Tag Archives: Thomas DiLorenzo

WaPo Hit Piece on DiLo

Source: http://www.lewrockwell.com/murphy/murphy176.html

by Bob Murphy

Recently by Bob Murphy: Rise of the Free-Market Zombies

Any LRC reader who’s not been holed up in Guantanamo has by now read all about Ron Paul’s historic opening hearing in his new role as head of the subcommittee that oversees the Federal Reserve. In my naïveté, I am still shocked at the laziness of Dr. Paul’s critics.

In this particular case, the critics directed their fire at Tom DiLorenzo, one of Paul’s witnesses. Tom has already answered their general charges here, but I think it will be useful to go through and dissect this Washington Post article by Dana Milbank, since it so beautifully epitomizes the half-hour hatchet job in these affairs. (Full disclosure: Tom is a personal friend.)

DiLorenzo Hiding His True Views?

Right off the bat, Milbank implies that DiLorenzo was trying to sneak his anti-Lincoln views under the subcommittee’s radar:

The Republican takeover of the House put a chairman’s gavel in the hands of Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the gadfly GOP presidential candidate with a cult following. On Wednesday, he used that gavel for the first time – to remarkable effect.

The hearing itself was lively – based on Paul’s desire to abolish the Federal Reserve and bring back the gold standard – but what really stood out was Chairman Paul’s leadoff witness: a Southern secessionist.

The “short bio” the witness provided with his testimony omitted salient pieces of his resume, including his 2006 book, “Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.” But the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, William Lacy Clay (Mo.) did some homework and learned more about the witness, Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola University Maryland.

Milbank certainly gives the impression that DiLorenzo had taken all of his “nutjob” Lincoln stuff out of his bio, and perhaps left in only his doctoral dissertation and some other academic pieces – hoping against hope that the lazy congressmen wouldn’t find out about the dark side of DiLorenzo the bomb-thrower.

But anybody who knows Tom, knows that he is hardly squeamish about his views. So I asked Tom to send me a copy of the “short bio” he sent to the subcommittee. It contains this:

Dr. DiLorenzo’s major research and publication interests are economic history, industrial organization, and political economy. He is the author or co-author of fourteen books, including The Real Lincoln and How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, From the Pilgrims to the Present. His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed The American Revolution – And What It Mean for America Today. Among his other books (co-authored with James T. Bennett) are Official Lies: How Washington Misleads Us;Underground Government: The Off-Budget Public SectorThe Food and Drink Police: America’s Nannies, Busybodies, and Petty Tyrants; and Destroying Democracy: How Government Funds Partisan PoliticsBarron’s magazine labeled The Real Lincoln as its “top pick” of books with economic themes for 2002.

Does the above look like somebody who is trying to pass himself off as a moderate Republican bean counter? It’s true, the title “The Real Lincoln” by itself could suggest a book explaining what a great and religious man Honest Abe was. But in the context of all those other incendiary titles? I hardly think DiLorenzo was looking to avoid raising eyebrows.

Guilt By Association

After implying dishonesty in DiLorenzo’s representation of his views, Milbank then moves in for the kill:

DiLorenzo, the congressman told the committee, had called Lincoln “the first dictator” and a “mass murderer” and decreed that “Hitler was a Lincolnite.” Worse, Clay charged, “you work for a Southern nationalist organization.” “The League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second southern secession and a society dominated by European Americans.”

At the witness table, DiLorenzo scoffed and waved his hand dismissively at Clay. But neither he nor Paul attempted to refute Clay’s allegations.

Approached after the hearing, the witness said: “I gave a couple of a lectures to a group of college students 15 years ago that are associated with this thing called League of the South.”

As it turns out, “this thing” called the League of the South Institute was listing DiLorenzo on its Web site as recently as 2008 as an “affiliated scholar.” A secessionist Web site, DumpDC, identified DiLorenzo the same way last year when it published an interview with DiLorenzo in which he is quoted as saying “secession is not only possible but necessary if any part of America is ever to be considered ‘the land of the free’ in any meaningful sense.”

And there you have it: DiLorenzo had the chutzpah to say a guy who was directly responsible for a war that left over 600,000 people dead, was a “mass murderer.” (For those questioning Lincoln’s responsibility, keep in mind that (a) the Confederate states didn’t want to take over the entire United States, they simply wanted to secede and (b) things like Sherman’s March werewar crimes, if that term is to mean anything.)

As far as DiLorenzo’s affiliation with the League of the South: I realize Dana Milbank may not be familiar with how academia and non-profit relationships work, but there is nothing contradictory in DiLorenzo saying he merely gave some talks to a group, and then that group still listing him as an “affiliated scholar” years later.

At this point we can wonder what Milbank’s point is. Don’t worry, he tells us:

DiLorenzo, a self-proclaimed historical revisionist, is entitled to say whatever he likes. But it raises doubts about Ron Paul and his causes if this is the best he can come up with for his first act as chairman of the Financial Services Committee’s monetary policy subcommittee.

I have gone back and re-read the previous paragraphs in Milbank’s article. I confess I still don’t see what DiLorenzo’s views on the necessity of secession have to do with Ron Paul’s agenda with respect to auditing the Fed or bringing back the gold standard. Milbank certainly did nothing to refute DiLorenzo’s claim that only secession could restore freedom to parts of America.

Gotcha Moments

Milbank pauses in his article to deploy his hatchet on Ron Paul and Richard Vedder. Milbank first accuses Paul of bad math, though here Paul probably meant dividing total Fed bailouts by the number of unemployed (rather than the whole population of the United States), in which case the “error” disappears.

As far as Vedder, yes he fell into a cross-examination trap. He had said that the Federal Reserve fosters bubbles, but declined to speculate on where the next bubble would arise. Vedder went so far as to say, “Economists who make predictions are foolish.”

This then opened him up to a Democratic critic (Al Green of Texas) who asked him if the gold standard would be better for America, and then when Vedder said yes, Green brought up Vedder’s earlier disdain for predictions. Okay, very nice, but that hardly disqualifies Vedder’s general position that (a) we can be confident that a central bank will screw up the economy without (b) being able to predict beforehand exactly the form the screw up will next take. (By the same token, I could “predict” to the leaders of North Korea that pure capitalism would greatly enrich their people, but I would have no idea how many shopping malls would be in Pyongyang two years after the reforms.)

The Peculiar Institution

In his final paragraphs, Milbank moves the crosshairs back to DiLorenzo:

DiLorenzo went so far as to say there is no need for the government to guarantee bank deposits. “I’m not sure before we had an FDIC you could make a case bank runs were worse,” he argued.

