, was a "unitary, consolidated, national state, denying to each one of its allegedly sovereign members any sort of local autonomy with respect to this particular one among its domestic institutions."

I didn't offer an opinion on Lincoln as an "effective military leader." Nor did I offer an opinion on the legal and moral validity of the South's actions in 1861.

I spoke to the importance of morale, the importance of spiritual resolve to an army. I cautioned against too much reliance upon a material preponderance.

All, please keep in mind that Dan and Dan P. are different people.

Mel Bradford wrote "screeds?"

I don't think DiLorenzo suggested that the peaceful emancipation could have happened in 1861. It would have taken time. Maybe as long as it took Brazil or longer, but slavery was not economically tenable for the long term esp. with increasing technology. And America or the Confederacy would have been increasingly alone in the world as time went by.

But what the Yankee finger waggers fail to realize (or admit) is that slavery was not just an economic issue in the South. It was an issue of national survival. Note that the countries that outlawed slavery before 1861 did not have the numbers or percentages we did. In many places in the South, slaves outnumbered Whites. That is also why the issue of slavery in the territories was so important to them. The territories were a safety valve to move excess slaves. (Of course, plantation agriculture wasn't tenable past central Texas, but that was their motivation none the less.)

There is more I could say about DiLorenzo and the modern Confederates, but I don't have time. But if their arguments are a rehash of the arguments made in the South at the time, I am not sure why that is a bad thing, and it sure beats the pro-Lincoln scholarship esp. of the neocon variety. (Why would we not want arguments that actually reproduce the arguments of the time instead of modern spins on the situation?) The Lincoln Cult is only partially rehashing the arguments made by the Unionists. Lincoln's federal supremacy or whatever. Mostly they are IMPOSING modern politically correct egalitarian right think on people in the past who were far from egalitarians. And to the degree that they admit that perhaps Saint Lincoln was not an egalitarian, they paper over it or say he had to say those things to get elected, but deep down he was a purist egalitarian. That garbage is just not credible. I think it is called a "Noble Lie."

The problem with saying that slavery was a cause of the War is that it presupposes the rightness of the Unionists’ claims re. the nature of the Union. Slavery was clearly a major factor in why the Southern States seceded. Some ill-informed Confederates who say it was not or was only a minor issue are easily disproved. But to conflate the causes of secession with the cause of the War is to buy the Yankee version that secession was an act of War. But it was not. It was peaceful, legal, and Constitutional.

But even if you buy the Yankee view that secession wasn't legitimate, they could have still let the South go.

There was one and only one cause of the War. We were invaded. Period. The proximate reason for why Lincoln invaded us was not to free the slaves. That is so on the record it is not debatable. The proximate reason had to do with tariff collections. A low tariff in the Southern ports could not be tolerated.

I hope it is clear that my critical remarks were directed at Dan P.

My appologies to Dan for suggesting that he was Dan P. I really do like what Dan says in comment 8...and I do think that Dan P would have to demonstrate some rather ammazing historical argue that the course Lincoln took was not for the best.

Dr. Owens,

Do you have a link to your book review? I searched online but couldn't find it. I found a lot of references to it, but not the review itself.

How does DiLorenzo's, who is an Austrian economist and wrote a book entitled How Capitalism Saved America, use Marxist economics?

Mr. Lewis,

Your question deserves a longer response, but I think the fact that 620,000 people wouldn't have died in the War is a pretty good start to how we would be better off.

Don't worry about it. I wasn't sure if I was being referred to, so I issued a clarifying statement.

But I didn't take any offense.

to argue that the course Lincoln took was not for the best

How much is the modern Federacracy, abortion regime and all, tied up in Lincoln/Unionist ideas of Fed?? Seems to me the course he took was not the best...

By that logic we would have been better off without any of the world wars as well...and as Hegel reminds me and all cows are black at night. But in all seriousness if the appeal to Austrians is what counts as argument...then lets take up Von Mises Ch 34 of Human Action. He says "What distinguishes man from animal is the insight into the advantages that can be derived from cooperation under the division of labor. Man curbs his innate instict of aggression in order to co-operate with other human beings. The more he wants to improve his material well-being, the more he must expand the system of the division of labor." And that "The emmergence of the international division of labor requires the total abolition of war."

