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The Lincoln controversy…


The150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln and the end of hostilities in the American Civil War, has seen a new focus on the continuing – if marginalised – controversy over what they both represent. Was the Civil War a heroic intervention to end oppression and slavery, or the first modern US war of imperialism masquerading as ethics? Was Lincoln a hero, an emancipator, or a racist hypocrite? Did he save the union? or force it upon a people who had chose secession?

We can’t can’t claim to have any final answers, but the debate itself – and even more so the fact of its almost total suppression in the mainstream – is important for what it can tell us about our own present day and the formulation of memes, myths and received truths. The rawness and brutality of what was done to the South in the name of justice an unity still lives in the the collective unconscious of the Southern people – and perhaps also in the North – with an intensity few openly acknowledge. In these senses the debate is not historical at all. It’s entirely about the now. We’ll probably be coming back to it few time, but for now here is Southern gentleman Paul Craig Roberts’ view the on the truth behind the Lincoln legacy. Is he biased? Perhaps. But so are all of us in our own ways, and it’s our own officially sanctioned societal prejudices that we are always least aware of, and which always need to be most rigorously challenged.

The Power of Lies

Paul Craig Roberts

It is one of history’s ironies that the Lincoln Memorial is a sacred space for the Civil Rights Movement and the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Lincoln did not think blacks were the equals of whites. Lincoln’s plan was to send the blacks in America back to Africa, and if he had not been assassinated, returning blacks to Africa would likely have been his post-war policy.

As Thomas DiLorenzo and a number of non-court historians have conclusively established, Lincoln did not invade the Confederacy in order to free the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation did not occur until 1863 when opposition in the North to the war was rising despite Lincoln’s police state measures to silence opponents and newspapers. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure issued under Lincoln’s war powers. The proclamation provided for the emancipated slaves to be enrolled in the Union army replenishing its losses. It was also hoped that the proclamation would spread slave revolts in the South while southern white men were away at war and draw soldiers away from the fronts in order to protect their women and children. The intent was to hasten the defeat of the South before political opposition to Lincoln in the North grew stronger.

The Lincoln Memorial was built not because Lincoln “freed the slaves,” but because Lincoln saved the empire. As the Savior of the Empire, had Lincoln not been assassinated, he could have become emperor for life.

As Professor Thomas DiLorenzo writes: “Lincoln spent his entire political career attempting to use the powers of the state for the benefit of the moneyed corporate elite (the ‘one-percenters’ of his day), first in Illinois, and then in the North in general, through protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare for road, canal, and railroad corporations, and a national bank controlled by politicians like himself to fund it all.”

Lincoln was a man of empire. As soon as the South was conquered, ravaged, and looted, his collection of war criminal generals, such as Sherman and Sheridan, set about exterminating the Plains Indians in one of the worst acts of genocide in human history. Even today Israeli Zionists point to Washington’s extermination of the Plains Indians as the model for Israel’s theft of Palestine.

The War of Northern Aggression was about tariffs and northern economic imperialism. The North was protectionist. The South was free trade. The North wanted to finance its economic development by forcing the South to pay higher prices for manufactured goods. The North passed the Morrill Tariff which more than doubled the tariff rate to 32.6% and provided for a further hike to 47%. The tariff diverted the South’s profits on its agricultural exports to the coffers of Northern industrialists and manufacturers. The tariff was designed to redirect the South’s expenditures on manufactured goods from England to the higher cost goods produced in the North.

This is why the South left the union, a right of self-determination under the Constitution.

The purpose of Lincoln’s war was to save the empire, not to abolish slavery. In his first inaugural address Lincoln “made an ironclad defense of slavery.” His purpose was to keep the South in the Empire despite the Morrill Tariff. As for slavery, Lincoln said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” This position, Lincoln reminded his audience, was part of the 1860 Republican Party platform. Lincoln also offered his support for the strong enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required Northerners to hunt down and return runaway slaves, and he gave his support to the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, already passed by Northern votes in the House and Senate, that prohibited any federal interference with slavery. For Lincoln and his allies, the empire was far more important than slaves.

DiLorenzo explains what the deal was that Lincoln offered to the South. However, just as empire was more important to the North than slavery, for the South avoiding large taxes on manufactured goods, in effect a tax on Southern agricultural profits, was more important than northern guarantees for slavery.

If you want to dislodge your brainwashing about the War of Northern Aggression, read DiLorenzo’s books, The Real Lincoln, and Lincoln Unmasked.