“We had the Great Depression,” Green pointed out.

“Well, yes, for a few short periods,” the witness allowed.

It was peculiar to portray the Depression as “short.” Then again, it was peculiar of DiLorenzo tosay last year that “I saw it as my duty to spread the truth about what a horrific tyrant Lincoln was.” And it was peculiar of DiLorenzo to write in 2005 that “the League of the South advocates peace and prosperity in the tradition of a George Washington or a Thomas Jefferson.”

As far as the FDIC issue, obviously Tom DiLorenzo was not saying the entire Great Depression was short. What he was saying is that there were a few years of bank runs during the Great Depression, but that this was not sufficient to make the case for FDIC. (DiLorenzo was contrasting taxpayer-guaranteed bailouts of irresponsible banks, with the earlier system of bankruptcy proceedings.)

Now on to Lincoln, the real “problem” with DiLorenzo: Yes, it is “peculiar” for him to hold those views, in the sense that most Americans have been taught that Lincoln is a hero, the greatest of presidents who “saved the Union.” Yet as DiLorenzo’s work has documented, Lincoln was a tyrant. And it’s not even the “mere” issue of not allowing people to leave the government of which he was the sitting head, but also rather tyrannical things like locking up newspaper editors who disagreed with his policies. (Here’s an example from a non-pro-Southern website of Lincoln seizing newspapers for apparently printing hoaxes. The reader can surely see the slippery slope involved, but again I am offering this “understandable” example since it comes from a neutral source that isn’t condemning Lincoln in the discussion.)

People who worry about the abuse of civil liberties under the Bush and Obama administrations should recall that Lincoln famously suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Fortunately, we live in a system of checks and balances, and a U.S. district court overruled Lincoln. Oops, he just ignored them. But, when you’re trying to achieve important goals, you can’t be bothered by individual rights and what a U.S. district court thinks of your policies.

Finally, let’s deal with Milbank’s last “shocking” quotation, where DiLorenzo praises the League of the South as being in the tradition of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. First of all, if you click through and read the article, you will see that DiLorenzo is defending his friend Tom Woods from similar character attacks. In other words, when Woods made a splash with his own book on American history, people trotted out the zombie strategy of linking him to the “neo-Confederate” League of the South. So DiLorenzo was only talking about the League of the South to defend his buddy; it’s not (as Milbank is obviously trying to imply) that DiLorenzo looked at his calendar and said, “Whoa, it’s that time of the month when I have to go out and promote my employers, the League of the South.”

But more important is the fact that someone who thinks the Southern states should have been allowed to secede is quite clearly endorsing the principles of the Declaration of Independence. That’s the whole point, after all: When a people think that they are being oppressed by a government that is not representing their interests, then they have a God-given right to dissolve their ties with that government and form their own. That’s what the people in the Confederacy were doing.

Of course, the elephant in the room in all this is slavery. Obviously it was an awful thing that the institution existed in the first place, and that the political leaders in the South wanted to perpetuate it. But guess what, Mr. Milbank? George Washington andThomas Jefferson both owned slaves. And when the American colonies declared their secession from Great Britain, they consisted of a lot of slaveholders. If King George had – halfway through the War for American Independence – declared a new objective of freeing all U.S.-based slaves, would Milbank now say that the wrong side won that war?

This is the crux of the matter. If someone (like DiLorenzo) wants to praise the good things in the writings of the Founders, and also of the arguments in favor of Southern secession, that’s consistent. If someone else (say a Black Panther) wants to denounce the Confederacy, but also all the hypocritical Dead White Males who signed the Constitution and endorsed its offensive 3/5 clause, that too is consistent; fair enough.

But what doesn’t make any sense is for Milbank (and related critics like Paul Krugman and Matt Yglesias) to go along with the standard American civics lesson, which teaches that slave-owners George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were heroes of liberty, but then to recoil in horror at the idea that the Southern states should have been allowed to secede, because they had slaves and therefore forfeit any possibility of our (qualified) endorsement in that terrible episode in American history.


One of the most basic insights of Western civilization is that the ends don’t justify the means. (For example, everyone is praising the nonviolent methods through which the Egyptian people recently achieved political change.) Nobody in this day and age is defending the institution of slavery as it existed in the Southern states. Even so, that doesn’t mean Abraham Lincoln was right to wage an awful war, even if one of its outcomes was the eradication of slavery.

On the matter of consistency, neo-conservatives are fine: They supported George W. Bush’s invasion to bring freedom to Iraqis, and they revere Abraham Lincoln as the greatest Republican of all time. But people like Krugman and Milbank are again being inconsistent: If Lincoln is so great – such that we don’t even need to explicitly defend him from the criticisms leveled by critics such as DiLorenzo – then George W. Bush should at least be a pretty good guy. And yet Krugman and Milbank have been quite critical over the Bush administration’s handling of war.

In any event, this entire episode actually encourages me. Everyone now knows that when Ron Paul holds a hearing on how the Fed contributes to unemployment, the “other side” has nothing much to say, except attacking the background of the witnesses.

This might resonate with professional pundits, and it may indeed raise doubts among some regular Joes who have never heard of Tom DiLorenzo. But I still bet if you polled a large number of black teenagers, and asked, “Do you think Ben Bernanke can’t sleep at night, knowing that the official unemployment rate in your demographic is just shy of 50 percent?” they probably would laugh at you.

February 16, 2011

Bob Murphy [send him mail], adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute, is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, The Human Action Study Guide, and The Man, Economy, and State Study Guide. His latest book is The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal.

The Best of Bob Murphy

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

Paul calls Fed’s Bernanke “cocky” in House hearing

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/10/us-usa-congress-paul-idUSTRE7190CZ20110210?pageNumber=1

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON | Wed Feb 9, 2011 8:25pm EST

(Reuters) – Republican Ron Paul, an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve, called Chairman Ben Bernanke “cocky” on Wednesday in the first hearing he held as the head of a House of Representatives panel that oversees the U.S. central bank.

Paul, a former presidential candidate who has waged a fierce battle for decades against the Fed, earned a platform to air his views after the Republicans won control of the House in November elections and made him chairman of a banking subcommittee.

Paul’s 2008 presidential bid earned him a fervent grassroots following and many Republicans now share his skeptical view of the Fed after its unprecedented actions to fight the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

At his first hearing of the subcommittee, Paul reiterated some of his unvarnished criticism of Bernanke.