I would argue that it was the Northern "Yankee" states that were developing and expanding the system of the division of labor. The south as you say was dependent upon slavery for its survival...therefore following Mises one should come to the conclusion that a United States that cured itself of a dependency upon slavery could move more quickly towards the Robber Barron era...towards seeking material prosperity in the division of labor...which theoretically leads via the Machester less war.

In fact if Mises is right and "Modern civilization is a product of laissez faire, that cannot be preserved under the ideology of government omnipotence" would bear examining whether or not the north or the south was closer to laissez faire and whether or not states rights isn't just another form of government omnipotence.

What has Dilorenzo written on Economics?(To be honest I haven't read Dilorenzo on Lincoln.)

Following Mises full war socialism was the result of the World Wars...not the Civil War...Also following Mises the United States is funding the war in Iraq exactely as Mises says we should be have funded world war I and world war II...namely by taxation and borrowing and not by means that would make it impossible to rely upon the operation of the unhampered market.

In fact Mises might even defend Haliburton profits..."But it would be foolish to deny that the profit system produces the best weapons. It was not socialist Russia that aided capitalist America with lend-lease; the Russians were lamentably defeated before American made bombs fell on Germany and before they got the arms manufactured by American big business. The most important thing in war is not to avoid the emergence of high profits, but to give the best equipment to one's own country's soilders and sailors. The worst enemies of a nation are those malicious demagogues who would give their envy precedence over the vital interests of their nation's cause."

Note also that the Austrian economist Von Mises refers to American big business and capitalist america that arose right after the civil war...and apparently countinued till at least the World Wars.

Also I want to ask a macro-economic question so to speak. When I agree with Austrian economists that an entire myriad of micro-economic policies are bad...supposing I even came to agree that Lincoln was wrong for preserving the Union and ending slavery at the cost of war...supposing I objected to all sorts of government policies that have brought us to the point we are at today...what I want to know is how do you ground your thoughts. The only real objection to Bastiat that I have is that in essence that which is not seen is never seen. We can't really quantify what might have been otherwise..and I end up in a very fairy tale world. This is not to say anything bad about Bastiat or Austrian Economists, and I am not a huge fan of Hegel...but...

In Hegel's philosophy of Right according to Rawls "the Role of Political philosophy is that of reconciliation: political philosophy may try to calm our frustration and rage against our society and its history by showing us the way in which its institutions, when properly understood from a philosophical point of view, are rational, and developed over time as they did to attain their present, rational form. This fits one of Hegel's well-known sayings: "When we look at the world rationally, the world looks rationally back." He seeks for us reconciliation—Versöhnung—that is, we are to accept and affirm our social world positively, not merely to be resigned to it."

As a constant critic of just about everything, I notice that it is very easy to forget why I affirm and look upon the United States positively. Why I am proud to be an american. I really believe that reconciliation is probably more difficult the more academic you are. I think that this is probably why so many "multiculturalists" regard hatred of america as a virtue. Because in our attempts to reason about what could or might be possible otherwise we forget and come to curse what is as a barrier or impediment to the ideal "forms".

But America is either good as it is or it is not good as it is. I don't think we can have it both ways. We can't trumpet american capitalism as a virtue and counter-example and at the same time point out all the ways in which america is socialist. We can't praise freedom of speech and press and religion and turn around and curse consent as a ground.

So my final question to Dan P. and everyone else is: how do you reconcile yourself with the America that is what it is, Miss Teen South Carolina, abortion and all?

Dan P. Mel was one of my professors when I took my doctorate at the University of Dallas. As I mentioned earlier, I grew up in a Lost Cause household (all of my forebears fought for the Confederacy) but Mel turned me into a Lincoln/Jaffa man. So, while Mel was great when it came to Faulkner, he did write screeds about Lincoln. BTW, you might not know it but Mel and Harry got along quite famously. Too bad some of Mel's acolytes don't show the same civility when they savage Jaffa. Also BTW, Mel was on my dissertation committee and actually praised my study of Hamilton.

The DiLorenzo review is not available online, so I have attached it below. One thing I don't mention in the review is how puerile his writing on the war is. It reminds me of the stuff I used to write when I was 12 years old. He may be a passable economic historian but he doesn't know squaddousch when it comes to the war.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (Roseville, California: Prima Publishing, 2002), 333 pp., $24.95.