The so-called Civil War was not a civil war. In a civil war, both sides are fighting for control of the government. The South was not fighting for control of the federal government. The South seceded and the North refused to let the South go.

The reason I am writing about this is to illustrate how history is falsified in behalf of agendas. I am all for civil rights and participated in the movement while a college student. What makes me uncomfortable is the transformation of Lincoln, a tyrant who was an agent for the One Percent and was willing to destroy any and every thing in behalf of empire, into a civil rights hero. Who will be next? Hitler? Stalin? Mao? George W. Bush? Obama? John Yoo? If Lincoln can be a civil rights hero, so can be torturers. Those who murder in Washington’s wars women and children can be turned into defenders of women’s rights and child advocates. And probably they will be.

This is the twisted perverted world in which we live. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, is confronted with Washington’s overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine, a Russian ally and for centuries a part of Russia itself, while Putin is falsely accused of invading Ukraine. China is accused by Washington as a violator of human rights while Washington murders more civilians in the 21st century than every other country combined.

Everywhere in the West monstrous lies stand unchallenged. The lies are institutionalized in history books, course curriculums, policy statements, movements and causes, and in historical memory.

America will be hard pressed to survive the lies that it lives.


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  2. Thomas says

    Slavery in the U.S. Constitution:


    “Slavery is likely to be abolished by the war power and all chattel slavery abolished. This I and my European friends are in favor of, for slavery is but the owning of labor and carries with it the care of the laborers, while the European plan, led on by England, is that capital shall control labor by controlling wages. The great debt that the capitalists will see to it is made out of the war, must be used as a means to control the volume of money. To accomplish this the bonds must be used as a banking basis. We are now waiting for the Secretary of the Treasury to make this recommendation to Congress. It will not do to allow the greenback as it is called, to circulate as money any length of time as we can not control that. But we can control the bonds and through them the bank issues” (Hazard Circular 1862 from ‘Banking and Currency and the Money Trust’ by Charles A. Lindbergh). Also see, ‘Why Is Your Country At War and What Happens To You After the War’ by Charles Lindbergh.

    To whoever was writing about prehistoric America, the truth of who was here has never been taught in the public education system. Quetzalcoatl was a man-god and founder of the meso-Americans and Mayans and Incan civilizations and they stated that he was fair-skinned and bearded and came from across the sea and taught them their sciences and maths to build their civilizations. When Cortez showed up at Tenochtitlan the Aztecs were waiting for him and welcomed the return of Quetzalcoatl.

    There are a number of Native American tribal oral histories that say there were red haired people in the land before they came; the Paiute in particular even state that they fought with them and genocided the red haired people who were in their land before them. Red haired mummies were discovered in Spirit Cave Nevada and near Lovelock, and they were carbon dated at 9500 years old. Other preserved bodies of caucasians were discovered in caves in Kentucky and Tennessee, and a bog graveyard in Florida dated at 7500 BCE. Another caucasian graveyard was found on Catalina Island California dated to 7000 years old. The mummies in Nevada and Florida had DNA tests done and they had Haplogroup X DNA (European). The Mandan Indians of North Dakota had red hair and blue eyes and were still living when Lewis and Clark met them.

    ‘The Ancient Giants Who Ruled America’ by Richard J. Dewhurst
    ‘The Lost Colonies of Ancient America’ by Frank Joseph

  3. Alex says

    Another good book to read about Lincoln is “The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln” by Larry Tagg.

  4. Adam E. says

    The father of slavery in USA was a black man, who won the first court case to allow him to own a slave for life. Search that Internet and see.

  5. William Rothschild says

    Slavery is bad enough in itself, but the sheeple fail to look into the whole scheme. To start with, it was the slaves own tribes that sold them into slavery to begin with, so they’re just as complicit as those who bought them. Also, nothing gets mentioned about the thousands of white slaves, mostly from Ireland and Scotland that were sold for much less than black slaves and treated worse than black slaves. People choose to remain slaves, even today, if they refuse to delve into the truth of our past.

    • Absolutely. You’re so right about African slaves having been sold into slavery by their own tribes as a start. Yes, those tribes who did this were just as complicit as those who bought them. Your mentioning the fact that’s never mentioned about the thousands of white slaves, mostly from Ireland and Scotland who were sold for much less than black slaves and treated worse, is a pure gem, William. No liberal media source or textbook has ever included this fact; and, if mentioned at all, it’s just as indentured servants (with indentured servitude for a certain length of time). You nailed it perfectly. Bravo.

