Author Charles E. Gilbert, below, asserts that Lincoln’s “fame is far beyond the man’s deserts;
his abilities exaggerated; his virtues magnified; his statesmanship overestimated; his one
achievement misrepresented and misunderstood; conflictive in declaration, purpose and effect.”
Lincoln's Revised Gettysburg Address
"General Donn Piatt, who traveled with Lincoln during his campaign and knew Lincoln perhaps
as well as any man: "When a leader dies all good men go to lying about him. Abraham Lincoln has
almost disappeared from human knowledge. I hear of him, I read of him in eulogies and biographies,
but fail to recognize the man I knew in life . . . Lincoln faced and lived through the awful responsibility
of war with a courage that came from indifference."
Ward Lamon, intimate friend of Lincoln and his United States Marshal for the District of Columbia,
and Colonel in the Secret Service; Historian Shepherd of Baltimore; W.H. Cunningham of the Montgomery
(Missouri) Star, who sat right behind Lincoln at Gettysburg, all agreed and publicly stated that the
speech published was not the one delivered by Lincoln; that both Edward Everett and Seward
expressed their disappointment and there was no applause;
that Lincoln said: "Lamon, that speech was like a wet blanket on the audience. I am distressed by it."
These gentlemen who heard the speech all say that the speech delivered was not the one which
has been so extensively printed. Even [Lincoln secretary John] Nicolay says: "It was revised."
William H. Herndon, under whom Lincoln began his law practice and longtime friend, wrote one of
the first biographies of Lincoln, "Story of a Great Life," but because of its frankness in unfolding the life
of Lincoln it was bought up and suppressed. It was republished some years later, much modified . . .
Lamon, in his "Life of Lincoln," said:
The ceremony of Mr. Lincoln's apotheosis was planned and executed after his death by men
who were unfriendly to him while he lived. Men who had exhausted the resources of their skill
and ingenuity in venomous distractions of the living Lincoln were first after his death to
undertake the task of guarding his memory, not as a human being, but as a god.
After his death it became a political necessity to pose him as the greatest,
wisest, Godliest man that ever lived.”
Among those participating in the apotheosis Lamon names Seward, Edwin Stanton, Thad Stevens and Charles Sumner.”
(Two Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Charles E. Gilbert, The Naylor Company, 1973, pp. 78-79)
The Gettysburg Heresy
Dr. Boyd D. Cathey, 13 November 2013
"The so-called "conservative media" is all agog commemorating the Gettysburg Address, which was
offered by Abe Lincoln one-hundred and fifty years ago today. Fox News has complained,
numerous times, that President Obama did not plan to travel to Gettysburg and recite the address.
Fox went so far as to interview Ken Burns, whose overblown and over-hyped renditions of American
history have done as much as anyone to turn the nation's history into milquetoast pablum, while
glorifying the ongoing rush to managerial statism and the continuing destruction of state and individual rights.
Glenn Beck, who occasionally punches through the gauzy historical blackout that infests the media in
the United States today, has fallen into lock-step with Fox. Listening to him (and to Rush Limbaugh),
everything revolves around why Obama, when he recited the address via a taped message, left out the
words "under God," toward the end. For Beck and Rush, like Fox News, the address is one of those
fundamental pillars of America, a brief but essential declaration stating who we are as a people,
a distillation of American belief and purpose.
Fox News and Beck, and the rest of those who drink at the political and propaganda fountain we
term neoconservatism, emphasize, above all, the term "equality," that is, as the address declares,
that America is a "new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
The problem is that this assertion, which forms the philosophical base of BOTH the dominant force
in "movement conservatism" today (neoconservatism) AND the neo-Marxist multicultural Left,
is simply false. First, consider the first phrase of the address: "Four score and seven years ago
our fathers brought forth...." There is a critical problem with this assertion. Lincoln is making direct
reference to the Declaration of Independence (1776). But it was not the Declaration that "created" the
new nation; the Declaration was a statement of thirteen colonies, announcing their respective
independence from the mother country, binding themselves together
in a military and political alliance.