Mackubin Thomas Owens

It is unlikely that reviews of Thomas Dilorenzo's The Real Lincoln will appear in the likes of the Washington Post or the New York Times. The Civil War historians who actually read it will dismiss it for the terrible book it is. But ignoring it is a mistake. It will enable the author and his acolytes to claim that academia and the liberal media once again are ignoring an "important" and "courageous" book that takes on the "conventional wisdom."

The Real Lincoln claims to provide a "new look" at Lincoln. It is no such thing It is instead a rehash of Confederate propaganda spiced up with touches of Marxist economic analysis. Its thesis can be summed up by a passage from a speech delivered by the arch-secessionist, Roger Atkison Pryor in Charleston just before the attack on Fort Sumter, who thanked South Carolina for annihilating "this accursed Union, reeking with corruption and insolent with excess of tyranny." Indeed, to paraphrase what Harry V. Jaffa once said about the anti-Lincoln screeds of my old professor, the late Mel Bradford, everything in this book has its antecedents in Southern editorials during and after the Civil War. And as Mr. Jaffa also said about Mel Bradford, Mr. DiLorenzo writes as if the war were still going on, as in his mind, it apparently is.

The story line of The Real Lincoln goes something like this. Lincoln's real agenda was not to end slavery but to implement a neo-Hamiltonian Whig-Republican economic system. Unfortunately for him, he was blocked in this endeavor by the Constitution and the South, which favored states rights and unfettered free trade. That slavery had nothing to do with the onset of the war is proven by the fact that Lincoln himself was a racist who was opposed to the political or social equality of the races and who favored colonization of blacks outside of the United States.

Fearing that the election of Lincoln, a sectional candidate, would further weaken the position of the South in the Union, seven states exercised their "right" peaceably to secede from the Union. Lincoln invented a fraudulent theory of government that held the Union created the states, rather than the other way around. Moreover, the crafty fox then maneuvered the Confederacy into firing the first shots of the war.

Lincoln then launched an unnecessary and cruel war against the South designed to yoke the region to the Whig-Republican economic model, during which time he repeatedly violated the Constitution. In the course of the war, he abandoned "international law and the accepted moral code of civilized societies and wage[d] war on civilians. His legacy was Reconstruction, a 12 year period in which the Republican Party plundered the South, the extermination of the Plains Indians, economic centralization and the death of federalism. "The war," writes Mr. DiLorenzo, "was not necessary to free the slaves, but it was necessary to destroy the most significant check on the powers of the central government: the right of secession."

There are so many things wrong with The Real Lincoln that it is hard to know where to start. Was Lincoln a racist? Mr. DiLorenzo joins Ebony publisher Lerone Bennett and Southern 1950s- and 60s-era White Citizens Councils in portraying him as such. But Lincoln's statements on race must be placed in historical context. While Lincoln certainly was no abolitionist and shared the prejudices of most whites of his time, he nonetheless believed that slavery was a moral evil. During the first joint debate with Stephen Douglas, he argued that while a Negro may not be the equal of a white in terms of color, and perhaps moral or intellectual endowment, "in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is…the equal of every living man." In addition, his own attitude changed during the course of the war as blacks swelled the ranks of the Union army and fought bravely in numerous engagements.

Mr. DiLorenzo claims that Lincoln could have achieved peaceful emancipation rather than plunging the country into a destructive war. The problem with such an assertion, of course, is that it simply ignores the fact that the South did not want to end slavery. Indeed, African slavery lay at the very foundation of Southern society. As Alexander Stephens, a United States Senator from Georgia and vice president of the Confederacy said at Savannah om March 21, 1861, "Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas [from the claim that 'all men are created equal']; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition." That peaceful emancipation was not a viable option is also illustrated by the fact that even the loyal slave states refused to accept Lincoln's repeated proposals for compensated emancipation. It was the failure of this idea that led Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and to propose the Thirteenth Amendment.

