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An Inconvenient Truth About Lincoln (That You Won’t Hear from Hollywood)

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By Lynn Parramore, a contributing editor at Alternet. Cross posted from Alternet

Over this Thanksgiving week, you may find yourself in a movie theater watching Steven Spielberg’s treatment of Abraham Lincoln and the battle to pass the 13th Amerndment, which abolished slavery once and for all. There’s much to be said for Lincoln: marvelous acting, less mythologizing than usual, and a fascinating window into raucous realpolitik. Spielberg’s film stands several cuts above any movie depiction of the Lincoln presidency you’re likely to see.

Lincoln himself stands several cuts above the vast majority of U.S. presidents. After some equivocating, he freed the slaves, a monumental undertaking that was a service to the country and to humanity in general. He was also friendlier to workers than most presidents, an affinity noted by Karl Marx, who exchanged letters with Lincoln leading up to and during the Civil War. (You won’t see the GOP acknowledging that!)

But there’s a side of Lincoln that no Hollywood film shows clearly: He was extremely close to the railway barons, the most powerful corporate titans of the era.

Liberals are fond of referring to Lincoln's concern about corporate power, summed up in a letter he is often claimed to have written to Col. William F. Elkins in November 1864:

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country….corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

Lincoln’s observation is prescient. But here’s the inconvenient truth: Some of the most powerful corporations of his time were wildly enriched by having a friend in one Abraham Lincoln.

This friendship goes back to Lincoln’s early days as a scrappy young lawyer. After being admitted to the bar in 1837, he hopped around and finally landed in Springfield, Illinois in the law practice of William H. Herndon in 1844. Like any young lawyer, he had to hustle to handle enough cases to live comfortably. And, like most young lawyers, he went where the money was. And the money was in the burgeoning railroad industry.

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. In his essay “Beyond Their Means? The Costs of Democracy From Jefferson to Lincoln,” Ferguson writes:

“There is no doubt about the deep involvement of railroads and allied business interests in the Lincoln candidacy from its earliest days. Nor is there any question that the lawyer who made a famous argument on behalf of the rights of railroads to build bridges anywhere won the nomination by garnering crucial support from iron manufacturers, coal mining interests, and other firms intent upon tariffs, land grants, and other national developmental measures.”

The railroad industry connected the country and did indeed bring many benefits. No longer did every community have to be self-sufficient. The materials needed to build the railroads boosted other industries, like iron and steel.

But there’s a reason the railroads feature so prominently in the ever-popular board game Monopoly (which you might break out during the holidays). The railroads were America’s first big business. The industry led to the growth of Wall Street, which needed to handle the enormous amounts of capital required to build and operate the lines. As they grew more powerful, the railroad companies began to squeeze out competitors and charge outrageous prices. Farmers were held hostage to railways that refused to move their goods unless they paid what was demanded. Because of their wealth, railroad barons could afford to buy and rent politicians in Washington.

Nineteenth- and early 20th-century cartoonists depicted the monopoly threat in the form of a gigantic octopus, its tentacles reaching into every nook and cranny of the country. America, for a long time, was held in a stranglehold by the railroad monopoly.

*For more on Lincoln’s railroad advocacy, see James W. Ely Jr.’s "Abraham Lincoln as a Railroad Attorney".

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69 comments

    1. David Fiderer

      The National Geographic Channel is owned primarily by Fox Cable Channels. It’s called “synergies,” or “brand extension,” or sometimes, poisoning the well of knowledge.

      1. skippy

        Just saying “DAVID M. ZASLAV” name kills brain cells and destroys synapses…

        Before joining NBC, Zaslav was an attorney with the New York firm of LeBouef, Lamb, Leiby & MacRae. He graduated with honors from Boston University School of Law. Zaslav serves on the boards of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Cable Center, Center for Communication, Skills for America’s Future and Univision Communications, Inc. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Paley Center for Media, the Mt. Sinai Medical Center and previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, where he created and taught a graduate-level course on the business of cable television. – snip

        http://corporate.discovery.com/leadership/david-zaslav/

        —————

        Discovery Chief David Zaslav Scores $52.4M In 2011, A 23% Raise

        It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M in option awards, $4.8M in non-equity incentives, and $430,379 in other compensation. The last category includes personal use of aircraft, car service and security services. Zaslav’s pay indicates that the Discovery board considers him a rock star: He made nearly nine times more than the average for the other four top execs — up from 7.1 times their average compensation last year. Corporate governance experts consider it a red flag when the top earner makes more than three times the average for his or her closest associates. The company filing notes that former COO Peter Liguori — who left the company at the end of the year — received a $250,000 bonus for his brief tenure as CEO of the company’s struggling OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. That amount was guaranteed; he was not granted the additional $250,000 that was left to the discretion of the Compensation Committee. But he doesn’t have to wait for the Barney’s warehouse sale before he buys more business suits: His severance package includes a $1.1M base salary, $1.3M bonus, and $212,837 in stock options.

        http://www.deadline.com/2012/03/discovery-chief-david-zaslav-scores-52-4m-in-2011-a-23-raise/

        Education for Profit equals stupification with unwarranted attitude and a big fat bounus!!!!

        Skippy… The guy is a neoliberal self aggrandisement ass hat!

        1. Stan Musical

          I checked his pic, he has that smile (and look in the eyes) that looks like he’s about to prey on you, like one of those reptilian-based androids I’m hearing about.

      2. alex

        “The National Geographic Channel is owned primarily by Fox Cable Channels.”

        That explains why the quality of the NGC is so far below that of the magazine, which thankfully continues to be of very high quality.

  1. Gaylord

    All of us have to make compromises and do things we would not prefer, in order to survive and hope for another day to pursue our greater goals. The question is whether we then put our skills to work for higher aspirations. Lincoln clearly did this, but the question remains of whether his absolutist imperative of abolition was wise, as though there were no other gradual option that might have prevented that horribly destructive war. I guess we can only imagine the alternatives and speculate as to their feasibility.

    1. liberal

      “…whether his absolutist imperative of abolition was wise…”

      Don’t think that correctly describes Lincoln.

      As for gradual solutions, the South was pretty fanatical about slavery.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Yes, but if only we’d had Obama there to reach out and offer bipartisan compromise, things would be so very different today. Because, you know, you can’t change Washington from the inside, so to be realistic, that pesky Emancipation Proclamation would never have been tabled at all, or it otherwise it would’ve been 2,000-plus pages of pulp fiction lobbyese, to be inflicted well after reselection.