      • Interestingly a main reason for colonizing Australia was the loss of the penal colonies in N America after 1776,
        Many of the convicts were from Scotland and Ireland and were used as virtual slaves.
        I seem to recall that in the former colonies the white slaves were called “indentured servants” as a cover-up, but I might be wrong on this.

  6. A Voice in the Wilderness says

    I think we can all agree that organized slavery in America would have eventually ended as it had in all other developed countries….without any kind of war. Even some of the powerful slave owners wanted it to end, they just didn’t know what to do with all the slaves once they were freed.

    • bob adams says

      Without trying to sound crass the truth is slavery was an economic system. Slaves were a capital investment to the slave owners. The question wasn’t what were they going to do with the slaves when they were freed but how were the slave owners going to replace their capital losses. In 1808 the British nation freed all slaves within its empire but they also paid the owners for their capital losses. This is why slave holding citizens of the empire accepted it. The problem in the United States was there was no money to pay for an emancipation. Slavery in the South would have probably ended by 1885 whether or not the South had gained their independence. As an economic system slavery was not very efficient. There was no monetary incentive for the slaves to work particularly hard. Even the slave owners were beginning to realize that another system had to be devised. Some owners were developing a profit sharing model. Read the book “A Particular Institution”. Very insightful. One of the most interesting thinks I learned was that one of the largest slave holders in Colleton County, SC was a black man. He owned 90 slaves. That’s the kind of thing they don’t tell you in the official history books. The American public is woefully uneducated. In reality history isn’t as black and white as the PC crowd would have you believe.

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  9. Terry says

    The Luciferian Rothschilds know full well how to get brother to kill brother! Or Kingdom to fight Kingdom! Or nation to fight nation! The justifications for war are devised to sway each particular group. Just so long as one Rothschild finances one side and another finances the other side, they always win! Judah Benjamin was the Rothschild agent and huge plantationer Jefferson Davis partnered with. When Davis honorably surrendered, Judah snaked his way thru Florida to slither on a British warship headed to England. There he became the Queen’s personal attorney. Do you think he reported to the Rothschild’s City of London? If the south had won, Rothschild would’ve had control of half of America and the other half would be collateralized – waiting to default with a little manipulation. Lincoln said I face a formidable enemy in front of me, but I fear the ones behind me the most!

    The Rothschilds aid their Khazarian tribe to take over all positions of power, government, courts, media, press, and schools. NO DEMOCRACY CAN STAND WHEREVER THEY HAVE INFILTRATED! Only 2% of Americans, Jewish, have taken over control. RICOH laws should be applied to each making tribal decisions instead of for the greater good of all!

    • Terry says

      The South was trading and banking with Rothschild’s England and the North wanted money kept in America! Slavery had ended in other countrys and the cotton gin and other mechanical harvesters was ending the need for slavery. Now the Rothschild’s NWO is trying to shame white people to aid blacks in a devisive way as retribution for the denied 40 acres and a mule. But nothing new, the WW1 vets didn’t get their bonuses promised either – just lead spilling blood on the streets of Washington, DC..

  10. Link Abecolon says

    “The South” lost. Get over it. If you want to hang your “pride” on a bunch of treasonous failures, go nuts but don’t wave your fail banner in my face, as I’m an American.

    • The brave soldiers who fought for the south were not treasonous, they were patriots, and deserve the same respect as the brave patriots who fought for this country’s independence from England.

    • bob adams says

      I’d also like to note that you sound like the typical Rustbelt American. Waving your American flag up there in decaying cities with closed factories and cold winters. Stay up there in Yankee land. You deserve it.

  11. This article overlooked the real cause of the Civil War. As Anthony Sutton points out in “America’s Secret Establishment”, Patriarchs of Skull and Bones were heading the secessionist movements . Other researchers like Samuel Morse point out the role the Vatican played in trying to destroy the Union. “The Secret History of the New World Order” demonstrates that Skull and Bones was created by the Jesuits. To be sure, there were differences between the Northern and Southern States. However it was the Vatican that played on these differences in a bid to destroy the Union. After the Union victory, the whole federal government was planned to be decapitated. General Grant, Vice President, Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State , Seward were all supposed to have been assassinated along with President Lincoln at the same time. This was a Jesuit plot as documented in “The Suppressed Truth About the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” by Burke McCarty. While I agree with Paul Craig Roberts on many issues, I think he needs to do a little more research on the real cause of the Civil War.

