PURPOSE: The following website is intended to be a factually-based rebuttal of the criticisms offered by James Epperson's website regarding the book "The Real Lincoln" by Thomas DiLorenzo. This list was put together as a resource to counter the claims on the Epperson site, which are frequently "cited" in internet discussion groups and blogs as an authority, and to challenge its frequent attempts to pass off personal opinions, interpretations, and petty complaints as rebuttals of alleged "factual errors" in the DiLorenzo book. It is the contention of this site that the overwhelming majority of Mr. Epperson's attacks against DiLorenzo's book are erroneous themselves or far more debatable than his site lets on. This list is a work in progress and incomplete portions will be updated from time to time.
Epperson's Alleged "Factual Errors" in The Real Lincoln by DiLorenzo
EPPERSON Page 5: "This doctrine [secession] was even taught to the cadets at West Point, including almost all of the top military commanders on both sides of the conflict" This is a reference to William Rawle's treatise on the Constitution (A View of the Constitution of the United States, 1825), which was used as a text at West Point for one or two years in the mid-1820's, and then replaced by a different book which did not, in fact, advocate the legality of secession. The claim that DiLorenzo makes was made often in the postwar era in publications such as the Southern Historical Society Papers, and was soundly refuted in an article published in The Century, vol. 78, no. 4, (Aug. 1909), pp. 629-635, written by Col. Edgar S. Dudley. Jefferson Davis furnishes some of the supporting evidence to refute the claim that Rawle was a text of long standing at the Academy (see the Southern Historical Society Papers [SHSP], vol. 22, p. 83). An extended discussion of this issue is in Douglas Southall Freeman's biography of Lee, RE Lee, vol. 1, pp. 78-79, and Thomas Fleming's West Point: The Men and Times of the United States Military Academy, p. 59.
REALITY: Note that DiLorenzo never claims that Rawle's text was of "long standing" at West Point but only that it was used at a time when an abundance of Civil War military commanders were in attendance there. Thus Epperson is refuting a straw man of his own creation when he attacks the notion of its "long standing." Epperson concedes that Rawle's text was used "for one or two years in the mid-1820's" and that fact is crucial. The subject of exactly how long Rawle was used at West Point is in fact still debated to this day but nobody disputes the fact that he was taught there for at least a brief period immediately following the book's publication. Known records indicate that the book was used in the 1826 and 1827 terms. Those dates are crucial because they can be used to identify exactly which leaders in the war were attending West Point when Rawle's book was used. That list includes the following prominent confederate commanders among dozens of other civil war participants:
Jefferson Davis, Commander in Chief
Gen. Robert E. Lee
Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston
Gen. John B. Magruder
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Gen. Leonidas Polk
Gen. John B. Grayson
Gen. Gabriel Rains
Gen. Hugh Mercer
Gen. Thomas Drayton
Gen. Theophilus Holmes
Gen. Albert G. Blanchard
Gen. William N. Pendleton
As can be clearly seen from this list, the number of confederate commanders who attended West Point when Rawle's text was used is extensive, as is the prominence of the members of that list (the CSA President and two of its highest ranking generals, Lee and A. S. Johnston, are all there as are a dozen or so other generals). Though Grant did not attend during this time and Lincoln never attended, a brief review of graduation ranks from this period also reveals that at least 10 union generals attended West Point during this same period. Thus what DiLorenzo wrote is wholly correct with regards to the confederate leadership and substantially correct with regards to the union leadership.
EPPERSON: Page 6: "Chapter 7 details how Lincoln abandoned the generally accepted rules of war, which had just been codified by the Geneva Convention of 1863." I can find no reference to a Geneva Convention of 1863. The Avalon Project website at Yale mentions an 1864 Geneva Convention, which undoubtedly involved some meetings in 1863, but this was confined in scope to the treatment of the wounded. The next Geneva Convention is dated 1928 (except for an 1868 Convention extending the work of the 1864 Convention to naval warfare), and concerns only the use of gas warfare; the first Hague Convention does not occur until 1907. For more detail the reader is referred to the article "The United States and the Development of the Laws of Land Warfare" by Capt. Grant R. Doty (U.S. Military Academy) in the journal Military Law Review, vol. 156, pp. 224-255, 1998.