        But hey, at least under the Grand Betrayal all races and parties would at last have been brought together to pick cotton for the 0.1%. That’s change we could believe in.

        You’re right about the Lincoln Myth, however, because in the unexceptional American way, he’s been deified as much as the founding slavers. The following is an unverified Lincoln quote (via an NC commenter a week or two ago, don’t recall who):

        “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; 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…

        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.”

        1. LifelongLib

          I’ve seen that quote in early biographies of Lincoln, and it looks accurate. He once said that just because he didn’t want a Negro woman as a slave, it didn’t mean he would want her as a wife.

          Lincoln believed that slavery was wrong, but should be permitted to continue in areas where it had existed historically (i.e. the South). He thought that if confined to those areas it would eventually die out. He opposed slavery’s expansion to new territories and states and that was enough for the South to paint him as a radical abolitionist. He wasn’t. In fact he was elected because he could unite the various anti-slavery factions — those who hated blacks, those who thought slavery dragged down wages, and those who thought slavery immoral. Among the last were the relatively few white people at the time who believed African Americans should have full equality.

          1. Kadzimiel

            The quotation is from the 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate, which was held in Charleston. What follows it is quite interesting as well:

            “I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.”

    2. vlade

      You’ve got it upside down. To the very last moment (spring 1865), Lincoln was seen by the radical Republicans as soft on slavery, and very non-absolutist. Can’t remember the exact date in ’65, but even then he said effectively that if South just gives up, US govt will buy all their slaves (and free them), as it’d be cheaper than running the war (which at the time was $4m per day, by some measures equivalent to 6bn today) and save lives.

      There’s plenty of inconvenient truths about Lincoln – on the economic side, the article doesn’t even mention Blairs, one of the most powerful families in the US at the time and how much they profited from the war. Lincoln’s ignoring of habeas corpus in Maryland at the start is not often mentioned too.

      Lincoln disliked slavery, but was more than willing to let it die slow death. His goal was to keep Union whole, and emancipation proclamation was a good tool to do so (although he was advised to shelve it until a victory has been achieved, as not to look desperate).

      Amongst others, it kept Britain from the war – and it was a very close call. Some crackpots in the US govt at the time thought that getting Britain in the war would be good as it would provide an external enemy – but in fact, if Britain joined the war, the huge economic disadvantage South had (which included the blocade) would disappear, and likely there would be USA and CSA on the continent now.

      If you actually bother to read Emancipation Proclamation, you find that a) it was a proclamation that US govt will do something unless South returns to the fold b) but if not, it would free slaves in the _rebelious_ territories (so not say in Maryland, Kentucky or other slave states that were in north. Yes, slave owners fought on both sides of the front). I.e. exactly in the territories where the federal gov’t at the time had ZERO actual power.

      Lincoln was a great president – but for much different reasons than most people think. For example his reconstruction plans were very benign (which is one of the reasons why extreme Republicans wanted to run a candidate against him in 64 elections, but Fremont declined and few important victories – Atlanta – were scored) – against the background of all the hate on both sides, and as opposed to the extreme Republicans who wanted in effect treat south as conquered territories and hang the elite for treason – but at the same time he was capable of being extremely ruthless to get to his goal (preserving the Union).

      1. William Neil

        In previous essays of mine, (“Heading Down the Road to Disunion”) I compared the troubles Lincoln had with his early generals, before Grant and Sherman, to the troubles Obama has had with the economists he listened to: none grasped the breadth and depth of our troubles. A clear difference would be that Lincoln di grasp the problem: to find generals would fight and press the South at every turn, taking advantage of the North’s superior equipment and numbers. It’s not clear that Obama has ever held economic notions marked off from the cautious technocrats who have advised him. The middle and bottom half of our society have paid a huge price for this.

      2. brian farrington

        There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about Lincoln, slavery, and racism, not to mention habeas corpus, but before I get to this, let me just say that Lincoln was a working lawyer who took cases to make a living, not to make political statements.

        OK, slavery. Lincoln was always opposed to slavery, and no one, not even Lerone Bennett (“Forced into Glory”) has ever found evidence to the contrary. However, he recognized the inconvenient truth that the Constitution protected slavery in the states in which it existed. (that’s why the great abolitionist William Garrison burned a copy of the Constitution, calling it a pact with Hell).

        When he became President, he had no authority to free the slaves in general, either on his own or even through legislation. He construed his power as C-in-C, however, to seize property which aided the rebels, and that’s what the
        Emancipation Proclamation did. It freed the slaves in the states in rebellion, but couldn’t legally touch slavery in the Border States. It took the 13th Amendment to do that, and Lincoln (as the Spielberg movie shows) was the prime mover in getting that adopted.

        Lincoln dared not make the war about emancipation initially, because many, including many in the Union army, would only fight to preserve the Union, not to free the slaves. Also, if the Border states seceded, it might be impossible to win the war (Lincoln said he’d like to have God on his side, but he had to have Kentucky). It was only when it became clear that freeing the slaves contributed to winning the war could Lincoln articulate freedom as one of the reasons for the war. The famous letter to Horace Greeley in which Lincoln said his only goal was to win the war, and he’d free all, some, or no slaves if it helped win the war, was totally disingenuous. It was written in August, 1962, and he’d already drafted and present the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in July.

        The racist remarks Lincoln made were offensive, but consider the context. He made these remarks in the course of campaigning in Illinois, the most racist free state in the Union. Specifically, Stephen A. Douglas ran the most racist campaign imaginable, constantly referring to interracial marriage, social equality, etc., which Illinois residents regarded as anathema. Had he supported such ideas, he wouldn’t have been elected dogcatcher, and our history would have been much worse.(On Lincoln’s allegedly racist attitudes, see Striner, “Father Abraham.”)

        Finally, habeas corpus. Lincoln’s critics forget that the Constitution specifially authorizes the suspension of habeas corpus in the event of invasion or rebellion. I’d say the Civil War constituted a rebellion. The only issue was whether the President could do it, or only Congress since the suspension was addressed in Article 1, which delineates Congressional powers. At the time of the suspension, however, there was no legal precedent, Lincoln’s Attorney General said he could do it, and Congress was not in session.