    • Pharmer says

      There is an “evil entity” that controls our planet, and plays all sides against each other, similar to the “hunger games” books (the first two are the best). Water, food, and other natural resources are being used as the catalyst to start wars between us, when we all have the same common enemy! We need to think like George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, and all at once stop supporting the NWO, which is a pyramid of pyramids. The NWO will collapse like a house of cards once we stop supporting it by not using their fake money, buying their toxic products, voting in their rigged elections, and paying their extortionist taxes, licenses, etc… Paul Craig Roberts can’t see the forest for the trees: just look at his website with him standing in front of Alexander Hamilton, who controlled George Washington for the House of Rothschild – that says it all. I exchanged emails with PCR, and he tried to convince me that the international banksters did not control our Treasury Department of the Federal Reserve (which controls the Treasury). Clearly PCR is a “Gatekeeper”, which isn’t surprising if you look at his establishment credentials. That said, most of what he writes is true, although he seems to get it mostly from a couple other excellent writers, like Stephen Lendman. If we want to save our planet, we need to stop supporting our corrupts governments, who are all part of the international criminal syndicate which is destroying our planet faster every day. Geoengineeringwatch.org is one of the most important websites.

  12. …the same misconception of Abraham Lincoln can also be applied to John F. Kennedy! This great “intellectual” was a big friend of Josip Broz Tito of Jugoslavia, who siphoned millions of American government $$$ to finance his communist regime, as he threatened Jack with siding again with the Soviet Union, if he didn’t help prop up Tito’s regime! By donating this kind of foreign aid, Kennedy helped opprese the captive nations of Jugoslavia, especially the Croatians and Kosovars! Jack was very reluctant to sign any civil rights bill at the time, and LBJ did the rest in 1965! If you look at Kennedy’s high school report card, his average in all subjects was a “C” (below average)! He received a C- in algebra, “C” in chemistry, “C” in physics, but (drum roll……!), an “A” in history! Hardly an intellectual worthy of entering Harvard or Yale! Some say that he flunked officer training in the United States Navy, but his daddy, Joseph got him the Lieutenant’s commission! His only claim to fame as president, was the “Trade Expansion Act of 1962”! Sorry, but JFK has nothing to be remembered for except being……Kaboom!

    • “you sir are , full of merde, read James Douglas’ book, “JFK and the Unspeakable” then get back to us. But I imagine the prejudice you evidence will keep the facts from altering your view.

    • Tom says

      Before time flies too far, I believe you have to get on the stick and read two or three hundred books on these subjects before commenting again. No offense meant, I think you are probably still pretty young. There is some easy stuff on the net, though. Not a short cut to the reading, but it helps. May I suggest the interview with Norman Dodd. That’s probably the equivalent to a Master’s in History, and it is only 59 minutes long. An easy read is Major Jordan’s Diary. Again, no offense, but dismissive oversimplification of complex issues is not a sign of much intelligence.

  13. Lincoln did what anyone in politics would have done at that time. No one of European descent in the Americas would I Label a hero(stolen land,genocide,disgustingly short memory, etc) but, Lincoln was no worse than any other candidate and better than some. I agree that the real story hasn’t been told about the founding of this country or the true interactions of the peoples of Western Europe’s interactions with the rest of the planets population.

  14. c d says

    This article is just plain loaded with hyperbole, and I wonder sometimes whether there is some hidden agenda behind such alternative media pundits. As for Lincoln specifically it may serve us better to talk to those scholars who know him more intimately than an author like Dilorenzo, who clearly has an ax to grind. Let ‘s avoid allowing alternative media experts own orthodoxies from taking root and continue to search for the broader, ultimate truth.

    • Ingimundar says

      Can PCR say it any plainer:
      “The reason I am writing about this is to illustrate how history is falsified in behalf of agendas. ”

      Just accept it at that! Why not?

  15. Veikko Taipale says

    “You and I are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other races. Whether it be right or wrong, I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living amongst us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.”

    Statement to the Deputation of Free Negroes (14 August 1862), in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Baler, Rutgers University Press, 1953, Vol. V, page 371.

    “I am not now nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.” Abraham Lincoln, Sept. 18, 1858, at Charleston, Illinois.