REALITY: Epperson's attempts to date the Geneva Convention are historically mistaken. He appears to be confusing the document entitled the "Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field" (sometimes referred to informally as the "Geneva Convention" in the sense of a list of conventions, or rules) with the general gathering of international representatives at the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, also referred to informally as the "Geneva Convention" in the sense of a physical convention, or gathering of people in a specific location. The Geneva Society for Public Welfare convened the first of its meetings on February 9, 1863, hence the reference to the "Geneva Convention of 1863." Subsequent meetings continued throughout 1863 and into 1864, where in August they formally signed the document entitled "Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field." Granted, the terminology and common use of the same phrase to identify to both the set of meetings begun in 1863 and the document signed in 1864 IS confusing so Epperson's mistake is somewhat understandable.
The second claim of Epperson, that the 1864 document was "confined in scope to the treatment of the wounded," is in part misleading. This was indeed the scope of the 1864 document however among its provisions were several clauses affording protection to certain civilians and noncombatants. Article 2, for example, declares that persons employed in any hospital or medical service "shall participate in the benefit of neutrality." Article 5 gives broad protection to noncombatants by declaring that "Inhabitants of the country who may bring help to the wounded shall be respected, and shall remain free" and requiring the military officers to inform the civilians of this status. This same article also states that any civilian who renders aid to any wounded man on any side will be exempt "from the quartering of troops, as well as from a part of the contributions of war which may be imposed." Though the United States was not a participant in the Geneva negotiations, the aforementioned principles were neglected by Lincoln with regard to many confederate civilians who rendered assistance.
EPPERSON: Page 8: "Lincoln's war created the 'military-industrial complex' some ninety years before President Eisenhower coined the phrase." While this appears to me to be an outlandish assertion which cries out for some kind of substantiation, DiLorenzo provides no footnote to support his claim. I, for one, find any comparison of the 1870's era United States military-industrial "complex" with what existed beginning in the 1950's to be unsupportable, although I confess it is the kind of negative assertion which it is difficult to prove. It is worth pointing out that Eisenhower was warning against a permanent establishment, which was not the case in the post-Civil War period, when the United States military shrank from a force of several million to something like 25,000.
REALITY: Far from being a "factual error" as Epperson has chosen to label it, this passage is nothing more than a rhetorical device to convey a similar origin between the war industry of Lincoln and the military industrial complex of Eisenhower. Epperson states, "for one," that he finds this connection to be "unsupportable" and rails about the absence of a footnote, as if a citation were somehow required to make a rhetorical association of two concepts. Aside from being a wholly silly complaint on Epperson's part, his contention of the statement's unsupportability is specious. Many writers in the civil war error both recognized and denounced the war industry's seemingly close affiliation with the government's military powers. The abolitionist Lysander Spooner was one such critic. In his 1867 treatise "No Treason" Spooner vehemently denounced what he referred to as the "lenders of blood money" - the corporate and industrial powers who contracted on the war with the northern government for personal profit. Spooner observed that "now these lenders of blood-money demand their pay; and the government, so called, becomes their tool, their servile, slavish, villainous tool, to extort it."
EPPERSON: Page 25: "No abolitionist was ever elected to any major political office in any Northern state." Thaddeus Stevens (Congressman from Pennsylvania, 1848-1868), Salmon Chase (Governor [1856-1861] and Senator [1849-1855] from Ohio), and Charles Sumner (Senator from Massachusetts, 1851-1874) would be suprised to read this. While the definition of "abolitionist" might be a point of contention here, these three men --- along with Ben Wade, Senator from Ohio --- certainly held to extreme antislavery views.
REALITY: The individuals who Epperson cites as "abolitionists" were in fact of a different body than the abolitionist movement in its proper sense (which consisted of men like John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison and Lysander Spooner). The abolitionists proper were the followers of a political movement that sought through various legal and sometimes violent means to bring about the immediate emancipation of the slaves. The persons named by Epperson were, at most "abolitionists lite" or "political free-soilers" - a loosely related but distinct contingent onto itself. Though they sometimes shared the same goals, it is also true that the abolitionists proper (those in the movement) detested the non-violent and non-immediate courses desired by the abolitionists-lite in political office. DiLorenzo is substantially correct in that none of the abolitionists proper attained political office. A lone exception exists to this rule as one abolitionist proper was indeed elected to a single term in Congress, which he resigned from midway through the session. That individual was Geritt Smith, an abolitionist pamphleteer who also backed the John Brown raids. Smith's election is admittedly a matter of interpretation as to whether one considers him an exception to DiLorenzo's rule, or if one defines major political office as being statewide. Needless to say though, Sumner and Stevens et al were not abolitionists in the full sense of the abolitionist movement like Smith was.