  2. mike shupp

    Memory says Lincoln made a major general (and a Major General) out of an Illinois railroad president named MacClellan — and Little Mac apparently never got it out of his head that he was Lincoln’s boss, rather than the other way around.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      William G. Thomas’ The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America argues that Lincoln had a better strategic sense of how to use railroads than McClellan did. But then Lincoln basically had a better grip on the strategic realities of the war because he saw it for what it was: a war between two nations. McClellan saw it as a kind of super-sized riot control: make a sufficiently convincing show of official force and the rioters (secessionists) will come to their senses. Um, not quite George.

    2. Lambert Strether

      I never made that connection, thanks. Lincoln appointed one of the major “CEOs” of the day (I don’t think the term existed then) to the head of the Army and it turns out he was a terible commander. Plus ca change….

    3. sglover

      Maybe you’re being ironic, but that’s a pretty goofy description of McClellan. It’s true that he was a railroad executive when the Civil War started. Before that, however, he’d spent decades building a solid reputation as a highly competent, broadly experienced professional soldier. Both the Union and the Confederate armies sought West Pointers for generalships, and McClellan was a star among them. **Any** administration would have given him a senior command.

      Later on Lincoln appointed a failed shopkeeper to command the Army of the Potomac. We’re not going to say that that was due to Lincoln’s connections with the retail industry, are we?

      I guess I don’t see the point of the original article. Yeah, Hollywood, omits Lincoln’s business connections. So what? Hollywood routinely mangles just about everything it portrays, from history to science to novels that are adapted to movies. But to anyone who **reads books** about American history, and knows something about the mid-19th Century American economy, Lincoln’s prewar experience representing railroads (and canal companies, if memory serves) is completely unremarkable.

  3. Gizzard

    I remember reading somewhere, maybe it was Shelby Foote, about one major difference between the the Union and the CSA. The Union essentially nationalized the railroads and put them under federal control for the war while the CSA kept them privatized. It was this move, according to the author, that was key in helping the North out organize the South. The South won early victories but over time the North became a “system” that overwhelmed the South. Staying true to your private control principles doesnt serve you well in a war.

    So while Lincoln enriched the railroads, he also harnessed them when necessary.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      Most of the antebellum South never did develop a railroad network in the sense that the North did. Eastern Virginia was rather unique in that it did have a number of railroad connections similar to the North. Most railroads in the Deep South were built to deliver cotton from plantations to river or sea ports, not to support industry. The biggest handicap facing the Southern railroads in 1861 was the fact that about 90% of their equipment(rails,locomotives, rolling stock)was made in the North. Even without Sherman’s help, the South’s railroads were depreciating to the point of uselessness by 1864.

    2. alex

      “The Union essentially nationalized the railroads and put them under federal control for the war while the CSA kept them privatized.”

      Interesting. It’s similar to WWII, where the US had far more of a command economy than Nazi Germany.

  4. The Dork of Cork.

    I think of these 19th century coal based industries as internal monopolies which must sooner or later deal with domestic political and social forces of the area……
    But external energy flows such as oil work in a very different manner.
    Local Politics is not a important factor with such fluid energy flows.

  5. Doug

    Excellent post! Raises interesting questions about whether national expansion of railroads demanded/required the interests of farmers/land owners to be so thoroughly diminished vis a vis railroads — that is, where did the line actually have to be drawn in balancing those competing interests?

    Next, it serves as a good comparative reference for some of today’s challenges — e.g. fracking. Land owners are being picked clean by enticing promises from energy companies. Yes, the owners are getting some income — much needed especially by those in rural areas who live in a depression, not a recession. Yet, the promises/assurances of safety plus the ‘fine print’ would, one guesses, be every bit as one-sided as any contracts struck by the railroads Lincoln defended.

    That is likely the same in the two situations. What is not the same, however, relates to any arguments on behalf of larger benefits to the economy. The railroads were the 19th century version of the Interstate highways — tying together economic activity across a nation. One plus one definitely equaled at least three in terms of synergistic positive effects.

    Fracking? Cui bono? It does not make America energy independent. Much of it now supports exports of gas. The prices are plummeting. The much promised ‘reserves’ are coming up short.

    It doesn’t connect any part of the economy to any other part. It is extractive not productive — unlike the railroads that, because they created infrastructure in support of commerce, were an asset that kept on ‘giving’ to the economy.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Doug, it’s like Greek “island buying” by the .01% Blood+MoneyMasters. This is how Big Oil conquered the impoverished Deep South after the Civil War when, for example, BigPetroChem COLONIZED Louisiana, even placing their Overseers in what were formally the Manse or the Overseer’s House, of the Sugar Plantation.The land-owning populace, impoverished, were forced to sell their land in order to survive, and this became Corporate Lebensraum for BigPetroChemAgri Plantations on the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and beyond–occupying the route of the River Plantations of Louisiana. Thus COLONIZATION never left Louisiana and its *politique de Richelieu* Politics+Economics System of looting, fraud, violence, ignorance, and deceit.

    2. just me

      it serves as a good comparative reference for some of today’s challenges — e.g. fracking. Land owners are being picked clean by enticing promises from energy companies. Yes, the owners are getting some income —

      e.g. Keystone pipeline — it sounds like they made this 78-year-old Texas woman an offer she refused, so she got arrested for trespassing on her own land, on the grounds of eminent domain: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/08/texas_great_grandmother_arrested_for_trespassing_own_property/

      To the point of whether eminent domain was appropriately granted…maybe not:

      A judge ruled that Keystone XL Pipeline owner, TransCanada, could be granted eminent domain (and hence the ability to arrest Fairchild on her own ranch when she refused to negotiate with the company).

      The judge’s ruling, based on the premise that the pipeline will carry common oil and is therefore of public use, remains contested in the eyes of environmentalists and activists. The multibillion-dollar project threatens water supplies and ecosystems, expands U.S. reliance on oil and promises to further line Koch brother pockets.

      I hadn’t heard the “common oil” issue before, but it reminds me of what we experienced here in Southern California trying to stop the greenwashed Sunrise Power Link, which said it would carry renewable solar energy from the desert (where there was no solar power station to supply it), then refused to commit in writing to carry any renewable energy. No matter, it got approved and built, and I expect the environmentalists’ fears that its true purpose is to carry dirty energy from Mexican power plants will be carried out. Actually, if I understand it correctly, it may not have to function at all, Sempra and its stockholders are guaranteed profits no matter what (?) (Fair question I wish I could answer.) It all seems like the same story told over and over across the United States.

