“There are many today that portray Lincoln as a revolutionary, but the reasons they give for this are incomplete or inaccurate. He led a revolution all right, but it was an anti-American revolution against virtually all the founding principles of this country. It was a revolution against: free-market capitalism; the principles of the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution; the system of states’ rights and federalism that was created by the founders; and the prohibitions against waging war on civilians embodied in the international law of the time as well as the canons of Western Christian civilization.” Thus began Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo, professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and author of The Real Lincoln, in his lecture on “Lincoln’s Second American Revolution” at Christendom College on February 26, 2003.
One of the most absurd Lincoln myths, said DiLorenzo, is that he was devoted to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Although many today try to perpetuate this myth, according to DiLorenzo, Lincoln’s own words and actions thoroughly and completely repudiated every one of the main principles of the Declaration. “Lincoln denounced racial equality over and over again throughout his entire adult life,” said DiLorenzo. “He did not believe that all men are created equal. ‘Free them and make them politically and socially our equals?’ Lincoln once asked. ‘My own feelings will not admit of this . . . . We cannot, then make them equals.'”
A most important principle of the Declaration of Independence is the idea that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. In 1861 nearly every opinion maker in the country, North and South, held this as a cherished belief, said DiLorenzo, and, as such, thought that using military force to coerce any state to remain in the Union would be an act of tyranny and a repudiation of the Declaration. The Declaration of Independence was, after all, a Declaration of Secession from the British Empire. Lincoln’s civil war destroyed this fundamental tenet of the Declaration.
“Lincoln’s ‘change by usurpation,’ paved the way for so many other usurpations of constitutional liberty by the executive and judicial branches that today the Constitution is almost a dead letter altogether,” stated DiLorenzo. “When Lincoln first ran for public office in Illinois in 1832 he announced that ‘My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of a national bank . . . in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff.’ Lincoln was the political ‘son’ of Alexander Hamilton, who first championed these mercantilist policies.”
Mercantilism was the economic and political system that prevailed in Europe in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, explained DiLorenzo, under which special privileges were granted by kings and parliaments to a merchant elite in return for the political and economic support of that elite. Many of the pilgrims who came to America fled this corrupt system. King George’s attempt to impose this system on the American colonists, with all its state-sponsored monopolies and high taxes, led to the American Revolution.
During Lincoln’s administration, the average tariff rate was tripled; the National Currency Acts and the Legal Tender Act finally created a central bank that could issue currency that was not immediately redeemable in gold or silver; and an income tax was adopted for the first time ever, as was military conscription, pervasive excise taxation, and the creation of the internal revenue bureaucracy. It was the triumph of American mercantilism and the beginning of the end of laissez faire capitalism in America, said DiLorenzo.
Additionally, Lincoln repudiated the means by which slavery was ended in every other country on earth during the first 55 years of the nineteenth century: peacefully, through compensated emancipation. The U.S. was the only country in the entire world during that time where war was associated with emancipation, DiLorenzo explained. The British and Spanish empires, and the French and Danish colonies all chose the peaceful route to emancipation. Lincoln never utilized his legendary political skills to do what the rest of the world did with regard to slavery, and end it peacefully.
DiLorenzo concluded his discussion of Lincoln by quoting the great nineteenth century natural rights theorist, the Massachusetts abolitionist Lysander Spooner, writing in 1870: “All these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats –– so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.”
“Perhaps they ought not to deceive, but generations of court historians have seen to it that they have,” ended DiLorenzo.