EPPERSON: Page 26: "[Lincoln] was thus the North's candidate in the election..." Stephen A. Douglas would have been surprised to read this.
REALITY: Stephen Douglas received a grand total of twelve electoral votes in the 1860 election. Nine of those twelve were from a southern state, Missouri. The remainder were from the only northern state that Douglass carried, New Jersey, and it split its votes between him and Lincoln by giving the latter its others. Though officially a "northern democrat," Douglass was unable to win any state in that region outright. Lincoln by contrast carried every single state in the north and not a single state in the south. Thus it may safely be stated, as DiLorenzo did, that Lincoln was the candidate chosen practically unanimously by the north in 1860.
Page 35: "At the same time, it is important to note that
Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave." This is simply
absurd on its face, for the Emancipation Proclamation was the legal
for the freeing of most of the slaves in the South. For example, all of
the slaves in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, were freed
the authority of the Emancipation Proclamation; freedom perhaps did not
come until the Union Army arrived, but once this happened the slaves in
that area were free. Moreover, any slaves from these areas who had
to Union lines --- and there were many in this category --- would have
been freed from bondage the instant the Proclamation went into effect.
EPPERSON: Page 37: "The British writer Earl Russell noted ..." Is this a mangled citation for the British Foreign Secretary Earl (as in a title of nobility) Russell? It's a minor point, but for the author not to know this --- and the way the passage is constructed he clearly does not know this --- is an unfortunate reflection on his knowledge of the period. The point is not that DiLorenzo identifies Russell as a writer --- apparently he was one --- but that he does not appear to know that Russell was the British Foreign Secretary during the Civil War years.
REALITY: In answer to Epperson's question: No. Not at all. The use of the title "Earl" before the name of an individual is a perfectly acceptable phrasing. Formally the historical person of John Russell was known as "John, 1st Earl Russell" or "Earl Russell" in common use. Just as it would be absurd to conclude that the use of the name "King John" is an inadvertent misidentification of "HRH King John I" as somebody with the first name "King" and last name "John," it is similarly absurd of Epperson to make this conclusion regarding the term Earl Russell in DiLorenzo's text and smacks of being downright petty.
EPPERSON: Page 38: DiLorenzo puts the First Battle of Bull Run as occurring on July 16, 1861, instead of July 21. Again, this is a minor point, but it highlights DiLorenzo's sparse knowledge of the historical context.
REALITY: This date appears not to be the error that Epperson claims. July 16, 1861 is the day that union troops entered Virginia on their march to take Manassas junction. It is also the beginning date found in the Official Records, which formally designates the battle it as being "JULY 16-22, 1861.- The Bull Run, or Manassas, Campaign, Virginia." (O.R. Series 1, vol 2, Part 1, p. 300). Though best known for the action on Henry Hill near the present day town of Manassas, the battle itself was actually a succession of events beginning on the 16th and consisting of near constant skirmishing from that date until the 21st, when the Henry Hill clash occurred.
EPPERSON: Page 44: "An eyewitness to the [New York draft] riots was Colonel Arthur Fremantle, the British emissary to the Confederacy." This creates the impression that Fremantle had some kind of official status, which he did not have. See Jay Luvaas's book on the European view of the Civil War (The Military Legacy of the Civil War, University Press of Kansas, 1988 [orig. University of Chicago Press, 1959] p. 21). Again, this is a minor slip, but it should be apparent by now that the book has all too many such minor slips. At some point the "slips" become evidence of "sloppiness."
REALITY: Epperson is again being downright petty in his complaints.
There are evidently two elements to Epperson's
petty-language-dispute-disguised-as-a-factual-correction - colonel and
emissary. The term "Colonel" is a formal title used in addressing and
identifying persons of that rank, similar to "Doctor" and "General." To
complain that the address of "Colonel Fremantle" conveys an official
military status to his interactions with the confederacy is no more
valid than complaining that the address of "Colonel Sanders" conveys an
official military designation to his chicken.
Of the second possible dispute: Though it can refer to an ambassador, the term small-e "emissary" is not itself an official title of common use. In its informal use, it functions as a common noun to describe a simple visitor from abroad.
