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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Abraham Lincoln: Was he a great man? - an interview with Lincoln scholar Thomas DiLorenzo FROM

This interview, conducted by Brian Lamb, was aired on C-SPAN.

You may not have time for all of it, so I suggest watching a real short clip:

from time = 17:58 (Was he a great man?) to time = 21:52 (...attitude of a lot of these newspaper people).

Here is the text for this clip:

LAMB: I still want to come back to what you wrote, but I want to ask you something you said. Was he a great man?

DILORENZO: He was – when you consider that he had less than one year of formal education and he became one of the top lawyers in the United States self taught, he certainly had greatness. I think he was brilliant. I think he was a genius. And I think a great a tragedy for America, however, is that he uses genius to essentially manipulate the South Carolinians into firing the first shot at Fort Sumter and plunging the whole nation into a war. And then, invading his own country after, you know, at Fort Sumter, as you know, no one was killed or hurt, but the response was a full scale invasion of the entire southern states.

And so, I think, he used his genius in a way that – in my latest book ”Lincoln Unmasked” I write about how wouldn’t it had been great had he used this genius to be more statesmen like and end slavery peacefully like the British and the Spaniards did and then do other things for America, as opposed to a four year war that killed 650,000 Americans?

LAMB: How did he trick the South Carolinians?

DILORENZO: Well, he promised he would not send war ships to Fort Sumter, certainly, when he did. And then in my book, I quote him – a letter from Lincoln to his naval commander, Commander Fox, Gustavus Fox thanking him for his assistance in getting the outcome that they desired, and the outcome that they desired was getting the South Carolinians to fire on Fort Sumter because he guessed correctly that the people of the north would rally behind the flag and support the war that he wanted to get into.

And at the same time, you had the confederates had sent peace commissioners to Washington to offer to pay the south’s portion of the national debt and to pay for federal forts like Fort Sumter. Napoleon III of France offered to broker some sort of compromise, but Lincoln refused to speak to any of them. He wouldn’t see any of them. He was determined to go to war, which he did.

LAMB: Why was he determined to go to war?

DILORENZO: Well, I think, he came up with this idea of the mystical union. He – in one of his speeches he talked about the mystic cords of memory that – of the union. But up to that time, a great deal of Americans, I would argue most Americans understood that the union was voluntary and that it would be an atrocity if any state left to march an army into that state and kill some of inhabitants just to keep it back into the union.

In my book, ”The Real Lincoln”, I ran across a big two volume set of books called ”Northern Editorials on Secession” by a man named Howard Perkins and it’s just reprinted northern newspaper editorials in 1859, 1860, 1861 about this whole issue of secession and some other topics. And he concludes that the majority of the newspaper from New York to Cincinnati to Vermont, Wisconsin in the north were in favor of letting the south go peacefully because they believed in the old Jeffersonian dictum that the union was voluntary. In the declaration of independents when governments derived their just powers from the consent of the governed. And when the northerners saw the south saying, we no longer consent to be governed by Washington, D.C. most of them said, OK, well let them go. Horace Greeley, really the famous newspaper man, he’s often quoted as saying this, he might have thought they were mistaken or wrong headed, but let them go and maybe we can persuade them to come back into the union at some future date seemed to be the attitude of a lot of these newspaper people.

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