“He is really cocky about this,” Paul said about Bernanke’s plans to unwind the toxic assets the Fed took on from troubled banks during the height of the 2007-2009 crisis.

But Democrats were more concerned by the writings of one of the witnesses, who has authored books and essays that harshly criticize President Abraham Lincoln and support the right of states to secede from the union ahead of the U.S. Civil War.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says Loyola College professor Thomas DiLorenzo has links to the League of the South, which it classifies as a hate group.

Democrats asked why Paul had invited DiLorenzo to testify about the link between monetary policy and job creation.

“You work for a southern nationalist organization that espouses very radical notions about American history,” Democratic Representative Lacy Clay told DiLorenzo.

“I still do not understand you being invited to testify today on the unemployment crisis, but I do know that I have no questions for you,” Clay said.

Paul said he was unfamiliar with that side of DiLorenzo’s work.

“I think that that’s typical of people who can’t compete on ideas, they have to try to discredit the individual,” Paul told Reuters as he signed copies of his book, “End the Fed,” after the hearing.

DiLorenzo told the subcommittee that the federal government should not have the power to seize failing banks in order to protect depositors’ assets, and that the economy would have been better off had the Obama administration allowed tottering businesses like General Motors to fail.


“I see no reason why we Americans are better at central planning today than the Russians were in the 20th century, and that’s basically the mind-set you’re talking about,” DiLorenzo said


Ohio University economics professor Richard Vedder accused lawmakers of corruption for supporting mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and said the banking industry would be better able to manage financial crises on its own, as J.P. Morgan did in 1907.

“At least J.P. Morgan had some skin in the game. When the banks failed, he failed,” Vedder said. “What does Bernanke have in the game? He gets his salary anyway, then he goes off to work for Goldman Sachs.”

Josh Bivens, an economist at the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, represented the view held by many mainstream economists who say the recession would have been much worse had the Fed not lowered interest rates and pumped money into the economy through quantitative easing.

Just because the Fed’s actions failed to prevent a recession does not mean they were ineffective, he said.

“Imagine a town that is building a levee wall in response to a flood. You can say, ‘It’s the biggest wall we’ve ever built, the water keeps coming over, we should stop,'” Bivens said. “You have to build a wall as big as the shock.”

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)


My Associations with Liars, Bigots, and Murderers

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: How the Fed Fuels Unemployment

I speak of course of my recent visit to the U.S. House of Representatives to testify at Congressman Ron Paul’s first hearing on the Fed as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The Rayburn House Office Building, like most government office buildings in Washington, D.C., is a very creepy place. Knowing that the majority of the congress critters who reside in those offices support the unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and worse), and all the senseless death they have been responsible for, should send chills up any decent person’s spine.

As for the liars and bigots, one of the bigger ones, William Lacy Clay, a congressman from St. Louis who is (unfortunately) a member of the House Financial Services Committee, was in fine form. When he got his turn to question me he first denounced Austrian economics as some kind of fraud because it does not utilize the same positivistic methodology that, say, the Fed economists do. You know, the ones who were completely clueless about both the existence of the housing bubble and what to do once it burst. As Congressman Paul pointed out in the hearing, as late as 2008 Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was still forecasting an increased pace of economic growth. As seen in a YouTube video entitled “Ben Bernanke was Wrong,” as late as mid 2007 Bernanke was assuring the public on CNBC that there was no sub-prime mortgage problem, and that the world economy was in fine shape. “He had no idea what he was talking about,” Congressman Paul correctly stated.

It was Austrian economists like Mark Thornton, on the other hand, who were warning of a housing bubbleyears before it burst. The Nobel Prize committee would be shocked indeed to learn that Austrian economics is fraudulent, having awarded the best-known Austrian of the twentieth century, F.A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1974. But hey, what does a hack politician from St. Louis know about economics anyway?

Fed apologists are apparently in a state of panic over the first sighting of two economists – Richard Vedder and myself – appearing before their committee to (horrors!) criticize the Fed. Rather than ask me a single question, Congressman Clay decided to lie about my background with a libelous smear. First, some background information: About thirteen years ago three fellow academics from Emory University, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Alabama asked me if I would deliver a few lectures on the economics of the “Civil War” to a group of about twenty students at a week-long summer seminar. Two of them were historians and one was a philosopher, and they wanted to add some economics to the curriculum. They had just started something called “The League of the South Institute.” Since I lecture to students all over the country, and these were three fellow professors who I respected, I enthusiastically agreed. I recall it being a very enjoyable experience, as it always is when I get to teach students who attend a summer seminar for no college credit, just for the sake of learning. Such students are always among the very best that I encounter. That is the only connection I have ever had with the League of the South, which apparently still lists the titles of those old lectures somewhere on its Web site.

Clay lied through his teeth by stating that I “work for” the League of the South, and further stating that, consequently, I must endorse everything everyone associated with that organization has said in the succeeding thirteen years since I spoke to those students about the economics of the Civil War. This makes as much sense as saying that I endorse everything Congress says and does because I gave a presentation there on February 9.

Nor am I bigoted toward the people at the League of the South either, as is Congressman Clay. The oh-so-easily-offended Congressman Clay once told a white member of Congress whose Memphis, Tennessee district is 60% black that he could not collaborate with the Congressional Black Caucus for the benefit of his black constituents “until your skin turns black.” He’s apparently an Obama-style “racial healer.”

Having lied about my non-existent working relationship with the League of the South, making it sound like I pack my lunch and go to work there every day, Clay then declared that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) apparently disapproves of the League of the South. What a shocker! This is the same SPLC that accused the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. of “mainstreaming hate” by sponsoring a public debate on immigration policy. Their modus operandi is to label any individual or group that effectively criticizes their far-left, socialistic agenda as a “hater.” Apparently, associating with anyone south of the Mason-Dixon line in any way qualifies one as a “hater” and potential KKK recruit in the warped minds of the hateful and libelous SPLC.

Congressman Clay was not yet finished with his lies. I sent the committee 100 copies of my testimony along with a short one-page bio, as they requested. The bio listed several of my latest books, including Hamilton’s Curse and How Capitalism Saved America. The former discusses such economic topics as the origins and evolution of central banking in America, how America became a corporate welfare state, the economics of public debt, the founding of the Fed, the economic consequences of adopting the income tax, and more. How Capitalism Saved America covers such topics as the meaning of capitalism, anti-capitalism, the superiority of private versus government-operated transportation systems, the benefits to “the working class” of capitalism, the “robber barons,” the history and economics of antitrust, the role of the Fed in igniting the Great Depression, how the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, and the economics of the energy crisis of the ‘70s, among other things. And of course The Real Lincoln tells the story of the seventy-year political war over the “American System” of protectionism, corporate welfare, and a nationalized banking system that was finally cemented into place during the Lincoln administration.