EPPERSON: Page 68: "In virtually every one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln made it a point to champion the nationalization of money and to demonize Jackson and the Democrats for their opposition to it." According to James McPherson writing in his book Battle Cry of Freedom (page 182), "Tariffs, banks, internal improvements, corruption, and other staples of American politics received not a word in these debates --- the sole topic was slavery." While a careful examination of the text of the debates --- available online here --- shows that Prof. McPherson is exaggerating a bit, the essential truth of his assessment holds up under scrutiny. By a large margin, race and slavery were the dominant topics of the debates; the issues of the bank and tariffs and monetary policy were marginal at best.
REALITY: The context of DiLorenzo's statement, and his subsequent
clarifications, all suggest that he was referencing the fact that
Lincoln slipped in passing jabs over the Jacksonian banking controversy
while responding to points of argument including those on unrelated
issues - statements that DiLorenzo claims are evidence of the Whig
agenda's presence in Lincoln's thoughts at that time. The real error,
of course, is in McPherson's unequivocal declaration that no mention at
all was made of the banking issue - a claim that turns out not to be
true after all. This error is duly acknowledged, albeit with seeming
reluctance, by Epperson and has been since other "Real Lincoln" critics
at the Declaration Foundation were shown to have been in error when
they attempted to use this same quote against DiLorenzo. Yet amazingly
he tries to pass off the fault onto DiLorenzo's statement, not
EPPERSON: Pages 87-88: DiLorenzo cites John Quincy Adams as supporting a right to secession in his 1839 Discourse, "The Jubilee of the Constitution," pp 66-69. On page 68 of the Discourse, Adams writes, "In the calm hours of self-possession, the right of a state to nullify an act of Congress, is too absurd for argument, and too odious for discussion.. The right of a state to secede from the union is equally disowned by the principles of the Declaration of Independence."
Adams's subsequent reference to a right of the people in the states to dissolve the political bands that had held them in union is explicitly compared by him to the revolution of 1776. But that makes it, not a legal right, but a natural, extra-legal right. In short, it is the right of revolution as found in Locke and acknowledged by nearly every American statesman from Jefferson to Lincoln, and measured, as Adams says, by "[t]he tie of conscience, binding them to the retributive justice of Heaven." Since DiLorenzo apparently does not understand the distinction between legal and natural right, he completely misreads the whole speech.
EPPERSON: Page 174: "In 1863 an international convention met in Geneva, Switzerland, to codify rules of warfare that had been in existence for more than a century." This is inaccurate on several levels. As noted earlier, there was no Geneva convention in 1863, not one that codified rules of warfare (except as they applied to wounded soldiers; this chapter of DiLorenzo's book is titled "Waging War on Civilians"); of equal importance is that the entire concept of "the law of war" was very fluid at this time. The generally regarded authority was the work of the Swiss jurist Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations, published in 1758; a 19th century edition is available online.
REALITY: Epperson is once again incorrect in stating that there was no "Geneva convention" in 1863. He again appears to have mistaken an 1864 document adopted through those meetings (the 1864 document is also commonly though not formally called the "Geneva convention" - meaning agreed upon "conventions," or rules) with the body of people meeting in Geneva. The international gathering known to history as the "Geneva Convention" in the sense of "a gathering of people," or formally the Geneva Society for Public Welfare, opened its first meeting on February 9, 1863. It continued its work throughout that year and the next, leading to the 1864 signing of the document that Epperson has mistaken for the series of meetings themselves.
EPPERSON: Page 175: DiLorenzo correctly mentions Henry Halleck as the author of a book on international law, but characterizes this book as having "informed virtually all the top commanders in the Union army (and the Confederate army as well)." It appears to have escaped DiLorenzo's radar screen that Halleck's book was not published until 1861, and so could not have informed any of the "top commanders" in either army.
REALITY: For inexplicable reasons, Epperson is apparently unaware that the Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1865 thereby permitting some four long years in which Halleck's book reached the circulation within the military. Nor did it escape DiLorenzo's "radar screen" that this book was published in 1861 as Epperson claims because the footnote to the passage on page 175 clearly identifies that date of publication. DiLorenzo also clearly identifies the 1861 publication date (which also preceded Halleck's November 1861 assignment as western commander and his general-in-chief promotion the next July) in an article he wrote on the subject, suggesting his full awareness. That Epperson would either present this passage as an "error" or imply that an 1861 publication date would prevent commanders from obtaining a copy during the four long years of war that followed that date is specious at best.