  16. bob adams says

    The South could have stayed in the Union and kept their slaves. So what made them declare their independence? They may have mentioned slavery in the secession documents but anyone with half a brains knows that all wars are about money and resources. The final straw was the Morrell Tariff Act of 1857. The first flag of the Republic of South Carolina went up at the United States Customs House in Charleston, SC on December 21st 1860. That is a flag that not many know. Maybe we Southerners should fly that flag as an act of rebellion against the PC crowd and the federal tyranny that now stifles any discussion of true history.

  17. Alex Hidell says

    I admire Dr. Roberts and 99 per cent of the time agree with him. This is a bit of an exception however.
    Lincoln was influenced by the outlook and mores of his day, possibly less so than the average man of the times. In fact he did think blacks should be the equal of whites and he allowed many blacks to visit and petition him in the White House and held social affairs for some of them, notably his friend Frederick Douglass.

    Sojourner Truth was also a visitor to the president and he met many mothers of black soldiers serving in the Union forces. Not long before his assassination, he called for allowing certain blacks to be given suffrage, particularly in Louisiana, long freed by Union forces and with a well-entrenched black societal structure and many free blacks.

    Many “solutions” were presented regarding the future of blacks in the US: return to Africa, development of a colony in Guatemala or Ecuador, and while the war was still going on, Lincoln floated a plan to have the United States buy all the slaves of southern slaveholders and liberate them. These plans got no support. They were “ideas,” which were dropped for lack of support and when Lincoln changed his mind as events proceeded.

    As far as being a railroad lawyer, all lawyers seek monied clients. If they don’t they themselves can’t make a living. Should Lincoln have shunned offers from the railroads? If he did, he would have been a fool. He worked for those who paid him and in the grand scheme of things, railroads are not bad, but good.

    He did in fact work against robber corporations, which he called the “money power” and he tried to balk them when possible, causing the government to issue “greenbacks,” independent of controlling banks. As far as protectionist tariffs for roadbuilders, railroads, and canal cartels, he recognized that all these are good things which benefit everyone and those willing to build them deserved to make a profit.

    Regarding genocide of the Native Americans, Lincoln was dead when that began in earnest after the War Between the States ended and there is no proof he would have approved it.

    In fact the Southern states left the Union for one reason only: Lincoln’s election with about 30 per cent of the vote. The slaveholders foolishly supported several candidates in the 1860 elections, splitting their own vote. The slaveholders knew Lincoln’s position on slavery. They left because they thought he would act to free the slaves.

    As far as the Emancipation Proclamation, that might come under the category: “All’s Fair in Love and War.” Yes, he wanted blacks to join the Union forces, yes he wanted to create unease in the minds of Confederate soldiers at the fronts who thought there might be a slave rebellion in their home states and yes, he wouldn’t have objected if there had been such an uprising. It was essentially an act of war. Who holds back in war? No one in his right mind.

    • bob adams says

      Go read “The Real Lincoln”. Lincoln said he didn’t believe that blacks were the equal of whites. His repeated use of the ‘N’ word in the White House shocked Northern abolitionists when they came to lobby him. He wanted all blacks repatriated to Africa. Look up the history of Liberia. Read the Emancipation Proclamation carefully. It freed no slave in Union states like Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky or West Virginia. It freed no slaves in Union occupied states like Florida or Tenn. It declared that all slaves in the states in rebellion were free. Well those states were what was left of the Confederacy and he had no control over them or the slaves there. His proclamation was pure political theater to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy.

    • trey says

      Here is but one easily found Lincoln quote:

      “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races [applause]: that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” — Reply by Abraham Lincoln to Stephen A. Douglas in the first joint debate, Ottowa, IL; 21 Aug 1858
      Wow you are right, what a great man. And did they ban the confederate flag after the war? States in the north had slaves even after the war was over. He didn’t ban slavery in the north during the entire war. Oh there were over 3000 blacks that owned black slaves, also. Almost every president has relatives who owned slaves, even obama. Let’s ban the bible, it supports slavery. It won’t end, unless you stop listenening to the reality creators.

      • Alex Hidell says

        You are talking about 1858. Time passed and Lincoln changed his mind. He didn’t want to alienate slaveholders in the states which did not secede since they sent men to the Union armies and paid taxes to support the war effort. Lincoln knew their time was coming to free their slaves. It did come after the war ended, by act of Congress.

        The fact that Lincoln was able to change his mind and accept new ideas and better political positions is one of the positive things about him.