The sleazy Congressman Clay, however, claimed that his crackerjack staff informed him that I have written nothing about economics in the past 15 years. My writings are all about history, he said, oblivious to the fact that economic history is a very relevant field to the question of the performance of the Fed over the past century. Indeed, Ben Bernanke himself claims to be an economic historian, having published numerous academic journal articles on the Great Depression. Several of my books discuss the origins of the first central bank, the Bank of the United States; its (abysmal) performance; its destruction by President Andrew Jackson; its replacement by the Independent Sub-Treasury System, Abraham Lincoln’s critiques of that system; the adoption of the National Currency Acts and Legal Tender Acts by the Lincoln administration; how that system performed over the next fifty years; the creation of the Fed; and its performance. Clay claims that, according to his crackerjack staff, there was nothing in all of this that would be relevant to a hearing on monetary policy.

Congressman Clay slithered out of the hearing room (shortly after the notorious Barney Frank vacated the premises) while a couple of his equally odious, far-left compatriots threw softballs at “their” witness, whose main argument was that the so-called Great Recession was caused by the bursting of the housing bubble, which in turn caused consumers to begin acting more responsibly by spending less and saving more. He didn’t put it that way, of course, but instead made the age-old (and thoroughly discredited) Keynesian argument that spending, and not savings, investment, production and work, is what causes economic growth and job creation. He made no mention at all in his prepared statement of any possible cause of the housing bubble in the first place. That would have been dangerous, for everyone in the room would have pegged the Fed as the Prime Suspect. But at the very end of the hearing he did offer his theory of the boom-and-bust cycle: Prosperity comes about whenever the government hires more bureaucrats and/or gives them more responsibilities; recessions occur whenever government cuts back on the number of bureaucrats and/or their meddling in the private sector. Bursts of regulation, he said, are the cause of prosperity, whereas deregulation is the cause of recessions and depressions. The Democrats on the committee sat there smiling and nodding their heads in approval. Do I really have to comment about such an asinine theory?

February 11, 2011

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mailis professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America.His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Does Favoring Free Enterprise Mean Favoring “Business”?

Source: http://mises.org/daily/4998

by Jeffrey A. Tucker on January 25, 2011

“The first great error here is the mental habit that many have of thinking that big government and big business are somehow at odds.”

American political rhetoric seems to operate on a regular cycle, like a clock, which is why it seems lately like we are reliving the Clinton years.

The story goes like this. A Democratic administration with lefty ideas gets elected, pushes hard for a series of goofy reforms like protosocialized medicine, which prompts a backlash and thereby a rethinking among the rulers, who then tack to the right and become “centrist” by praising the great contribution that the business sector makes to American life.

Most of these grandiose shifts — Obama is going through one now — are illusory and pointless, like slapping a new color of paint on a car that is traveling in one direction in order to fool people into believing that it is a different car going in a different direction.

But what interests me most here is the rhetoric and the way the Left uses it. They imagine that they got themselves in trouble by being seen as too progovernment and not sufficiently in favor of “business” as they understand that term. And so then comes the change when they discover phrases like “private sector” and even words like “capitalism.”

It’s all superficial, and these shifts suggest that the Left accepts a caricature of capitalism: the belief that it is the system that favors the largest and most established capital owners in society. So when things start to go wrong with a socialist agenda, they reach out to the corporate kingpins in the name of becoming friendly to free enterprise.

Look at Obama’s pathetic attempt to reach out to business. The administration claims it is reviewing government regulations to find those for which the cost outruns the benefits. Well, we could make some progress here by turning the Departments of Energy, Education, and Labor into sports arenas, but that’s not what the administration has in mind. Instead, you are to go to Regulations.gov and comment, if you can figure it out. I bumped into one rant that seems typical — some giant racket about home-energy upgrades — but no doubt that this site is more safety valve than work order.

Obama also has some new thing he established in the White House called the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and this is supposed to represent his new centrism. And who is to head it? Not the owner of Cupcake Kitchen down the street in my neighborhood but rather Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, of all people. And this is supposed to signal some kind of new turn for the administration.

Obama’s advisers imagine that his image has become tainted with the impression that he is too much in favor of big government — hmm, where did that come from? — and so now is the time to do the Clinton thing and triangulate by being probusiness, and hence this new council and new appointment.

Yes, it is a hoax on many, many levels. The first great error here is the mental habit that many have of thinking that big government and big business are somehow at odds. The whole of American history from the beginning to the present suggests precisely the opposite. From Alexander Hamilton to Goldman Sachs, a careful look at the history shows that there has been no major expansion of government that some sector of big business hasn’t backed with pressure and funding.

Who won from the mercantilism of the 19th century? Who came out ahead in the war socialism of Woodrow Wilson? Who was the major power behind the economic regimentation of the New Deal? What sectors of American life made out like bandits during World War II and the Cold War and the regulation of medical care and the American workplace in the 1960s and 1970s? Without exception, the corporate elite were behind every push for expanding the leviathan state.

The 19th-century history here has been carefully documented by Thomas DiLorenzo. Murray Rothbard has revealed the role of business in World War I. The postwar period through the New Deal is documented by Butler Shaffer in his great book In Restraint of Trade. The New Deal racket received a thorough exposé with John T. Flynn. The Cold War and after are shown to be radically probusiness in For a New Liberty, as well as Robert Higgs’s excellent works. And this is just the US case: it’s been true in every country where free competition was overtaken by state interventions.

There are several pieces of the puzzle one must understand to see why this is so. The largest companies have a strong interest in crushing upstarts any way they can. In a free market, they do this through better products at better prices. But that’s a hard-knock life. The struggle to stay on top in this rat race consumes all energies. Profits are always threatened in unexpected ways. Market share is never really secure. The capitalist in this system feels like a slave to consumers, and there is always another entrepreneur out there with a better idea to market. Not even gigantic companies can be sure that they can hold on.

In a mixed economy, the government itself becomes an occasion of sin. Capitalists are all-too-happy to jump out of the rat race and reach for the levers of power. And to do what? To grant favors, privileges, security, protection against failure, and, crucially, to stultify competition by imposing business costs they have already absorbed onto their less-lucrative competitors.

