Hollywood Confers Sainthood on Warmonger Lincoln (Again)

The Lincoln movie is on the verge of picking up a heap of Oscars at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. That movie did not quite capture Honest Abe’s full record. I was raised in a county that was devastated (and lost much of its population) as a result of Lincoln-approved Scorched Earth tactics in the final year of the Civil War. I was raised in a county that was devastated (and lost much of its population) as a result of those tactics. The northern armies treated Confederate soldiers who resisted the barn-burning and crop-burning as war criminals and hanged them. (Some background on the Civil War in Virginia can be found in my memoir riffs in Public Policy Hooligan).

Here is a riff I did on Lincoln for a National Review Online symposium on Lincoln 12 years ago, and a snippet on Abe from Attention Deficit Democracy

James Bovard
Author of Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion & Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton-Gore Years

How can the same people who vigorously support indicting Serbian leaders for war crimes also claim that Lincoln was a great American president?

Lincoln bears ultimate responsibility for how the North chose to fight the Civil War. The attitude of some of the Northern commanders paralleled those of Bosnian Serb commanders more than many contemporary Americans would like to admit.

In a September 17, 1863, letter to the War Department, Gen. William Sherman wrote: “The United States has the right, and … the … power, to penetrate to every part of the national domain. We will remove and destroy every obstacle — if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.” President Lincoln liked Sherman’s letter so much that he declared that it should be published.

On June 21, 1864, before his bloody March to the Sea, Sherman wrote to the secretary of war: “There is a class of people [in the South] — men, women, and children, who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order.” How would U.N. war crimes investigators react if Slobodan Milosevic had made this comment about ethnic Albanians?

On October 9, 1864, Sherman wrote to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant: “Until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources.” Sherman lived up to his boast — and left a swath of devastation and misery that helped plunge the South into decades of poverty.

General Grant used similar tactics in Virginia, ordering his troops “make all the valleys south of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad a desert as high up as possible.”

The Scorched Earth tactics the North used made life far more difficult for both white and black survivors of the Civil War.

Lincoln was blinded by his belief in the righteousness of federal supremacy. The abuses and tyranny that he authorized set legions of precedents that subverted the vision of government the Founding Fathers bequeathed to America.

****From Attention Deficit Democracy (Palgrave, 2006):

The more vehemently a president equates democracy with freedom, the greater the danger he likely poses to Americans’ rights. President Abraham Lincoln was by far the most avid champion of democracy among nineteenth century presidents—and the president with the greatest visible contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Lincoln swayed people to view national unity as the ultimate test of the essence of freedom or self-rule. That Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, jailed 20,000 people without charges, forcibly shut down hundreds of newspapers that criticized him, and sent in federal troops to shut down state legislatures was irrelevant because he proclaimed “that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”


Lysander Spooner, a Massachusetts abolitionist, ridiculed President Lincoln’s claim that the Civil War was fought to preserve a “government by consent.” Spooner observed, “The only idea . . . ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this—that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.”

15 thoughts on “Hollywood Confers Sainthood on Warmonger Lincoln (Again)”

  1. Lincoln was responsible for 600,000 American deaths – and countless native-Americans as this highly paid railroad lawyer pushed the rails south and west. The bloody Sherman and Sheridan were avid indigenous killers until late in the 19th century. By the way, read ' Kill Everything That Moves' by Nick Turse to get a look at 'American values.'

  2. Funny thing is, Lincoln's heroic image is based almost entirely upon his association with other champions of human rights as if he had waged war in defense of racial equality or concern for the rights of slaves. Hardly. Of course, when you live 60 years among southerners (and I'm one) who seem to believe they can get their legal segregation back one day to satisfy their confidence in the supremacy of all things white, you almost find it okay.

    1. Hey idiot, I live in the South and I have not met a SINGLE person who wants segregation again. Get your head out of your butt. Thank you.

  3. Parallels between the leaders, and the people, of Serbia/Yugoslavia, on one hand and Lincoln and his generals on the other, are both superficial and unfair.