        • bob adams says

          He didn’t change his mind. When abolitionists visited Lincoln in the White House during the war he used the N word so much they were shocked. They complained about it and wrote about it. While the war was going on Lincoln was busy setting up colonies in the new country of Liberia for slaves voluntarily repatriated to Africa. Do some research.

  18. Jen says

    There is one piece of information that Paul Craig Roberts and Thomas di Lorenzo have ignored (whether accidentally or deliberately, I do not know) and that is the fact that before he embarked on a political career, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer who specialised in representing railway companies and railway workers in various court cases. He started his legal career in an Illinois-based firm in 1837 taking on cases and most of these cases involved the growing railway industry as it was one major industry among others in Illinois at the time.

    Lynn Stuart Parramore, in her 2012 Alternet article “An Inconvenient Truth About Lincoln (That You Won’t Hear from Hollywood)”, can expound on this aspect of Lincoln’s career better than I can:

    ” … In 1851, Lincoln tried his first major railroad case, representing the Alton & Sangamon Railroad before the Illinois Supreme Court. The defendant had bought stock on the belief that railroad lines would run near his home and give his property value a boost. Unfortunately for him, the Illinois legislature subsequently amended the company’s charter and changed the route so that it no longer ran near his land. The defendant refused further payments to the railroad company, arguing that the original contract was altered and thus nullified.

    Lincoln argued otherwise, and convinced the Supreme Court. His victory was a big deal and set a precedent that was evoked throughout the rest of the century. The railroad industry was deeply impressed. Lincoln’s career as a railroad lawyer took off.

    Through Lincoln’s skilled legal arguments, the railroad barons increased their wealth and a lot of others got the short end of the stick. Land owners were sharply limited in the compensation they could receive when a right-of-way was granted over their property for a railroad line. As historian James W. Ely Jr. has documented, Lincoln proposed that the supposed “offsetting benefits” of such lines could be held against claims of damages. In other words, a farmer could be told that he would benefit from the railroad line, and was therefore entitled to less compensation when a track ran across his field. This assumed benefit was highly speculative.Often estimates turned out to be way off-base. The offsetting-of-benefits argument was held by many to be grossly unfair and became deeply unpopular. But it was great for the railroad barons, and sparked increased railroad development.

    Lincoln also argued in court that farmers and ranchers would have to bear the expense of building fences so that their animals did not wander onto train tracks. Through his carefully prepared cases, railroad companies got windfall tax exemptions that many felt constituted favoritism and unfairly burdened other taxpayers. Through his prowess, railroads won the right to limit liability for damage to cattle and other animals caused by delay in transit.

    Lincoln first appeared for the Illinois Central Railroad, probably the largest business corporation in the state, in May 1853. He was handsomely rewarded for his successful advocacy for the company. By October of that year, Illinois Central placed him on retainer and gave him the special bonus of a free annual pass on the line.

    It’s important to point out that despite Lincoln’s commitment to the railroad industry, he also handled suits against the carriers. Ely reminds us that lawyers in those days couldn’t afford to take only cases on one side. So whatever his philosophical leanings, Lincoln went for the cases that would support his practice. This plays out in his handling of cases related to slavery. Though Lincoln was a lifelong opponent of slavery, he would represent the interests of slave owners, such as runaway recovery, when he was paid to do so.

    Lincoln was also a Whig, and as such, railroads were a key part of his vision for economic growth. As an Illinois legislator, Lincoln threw his support behind state subsidies for internal improvements and voted for several railroad charters. Like many other Whigs, he believed that railroad expansion would bring enormous economic and social benefit to the country.

    During the late 1850s, Lincoln collected more fees from Illinois Central Railroad than from any other single client, and he was closely associated with Illinois Central until his election to the presidency. Just before his nomination for president in May 1860, Lincoln won a big tax case for his main client, Illinois Central.

    Lincoln was elected president on a platform that declared: “That a railroad to the Pacific ocean is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction.” President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862 and the 1864 amendments to that act. He was clearly a major railroad booster in the political world.

    The relationship between corporate interests like the railroad industry and slavery was complex. Political scientist Thomas Ferguson has observed that some of the railway tycoons genuinely disliked slavery, and their support for Lincoln had an element of moral and philosophical conviction. But for most, the bottom line was the bottom line. They needed an advocate who could help them expand a profitable industry westward, and Lincoln was their man….”