This is how the minimum wage and healthcare mandates and every manner of regulations come to be imposed on the entire business sector: it is a tactical move by the dominant players. It is the same with the regulatory agencies, who hardly make a move without pressure and consultation from business interests.

Antitrust is the classic case (protecting big business against competition) but it is true with labor mandates, health mandates, environmental mandates, and everything else. It’s true with patents, great inflations, higher taxes, mandated workplace benefits, consumer-product regulations, and everything else. They are all mechanisms to cartelize the market on behalf of the biggest players, while the rhetoric about the small guy is just the political excuse.

A book that absolutely blew me away was written by Ludwig Erhard, the great, Misesian-influenced reformer of the postwar German economy, a passionate opponent of the interventionist state and a man who deserves nearly all the credit for the so-called miracle experienced by Germany after the war. The book is a patient-but-compelling argument in favor of free competition and a plea to move away from wartime cartelization, from which the German business sector benefited mightily. The book is outstanding on its own terms, but much more interesting is the intended audience: not consumers, not intellectuals, not voters, but business itself, for Erhard knew what so many others seemed not to know, namely, that the business sector is among the least likely to favor the free market. It was this sector more than any other that needed to hear the message.

And this becomes transparently obvious in the case of General Electric, which is as intertwined with the government as the East India Company was in its day. Mr. Immelt himself is a good case in point: not an advocate of free enterprise but rather an enthusiastic champion of regulation, green-energy subsidies, high regulatory barriers in energy, not free trade but export-driven trade, and a loud proponent of regimentation in general insofar as interventions end up benefiting his company. This guy finds a very happy home in the halls of power, pushing for all kinds of policies that the state will love.

But back to Obama’s new “centrism.” What puzzles me is that left-wing triangulation of this sort could possibly fool anyone. The idealistic Left is undoubtedly upset with Obama’s new turn, but are these people really naïve enough to believe that there is such as thing as a big government that is somehow untainted by the backing of big business? As for the chamber-of-commerce Republicans, can they really be fooled into believing that such moves amount to a new friendliness on the part of Obama to the interests of the private sector?

Mises wrote in his inspiring book Liberalism (still the bible of liberty after all these years) that freedom is not about being in favor of the business sector; often the the business sector is the strongest and most well-heeled opponent of freedom.

Did we not learn this during the succession of Bush/Obama bailouts, all designed to privatize the gains of big business and socialize its losses? These bailouts had nothing whatever to do with macroeconomic stabilization or with the general interest of society; they were all about looting society to favor large banks and corporations like General Motors and AIG, protecting the state’s friends from the wiles of market change.

Mises goes on to speak of the tragedy of liberalism. As a doctrine, it is not favored by any single special interest and certainly no single political party. It is nonetheless in the interest of the whole society over the long term; indeed, it is the wellspring of civilization. It is for this reason that Mises believed that liberalism needs dedicated champions in all walks of life. Otherwise we end up with endless cycles of phony change such as we observe by looking at the whole history of presidents after midterm elections.

Jeffrey Tucker is the editor of Mises.org and author of Bourbon for Breakfast: Living Outside the Statist Quo. Send him mail. See Jeffrey A. Tucker’s article archives.


Another Court Historian’s False Tariff History

Jefferson Davis President 1861–1865

Image via Wikipedia


by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: The Latest New York Times Nonsense About Lincoln

The only thing worse than a historian who calls himself a “Lincoln scholar” is a sociologist who does the same. This truth was on display recently in a January 9 Washington Post article entitled “Five Myths about Why the South Seceded” by one James W. Loewen.

In discussing the role of federal tariff policy in precipitating the War to Prevent Southern Independence Loewen is either grossly ignorant, or he is dishonest. He begins by referring to the 1828 Tariff of Abominations, which led to South Carolina’s Ordinance of Nullification, whereby the state rightly condemned the 48 percent average tariff rate as a blatant act of plunder (mostly at the South’s expense) and refused to collect it at Charleston Harbor. Loewen writes that “when, after South Carolina demanded the right to nullify federal laws or secede to protest, President Andrew Jackson threatened force.” That much is true. “No state joined the movement, and South Carolina backed down,” Loewen then writes. This is all false. It is not true that “no state joined the movement.” As historian Chauncy Boucher wrote in The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama joined South Carolina in publicly denouncing the Tariff of Abominations, while the Yankee bastions of Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Indiana, and New York responded with their own resolutions in support of political plunder through extortionate tariff rates.

Nor is it true to say that “South Carolina backed down.” South Carolina and the Jackson administration reached acompromise in 1833: Jackson “backed down” by not following through with his threats to use force to collect the tariff, and South Carolina agreed to collect tariffs at a much lower rate. Jackson “backed down” as much (or more) as South Carolina did, but the Official Court Historian’s History of the War, as expressed by Loewen, holds that only South Carolina retreated. The reason for this distortion of history is to spread the lie that tax protesters such as the South Carolina nullifiers, or the Whiskey Rebels of an earlier generation, have never successfully challenged the federal government’s taxing “authority.” But of course they have succeeded; The Whiskey Rebels ended up not paying the federal whisky tax, and the Tariff of Abominations was sharply reduced over a ten-year period.

Loewen next spreads an egregious falsehood about the tariff: “Tariffs were not an issue in 1860, and Southern states said nothing about them,” he writes. “Why would they? Southerners had written the tariff of 1857, under which the nation was functioning. Its rates were lower than at any point since 1816.” Every bit of this narrative is false.

Tariffs certainly were an issue in 1860. Lincoln’s official campaign poster featuredmug shots of himself and vice presidential candidate Hannibal Hamlin, above thecampaign slogan, “Protection for Home Industry.” (That is, high tariff rates to “protect home industry” from international competition). In a speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (“Steeltown, U.S.A.”), a hotbed of protectionist sentiment, Lincoln announced that no other issue was as important as raising the tariff rate. It is well known that Lincoln made skillful use of his lifelong protectionist credentials to win the support of the Pennsylvania delegation at the Republican convention of 1860, and he did sign ten tariff-increasing bills while in office. When he announced a naval blockade of the Southern ports during the first months of the war, he gave only one reason for the blockade: tariff collection.

As I have written numerous times, in his first inaugural address Lincoln announced that it was his duty “to collect the duties and imposts,” and then threatened “force,” “invasion” and “bloodshed” (his exact words) in any state that refused to collect the federal tariff, the average rate of which had just been doubled two days earlier. He was not going to “back down” to tax protesters in South Carolina or anywhere else, as Andrew Jackson had done.