It was the Constitution, drafted eleven years later (1787), after the successful conclusion of the
War for Independence, that established and "created" a new nation. And, as any number of historians
and scholars have pointed out, quite convincingly, the American Founders never, never, intended to
cobble together a nation based on the proposition that "all men are created equal."
A brief survey of the work of such distinguished historians and researchers as Forrest McDonald,
M. E. Bradford, Christopher Manion, George W. Carey, and more recently Kirkpatrick Sale,
plus a detailed reading of the commentaries and writings of those men who established the nation,
give the lie to the claim (See for example, Elliott's Debates, a compilation of the debates over the new Constitution).
The Founders were horrified by "egalitarianism" and "democracy," and they made it clear that what
they were establishing was a stratified republic, in which most of the "rights" were left to the
respective states (and their own arrangements), and which throughout its contours, serious
restrictions and limitations on voting and participation in government were considered fundamental.
A quick review of The Federalist Papers confirms this; and a survey of the correspondence and the
debates over the Constitution add support to this anti-egalitarianism.
Obviously, then, Lincoln could not found his "new nation" in the U. S. Constitution; it was too
aristocratic and decentralized, with non-enumerated powers maintained by the states, including
the right to secede. Indeed, slavery was explicitly sanctioned, even if most of the Founders believed
that as an institution it would die a natural death, if left on its own. So, Father Abraham goes back
to the Declaration of Independence and invests in it a meaning that supports his statist
and wartime intentions.
But even then, he verbally abuses the language of the Declaration, interpreting the words in a
form that its Signers never intended. Although those authors employed the phrase "all men are
created equal," and certainly that is why Lincoln made direct reference to it, a careful analysis
of the Declaration does not confirm the sense that Lincoln invests in those few words.
Contextually, the authors at Philadelphia were asserting their historic--and equal--rights as
Englishmen before the Crown, which had, they believed, been violated
and usurped by the current London government.
The Founders rejected egalitarianism. They understood that no one is, literally, "created equal"
to anyone else. Certainly, each and every person is created with no fewer or no more dignity,
measured by his or her own unique possibilities before God. But this is not what most writers mean
today when they talk of "equality." Rather, from a traditionally-Christian viewpoint, each of us is born
into this world with different levels of intelligence, in different areas of expertise; physically, some
folks are stronger or heavier, others are slight and smaller; some learn foreign languages and
write beautiful prose; others become fantastic athletes or scientists.
Social customs and traditions, property holding, and individual initiative---each of these factors
further discriminate as we continue in life. None of this means that we are any less or more valued,
in the judgment of God, Who judges us based on our own, very unique capabilities. God measures
us by ourselves, by our own possibilities, not by those of anyone else---that is, whether we use
our own, individual talents to the very highest (recall the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of St. Matthew).
The Founders understood this, as their writings and speeches clearly indicate. Lincoln's "new nation"
would have certainly struck them as radical and revolutionary, a veritable "heresy." Even more disturbing
for them would be the specter of modern-day (neo) "conservatives"--that is, those who claim to rigorously
defend the Constitutional republic against the abuses of the neo-Marxist multiculturalist Left--enshrining
Lincoln's propaganda declaration as a basic symbol of American political and social culture.
They would have understood the radicalism implicit in such a pronouncement; they would have seen
the address as a contradiction of the "First Founding" of 1787 and a revolutionary denial of its
intentions; and they would have understood in Lincoln's language the content of Christian and millenialist
heresy, heralding a transformed nation where the Federal government would become the father
and mother and absolute master of us all.
Thus, November 19, 2013, is not a day to celebrate. The Gettysburg "heresy" is a reason to lament
what has happened since 1863, and to recall an older generation of 1787, a generation of noble men
who comprehended full well that a country based on egalitarianism
is a nation where true liberties are imperiled."
Lincoln Changed the Subject with the Gettysburg Address
Kirkpatrick Sale, November 13, 2013
What Lincoln did at Gettysburg in November 1863 was to try to create a brand-new purpose for
the war that the North was fighting against the Confederacy. No longer was it to be for the preservation
of the union, as he had declared many times in the previous two years, nor for the restoration of forts
and armories and customhouses, as he declared in his declaration of war, but now it was to be for
the banners of equality and liberty that had been unfurled in the cause of black emancipation.