According to Mr. DiLorenzo, Lincoln plunged the nation in to war to centralize the US government on behalf of the Whig-Republican economic system based on protectionist tariffs, "internal improvements," i.e. subsidies for what we would now call "economic infrastructure," a national bank, and other forms of government intervention in the market. Mr. DiLorenzo, identified as an economic historian, makes the extraordinary claim that the economic aspect of the "War between the States" has "always been downplayed or even ignored because of the emphasis that has been given to the important issue of slavery." Apparently Mr. DiLorenzo, "economic historian," has never heard of Charles and Mary Beard, whose neo-Marxist economic interpretation of American history, including the Civil War, dominated academia for decades.

But the central theme of The Real Lincoln is that the Civil War was about "states rights" and that the alleged "right" of peaceful secession from the Union. Mr. DiLorenzo asserts that "until 1861 most commentators took it for granted that states had a right to secede." Like Alexander Stephens before him, Mr. DiLorenzo invokes none other than Abraham Lincoln in support of the idea that there is a right to secession.

But Mr. DiLorenzo, like Stephens, is being disingenuous. In his speech of January 12, 1848, Lincoln did not invoke a constitutional right to destroy the Union but the natural right of revolution, an inalienable right clearly expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln never denied this right. As he said in his First Inaugural of 1861. "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." But the right of revolution is in tension with the president's constitutional "duty…to administer the present government, as it came into his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him, to his successor." In this, Lincoln was merely reiterating the commonly accepted political opinions of his predecessors.

Despite claiming to be the true heirs of the American Founding, the seceding states never invoked the right of revolution that Jackson, Webster, Lincoln, and others acknowledged. Why not?

The main reason was that while the Founders understood the right of revolution to be an inalienable natural right of individuals antecedent to the establishment of political society, John C. Calhoun, the architect of the theory of State sovereignty used to justify secession expressly repudiated the idea of individual inalienable natural rights. Calhoun dismissed the fundamental idea of the American Founding--that "all men are created equal"--as the "most false and dangerous of all political errors." Given the large slave population of the South, this denial of the inalienable natural rights of individuals, including the right of revolution, was no doubt prudent.

In his brief for secession, Mr. DiLorenzo ridicules Lincoln's argument that the Union created the States, rather than the other way around and that the States had no other legal status than that which they held in the Union. But as Harry Jaffa has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt, the Revolutionary generation universally understood the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and the union among them to have been accomplished simultaneously. Colonial resolutions called for both independence and union. According to Jefferson and Madison in 1825, the Declaration of Independence constituted an "act of Union of the States."

Mr. DiLorenzo uncritically parrots the post-war Lost Cause argument that the war was not about slavery. The clearest illustration that this claim is a shibboleth is the fact that the event triggering the election of Lincoln and the subsequent breakup of the Union was the demand by the delegates from the deep South at the Democratic Convention in Charleston, held in April 1860, for an unprecedented expansion of federal power to enforce slavery in the federal territories. The majority of Democratic delegates refused such a federal guarantee. The deep South delegates then walked out, splitting the Democratic Party and ensuring that Lincoln would be elected by a plurality of votes. To reiterate, the South's demand at Charleston, far from having anything to do with states rights, was instead a call for an unprecedented expansion of federal power in defense of the institution of slavery.

Additionally, the Confederate Constitution favored slavery over states rights. For instance, since slavery was guaranteed "in any of the States or Territories, "any attempt by a Confederate state to abolish slavery would essentially be "null and void." Writing in 1961, the historian Arthur Bestor concluded that the Confederacy, at least with respect to slavery, was a "unitary, consolidated, national state, denying to each one of its allegedly sovereign members any sort of local autonomy with respect to this particular one among its domestic institutions."

Finally, Mr. DiLorenzo ridicules the eminent Civil War historian, Gary Gallagher, for the latter's critique of what has come to be called the Myth of the Lost Cause. Mr. Gallagher and others have argued persuasively that Southerners were much more likely to advance the states rights argument after the war than before it. Unlike Mr. DiLorenzo who takes his bearings exclusively from post-war states rights apologetics, Mr. Gallagher compares what the Southerners wrote before the war with what they said after. Thus while Southern writers such as Jefferson Davis in The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government and Alexander Stephens in A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States placed the emphasis on states rights and the right of secession, these same authors were arguing before the war that the South had to leave the Union because the institution of slavery was threatened.