The most egregious falsehood spread by Loewen is to say that the tariff that was in existence in 1860 was the 1857 tariff rate, which was in fact the lowest tariff rate of the entire nineteenth century. In his famous Tariff History of the United Stateseconomist Frank Taussig called the 1857 tariff the high water mark of free trade during that century. The Big Lie here is that Loewen makes no mention at all of the fact that the notorious Morrill Tariff, which more than doubled the average tariff rate (from 15% to 32.6% initially), was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1859–60 session of Congress, and was the cornerstone of the Republican Party’s economic policy. It then passed the U.S. Senate, and was signed into law by President James Buchanan on March 2, 1861, two days before Lincoln’s inauguration, where he threatened war on any state that failed to collect the new tax. At the time, the tariff accounted for at least 90 percent of all federal tax revenues. The Morrill Tariff therefore represented a more than doubling of the rate of federal taxation!

This threat to use “force” and “invasion” against sovereign states, by the way, was a threat to commit treason. Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as follows: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” (emphasis added). Lincoln followed through with his threat; his invasion of the Southern states was the very definition of treason under the Constitution.

The words “Morrill Tariff” do not appear anywhere in Loewen’s Washington Post article despite the fact that he portrays himself as some kind of “Keeper of The Truth” regarding “Civil War” history. (And where were the Washington Post’s “fact checkers?!) It was the Morrill Tariff that Lincoln referred to in his first inaugural address, not the much lower 1857 tariff, as Loewen falsely claims.

Abraham Lincoln was not the only American president who believed that the tariff was an important political issue in 1860. Contrary to Loewen’s false claims, Jefferson Davis, like Lincoln, highlighted the tariff issue in his February 18, 1861 inaugural address, delivered in Montgomery, Alabama (From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, vol. 7, pp. 45–51). After announcing that the Confederate government was “anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations” Davis said the following:

An agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is peace, and the freest trade, which our necessities will permit. It is alike our interest, and that of all those to whom we would sell and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of commodities. There can be but little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northeastern States of the American Union. It must follow, therefore, that a mutual interest would invite good will and kind offices. If, however, passion or the lust of dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must prepare to meet the emergency . . .

Thus, Loewen’s statement that the Southern states said “nothing” about tariff policy is unequivocally false. Jefferson Davis proclaimed here that the economy of the Confederacy would be based on free trade. Indeed, the Confederate Constitution of 1861 outlawed protectionist tariffs altogether, and only allowed for a modest “revenue tariff.”

When Davis spoke of a “passion or the lust for dominion,” he was referring to the constant attempts, for some seventy years, of the Northern Whig and Republican parties to plunder the South with the instrument of protectionist tariffs, as was attempted with the 1828 Tariff of Abominations. In other words, he declared here that, in his opinion, Lincoln was deadly serious (pun intended) about enforcing the newly-doubled rate of federal tariff taxation with a military invasion of the Southern states, and was preparing for war as a result. Contrary to Loewen’s ignorant diatribe, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis announced to the world in 1861 that tariff policy was indeed a paramount political issue: In their respective inaugural addresses, Lincoln threatened “invasion” of any state(s) that failed to collect his tariff, while Davis promised to defend against any such invasion.

Before the war, Northern newspapers associated with the Republican Party were editorializing in favor of naval bombardments of the Southern ports because they knew that the South was adopting free trade, while the North was moving in the direction of a 50% average tariff rate (which did in fact exist, more or less, from 1863 to 1913, when the federal income tax was adopted). These Republican party propagandists correctly understood that much of the trade of the world would enter the U.S. through Southern ports under such a scenario. Rather than adopting reasonable tariff rates themselves, they agitated for war on the South.

The tariff controversy was not the only cause of the war, and I have never argued that it was (despite lies to the contrary told about me by such people as historian Jeffrey Hummel). But it was obviously an important cause of the decades-long conflict between North and South.

The rest of Loewen’s Washington Post article is about as accurate as his uninformed rantings about tariff policy. This was thePost’s second attempt to “correct the record” of the “Civil War,” which began 150 years ago this year, in the first nine days of 2011. The government’s company newspaper is apparently terrified that the public will get wind of the truth and begin questioning the foundational myth of the federal Leviathan state.

Sorce: http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo199.html

January 18, 2011

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mailis professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

Copyright © 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

The Best of Thomas DiLorenzo at LRC

Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at Mises.org


The Latest New York Times Nonsense About Lincoln

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: The Most Cynical and Hypocritical Speech Ever Delivered

At the outset of the War to Prevent Southern Independence both Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress declared publicly that the sole purpose of the war was to save the union and not to interfere with Southern slavery. Lincoln himself stated this very clearly in his first inaugural address and in many other places. This fact bothers the court historians of the Lincoln cult who have in the past forty years rewritten American history to suggest that slavery was the sole cause of the war. (A generation ago, if one took a college course on “the Civil War” it was likely that one would have read The Causes of the Civil Warby Kenneth Stampp, a former president of the American Historical Association.)

The latest attempt to rewrite or whitewash history comes from one Richard Striner in a December 13 New York Times article entitled “How Lincoln Undid the Union.” The gist of Striner’s argument is that: 1) a compromise to save the union was in the works in Washington in December of 1860; but 2) Lincoln persuaded key members of the Republican Party to oppose it because it might not have prohibited the extension of slavery into the new territories, a key feature of the 1860 Republican Party platform. Lincoln wanted to save the union, says Striner, but he wanted a union that would put slavery “on the path to extinction.”

What rubbish. The notion that prohibiting the extension of slavery would somehow magically cause the end of Southern slavery has always been totally nonsensical. As University of Virginia Historian Michael Holt wrote in his book, Fate of Their Country(p. 27), “Modern economic historians have demonstrated that this assumption was false.” It is every bit as nonsensical as Lincoln’s crazy assertion that the extension of slavery into the Territories would have somehow led to the re-introduction of slavery into Maine, Massachusetts, and other states that had legally abolished slavery! (He ludicrously said that a nation “could not exist” half slave and half free). It is hard to believe that rational human beings ever believed such things. It is unlikely that many Americans of Lincoln’s time did.