      I have heard that drilling more in the US doesn’t necessarily mean more oil here — there’s nothing to say that it will be sold here and not abroad — but I didn’t know that was a requirement of eminent domain. Didn’t matter to the judge, so effectively Keystone gets a pass.

  6. gregg

    The transcontinental railroad was built under the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, proposed by Lincoln. This act and those that followed established corporate welfare as we know it today. Followed by union-busting.

    The corporate and political landscape of today are mirrored from Lincoln’s past.

    See Richard White’s “Railroaded”.

    PS: it is a shame the south didn’t seceed. The north would look more like Canada and the south more like Mexico.

    1. alex

      “The north would look more like Canada and the south more like Mexico.”

      True, but there’s something to be said for emancipating four million slaves.

    2. just me

      Re your link to Railroaded and the one above to The Iron Way, what amazes me is that in searching their contents on Amazon, neither mentions the ex-railroad president who one could say has had the most amazing lasting effect on America — John Chandler Bancroft Davis, president of the Newburgh and New York Railway Company (wikipedia cite points to an 1867 report, but it’s not even mentioned on his judgepedia page — maybe he was RR president in the hole between 1862 and 1868). Davis’s erroneous headnote as the court reporter in the 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Supreme Court case is the legal nothing that corporate personhood is based on.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County_v._Southern_Pacific_Railroad#The_headnote

      Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this — it was chapter one The Deciding Moment in his book Unequal Protection, serialized on Truthout: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/375:unequal-protection-the-deciding-moment

  7. Ep3

    Yves, I’m no expert but I have always felt that the only reason Lincoln freed the slaves was for the purpose of winning the war.

  8. John McElroy

    Ah, the libertarian view on Lincoln. I am not so sure that anyone elevates to the presidency without powerful forces, Lincoln is no different. Speaking of powerful forces, here is the membership of Ely Jr.’s affiliate (Independent Institute)Board of Directors

    Gilbert I. Collins
    – Private Equity Manager
    John Hagel III
    – Co-Chairman, Center for the Edge, Deloitte & Touche
    Sally S. Harris
    – Vice Chairman, Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
    Peter A. Howley
    – Chairman, The Howley Management Group
    Philip Hudner, Esq.
    – Botto Law Group
    Gary G. Schlarbaum Ph.D., CFA
    – Managing Director, Palliser Bay Invest Management
    W. Dieter Tede
    – President, Audubon Cellars and Winery
    David J. Teece Ph.D.
    – Chairman/Principal Executive Officer; Berkeley
    Research Group
    David J. Theroux
    – Founder, President and CEO, Independent Institute
    Mary L. G. Theroux
    – Former Chairman, Garvey International, Inc.
    Sally von Behren
    – Businesswoman and Philanthropist

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        So long as the Right of Primogeniture is upheld so that *property* remains DNA-CentrallyConcentrated, it does behoove us to raise the issue of DNA sets within the Global Rentier Reich of .01%DNA+.99%Agency (.01% *Wannabes*), working The Shock Doctrine for Lebensraum for their ever-growing gene pools.

        Isn’t Deep Gene State the forte of the “Church” of Latter-Day Saints/CIA? Hard knowledge of DNA placement within the upper spheres of “Society-Business-ArmyIntel-MarineIndustry-Finance” is Insider Knowledge par excellence, especially through centuries of deception that has kept Mother’s Maiden Name obscure or invisible, and that has seen “heritage” laundered by “Name Changes.”

        It’s past time that We the People saw the entire Book of Mormon Profiteers revealed, going back to before 1776, way before Lincoln and Grifter 2012.

      2. John McElroy

        Quite right Lambert. Reading comprehension is a powerful thing when used properly (error is mine).

        My point was: I like the Lincoln quote used for this article (in fact so much so it went into my dissertation). While I can live with the hypocrisy of a politician relying upon the powerful industry resources and the underlying critique of Lincoln, I am curious about the (Ely Jr.’s) ties to the Independent Institute. I am frequently skeptical of those sources that pose as independent or neutral (but really are embedded vessels for the neoliberal status quo —- ala, Peterson Institute.

        My own hypocrisy knows few bounds as the list I proferred would have been much more interesting, informed and appropriate had I completed additional research. As I am knee deep (no excuse) in grading papers at moment, I was hoping for some institutional analysis to collide with this very interesting article. Apologies.

  9. Max424

    When I was kid, my Dad, my Mom, my two brothers and I went on a lot of road trips together. As a family we drove all over. We drove across the country twice, drove through Canada, drove up into Maine, drove down south, drove to Gettysburg, even drove around Europe a little bit.

    On the road, to pass the time, to relieve stress, to inform, educate, create family cohesion, and maybe also, to just plain keep himself alert, my Dad would ask us questions. Standard stuff, mostly, history, geography, politics, animal facts, whatever was on his mind, really, whatever he could think of.

    He would ask while driving, Kids, what’s the fastest animal? Oh come on, Dad. Cheetah! Correct. Ok, smarties, tell me, what’s the second tallest mountain? Everest! No! K2? Correct. And what’s the capital of Wisconsin? Dad! Madison, sons, remember that. And who holds the record for the hundred meter dash?

    Bobby Hayes!

    Correct, Bobby Hayes.

    After a time, when my Dad would sense we were getting bored, or sleepy, or perhaps because he couldn’t think of any more, he’d finish off the session with an old traditional question:

    Now boys, answer me true, who was the noblest American of them all?

    And we would answer in unison, Lincoln!

    And he would say, Correct.

  10. Wayne Martin

    > he freed the slaves ..

    Not exactly. He issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” which purported to freeing the Slaves in the areas of the former United States called the Confederate States of America (CSA)–where he, the President of the United States of America (USA), had no power to enforce such a proclamation–which was blantly unconsitutional at that point in time.

    Lincoln used extra-Constiutional logic found in the implicit “War Powers” of “The Law of Nations” (and presumaly the US Constitution) to (essentialy) declare that slaves were property of “rebels”, and therefore property that was being used by “rebels” to further their “revolution” against the legitimmate US government. Therefore, this “property” could be seized in order to quell the “rebellion”.