Thus, in his aforementioned "Cornerstone Speech" in Savannah, Confederate Vice President Stephens unequivocally argued that the "agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution--African slavery as it exists among us…was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution." He then went on to attack the idea of equality as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. Even more telling yet were the arguments advanced by the state-appointed secession commissioners who were dispatched to persuade the uncommitted slaves states to leave the Union. As Charles Dew demonstrates in his remarkable Apostles of Disunion (University Press of Virginia, 2001), the commissioners stressed again and again that Lincoln's election would destroy the institution of slavery and plunge the South into a racial nightmare.

The Real Lincoln is not serious history. Indeed, it constitutes little more than a raid on history, selectively culling facts and interpretations to advance a fatuous thesis. And Mr. DiLorenzo is not above pulling a fast one. The best example of this is his claim that Harry Jaffa has argued "that Lincoln literally redefined the purpose of American government as the pursuit of equality rather than individual liberty." Mr. Jaffa has argued no such thing.. According to Mr. Jaffa, Lincoln believed that equality and individual rights are inseparable. For Mr. Jaffa's Lincoln, equality means simply that no one has the natural right to rule over another without the latter's consent. If Mr. DiLorenzo had actually read Mr. Jaffa's work rather than apparently relying on what Mel Bradford wrote about him, he would know this.

Mr. DiLorenzo writes from a libertarian perspective, and this school is properly concerned about the growing power of the federal government. However, today's Leviathan has less to do with Lincoln and the outcome of the Civil War than it does with the triumph of Progressivism, the 19th century science of politics that rejects the political thought of the American Founders based on equal natural rights, substituting "progress" for nature and justifying unlimited government power to direct and promote that progress. Given what I have always believed to be the affinity of libertarians for Lockean liberalism, a book like The Real Lincoln is hard to fathom.

The idea that the Confederate Constitution would forbid emancipation is not true. Article IV, Section Three merely states that slavery will be allowed in any territory the Confederate States of America should acquire. If the United States Constitution had taken a stand on that issue in the first place there probably never would have been a war.

The proper title for the war should be the War for Southern Independence. That's what southerners fought for, that's what Lincoln fought against. Today northerners hate the title because they want to pretend they fought only to end slavery. Southerners hate the title because it reminds them that they lost.

I can't speak to the claim that Dilorenzo's book employs "touches of Marxist economic analysis." But I can say this: Marx covered the War for Southern Independence for a variety of European newspapers. If you read the articles he wrote you will find that 1. he sided with Lincoln, not the South 2. he made the same sort of political hay out of the "Cornerstone Address" that Mac Owens does ever time he touches this topic. Talk about recycling old newspaper editorials!

Mac Owens - Thanks for posting your review of DiLorenzo's book.

Brutus, Marx loved Lincoln's conception of federal supremacy and the states as mere administrative units of the Fed. As did Hitler. The better to tyrannize us with. DiLorenzo makes this point often.


Article IV, Sec. 2. of the Confederate Constitution reads:

"The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired."

This makes it clear that a Confederate state that wished to abolish slavery would be prevented from doing so by the very constitution itself, since any no state may interefere with slave property. So much for "states' right."

By the way, this is what Lincoln feared would happen with a "second" Dred Scott case: that the court would rule that a slave could not only be carried into a federal territory but also into a free state.

If you think that Stephens' Cornerstone Speech was an anomaly, read Charles Dew's book, Apostles of Disunion, or the various declarations of causes of the seceding states.

That clause states that "transit and sojurn" in a hypothetical free state of the Confederacy would not impair the property value of the slave so travelling there. That clause does not say that 1. individuals owners could not free slaves 2. that emancipation could not occur at the state level 3. that a non-slave state could not join the Confederacy. Really it does not go all that much further than the case law current in the Union at that time.

I didn't say that Alexander Hamilton Steven's speech was an anomaly. But I will say this: it's an awful specimen of southern race baiting, and something that went on the South long after the war ended. If the South fought the war for white supremacy, then the South won. At least for the first hundred years or so. So why do Claremont types harp on and on about the Cornerstone speech while almost completely ignoring speeches such as Jefferson Davis's two inaugurals (the provisional and the real)? Why do they make the same ideological use of the Cornerstone speech that Karl Marx did?