Striner pretends to be able to read Lincoln’s mind when he speculates that his motivation was to put slavery “on the road to extinction.” He does not quote Lincoln himself as saying that this was his motivation; he merely speculates and fabricates a story. But Lincoln and other prominent Republicans did in fact state very clearly what their motivation was. There is no need to speculate. As Professor Holt, the history profession’s preeminent expert on the politics of the antebellum era wrote: “Many northern whites also wanted to keep slaves out of the West in order to keep blacks out. The North was a pervasively racist society where free blacks suffered social, economic, and political discrimination . . . . Bigots, they sought to bar African-American slaves from the West.” Lincoln himself clearly stated that “we” want the Territories “for free white labor.”

Thus, part of Lincoln’s motivation for opposing the extension of slavery – but making an ironclad defense of Southern slavery in his first inaugural address – was pandering to northern white supremacist voters (like himself) who did not want any blacks – free or slave – living among them. There was also a protectionist motivation, as the Republican Party wanted to prohibit competition for jobs from all blacks, free or slave. Illinois – Land of Lincoln – even amended its Constitution in 1848 to prohibit the emigration of black people into the state, a position that was endorsed by Lincoln. (Lincoln was also a “manager” of the Illinois Colonization Society, which sought to usestate tax funds to deport the small number of free blacks who resided in the state.)

A third motivation for Lincoln’s opposition to slavery extension was purely political. If slaves entered the Territories, they would inflate the congressional representation of the Democratic Party when the Territories became states because of the Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution. That in turn – and most importantly – would block the Republican Party’s economic agenda. Professor Holt quotes Ohio Congressman Joshua R. Giddings (p. 28) on this point: “To give the south the preponderance of political power would be itself a surrender of our tariff, our internal improvements, our distribution of proceeds of public lands . . . . It is the most abominable proposition with which a free people were ever insulted.” It would destroy everything the Republican Party claimed to stand for, in other words, i.e., mercantilist economics. This is the real reason why Lincoln was so adamant about opposing the extension of slavery into the territories.

Besides his demonstrably false, speculative fantasies about Lincoln’s supposedly saintly motivations, Striner presents a very distorted and misleading account of the events of late 1860–early 1861. He quotes a private letter from Lincoln expressing his opposition to the particular compromise to save the union that was being sponsored by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky at the time, but makes no mention of Lincoln’s own “compromise” that was also in the works. The high priestess of the Lincoln Cult, Doris Kearns-Goodwin, describes Lincoln’s compromise on page 296 of her book, Team of Rivals. As soon as he was elected, Lincoln “instructed [William] Seward to introduce [the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution] in the Senate Committee of Thirteen without indicating they issued from Springfield.” The Corwin Amendment, which did pass the House and Senate, would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery. As Goodwin writes, Lincoln instructed Seward to make sure that the amendment said that “the Constitution should never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the states” where it existed. In addition, writes Goodwin, Lincoln instructed Seward, who would become his Secretary of State, to get a federal law introduced that would have made various personal liberty laws that existed in some Northern states illegal. These state laws were meant to nullify the federal Fugitive Slave Act, an act that Lincoln very strongly supported. Far from putting slavery “on the path to extinction,” these actions of Lincoln’s would have granted it more powerful government support than ever. Thus, Lincoln’s actions in late 1860–early 1861 were exactly the opposite of how Professor Striner portrays them as being with regard to the issue of slavery.

The white supremacists of the North were very pleased indeed with Lincoln’s assurances that he would do all that he could to prohibit black people from ever living among them, first by keeping them out of the Territories, and second by enshrining Southern slavery explicitly in the Constitution. He effectively promised to keep black people far away from such places as Boston, Massachusetts. Goodwin writes that when Seward went public and announced these actions to a Boston audience he was met with “thunderous applause.”

On March 4, 1861, Lincoln praised the Corwin Amendment in his first inaugural address, offered his support of it, and said that while he believed slavery to already be constitutional, he had no reservations about making it “express and irrevocable” in the text of the U.S. Constitution.

These actual historical facts paint a very different picture of Lincoln’s machinations from the one based on Professor Striner’s baseless speculations and historical distortions. More disturbingly, Professor Striner, like all other Lincoln cultists, makes no mention at all of the fact that Lincoln’s actions led to the mass murder of some 350,000 fellow American citizens, including more than 50,000 Southern civilians, along with an equivalent number of Northern war deaths. While virtually all the rest of the world had ended – or was in the process of ending – slavery peacefully, Lincoln cultists actually praise Lincoln for eschewing that well-charted peaceful route to emancipation while plunging his country into the bloodiest war in human history up to that point to supposedly “save the union.” There is something awfully sick (and sickening) about this.


December 16, 2010

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mailis professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America.His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Kept Until Now So You Wouldn’t Barf Up Your Turkey and Stuffing Over Thanksgiving

The Most Cynical and Hypocritical Speech Ever Delivered

by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: The Real Jefferson

Over the Thanksgiving holiday (decreed by Lincoln in 1863) one neocon Tabloid, National Review, reprinted Lincoln’s October 3, 1863 proclamation, highlighting Abe’s cynical reference to “the Most High God . . .” Another neocon Tabloid, The American Spectator, published the typical sappy, a-historical, fact-free, rhetorical mumbo jumbo about “Father Abraham” that Harry Jaffa and his fellow Lincoln cultists are known for.

The references to God in Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation, like all other such references in his political speeches, are breathtakingly cynical because of the fact that Lincoln never became a Christian (according to his wife and his closest friend and law partner, William Herndon); he never joined a church; rarely ever stepped foot into one; as a young man wrote an entire book that disputed Scripture; and was famous for his vulgar stories and language. But he studied the Bible as a political tool, just as today’s politicians study opinion polls.

Prior to 1863 Lincoln’s references to God and the Bible in his political speeches were mostly catch phrases and buzz words (“a house divided cannot stand”). But as more and more fellow American citizens were murdered by the thousands by his army, and as the war crimes mounted, Abe stepped up his Biblical lingo. By the time of his second inaugural he wrote a speech in which he absolved himself of all blame for the war (“the war [just] came,” he said), blaming the whole bloody mess on God. Presuming to know what was in the mind of God, he theorized that the Lord was punishing all Americans, North and South, for the sin of slavery. He did not theorize on why God would not also punish the British, French, Spanish, and others who were responsible for bringing 95% of all the slaves to the Western Hemisphere. In other words, his Biblical language was always a diversion and a cover-up for the war crimes against American civilians (among other atrocities) that he was micromanaging.

The first sentence of Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation is a real howler. The year 1863, he said, “has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.” What? Healthful skies?! As of the fall of 1863 there had been several hundred thousand battlefield casualties, including thousands of men in both armies who died of yellow fever and other dreaded diseases. There were more than 50,000 casualties in the Battle of Gettysburg alone, just three months earlier.