    Keeping the Union together could have been as much to ensure continued future stability for the railway industry and the supposed wealth and benefits it would bring to the country that in the long term might offset the suffering and destruction the Civil War brought to both North and South, and especially the South, as it was to save the North’s protectionist economic platform. However Lincoln was killed in 1865 so we may never know whether his reasons for preserving the Union might have been as idealistic as they were also self-serving, in that his presidency would have been boosted by railway expansion across a country with territory and borders made stable by a successful prosecution of war against a breakaway part.

    • Seamus Padraig says

      In addition to affecting commercial interests such as railroads, allowing the US to split in two would have had profound geopolitical ramifications for North America. It probably would have lead to more wars between north and south over the the newly conquered western territories, possibly would have given Mexico a shot at reclaiming at least some of them, and would also possibly have allowed the British Empire to remain a key player in North American affairs a good deal longer. (As it happened, Britain ended up granting Canada dominion status and basically pulling out in 1867.) Though Lincoln never mentioned any of this in public, I strongly suspect that dangers like these were far more important to him than the slavery issue. Up until the Emancipation Proclamation–issued nearly half-way through the war–Lincoln had for many years consistently been a free-soil advocate instead, prepared to tolerate slavery in the Old South, so long as it did not spread to the western territories.

  19. lawrence says

    I believe there was another reason for the proclamation One of the Big concerns for Lincoln was preventing Europe mainly England from supporting the south , since England had previously declared slavery illeagal it would be very hard for it to support a pro slave south once the north declared slavery over

    • Tom says

      Lawrence, I believe that the Emancipation Proclamation also had something to do with the war that was going on. One of Grant’s observations was that the reports of army sizes were skewed because they were written without counting the number of slaves used to support southern troops, which among the northern armies consisted of soldiers. So, when Grant captured enemy positions he also captured numerous slaves, cannon, etc. What to do with the innumerable captured slaves was resolved with the Proclamation.

  20. Seamus Padraig says

    I am also from a ‘Confederate’ state, and am familiar with PCR’s line of argument. Pretty much everything he says about Lincoln personally is true. Because of his tragic death, because of his speech-writing talent, and because of the fact that his side ultimately won the war, he has been transformed into some untouchable prophet-figure in our national civic religion. The real Lincoln was by no means evil, but he was a much more complicated personality than the national myth would lead one to believe.

    However, the old notion that the Civil War was ‘mostly’ about tariffs is patently absurd. Yes, tariffs were another controversy between north and south, and had been for some decades. But it wasn’t tariffs that caused ‘Bleeding Kansas’ or hindered the admission of new, western states. No less than 7 Confederate states specifically cited the need to protect slavery in their secession resolutions; hardly any mentioned tariffs.

    By the way, PCR is right about ‘civil war’ being a bit of a misnomer. Old-time southerners, in fact, once prefered to call it the ‘War Between the States’ or even the ‘War of Northern Agression’.

    • Grey says

      Seamus, one problem. If the War of Northern Aggression was about slavery then we have a serious problem to deal with. All the Southern states had to do to protect slavery was to remain in the union. The Constitution protected the industry of slavery. Explain the contradiction please?

      • Tom says

        Well, I think Seamus is right that it wasn’t about tariffs. And maintaining slavery wasn’t the problem, either. At the time, people like US Grant believed it had to do with the expansion of slavery. But I believe there’s a lot more to this. The English and the French foresaw the US’s potential and wanted to divide it. Douglas may well have beaten Lincoln, so the war agents added Breckenridge, and as if that were not enough to dilute Douglas’ votes, a fellow named Bell was also added. Bell took one or two states. The southern boys contrived to lose. So it was a setup. Things worked against the European bankers, who had troops in Mexico and Canada when, due to boundary problems in Poland, the Tsar sent naval squadrons to New York and San Francisco, to avoid having problems with the English and French navies, for those two were siding with Poland. Under certain conditions the Russians were to be placed under Union authority.
        We had secret agents during the Civil War and I read some of the testimony they gave at the trials of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. They were followed as they boarded a train in Baltimore to New York City. There they changed trains to one going up to the Canadian border, and then a third train to Montreal. They went directly to a hotel known to be patronized by British agents and they went into the rooms of the agents and they left the rooms and returned to Baltimore. Once back, they were able to purchase fine livery and one was going about looking to purchase property. They all had gold and paper money they hadn’t had before. I do not think Lincoln would have been killed but for the payoff money in Montreal. Remember, Lincoln had begun printing greenbacks, obviating the need to borrow from the bankers.

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