    Lincoln and his men made statements that reflect values, the lack thereof that is, that cannot be documented or attributed to the Serb leaders in the nineties. One unintended parallel does exist: Lincoln fought to preserve the Union of the States, and the Serbs fought to preserve union, territorial integrity of Yugoslavia, at least those parts where Serbs lived in large numbers.

    Union soldiers were brutal to the Southerners, as a matter of policy and strategy. Brutalities of the Yugoslav civil war went all ways. All belligerents, there were 3 major (Serbs, Croats, Muslims) groups each fighting the other two simultaneously. They all exhibited brutality and hatred toward each others, each for their own reasons. To simply pick out the Serbs and designate them as usual suspects to make the "moral of the story" point about Lincoln is factually unsustainable, unethical, and intellectually dishonest.

  4. Lincoln was definitely a scum bag, but if you think the southerners were more moral that's just hilarious. All US presidents could be tried for war crimes, but the slave torturing, native american slaughtering southerners were just as bad as the northerners.

  5. Lincoln presented the today double moral of democrats… He was killing native Americans in one hand and freeing slaves in the south to keep the today and then American (imperialism) dream alive. Like Obama.., doing in his foreign policies.., killing everyone yet playing with everyone.., keeping the vulture capitalism or of you will the us imperialism dream alive and happy.

  6. In my opinión the wat si the worst thing that Everest has happened .
    I trina we al shocks stop or prevent war , no body deserves dyind.
    I trina religion should demand peace.
    The should askr people to treat others right

  7. I think the South got exactly what it deserved (not that the North was perfect). It is easy for free white people in the 21st century to criticize Lincoln and the North. If you were a black slave in the 1860's, you might have a different opinion. Maybe it is time we stopped living in the past and start living in the world of today.

  8. James, you left out the fact that Lincoln's blue-clad goons also pioneered the cowardly tactic (now used throughout the Mideast) of using noncombatants as "human shields." It was SOP for Union artillery units to place Confederate POWs in front of their positions, thus putting those men at severe risk of "friendly fire" deaths,

  9. Karl Marx once wrote a letter to Lincoln in praise of him, if that tells you anything. Lincoln was worse than FDR in my opinion, because he set the stage for the huge federal monster we have today with things like the 14th Amendment, imposing the first income tax and military draft, jailing without trial or by military tribunal anyone who opposed his aggressive war on the Confederate States just to name a few. Thomas Di Lorenzo's book, 'The Real Lincoln' examines "Honest" Abe's crimes in detail.

  10. America and her illegal immigrant criminal population have always been well-versed at distorting reality,history and their place in it…Argo is no exception. More violence worshiping, xenophobic,narcissism,etc… and if america was a person under psychological analysis it would be easily described as extremely violent sociopath with delusions of grandeur suffering from anti-personality disorder and anti-social behavior disorder in the extreme…This is what you get when you live by yourself surrounded by a moat living in an ivory tower….

    1. Please stop trying to HUMANIZE government means and ends…. this is one major reason why us 'Americans' have such a distorted reality… All actions are from the individual.
      paradigm shift time…. we MUST start changing the words we use in order to break the mold.

  11. governments are populated by Humans, not by abstract paradigms or idealized goals. Especially this falbed democracy of WE THE PEOPLE. It is the way it is because of the people that make it happen..Ergo;"[1] The world's biggest single problem is the failure of people or groups to look at things from the point of view of other people or groups – i.e. to put themselves in the shoes of 'the other'. I'm not talking about empathy in the sense of literally sharing people's emotions – feeling their pain, etc. I'm just talking about the ability to comprehend and appreciate the perspective of the other. So, for Americans, that might mean grasping that if you lived in a country occupied by American troops, or visited by American drone strikes, you might not share the assumption of many Americans that these deployments of force are well-intentioned and for the greater good. You might even get bitterly resentful. You might even start hating America. Or:"This city(usa) is what it is because our citizens are what they are." Plato

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