In the second sentence, Lincoln the non-Christian claimed that “we” are “prone to forget” that all of those “healthful skies” come from “the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” Speak for yourself, Abe!

This is followed by another howler, claiming that “peace has been preserved with all nations.” He apparently forgot about the Confederate States of America that he was waging total war against.

It gets worse (and funnier). The next thing he says is that “order has been maintained.” Stalin said the same thing about the Soviet Union. By that time Lincoln had imprisoned thousands of Northern political dissenters without due process since he illegally suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus. He had shut down hundreds of “unorderly” opposition newspapers, and deported poor old Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Dayton, Ohio, his most outspoken critic in Congress.

As Dean Sprague wrote in Freedom Under Lincoln (p. 299), under Lincoln’s “policy of oppression,” the “entire judicial system was set aside” as “the laws were silent, indictments were not found, testimony was not taken, judges did not sit, juries were not impaneled, convictions were not obtained and sentences were not pronounced. The Anglo-Saxon concept of due process, perhaps the greatest political triumph of the ages and the best guardian of freedom, was abandoned.”

Three months earlier there had been draft riots in New York City that one could hardly describe as “orderly.” An eye witness to the riots was Colonel Arthur Fremantle of the British Army, who wrote the following about the New York City draft riots in his book, Three Months in the Southern States (p. 302):

The reports of outrages, hangings, and murder, were now most alarming, the terror and anxiety were universal. All shops were shut; all carriages and omnibuses had ceased running. No colored man or woman was visible or safe in the streets or even in his own dwelling. Telegraphs were cut, and railroad tracks torn up.

Lincolnian “order” was restored when Abe sent 15,000 troops to New York from the just-concluded Battle of Gettysburg. The troops fired indiscriminately into the draft protesters, killing hundreds, more likely thousands, of them according to Iver Bernstein, author of The New York City Draft Riots. (This scene was portrayed in the movie Gangs of New York, where Bernstein worked as an historical consultant to director Martin Scorcese).

But let’s not let historical facts get in our way. Let’s follow the neocon lead and swoon and weep and get chills up our legs over Abe’s Big Lie that “harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict.”

The notion that there was “harmony” and “unity” in the Northern states during the war is one of the most outrageous lies in American history. Historian Ella Lonn described how Lincoln created “harmony” within the U.S. Army in the face of massive desertions by literally hundreds of thousands of Northern men in her book, Desertion During the Civil War. Draftees “were held like veritable prisoners” and Lincoln’s government “had no compunctions about shooting or hanging deserters,” wrote Lonn. The murder of deserters achieved Nazi-like efficiency: “A gallows and shooting ground were provided in each corps and scarcely a Friday passed during the winter of 1863–64 that some wretched deserter did not suffer the death penalty in the Army of the Potomac. . . . The death penalty was so unsparingly used that executions were almost daily occurrences. . .” The “method of execution” was “generally shooting but hanging seems to have been used occasionally.”

The Thanksgiving speech gets even worse. The very next uttering of Abe’s is that “the laws have been respected and obeyed.” Well, not by Abraham Lincoln, certainly. Even his own attorney general, Robert Bates, stated that his suspension of Habeas Corpus was illegal and unconstitutional, as was the suppression of free speech throughout the North. West Virginia was illegally carved out of Virginia to form a new slave state as part of the union. And where in the Constitution is the president permitted to order soldiers to imprison and deport an opposition member of Congress without any due process? Or rig national elections and imprison duly-elected members of the Maryland state assembly without due process? Doesn’t the Constitution require presidents to see to it that the states have republican forms of government?

Indeed, Lincoln’s invasion of the Southern states was the very definition of treason under the U.S. Constitution. Article 3, Section 3 proclaims that: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or adhering to theirEnemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” (emphasis added). Treason under the U.S. Constitution consists “only” in waging war against “them,” namely, the free, independent and sovereign states, plural. Lincoln redefined treason to mean any criticism by anyone of him or his administration. In fact, he even said that a man who stands by and says nothing while the war was being discussed was guilty of “treason.”

Lincoln also violated international law and his own military code by intentionally waging war on American civilians for four years, killing more than 50,000 of them according to historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. Even pro-Sherman biographer Lee Kennett wrote in his book, Marching Through Georgia (p. 286), that “had the Confederates somehow won, had their victory put them in position to bring their chief opponents before some sort of tribunal, they would have found themselves justified (as victors generally do) in stringing up President Lincoln and the entire Union high command for violation of the laws of war, specifically for waging war against noncombatants.”

All the “great things” that had happened since he became president, said Abe, were “the gracious gifts of the Most High God . . .” Therefore, he said, “we” should celebrate as “the whole American People” to give thanks to God with a national holiday. This was another very large contradiction: Lincoln never admitted that secession was legal, therefore, he always considered Southerners to be a part of “the whole American people” for political purposes. It is doubtful that a single Southerner, in 1863, would have heeded Abe’s advice and given thanks for all that he had done for them.

Lincoln concluded his Thanksgiving propaganda speech with more religious lingo, thanking the Lord for “the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility,” and, get this – Union. The Union – always spelled with a capital “U” – was not just a practical political arrangement created by the founding generation mostly for foreign policy purposes, as Thomas Jefferson said it was. It was supposedly divine, the work of God. Lincoln the non-Christian knew this for sure. It’s what created The Divine Right of Lincoln, similar to The Divine Right of Kings during the Middle Ages.

This deification of the state echoed the words of the fanatical New England Unitarian preacher Henry W. Bellows, who worked in the Lincoln administration as its Sanitary Commissioner and whose son, Russell, was Robert Todd Lincoln’s Harvard classmate and best friend. (Lincoln’s son Robert spent the war years “fighting” for good grades at Harvard). Bellows authored a creepy, totalitarian-sounding book in 1863 entitled Unconditional Loyalty which declared that “the state is indeed divine, as being the great incarnation of a nation’s rights, privileges, honor and life” itself.” Moreover, “the first and most sacred duty of loyal citizens” was “to rally round the president – without question or dispute.”

In his new book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and Slavery (p. 265), Lincoln cultist Eric Foner informs us that “it is not surprising that Lincoln seemed to share this outlook.” This “outlook” would have caused George Washington to reach for his sword and lead another Revolution against another despotic and dictatorial regime.


November 30, 2010

Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mailis professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America.His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

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Thomas DiLorenzo Archives at Mises.org

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