Re. # 29 - I knew Jaffa supported Bradford for head of the National Endowment for the Humanities. I knew they were friends. Too bad we can't say the same thing about the neocon mafia that attacked Bradford.

There is actually not too much of your sarcastic retelling of DiLorenzo's thesis that I disagree with, although I don't think that DiLorenzo ever makes the mistake of saying that slavery was not an important reason for secession. As I said above, slavery had a lot to do with Southern secession. It did not have a lot to do with our subsequent invasion. Lincoln is clearly on the record about that.

I don't think that Lincoln was taking up arms to advance Whig economics per se, but not being able to collect tariff revenue in the South was extremely important. I do think the Whig angle is one of the insights that DiLorenzo brings. Lincoln took up arms to save the Union. This was an illegitimate and undesirable goal. (As an anti-Federalist, I think the Union was ill advised to begin with.)

Nothing demonstrate the essentially Hobbesian and statist nature of the neocon argument than the Revolution/secession distinction? Secession is potentially peaceful. Revolution is by nature violent. Nice of you to grant a right to Revolution, but why would you favor a violent course over a potentially peaceful one? Because in the neocon Hobbesian view of the state, sovereignty is (must be) indivisible. (Credit to Dr. Donald Livingston for this insight.) But the modern Hobbesian state is the problem. That is why attacks on it like secession and the pre-modern notion of divided sovereignty are so important. The Unionists/anti-secessionists are carrying water for the post-French Revolution modern state. Period.

"But Lincoln's statements on race must be placed in historical context. While Lincoln certainly was no abolitionist and shared the prejudices of most whites of his time,..."

Absolutely, but then you fail to heed your own advice when you make ridiculous arguments about the Founders and "equality." The very existence of slavery proves that equality to them did not mean what you insinuate it means.

Yeah, I know. I know. We were later perfecting it. Blah, blah, blah.

Mr. Brutus,
Do you have a link or reference to the ideological use Marx makes of the Cornerstone Speech. That would be worth readig.

Hello Dr. Lawler,

I have a book that contains all of the editorials Marx and Engels wrote on the war. It seems to be out of print. But if you hold your nose you can go over to

As a sample, in an editorial of 25 October 1861 Marx wrote: "The question of the principle of the American Civil War is answered by the battle slogan with which the South broke the peace. Stephens, the Vice-President of the Southern Confederacy, declared in the Secession Congress that what essentially distinguished the Constitution newly hatched at Montgomery from the Constitution of Washington and Jefferson was that now for the first time slavery was recognised as an institution good in itself, and as the foundation of the whole state edifice, whereas the revolutionary fathers, men steeped in the prejudices of the eighteenth century, had treated slavery as an evil imported from England and to be eliminated in the course of time. Another matador of the South, Mr. Spratt, cried out: 'For us it is a question of founding a great slave republic.' If, therefore, it was indeed only in defence of the Union that the North drew the sword, had not the South already declared that the continuance of slavery was no longer compatible with the continuance of the Union?"

Marx skips over the Davis inaugurals in which very little is said about slavery, nothing about white supremacy, and everything about the founding fathers and the precedent of 1776.

Wow, great discussion. Thank you Professor (Dr.?) Owens for contributions.

Dan P.

What are you talking about when you invoke this "neo-con" rubbish? Do you even have any idea about what neo-cons believe? By your reasoning, Hamilton, Washington, Madison, Jackson, and Webster were all "Neo-cons" because they worked to achieve a real union.

Whether I favor revolution or secession is immaterial. My point--concurred in by Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster--is that a legal, CONSITUTIONAL right to secede does not exist, while the people always reserve to themselves the right of revolution. The ludicrous suggestion by the other "neo-cons"--the Neo-Confederates--that the state ratifying conventions reserved to themselves the right to secede is based on an illegitime conflation of the two concepts.

Joh Lewis asks, What gives the South the right to break away from the Union?

The answer is, the same document so admired by Jaffa and the people at Ashbrook - the Declaration of Independence.

.. to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed .. 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.

I still think that given American pre-eminence in the world today it is hard to argue that very many mistakes have occured in american history.