He began his transformation of purpose 150 years ago this month with a distortion of history that claimed
that the United States had been committed to equality and liberty in its original form and the present
conflict was to preserve a nation “so conceived and so dedicated.” For this purpose he had to declare
that the nation began “four score and seven years ago” — i.e. 1776 — which is rank and utter nonsense.
There was no nation when the colonies issued a Declaration of Independence to explain their rebellion
and there didn’t become one until the Constitution was ratified thirteen years later. And that Constitution,
and the nation that it created, had nothing to do with being “dedicated to the proposition that all men are
created equal,” a complete absurdity for in fact it makes no mention of equality at all —
and indeed endorses the institution of slavery!
The preamble does make a passing reference to “secure the blessings of liberty,” but nowhere
in the document are there any articles or enumerated powers relating to liberty in any guise.
Indeed the aristocratic Founding Fathers would have thought the idea of governmental machinery dedicated
to liberty, much less equality, would be ludicrous — neither liberty nor equality can be legislated — and they
had no intention of setting up a nation that would try to achieve those undefinable and unachievable goals.
Then, furthering his distortion, Lincoln declared that the cause for which the Union soldiers “gave their last full
measure of devotion” was “a new birth of freedom,” when we can be sure that this was the farthest thing
from their minds, since no one had ever told them that was why they were fighting.
They certainly weren’t fighting for the freedom of the North, since that was never threatened.
They were obviously not fighting for the freedom of the South, since that is precisely what they were against.
They were not even fighting for a new birth of freedom for the slaves of the South, since that too had not
previously been declared a cause for the war, not even after the publication of the Emancipation Proclamation
ten months months earlier.
And as for the idea with which Lincoln ended his speech — that ours was a government of, by,
and for the people — I’m afraid that too would have seemed a peculiar idea to the Fathers.
The Founders of our government created was very careful to limit the powers of “the people,” making
sure that the senior house, the Senate, was not to be elected by the general populace, of whom they
tended to have a very dim view, but by the state legislatures. And even the voters for the House
of Representatives were limited according to state regulations, in which a majority of the states had
various property requirements, as they did for candidates to the Electoral College.
We may get some idea of how the Fathers regarded “the people” from an 1814 letter that Jefferson,
one of the most democratically inclined crafters of the Constitution, wrote to John Adams. He hoped,
he said, that “the natural aristocracy” of this country, of which he considered himself a part, “may safely
and advantageously reserve to themselves wholesome control over their public affairs,” and hopes that
“the mobs of great cities” and “the class of artificers as the panderers of vice” never have a say in
those matters. Government was certainly not, and not meant to be, of or by the people, though it was
surely for them, as any natural aristocracy would provide.
An entirely fraudulent address, then, that Abraham Lincoln (so ably) created, and especially important
because it served not only to give the war a new direction and purpose (and a new high moral ground
from which to unsheathe a “terrible swift sword” against the traditional South) but also in a sense to give
the nation that he was hoping to create, which was to be centralized and Washington-centered as
never before, a central purpose. Whether it was wise to set this land on a course for 150 years of
trying to achieve equality, an impossible abstract that requires an ever-more-powerful government to
try to accomplish, and to do so by depending not on the states but on an amorphous thing called
“the people,” we may leave to history to decide."
Two Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Charles E. Gilbert, The Naylor Company, 1973
Lincoln Uber Alles, Dictatorship Comes to America, John Avery Emison, Pelican Publishing, 2009
Lincoln and the Road to War, Frank van der Linden, Fulcrum Publishing, 1998
America's Caesar, Greg Loren Durand, Crown Rights, 2001
Herndon's Life of Lincoln, William H. Herndon, Da Capo, 1983
The Real Lincoln, Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Forum Publishing, 2002
The Constitutions of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, Russell H. Quynn, Exposition Press, 1959
Rise and Fall of the Cponfederate Government, Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton, 1881
Copyright 2013, The North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission