By: Al Benson Jr.
The more you look at Abraham Lincoln the more his socialist proclivities jump out at you from whatever printed page you happen to be browsing. Once you have begun to grasp the fact of his socialist worldview then you can see things in reading about him that you just never noticed before.
I’ve seen articles that referred to radical Tom Paine, the supporter and promoter of the terrorist French Revolution, as “Lincoln’s hero.” If you have done any reading about Tom Paine and his views, that one statement should tell you something about Lincoln.
Awhile back, John Nichols, who writes for the
Nation, did an article for the International Socialist Review which was entitled Reading Karl Marx with Abraham Lincoln–Utopian socialists, German communists, and other republicans. Very interesting title, and so very on target. The socialists don’t deny their involvement with Lincoln, they parade it right down Main Street, partly because they feel that decades of public “education” have rendered most Americans too dumb to realize what they are saying, and partly because they are just downright proud that Lincoln was among their number, whether he ever joined any socialist party or not (he didn’t, that we know of at this point). However, the mindset was there, which shows that socialism and communism in this country were a serious problem already by the middle of the 1800s.Nichols noted Lincoln’s close association with Horace Greeley, who was a Utopian socialist. They served together in Congress, each for one term and Lincoln referred to Greeley as “Friend Greeley.” Greeley’s newspaper the New York Tribune, was probably the country’s most influential newspaper in the middle years of the 19th century. Greeley’s left-leaning thinking reflected that of Lincoln, when, in an address to Congress he stated that: “our idea is that labor needs not to combat but to command Capital.” A little of the “class struggle” technique there? Nichols also noted that Lincoln’s “involvement” wasn’t just with Horace Greeley, but also with “his sub-editors and writers, so much so that the first Republican president appointed one of Greeley’s most radical lieutenants—the Fourier-and Proudhon-inspired socialist and longtime editor of Marx’s European correspondence, Charles Dana—as his assistant secretary of war.” Dana was right under Edwin Stanton, another dictatorial soul. And it was Dana who hired Karl Marx to write for Greeley’s paper. So you’ve got all these socialists—Greeley, Lincoln, Dana, and Marx pushing and promoting one another in order to further their agenda. Greeley also made Albert Brisbane, another socialist, who had spent time in France during the 1820s, a columnist. Nichols said of Brisbane that, after his time in France, he returned to the United States “to spread the socialist gospel.” Marx and Brisbane were so radical that Greeley’s paper actually received criticism for spreading leftist views. That didn’t seem to bother Greeley. Nichols noted that “In the mid-1840s, explains historian Roy Marvin Robbins, ‘Greeley preached a new order of society with Brisbane’s socialist ideas as its basis.” Almost sounds as if he promoted a 19th century version of the New World Order. Could it be that when George Bush promoted the New World Order back in the early 1990s that he was really only referring to the second installment of it and that we had already been introduced to the first installment way back in the late 1840s?Something the “history” books almost never even mention of refer to is the fact that Lincoln was a keen follower of everything that was going on in Europe in the 1840s. He was well aware of what was going on there in 1848—and he was all for it. The European situation was not a new thing for Lincoln. Even before 1848, some German radicals has started showing up in Illinois, Wisconsin, parts of Ohio and New York. One such was Gustav Koerner, a student revolutionary from the University of Munich.Socialist revolutionary Koerner formed an alliance with Lincoln, which resulted in Koerner being one of seven person delegates-at-large who were named by Lincoln to serve at the Republican State Convention in May of 1860. This was the event that got Lincoln into the presidential race that year. Nichols stated in his article that: “Through Ko(e)rner, Lincoln met and befriended many of the German radicals who, after the failure of the 1848 revolution, fled to Illinois and neighboring Wisconsin. Along with Korner on Lincoln’s list of personal delegates-at-large to the 1860 convention was Friedrich Karl Franz Hecker,…” If you happen to have a copy of Walter Kennedy’s and my book Lincoln’s Marxists you can look up Comrade Hecker in it. Check him out on pages 172-174 if you have the book. Hecker was one of Lincoln’s socialist generals. He got a commission from Lincoln.Another of Lincoln’s staunchest supporters was Karl Marx’s close associate, Joseph Weydemeyer. Weydemeyer continued to be in close touch with Karl Marx while allying himself with the new Republican Party and Lincoln’s presidential campaign. Part of the result of this was that Weydemeyer’s help to Lincoln’s efforts got him appointed to the staff of General John C. Fremont, yet another American left-leaning radical, as a technical aide.Lincoln did much more than to simply request that the Forty-eighters enlist to help him. He became involved with their causes. One writer stated that “Lincoln was paying attention to those revolutionaries. While in Springfield, Illinois he sought to gain support for various leftist revolutionary movements in Europe. He was particularly interested at that time in the revolt of Lajos Kossuth in Hungary.The point to this is that Lincoln was not just an armchair supporter of socialist and communist revolts in Europe. He knew many of those involved. He knew what they were all about, and not from a distance but from personal contact in many cases and he supported their efforts to create a new social(ist) order in Europe, one that would centralize everything in the hands of the leftists, all in the name of the “people.” When it didn’t work over there he gave them another shot at it here. Guess what? It worked here and as you can tell from what inhabits Washington, D.C. today, it’s still working.
In 2009 Adam Max Tuchinsky, associate professor at the University of Southern Maine, wrote an informative book called Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune: Civil War Era Socialism and the Crisis of Free Labor.
Tuchinsky noted that Greeley’s paper had, among its contributors, Charles Dana, Albert Brisbane, George Ripley, and the ever-present Karl Marx–all socialists. It seems that the leftist intelligentsia in this country all had a working relationship with “Friend Greeley.” I never read any
of this in my public school “history” books. Did anyone else?
Dana eventually went to Europe, where he could witness the convulsions caused by the 1848 socialist revolts firsthand. He felt those revolts were a “historical turning point.” Unfortunately, he was correct, more correct than even he could know. While in Europe, Dana spent time scrounging around for “alternative strains of socialist thought” and ended up in Cologne. At this juncture, a friend of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ferdinand Freiligrath, worked for a leftist periodical whose editor had lately co-authored a pamphlet called Das Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei.
One of its co-authors, the editor, was a deadbeat hack of a writer whose name did not even appear on the first edition–because the ideas in it were not totally his. He was hired by a group called The League of the Just to author the pamphlet and its content was more theirs than his.
And so socialist Charles Dana met socialist Karl Marx. Socialist Carl Schurz had once met Marx and in our book Lincoln’s Marxists,
Walter Kennedy and I commented on that. We noted that, according to Carl Schurz, Karl Marx had an ego as big as the plant Pluto and was constantly berating and insulting those that dared to disagree with his exalted pronouncements. So typical for those on the left! They love it when you totally agree with them, but dare to disagree with them on anything and you become chopped liver in their estimation. Somehow, in spite of all the leftist vitriol, Marx and Dana seemed to hit it off. So much so that Dana got Marx probably the only real job he ever had in his life as a columnist for Horace Greeley’s left-leaning paper.
By the time Lincoln and Greeley both left Congress in 1849, Lincoln had developed a close circle of friends which eventually included a batch of the socialist Forty-eighters, and they were working at turning the states of Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois into seething points of agitation. So what we had, in effect, was almost constant socialist agitation in the upper Midwest in the very late 1840s and 1850s. Again, did you ever see any of this in your “history” books in public school? I never did. This is all “memory hole” material we are never supposed to be aware of. Oh, I recall reading about the Kansas-Missouri problems, but that was mostly blamed on Southerners. No mention of Lincoln’s socialist friends stirring the pot at all. In fact, I often wonder how much of this kind of history appears even in home school history studies. I saw very little when we were home schooling our kids, and I’ve seen several history books from Christian schools and none of this was mentioned in any of them. Why not? Wouldn’t our young folks have a much better grasp of our real history if this aspect of it were noted in their history books? Maybe that’s why it’s not there.
John Nichols, in his article in the International Socialist Review
has noted, quite accurately, that: “While studies of Lincoln place appropriate focus on his domestic engagements, there has been far too little attention paid to his global interests, especially during the period ‘in the wilderness’ between the end of his congressional term and his return to the political stage. Yet there can be no doubt that the future president was conscious of and highly engaged with developments in foreign lands–thanks no doubt to his close reading of the Tribune…
Lincoln invoked the struggles of the European revolutionaries and denounced ‘oppression in any of its forms…’” The invader and destroyer of the South denounces oppression–how touching!
As he got ready for the presidential race in 1860 (he was hardly a reluctant candidate) Lincoln took the time and trouble to align himself with those whose position is “…that labor is the superior–greatly the superior–of capital.” That’s part of the old Marxist line and it comes off sounding somewhat hypocritical from the man who was a lobbyist for the Illinois Central Railroad. You don’t get much more “capitalist” than the railroad people. And Thomas DiLorenzo, in his excellent and informative book The Real Lincoln
noted that “…Lincoln was a devoted protectionist over his entire political career. He and other Whigs took this position because it created a stream of economic benefits for a wealthy and powerful constituency group…Having the government dispense special privileges to the wealthy and influential was always the core of the Whig political program to which Lincoln devoted his political career.” Sounds like the sainted Mr. Lincoln was only opposed to capitalism and capital if they were Southern. He didn’t seem to have all that much problem with Northern capitalism–in fact he profited from it. Interesting that the socialist and communists that fled the failed 1848 socialist revolts in Europe, when they came to this country, ended up joining or allying themselves with the Republican Party–the party of corporate fascism and big government. And they did this because they knew that the party of big government would help them get what they wanted–power and control. The supposed leftist concern for the “poor and oppressed” is nothing more than a self-serving sham.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the Republican Party nomination for president, with lots of help from Horace Greeley, and also lots of help from socialist Carl Schurz, who worked at rallying the German-American Forty-eighters and ordinary German voters as well. Your ordinary German voter had no idea what was being pulled on him via Schurz and the rest of the Forty-eighter immigrants in this country. They were all being recruited to combat the “slaveholding capitalists” in the South while ignoring Northern railroad and banking capitalists. As I stated earlier, it was really the Southern capitalists they were after. The Northern variety got an automatic pass–and most folks never noticed, just like they’ve been conditioned via the media today to not notice the almost total lack of any substantive information about the individual sitting in the White (Red) House.
In the very early days of the Republican Party a man most folks have probably never heard of surfaced. This was Alvin Earl Bovay. He had lived in New York State and become a lawyer there in 1846. He was really into both the Abolitionist and Free Soil Movements. He became secretary of something called the National Reform Association. This group was mainly concerned with people concentrating too much wealth. According tohttp://www.abovetopsecret.com
“They felt there should not be a right to the unlimited accumulation of wealth in this country. The association soon turned toward what is described as ‘a spectrum (of) the most revolutionary anarchist and socialist currents in American life.’ This hostility toward concentrated wealth made them hostile to the South especially seeing as how it was governed largely by wealthy gentry using slavery in replace of paid labor,…Some historians have charged the NRA’s most important members to being under the influence of Socialism, Trade Unionism, and of course Abolitionism.”
By the late 1840s Bovay had moved his family from New York out to the new town of Ripon, Wisconsin. Prior to the forming of the town, the area had been used by a utopian socialist commune, which still seemed to have quite a bit of influence in the area. Bovay was instrumental in the formation of the new Republican Party, having been in contact with Horace Greeley who was, after all, a utopian socialist. Bovay had suggested that the name of the new party be the “Republican Party.” Greeley liked that name, as he had also thought of it himself.
Another biggy on the agendas of both the NRA and the new Republican Party was the Homestead Act, which allowed all adult citizens to claim 160 acres of land then in the public domain. Greeley felt it was one of “the most vital reforms ever attempted” and thought it would bring in a new era of prosperity. Even though they agreed on the idea of homesteading, Greeley and Lincoln differed over the timing of it. At this time, Greeley and Frederick Douglas joined forces in demanding of Lincoln that he make the War of Northern Aggression not only a crusade of “preserve the Union” but also an “Abolition war.” Lincoln wasn’t quite ready to do this, being as he had a lot of slaveholding voters in four states that had remained in the Union thorough one way or another.
By this time, Charles Dana was no longer working for Horace Greeley, but was working instead for Lincoln. He was officially assigned to the War Department, which organization he would eventually serve as assistant secretary of. So already in the 1860s you had an admitted socialist and confidant of Karl Marx serving as Assistant Secretary of War in the United States. That fact is hardly a reassuring one. But it points to the fact that socialism and communism were alive and well in this country much earlier than we have been told about. That just may be why they omit it from our history books. Nothing to see here, folks, just move along!
Part of Dana’s assignment was to be an advisor and an aide to Lincoln pertaining to what has been described as “judicious, humane, and wise uses of executive authority.” So we have a socialist advising Lincoln on the “humane” use of executive authority. Wonder is such advice had anything to do with why so many Northern folks who disagreed with Lincoln on so many issues wound up in prison with no trials, no lawyers, often their own families not even knowing where they were. I guess some might consider this “judicious” use of executive authority. At least Lincoln didn’t have them executed! But, then, there were so many of them that such might have proved a tad embarrassing.
Appearing on http://historyengine.richmond.edu
was an article entitled The People’s Lincoln.
It stated: “In Lincoln’s time, public opinion vigilantly labeled a danger posed by their anti-Constitution imperialist. Lincoln was widely hated, caricatured, and actively opposed. His concern for the government outweighed his concern for the people, their freedom and prosperity. The Lincoln depicted with loyal troops and grateful slaves is far from the man exposed in John A. Marshall’s series from 1869 American Bastille: A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens in the Northern and Border States on Account of Their Political Opinions During the Late Civil War.
This was eventually published in 1883 as a book, American Bastille.
” I recall seeing a copy of this once at a Civil War book sale. It wasn’t in very good shape and I didn’t have the money to buy it–but I thought about it. The History Engine article observed: “Once an arrest was made, not only was the right to a trial denied, but also seeking council was itself considered active rebellion.” It sounds so much like something a socialist would have come up with. The article noted one man who was arrested and, as of 1883, he had yet to be informed why. He had been released long before that, but with never any information as to why he was picked up in the first place. Welcome to the American Gulag–19th century style!
Lincoln spent a good part of his presidency reading dispatches from and seeking the counsel of the man who hired Karl Marx to write for Greeley’s newspaper. John Nichols, who was mentioned earlier, noted in his article that he (Lincoln) “…awarded military commissions to the numerous comrades of the author of The Communist Manifesto
who had come to the United States as political refugees following the failed European revolutions of 1848–is a shard of history rarely seen in the hagiographic accounts that produced a sanitized version of the sixteenth president’s story.”
The Communists, themselves, tell us some interesting things if we can discern between the truth and the propaganda. An article on http://www.worker-communist.org
informs us that the communists were active in the abolitionist movement. No surprise there if you’ve read anything about the abolitionists. Several years ago the chief theoritician for the Communist Party, Herbert Aptheker, wrote a book called Aboltionism–a Revolutionary Movement.
Aptheker had glowing praise for the Abolitionist Movement, which shows that their agenda and that of the Communists coincided. William Lloyd Garrison, one of the leaders among the most radical of the abolitionists once said the same thing. He made a statement that, after the slavery issue had been resolved, the abolitionists would set their sights on “world peace” and the “women’s rights movement”–both of which are on the Marxist agenda. The article also mentions that communists “were active in the left wing of the Republican Party.” Remember, folks, this was in the late 1850s-1860s. Who, in your “history” books, ever read about the “left wing” of the Republican Party in the 1860s, or even today? But they also tell us that the left wing of the GOP was in favor of a “centralized democratic republic.” That would have coincided with Lincoln’s version of what he wanted for a government.
Some of you may have heard of the International Working Men’s Association. This was the organization that officially sent the letter that Karl Marx wrote to Lincoln congratulating him on his re-election to a second term. This organization had some very interesting people that ended up as members. This was a group founded in 1864, which sought to unite a plethora of left-wing, socialist, communist and anarchist groups and trade unions that were based on the working class and class struggle. This is what Wikipedia said about them, and this time they were pretty much on target. More about them in the next installment.
The Communist website http://www.worker-communist.org
carries quite a bit of commentary on the War of Northern Aggression. This site claims that the War brought the communists in America and those in Europe “back into regular contact.” Actually, that contact had never been severed. Actually it was reinforced due to the “news” items that appeared in Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune and the New York Daily Herald that were written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Even “Civil War historians” according to the Communist website, have been forced to admit how important Marx’s articles were. If they’ve been forced to admit that, then they must have limited their admissions to each other because they sure haven’t bothered writing enough about it to inform the American public. This has been one of those little secrets among the “historians” that has been studiously ignored, or if dealt with, they briefly mention it in one or two sentences—not enough to give folks any real information.
The Communists claimed that by the end of the War of Northern Aggression, all of the pieces were in place for “an explosive growth of the movement in the U.S. The mass exposure of workers in the U.S.—both ‘native’ and immigrant—to communist political figures and ideas during the war made it possible for the movement to move beyond its previous organizational forms as propaganda societies and ‘experiments’ and work directly toward becoming a mass force in American politics.” I don’t know if they were quite as influential as they like to let on, but they were definitely in place in this country and making their presence felt.
For instance, their website contains a photo of Wendell Phillips, and the caption under his photo says: “…renowned abolitionist who joined the International Working Men’s Association and became a self-described communist following the end of the Civil War.” What book have you ever read that told you this about Wendell Phillips?
The Worker article had a little more interesting info. It stated that: “In 1866, an emissary for the IWMA,…came to the U.S. and met with prominent leftwing Republicans Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips and Horace Greeley. Orsini interviewed each of them and, when finished, all three joined the International. At the time, Sumner was also the senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, thus it can be argued that he was the first elected communist official in U.S. history (albeit one who was not elected as a communist per se). Phillips pledged to donate money he received from his lectures and speeches to the International, and Greeley became a regular publicist for both Marx and the International.” More “memory hole” material! And the article refers to “leftwing Republicans. The Republican Party was already to the left in the 1860s. I guess these guys must have been to the left of left.
These people are mentioned in yet another article on http://www.columbia.edu
entitled Marx, Woodhull and Sorge. The article notes: “The people who launched a section of the Communist International in the USA were veteran radicals, who had fought against slavery and for women’s rights for many years. They saw the emerging anti-capitalist struggles in Europe, most especially the Paris Commune of 1871, as consistent with their own. They saw revolutionary socialism as the best way to guarantee of the broader democratic movement…The names of some of the early recruits should give you an indication of the political character of the new movement. Included were abolitionists Horace Greeley, Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner. Feminist Victoria Woodhull joined in and put her magazine Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly at its disposal. The weekly not only included communications from Karl Marx, but spiritualist musings from Woodhull. The native radical movement of the 1870s was a mixed bag. Socialism, anti-racism, feminism, pacifism and spiritualism co-existed comfortably…Victoria Woodhull was unquestionably the biggest irritant, since she defended all these deviations while at the same time she spoke out forcefully for free love, the biggest deviation imaginable in the Victorian age.”