    When slaves were “freed” by Union troops after Lincoln’s “Emancipation”–they were not afforded citizenship, nor treated like “equals”–they were frequently converted into laborers under the control of the US Army. Some were paid for their work, but they were by no means “free” to go where they wanted, or do what they wanted, until after the War was over–and the Constitution was amended to prohibit slavery. Slavery continued as a legal institution in Northern states–like Maryland–until after the War.

    Lincoln, himself, favored removing the Negroes outside the country, as time and funds allowed. He did not, in any observable way, see those who had been brought to the US as slaves from Africa in the same light that he saw people immigrating to the US from Europe.

    1. Kadzimiel

      Lincoln’s position on what should happen to African-Americans changed over time, as is fairly well known. You can’t just cite one stage of his evolution and take it as his final, best considered view.

      1. Wayne Martin

        Really?

        Care to provide us a timeline (backed up with links to his writings/speeches) to show his “change of position” on his opinion of how to resolve “slavery”?

        It is true that in 1861 Lincoln stated in his first Inaugural that he had no interest/power in disturbing slavery, and then issued his “Emancipation Proclamation” a year later. But his motives was more towards doing what it took to “win the war”–than freeing the slaves.

    2. alex

      Wayne Martin,
      Why do you put the words “rebels” and “rebellion” in quotes? Do you have some argument that the confederacy was not in a state of rebellion against the United States? If so, I’d love to hear it.

  11. Keith

    Lincoln was part of a large portion of the US public at the time who thought it was a proper use of government power to promote and subsidize “internal improvements” such as canals, railroads, and other transportation links. You can see this in what was said publically by Lincoln and many, many others all during Lincoln’s life.

    Lincoln was part of the original public/private partnership movement in this country. He wasn’t some corporate lackey. He was the product of his times and the environment he grew up in, which was a frontier long on potential and very short on good transportation links. In his political life he was always pushing for digging canals, dredging rivers, and later laying railroad tracks. He never came to believe that this was wrong and neither did the vast majority of the public who later benefited from these transportation links without seeing the full cost of them in increased taxes and the uncompensated negative effects on those who lived along the tracks.

    The ultimate result of this push of public support for private business was the financial collapse and credit crisis of the 1870′s which was largely due to the collapse of the railroad bubble. This bubble made the fortunes of a few on the backs of the many, a very old story. History does not repeat but rhymes. Replace Leland Stanford with Jaimie Diamond or Lloyd Blankfein, railroad with bank, and railroad bubble with housing bubble and you have your rhyme.

    Lincoln was extraordinary, as every US president was in at least some ways, but extraordinary or not he could only be a man of his times. To try and blame him for not being a man of his times is not a productive discussion.

    1. Wayne Martin

      > Lincoln was part of a large portion of the US public at
      > the time who thought it was a proper use of government
      > power to promote and subsidize “internal improvements”
      > such as canals, railroads, and other transportation links.

      The bulk of the people in the US up to the time of Lincoln were not voters, so it’s hard to gauge what they thought about “government subsidies” for “internal improvements”.

      The political class of the era were either “for” or “agin” these expenditures, depending on whether they were on the receiving side of the situation. Money was hard to come by for most, so agreeing to higher taxes (mostly paid through tariffs at the time) was not something that most people supported–for any reason. Moreover, those in the coastal areas were not all that keen on subsidizing areas in the interior, which would result in a shift of political power, and wealth, from the East to the West.

      “Internal Improvements”, Tariffs and Slavery were three of the most hotly debated topics from 1783 until the end of the so-called Civil War. All three involved changes for the “status quo” to some new set of politics that folks (particularly Southerners) saw as reducing their power from something close to “controlling” to something that would leave them at the beck-and-call of “The North”.

  12. PhilJoMar

    As a Scot looking on…how do people in the good ol’ US see the 1862 Homestead Act fitting into all of this.
    I read Goodwyn’s Democratic Promise in the late 90s and it really inspired me. However it seems that most of the farmers of the South were getting screwed by the railway monopolies and so began to think outside the box to create alternative solutions. Perhaps an analogy with Occupy would be relevant here. So if history rhymes, perhaps a new People’s Party might be just around the corner (to stop some witty person…I’ll point out now that if history does rhyme then we’ll probably get a Sheeple’s Party instead).
    Don’t know why I said we…oh well, we’re all Americans now!

  13. David Fiderer

    Railroad finance in the late 19th century presaged the type of crisis capitalism we see today. The overexpansion of railroads led to the Panic of 1893 and a 7-year depression, when oligarchs exploited widespread failure to pick up the pieces and consolidated their power.

    The most insightful contemporary observer of that phenomenon was John Moody, who went on to invent the modern credit rating system. In his seminal work, The Truth About Trusts, he wrote that the largest and most of important of all Trusts, the Railroad Trust, was controlled by five men.

    “Rockefeller, Morgan, Harriman, Gould, Vanderbilt, are interested in and more or less dominate all the groups,” he wrote. “And in this way knit together the entire railroad system of the country into this greater community or Trust.” also, “These able and influential capitalists who control this Railroad Trust are also the men who dictate the policies of and control the Steel Trust, the Oil Trust, the Copper Trust, the Tobacco Trust, the New York City Franchise Aggregation, and many other enterprises of the same kind, great and small.”

  14. Sy Krass

    This is a financial blog and you’re forgetting the biggest story of all. Lincoln said F U ! to the banks, practiced MMT and printed greenbacks.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Which the Confederates did as well. And why did CSA money become worthless, while the USA dollar did not? It’s the real economy, stupid! — not “printing money” as such.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Sy, and that’s when Lincoln went too far: his assassination followed. Investigate the Booth connection with the Power in the *UK*.

      And who was the financier of “American Railroads” for the Standard Oil Trust? Rockefeller Agents in the North, Belmont and Luling in the South. All bases covered by “The Octopus” by any name: Bunge, Rothschild, IG Farben, EU, the Military Industrial PetroChemPharmaAgriWar Complex. The U.S. “Military” by any name, in any form from CIA to Xe, is the Praetorian Guard for the Global Reich, the Holy Roman Reich IV based in: The City – D.C. – the *Vatican CityState* — with the Tripartite Wedding Cake in “Jerusalem” – Zvi City, Israel.

  15. William Neil

    Yves:

    I may or may not comment on the substance of the article, but the ad link which balloned up at the early “lawyers” reference was a scream, who makes this stuff up?

  16. Lambert Strether

    It’s interesting to see The Union and the rentier state so closely intertwined, and in the person of Lincoln.

    We might even think of the Democrats as latter-day Whigs, except they are supporting financial infrastructure, not physical plant — and parasitic, rent-seeking, totally unproductive financial infrastructure at that.

    I’ve long wished for the Democrats to “go the way of the Whigs,” that is, split and destroy itself as a party unequal to the great questions of the time (slavery, then; usury, now). Perhaps my trope was closer to analysis than I knew.

    1. LifelongLib

      In Lincoln’s time there was so little physical plant that it made sense to pay off the rentiers while getting some built. Nowadays we simply pay rentiers (for what exactly?) while NEGLECTING physical plant and social welfare. If anything people were smarter back then.

  17. Stratos

    I also refuse to deify Lincoln. Little is spoken of Lincoln’s plan to ethnically cleanse the USA after the Civil War. Some details of his plan are available at the Institute for Historical Review’s site:
    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n5p-4_Morgan.html.

    In short, Lincoln and his cohorts were prepared to ship millions of African descent people from America to Liberia in much the same way the British tossed their former slaves onto the shores of Sierra Leone (which was appropriated from Liberia, which was first appropriated from the indigenous people of the West African coast).

    Robert Morgan’s article, The ‘Great Emancipator’ and the Issue of Race: Abraham Lincoln’s Program of Black Resettlement, includes this 1876 quote from a Frederick Douglass speech:

    “In his interest, in his association, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man. He was preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of the white man. He was ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone, and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people, to promote the welfare of the white people of this country.”

    Nearly 150 years later and I still read the same dreck from Lincoln’s ideological heirs:

    1. African descent people lack “virtue” and are therefore cannot be assimilated. I heard echoes of this in Bill O’Reilly’s election night rant about Obama voters wanting ‘stuff’ (!?!!).

    2. African descent people need to be separated to prevent the ‘mixing of blood’. 50 years after Loving vs. Virginia (the Supreme Court case that struck down interracial marriage laws) a Louisiana justice of the Peace refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/15/interracial-couple-denied_n_322784.html)

    3. African descent people are a “vexing problem” to Euro-Americans and their very presence will eventually trigger a “race war”. Exhibit 1: The Turner Diaries a far right wing dystopian fantasy about ethnic conflict.

    When I was younger, I thought our society would move past this fixation on externals like melanin content, hair texture and facial features. I didn’t consider how these attitudes made it easy for Elites to manipulate & control various groups, make them vote against their own interests (e.g. Whites for Republicans and Blacks for Obama).

    Live and learn.

  18. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Lincoln was nothing, if not PRAGMATIC to the marrow. Not mentioned above is his affiliation with Pinkerton Detectives, which is revealed in an A&E doc about Lincoln, available many years ago. Moreover, his connection to Garibaldi is little known to the general public.

    Anent the Lincoln-Garibaldi connection, below is a Comment I made to an article at http://www.nytimes.com – “Who Said Anything About ‘War Powers’?” by Geoffrey Perret, dated May 6, 2007: a Comment whose timely message fell on deaf ears:

    //[Comment #] 11. May 7, 2007
    1:54 pm
    Link
    A little-known academic article, “Garibaldi, Lincoln and the American Civil War” (PAROLA DEL POPOLO, Vol. XXXII, Anno 74, No. 160, Chicago (Maggio/Giugno, 1982) by Edoardo A. Lebano, is revealing anent this issue. Dr. Lebano writes: “It is clear from the General’s [Garibaldi's] letter that he would go to America only if he were not needed in Italy and that the question of the emancipation of the slaves was what interested him the most.”

    To this letter, quoted in the article, comes the reply of Mr. J.W. Quiggle, American consul in Antwerp, in 1961. “In his reply to Garibaldi, date July 4 [1861], Mr. Quiggle (who had, meanwhile transmitted a copy of the correspondence with the General to Washington, pointed out that it was not the intention of the Federal Government to wage war for the emancipation of the negroes from slavery, but rather ‘to maintain its power and dignity–put down rebellion and insurrection, and restore to the government her ancient prowess at home and throughout the world.’ In the consul’s opinion it would be ‘a dreadful calamity’ were four millions of slaves set free at once in his country. He believed, nevertheless, that should the war continue with the ‘same bitterness with which it had begun,’ it well may cause ‘the extinction of slavery in the United States, no matter what may be the circumstances.’”

    This is precisely what did happen. The “extinction of slavery” was, as it were, a “by-product” of Lincoln’s true motives.

    I for one, am happy with the outcome, even as a middle-age Euro “Southerner” of Francophone Louisiana rather than Anglophone “Deep South.” I believe that slavery is an abomination.

    There are quite a few Afro-American students of history who discovered Lincoln’s fraud decades ago, yet the myth goes on about Lincoln’s “War Against Slavery” just as the myth goes on about George W. Bush’s “War Against Iraq/AlQaeda/Terrorism.”

    WHY? No doubt to aid and abet the STATUS QUO. I for one do not believe it is necessary to perpetuate the MYTH of the sainted Lincoln in order to JUSTIFY the end of slavery. I think it would be more helpful to the UNION to discuss what really happened and why; to ADMIT THE TRUTH all around (who profitted, who paid, and why); and to BEGIN DIALOGUE about why the end of slavery was a good outcome, despite the fact that Lincoln used deceit, fraud, hypocrisy, and violation of the Constitution in order to DEFEAT the Confederate States of America.

    This dialogue would be timely right now, because it appears that BUSH & CO. are the leaders in a de-facto neoConfederacy of Deep South and Western States which constitute a “military-industrial” core of corporate wealth from the SPOILS OF WAR. This confederacy of “rebels” reigns from the Carolinas through Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, on through New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, onto California and Oregon. And they “HATE NEW YORK JEWS,” this is their favorite mantra; though the R.C.’s of Yale: O.K.

    The “War in Iraq/in Afghanistan/on Terror” is to the Bush family, friends, and allies what the “Civil War” was to Lincoln friends and allies–but instead of “Union” of the States, the “Union” of Corporate Fiefs and fiefdoms is the CARDINAL ISSUE.

    SHOULD THIS NOT GIVE US PAUSE? Congress should at once RESTORE Constitutional Law according to the intent of the document’s framers, with special attention to the ISSUE of the QUALIFICATIONS of a legitimate “Commander and Chief” of the armed forces, and to the precise DEFINITION of the word “WAR”–which only Congress has the right and duty to declare, according to the Constitution proper.

    God bless The New York Times for this platform for FREE SPEECH.

    — DrNova//
    —————————
    “Garibaldi, Lincoln and the American Civil War” (PAROLA DEL POPOLO, Vol. XXXII, Anno 74, No. 160, Chicago (Maggio/Giugno, 1982) by Edoardo A. Lebano is highly RECOMMENDED. His research on Lincoln-Garibaldi was forgotten for over 20 years, but did come to light at last.
    (Dr. Edoardo Lebano, one of my Dissertation Advisors for the completion of the Ph.D. in Italian and Theatre at Indiana University Bloomington in 1973, was the resident expert in Italian Renaissance literature and philosophy at IUB then, and he became a “Renaissance Man” himself since that time.)

    1. just me

      “Garibaldi, Lincoln and the American Civil War” (PAROLA DEL POPOLO, Vol. XXXII, Anno 74, No. 160, Chicago (Maggio/Giugno, 1982) by Edoardo A. Lebano is highly RECOMMENDED.

      LBR, where do you find that? Amazon is useless. Is it in Italian? I’m curious about it because when you’re talking about Garibaldi you’re talking about the Pope too, and the Pope apparently personally supported the Confederacy, wrote a letter to Jefferson Davis. Interesting comments about all that in a 2010 emptywheel diary — I’d start with this one by Sara, who was a treasure of history, now sadly passed: http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/06/11/cables-on-vatican-sex-scandals-among-those-sent-to-wikileaks/#comment-242269 — Catholic South versus Protestant North angle, and Lincoln killed on Good Friday. Plus Minnesota and zouave pants. Stuff I didn’t learn in high school.

      http://web.archive.org/web/20100831035858/http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/garibaldi-the-first-global-action-hero-455348.html

      “What of Garibaldi!” wrote Ivan Turgenev. “One cannot believe it – one’s heart stops beating.” … His reputation crossed the world with the speed of fire. Lincoln asked him to become a general in the Yankee army at the outbreak of the American Civil War; Garibaldi said he’d only do it if he could have full command of the army.

      Garibaldi’s visit [to London] had brought thousands to the streets chanting: “We’ll get a rope, and hang the Pope. So up with Garibaldi!”

  19. craazyman

    Lincoln was a hoax. This disinformation by Ms. Parramore is just more population control hysteria, including the so-called memorial in Washington and the statue itself. A glorious hoax every person perpetrates upon themselves, involuntarily assembling fragments of the world into some private mental picture they believe to be a form of truth. Lincoln in fact knew himself to be a hoax, he even admitted that for most of the war he did not lead events but simply followed them, and this is one reason he was always deferring causation in his speeches to the Lord and disclaiming any power of his own “our poor power to add or detract” he said at Gettysburg. He left that up to Grant, to make things happen, but only in a very very narrow sense. The fact he foresaw his own death in great precision only confirms the strangeness of his destiny and his proximity to forces far higher than we can imagine much less describe or even less, define, but which he alluded to repeatedly and articulately in ways that have not been surpassed in political speech. In that respect, he was no hoax. He was a genius. But certainly a man of his time in nearly all other respects.

    1. craazyman

      Proof of the Hoax and Lincoln’s plain confession. Ms. Parramore’s post is a delusion of sagacity . . .

      “I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God. Yours truly,

      A. Lincoln

      Letter to Albert Hodges, 1864

      http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/hodges.htm

    2. just me

      “The fact he foresaw his own death in great precision…”

      From wikipedia:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Abraham_Lincoln#Lincoln.27s_nightmare

      According to Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and biographer, three days before his assassination Lincoln discussed with Lamon and others a dream he had, saying:

      About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers, ‘The President,’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin.’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.[12]

      Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals:

      Lamon also described what he claimed was the president’s attempt to evade the dire portent of that dream. “Don’t you see how it will turn out?” Lincoln comforted Lamon. “In this dream, it was not me but some other fellow that was killed…. Well, let it go. I think the Lord in His own good time and way will work this out all right. God knows what is best.” Historian Don Fehrenbacher is persuasive that Lamon’s chronology is confused, which casts doubt on the veracity of the entire story. Yet Lincoln’s penchant for portentous dreams and his tendency to relate them to others were remarked on by many of his intimate acquaintances.

      More discussion here http://www.alplm.com/blog/?p=461 including link to Currier & Ives print Abraham’s Dream “Coming events cast their shadows before.”

      Thanks for making me look, I didn’t know that story or the questions about it.

      1. LifelongLib

        There’s information from Lincoln’s law partner William Herndon and a number of other people that Lincoln believed for years (even before he became president) that he would have some sort of violent or tragic death. And as president he rejected the idea of increasing security around him because he felt that any determined assassin would be able to get through it anyway. He seems to have been very fatalistic about it.

        1. just me

          I read this from the book description on Amazon when I was trying to figure out Lamon cite — it’s almost like your comment, except different:

          http://www.amazon.com/Recollections-Abraham-Lincoln-1847-1865-Lamon/dp/0803279507

          When President-elect Abraham Lincoln was preparing to go to Washington he appealed to his old friend and law partner Ward Hill Lamon: “I want you to go along with me. . . . In fact I must have you. So get yourself ready and come along.” Lamon journeyed from Springfield to Washington in 1861 and returned to Illinois in mourning in 1865. Lincoln chose Lamon as his bodyguard when he slipped into Washington by night to foil conspirators intent on murder.

          Also, re “determined assassin” — there’s a strange photo on wikipedia of Lincoln’s second inauguration, with John Wilkes Booth sitting above and behind Lincoln with apparently a clear shot at him if he was so determined: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LincolnJohn.jpg

  20. gordon

    I suspect that the US high tariff policy which originated during the Civil War but which continued long afterward also contributed largely to the development of trusts and centralisation of financial power. Maybe the economic historians reading this would like to comment?

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Cotton Brokers in New Orleans and Savannah played a winning hand in “either” outcome. You might not believe the sly, bold treachery of such as Judah P. Benjamin, “Hero of the Confederacy” along with Slidell and others, hidden in the “confidential archives” of The Tulane University of Louisiana.