John Lewis again. Sorry, I'm not going after you. There is a distinct tinge of might-makes-right to this argument. If American pre-eminence is our lodestar we may find ourselves in some very unexpected places.

But as Harry Jaffa has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt, the Revolutionary generation universally understood the separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain and the union among them to have been accomplished simultaneously.

Who the heck is Harry Jaffa, and why is there a sect which worships him? Purely from a sociological perspective, this intrigues me. He seems to be some sort of L Ron Hubbard figure.

Dr. Owens,

Three States specifically reserved the right to secede when they ratified the Constitution. This is common knowledge. New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia. If their reservations were invalid, then their entry into the Union in the first place was invalid. You can’t have it both ways.

Trust me. I am well aware of what neo-cons believe. Ask the other members of this forum or test me.

Of course the people you mentioned all pre-date the neocons. It is best to think of them in the terms of the day. Hamilton was a hard Federalist as was Webster. Washington and Madison were less hard but were still Federalist. (I do think that the neo-conservative temper existed to some degree in the self-righteous apostate, lapsed Yankee Puritans who became Unitarian Social Gospel advocates/abolitionist but that is for another day. There has also always been a national greatness element that motivated westward expansion and international adventuring. TR for example.)

The authentic American strain of conservatism (dare I say Southern) runs through Jefferson (a radical in some respects), Henry, Mason, Randolph, Calhoun, etc. Not through Hamilton.

Yet Jefferson--the "authentic" conservative--preferred Jacobin France to Georgian Britain, while Hamilton believed the opposite.

Dan P.

Again, Rhode Island, Virginia, and New York reiterated the fundamantal right of REVOLUTION, the same right that had been invoked by the thirteen colonies when they declared their independence of Great Britain. You don't seem to grasp the fundamental and important distinction between revolution and secession.

I always chuckle when I hear some neo-Confederates claim that the American Revolution was "secession." Nonsense. The Declaration makes clear the basis of the separation of the colonies from Britain and it wasn't "secession."

Re "neo-cons," too many people seem to mean by the term "pushy Jews who are more loyal to Israel than the United States." I hope you're not one of those who believe that slander.

I have been called a neo-con because of my agreement with many of the neo-cons on foreign policy issues. But my approach to foreign policy owes more to Thucydides and Alexander Hamilton, who, Russel Krik notwithstanding, was someone who wanted to "conserve" a republic capable of defending the liberties of the people. As "oleagenous screed" observes in comment 46, the supposedly "conservative" Jefferson was a devotee of Jacobin France. Rich, that.

And Calhoun a conservative? Only if one means by the term someone who rejects the principles of the Declaration. Oh, wait. He did. Indeed, one of Calhoun's main targets was his fellow "conservative," Jefferson, whom he accused of introducing into political debate the false principle that "all men are created equal."

Where I and the neo-cons agree is on the point that American principles are fundamentally sound and that sometimes it is necessary to defend or advance these principles by the use of force. Any particular policy must be informed by prudence.

Here's the irony of trying to tar Harry Jaffa with the neo-con label. Some of his most pointed critiques have been of Irving Kristol and Jean Kirkpatrick. Who is more neo-con than they?

BTW, I was serving on the staff of Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten during the dustup over Mel and the NEH. It wasn't the neo-cons who did him in but liberals such as Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL). When I tried to get Bob to support Mel as Chairman of NEH, he rejected my advice because he was swayed by Simon.

Finally, I may have disagreed with Mel, but he was a first rate scholar. He actualy read Lincoln and his critique, no matter how wrong-headed I believe it was, was based on solid scholarship. DiLorenzo can make no such claim. His scholarship is at best shoddy.

You're welcome to your narrative. But now I'm done with this thread. My next article--on the causes of the Confederate defeat--has been posted.

Next I plan to discuss the controversies associated with Gettysburg, and then the Central Tennessee campaign of 1863, the one that culminated in the Confederate debacle at Chattanooga, which finally led Davis to relieve Braxton Bragg, something he should have done a year earlier.

But just for fun, I might post an old article I wrote entitled "The Case Against Secession" and watch the neo-Confederates' heads explode.

Correcting your silly mistakes and distortions hardly counts as an exploding head.

If you want to keep on pimping for the Federalist-Whig-Republican agenda (basically massive military spending and corporate welfare) go right ahead.

If you want to accuse anyone of who uses the word "neo-conservative" of being an anti-semite that's your business.

And if you want to make fun of DiLorenzo's scholarship while yours consists of posting editorials on a website and reviewing books for the Washington Times then do that too.


A personal attack! Way to go! Very classy, indeed.

My first instinct was to let it pass, based on the old adage that responding to personal attacks is like wrestling a pig in the mud. I get dirty but the pig loves it.

But I’m afraid I can’t. A sense of honor requires that I point out a few things. So in defense of my silly, pimping self, let me say this.

My pimping for the Federalist-Whig-Republican agenda included thirty years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve, during which time I managed to pick up a couple of Purple Hearts while leading an infantry platoon and company in Vietnam, and time in the US Senate and as a political appointee in the Reagan administration. This interlude no doubt affected my scholarly output, since I came to my PhD late in life.

Nonetheless, I have managed to produce a number of articles for refereed journals, including International Security, Orbis, the Naval War College Review, and several book chapters. Most of these pieces have been concerned with national security issues, about which you apparently care little. Since I have been busy educating the officers who are defending you, I haven’t had a book yet, but I am completing a history of US civil-military relations for the University Press of Kentucky. If you’re interested in a defense of classical geopolitics, or defense organization, or civil-military relations, or the importance of sanctuary for terrorists and other armed groups, or naval strategy, then I’ll be glad to send you a list. Oh, and I did a piece on Hamilton’s pseudonyms for The Journal of the Early Republic.

Which reminds me, the “Brutus” shtick has been done to death. It is favored by those who want us to know (or think) they have read Plutarch and the writings of the anti-federalists. It reminds me of H.L. Mencken’s observation that any Southern white man who had not been convicted of a morals violation was called “Colonel.” Hey, that gives me an idea. Maybe I’ll start using some original pseudonyms like “Publius,” or “Phocion,” or “Tully.” What do you think? Of course the problem with hiding behind a pseudonym is that while you can google me and find my pieces and what others have said about me, pro and con, I can’t google you. You might want to let me know what you have done.

As far as my writing for popular outlets like the Washington Times (and the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, and the Christian Science Monitor), I have decided that at my advanced age, my time is better spent trying to shape public opinion than writing pieces that only my colleagues will read.

Now in the old days, I would have responded to your affront to my honor by challenging you to a duel. That is still an option as far as I am concerned. But I must warn you that during the Marine Corps period of my pimping for the Federalist-Whig-Republican agenda, I consistently shot "expert" on the pistol range. So my choice of weapon would be the M1911 45 caliber pistol at 50 feet. What do you say?

Now I really am done with this thread.

I'd say that you have pretty thin skin. I'd also say that if you want to use a pseudonym that would be just fine with me: I wonder if your positions would alter even slightly.

I like your most recent editorial the best. All of them are fine. But I don't like your tone any more than I like Dilorenzos. And he's got three books, tenure, and he's ever bit as serious a scholar as your hero Jaffa.


And i don't think you have much of a sense of humor. For the record, I don't really think that what I write would make your head explode, and I really don't want to shoot you with my .45, ala Hank Jr's "A Country Boy Can Survive."

I actually have a thick skin when it comes to disagreements about the content of my argument. I don't even really care about your claiming that I have made "silly mistakes" in need of correnction. That is what debate among reasonable people is all about.

But calling me a "pimp" seems to cross the line into incivility and requires a response as a matter of honor. Perhaps that is a function of my Southern origins.

And as long as we are posting Mencken quotes, I can't bear to let my favorite one pass. He called Lincoln "the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality." That pretty much sums up the general philosophy of this webpage.

Then I most sincerely apologize. I meant it as a derogatory verb, not a noun. I will admit that I don't like the Federalist-Whig-Republican agenda very much. Your hero is Lincoln. Mine is Jefferson. And we will disagree. But I am pretty certain that you are a man of honor: I certainly possess no evidence to the contrary.

Isn't that interesting. Didn't Lincoln say that Jefferson was the greatest politician in our history?

I should also add that when you challenge someone to a duel and they apologize for the slight in question it is your duty as a gentleman to either accept or rebuke that apology.

And now it looks like I have my first piece of evidence.

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