Did you know Abraham Lincoln was a Marxist? Oh yeah, his whole goal was to impose socialism on America, destroy states rights and limited government, and oh by the way, attack “religious values in America” in order to supplant God and put government in His place.
Yes, hardcore neo-Confederate Walter Kennedy had a chat with Kevin Swanson, who told his flock that “history is important” right before chopping it into little pieces by presenting us with the wholly mythical “churchgoing, freedom-loving Southern slave-owner,” as Brian Tashman refers to him at Right Wing Watch. This paragon of virtue was lamentably pounded into extinction by that Commie Lincoln and his Commie Yankee pals intent on imposing socialism on America.
It is difficult to tell from Swanson and Kennedy’s rhetoric which was the worst sin, freeing the slaves or establishing public schools. And you thought David Barton could re-write history.
Take a listen, if you can, to this madness courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
According to Kennedy, a member of the League of the South who once wrote a book defending slavery,
The Democrats, both Northern and Southerners, believed in limited government and the Marxists hated that concept, they wanted to do away with states’ rights and limited government so that they’d have one big all-powerful indivisible government that could force its will upon the American people.
The fact is, Lincoln was not attacking the South for its “limited government” nor for its ” “freedom-based, liberty-based society” but because the South was in rebellion. And oh by the way, they kept people as slaves.
Sure it’s become popular in certain circles to say the Civil War was about states rights, but keep in mind those rights were the right to enslave blacks.
Swanson talks about the importance of context. If you want that context, here is the letter Karl Marx wrote to Lincoln toward the end of the Civil War, to congratulate him on his re-election:
We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery.
From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver?
When an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, “slavery” on the banner of Armed Revolt, when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth century; when on those very spots counterrevolution, with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding “the ideas entertained at the time of the formation of the old constitution”, and maintained slavery to be “a beneficent institution”, indeed, the old solution of the great problem of “the relation of capital to labor”, and cynically proclaimed property in man “the cornerstone of the new edifice” — then the working classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning, that the slaveholders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy crusade of property against labor, and that for the men of labor, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton crisis, opposed enthusiastically the proslavery intervention of their betters — and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to the good cause.
While the workingmen, the true political powers of the North, allowed slavery to defile their own republic, while before the Negro, mastered and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative of the white-skinned laborer to sell himself and choose his own master, they were unable to attain the true freedom of labor, or to support their European brethren in their struggle for emancipation; but this barrier to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.
The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.
Signed on behalf of the International Workingmen’s Association, the Central Council:
Longmaid, Worley, Whitlock, Fox, Blackmore, Hartwell, Pidgeon, Lucraft, Weston, Dell, Nieass, Shaw, Lake, Buckley, Osbourne, Howell, Carter, Wheeler, Stainsby, Morgan, Grossmith, Dick, Denoual, Jourdain, Morrissot, Leroux, Bordage, Bocquet, Talandier, Dupont, L.Wolff, Aldovrandi, Lama, Solustri, Nusperli, Eccarius, Wolff, Lessner, Pfander, Lochner, Kaub, Bolleter, Rybczinski, Hansen, Schantzenbach, Smales, Cornelius, Petersen, Otto, Bagnagatti, Setacci;
George Odger, President of the Council; P.V. Lubez, Corresponding Secretary for France; Karl Marx, Corresponding Secretary for Germany; G.P. Fontana, Corresponding Secretary for Italy; J.E. Holtorp, Corresponding Secretary for Poland; H.F. Jung, Corresponding Secretary for Switzerland; William R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary.
18 Greek Street, Soho.
And here is the politely measured response of Abraham Lincoln, through the American minister (ambassador) to the Court of St. James, in London, Charles Francis Adams, who was the son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams.
Legation of the United States
London, 28th January, 1865
I am directed to inform you that the address of the Central Council of your Association, which was duly transmitted through this Legation to the President of the United [States], has been received by him.
So far as the sentiments expressed by it are personal, they are accepted by him with a sincere and anxious desire that he may be able to prove himself not unworthy of the confidence which has been recently extended to him by his fellow citizens and by so many of the friends of humanity and progress throughout the world.
The Government of the United States has a clear consciousness that its policy neither is nor could be reactionary, but at the same time it adheres to the course which it adopted at the beginning, of abstaining everywhere from propagandism and unlawful intervention. It strives to do equal and exact justice to all states and to all men and it relies upon the beneficial results of that effort for support at home and for respect and good will throughout the world.
Nations do not exist for themselves alone, but to promote the welfare and happiness of mankind by benevolent intercourse and example. It is in this relation that the United States regard their cause in the present conflict with slavery, maintaining insurgence as the cause of human nature, and they derive new encouragements to persevere from the testimony of the workingmen of Europe that the national attitude is favored with their enlightened approval and earnest sympathies.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
Charles Francis Adams
As author John Nichols writes in The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism (2011),
In the decades following Lincoln’s assassination, the story of his exchange with the First International was well known and often recounted. Eugene Victor Debs would stop his 1908 presidential campaign train—“The Red Special”—in Springfield to deliver a celebratory address at Lincoln’s grave. Years later, in the midst of another presidential campaign, Debs would argue that “The Republican Party was once red. Lincoln was a revolutionary.” It is indisputable that the Republican Party had at its founding a red streak. And it is arguable that the party’s first president was a radical; his great struggle, rooted in the ideals of the founding, was for “a new birth of freedom” that would be aptly characterized by the historian Charles Beard as the “Second American Revolution, and in a strict sense, the First.” The fight, Lincoln argued at Gettysburg, was waged to give meaning to the founding promise that “all men are created equal.” This did not, as some of the more excitable revisionists of the 1930s imagined, make Lincoln a communist. The man who clung so tightly in his Gettysburg Address to the Enlightenment visions that birthed the nation kept the faith in “that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found”—as the plaque on display for more than a century near the great Lincoln statue on the University of Wisconsin campus describes it. Lincoln was not a Marxist, but the first Republican president belonged to a time when men such as he were familiar with the writings of Marx and the deeds of the revolutionary circle that spread from Europe to the United States in the aftermath of the 1848 rebellions. He sifted and winnowed the radical ideas of his day. He found truth in notions about the superiority of labor to capital, just as he found important—at times essential—allies among the radicals who shared the view that a dying southern aristocracy was mounting not merely a last desperate defense of slavery but “in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people.”
Obviously, Swanson, like David Barton and other Republican pundits and politicians, is really only interested in history as he wishes it to be, a history that is more congenial to his corporatist-theocratic ideology than is the actual, as-it-happened history.
It is not at all surprising that the south would rise again – Lincoln made that possible too by pushing for Reconstruction. It is only surprising that the path it has ultimately chosen leads backward into the dark days of anti-freedom, in other words, slavery and ignorance; rather than forward to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address concept of a “new birth of freedom,” of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
Where Southerners are taken instead is backward to a public execution, to the elite 1 percent’s strangling of that freedom, and to a “government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations,” all neatly sanctioned by the God who, unsurprisingly, also sanctions slavery.
And all this slavery fed as freedom to people too stupid to tell the difference because they think an actual education is evil.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.