  21. LeonovaBalletRusse

    An American Song of Liberty 2012

    My fellow Americans, have you not heard
    Our original Song of Liberty in *American Word*?

    “Tis a Gift to be Simple/Tis a Gift to be Free”–
    Can we not become what we were ever meant to be?

    Can we bind ourselves together in a Voice of “No More”
    From Old Europe’s Despots Robbing us as before?

    The IG Farben Cartel made Hitler and “Brussels EU”
    They worked through Wall Street to capture us, too.

    “The Bubble That Broke the World” decades before
    Broke We the People with the Lie of More! More!

    Will Hitler’s Conjurers keep us in their Bloody Hell?
    Will Rockefeller’s Masters sound our Death Knell?

    My Fellow Americans, let us “KISS” once more
    Our simple lives on Earth: Our Liberty in Store.

    My Fellow Americans, have you not heard?
    We Are Our Keepers: Together the Sacred Word.

    LeonovaBalletRusse Thursday, 22 November 2012
    FREE “food and drink” for NC denizens, as suggested by ISAIAH 55
    (Yves, the first copyright is yours for the NC Kitty)

  22. Dikaios Logos

    I haven’t read this book, but my understanding is that “The Associates: Four Capitalist Who Created California” also offers some insight into Lincoln’s cozy relationships with railroad barons.

    And, pace Lambert Strether, Lincoln did abolish slavery in the narrowest of senses. I think there is a disheartening lesson about realpolitik here: powerful leaders have to be in bed with some devil. I can almost forgive Lincoln his cooperation with scuzzy railroad men, if only for his offering a modicum of freedom to blacks and bankrupting many slaveholders. I’ve come to hope that Obama’s coddling of the financial services industry is just because he would rather make energy the biggest boogeyman. But maybe I will have to keep dreaming?

  23. Bennie

    (Thanks, Naked…Have you seen this? Was seen on the web.)

    THE REAL CREATORS OF THE SUBURBS

    ( I experienced all this while trapped in a large American city.)

    The suburbs are booming, but not fast enough. Yessir, you ghetto folks
    in inner cities have started a good thing, but there are still lots of acres
    outside the cities without any houses on them. So you’ve gotta move into
    “untouched” city blocks and do the following:
    Throw trash everywhere. You’ll insure that your friends who pick up trash
    and distribute free rat poison packets will keep their jobs. And folks can
    predict the weather by the direction the trash is blowing!
    Walk down the street. Better yet, rhythm down it. And when I say street
    I don’t mean sidewalk. Save sidewalks for your friends on cycles. Besides,
    it’s hard to fit many cursing, screaming, drinking, pot-smoking kids on a
    sidewalk, and it’s also hard to spot keys and other things left in cars when
    you’re walking on a sidewalk!
    When walking down a street, turn your head when you hear a car coming
    and stare at the driver. For all you know, it might be one of your enemies
    out to get you. On the other hand, it might be only your neighbor and all
    that hateful staring might make him want to move out.
    Be sure to beget lots of unloved, unsupervised, unwashed two-legged
    “Obama welfare meal tickets” – either through wedlock or (preferably) out of
    wedlock. And let them often ring doorbells, begging for money.
    Turn quiet streets into noisy jungles. Have a blast – a
    long blast with your car horn under your neighbor’s window at
    3:00 a.m. Let folks know who the real honkies are! Blow your horn when (1)
    you see the police coming (2) you want to buy some dope (3) you want to sell
    some dope (4) for any other reason. Play your stereo so loudly that folks can’t
    hear sirens going to the latest holdup or arson. Be noisy, man, noisy!
    Be cruel to animals, especially “man’s best friend.” Tie your dog on a
    short chain under a blazing sun with no water or food or love or license or
    dog shots. Make him as mean as you are. Better yet, let your dog run loose.
    Neighbors love to find freshly killed cats (after hearing their screams) and
    other goodies on their lawns. Pit one dog against another in bloody “canine
    cockfights” while friends lounge on car hoods and cheer and make bets! And
    what madness is it where folks move out and abandon pets in the house,
    leaving them nothing to eat but their own droppings? This happens often in the
    ghetto, and almost no one will help the animals.
    Keep a good supply of Saturday Night Specials – also Sunday, Monday,
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday Night Specials. Your criminal
    presence will improve your neighbor’s light bill; when he isn’t watching you
    at night (with his lights off), he will be able to read books at night by
    the light of the police helicopter searchlights!
    Here’s more insanity: Uncle Sam spends millions of our tax money to
    move you into our neighborhoods where we lose much when we sell our homes.
    So you have your nerve when you glare and swear at us when we don’t move
    out quickly; but you’re the reason we can’t find good buyers! I really wonder
    what you and Uncle Sam will do when lots of folks move to the wilderness and
    live off the land and consequently don’t have to pay taxes to support such
    sickness!
    Finally, spread the rumor that all of your troubles are associated with
    skin, even though you and I know that your problem isn’t skin. It’s sin!!!
    What makes a ghetto? It’s not the paint on a house (or lack of it) but all
    of you two-legged pains in the neck!

    (anyone is free to copy and air this paper)

  24. Andrew

    It’s true that the media don’t talk about this – but they don’t like to talk about such serious adult matters. Besides, it’s boring! “Railroad what? Choo choo?”

    Among economic and political historians, it’s pretty well-known that Lincoln was very pro-industry: I think he is noted by experts as being probably one of the most protectionist and industrial policy-oriented presidents ever

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  26. Dr Conrad Borovski

    Hot Ham! Now even Alternet is becoming as irrelevant as the bloody Tea Party of late (but still swallowed by the self-righteous anti-Obamas)! Gimme a break. We
    have no proper news in this country thanks to the Australian emperor of the media, the monstrously prejudiced MURDOCH. So please stop watching Karl Rove & Condi exhibit themselves on FOX News. Start to think. Dismiss all crap. Thank you. – I’ll return to the now restored BBC, to REUTERS, French TV5 Monde, le Nouvel Obs. and Der Spiegel & die Zeit, as well a the Deutsche Welle for the news. Criticism is never popular. But you need more!
    Ciao / Tchao / Tschüs / and foolishly still hoping for HOPE & CHANGE by the man I voted for who is using drones to execute people abroad & now also here, and I’m an immigrant from dictators like the ones we worship!
    I would say “GOD SAVE AMERICA!” (if America had not made me an atheist…

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