EPPERSON: Page 184: "Upon entering Jackson, Mississippi, in the spring of 1863, Sherman ordered a systematic bombardment of the town every five minutes, day and night." Does DiLorenzo really mean to say that after he occupied the town, Sherman ordered it bombarded? This makes no sense at all. Checking through the Official Records, one finds that this bombardment occurred during Sherman's expedition to Jackson after the fall of Vicksburg, and was in response to the fact that the Confederates were defending the town. See Sherman to Grant, OR, Ser. 1, vol. XXIV, pt. 2, pp. 524-525.
REALITY: Epperson's penchant for passing off his own personal petty
linguistic issues as evidence of "factual errors" in DiLorenzo's work.
Epperson's rhetorical question is an absurd construct on its face in
response to a statement that was meant to convey the fact that Sherman
bombarded Jackson, Mississippi.
Epperson's Alleged "Distortions of Interpretation"
EPPERSON: Page 4: "It is very likely that most Americans, if they had been given the opportunity, would have gladly supported compensated emancipation as a means of ending slavery " While this might well be true (although I personally doubt it), DiLorenzo provides no evidence that any of the slaveholding states would have accepted an offer of compensated emancipation. In 1862, Lincoln proposed compensated emancipation to the Congressional delegations from the (loyal) Border States; they rejected it. Why does DiLorenzo assume that the Deep South states would have accepted a similar offer? The extensive writings from leading Southerners in defense of slavery (see this website for a sampling) argues that they would not have voluntarily given it up. And, it should be pointed out, if any slave-owning state had wanted to offer a compensated emancipation plan on their own, they had all the authority they needed. I am unaware of any state offering such a plan. So where is the evidence that any slave state would have accepted such a plan?
REALITY: Epperson is creating a false question of interpretation on what was never intended by DiLorenzo as anything more than a case of speculation about alternative histories. It is a fact, as DiLorenzo correctly notes, that countries elsewhere in the world had successfully abolished slavery through compensated emancipation in a period of history not far removed from the civil war in America. While this policy was unlikely to have been adopted overnight on March 4, 1861 by Lincoln or anyone else simply calling for it, that is observation, which Epperson attempts to make, does not in itself preclude the possibility of compensated emancipation some years down the road. In effect, Epperson's accusation against DiLorenzo is little more than an attempt to claim factual error in a matter that is, due to its admittedly speculative nature, impossible to ascertain as such. That compensated emancipation was a possibility at some future time after 1861 if it were not for the civil war cannot be disproved since the civil war happened and removed that possibility permanently.
EPPERSON: Page 17: "Some ten years later, December 1, 1862, in a message to Congress, Lincoln reiterated his earlier assertions: 'I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly favor colonization.'" DiLorenzo makes a big issue of Lincoln's support for colonization, but he overlooks the fact that it disappears from Lincoln's agenda after this 1862 message to Congress. Most authors accept that this represents a change of heart on Lincoln's part. DiLorenzo simply ignores it. (He also ignores Frederick Douglass's comments on Lincoln's lack of racial prejudice.)
REALITY: Epperson's claim about Lincoln abandoning colonization in 1862 is demonstrably false. His appeal to authority as evidence of this claim is also demonstrably fallacious because that authority is entirely anonymous. The evidence of Lincoln's alleged "change of heart" after 1862 on colonization is virtually non-existant and neglects existing counter evidence that he still pursued the policy. To begin with there is no record in existence of Lincoln ever repudiating his support of colonization or announcing any intentions of abandoning that same policy. Thus the "change of heart" theory is in itself based entirely upon an unsubstantiated assumption that, by not advocating it in speeches after 1862, Lincoln must have abandoned colonization.
But not only is this assumption insupportable, it is also factually erroneous because Lincoln is documented to have pursued colonization after 1862. The last surviving official correspondence in which Lincoln may be demonstrated to have pursued colonization is dated November 30, 1864 - almost two years after Epperson suggests he abandoned it. That document is a letter from Attorney General Edward Bates to Lincoln on the retention of James Mitchell to enact colonization policies for the president. It reads in part
"I beg your pardon for having overlooked, in the pressure of business, in my latter days in the office, the duty to give formal answer to your question concerning your power still to retain the Revd Mr Mitchell as your assistant or aid in the matter of executing the several acts of Congress relating to the emigration or Colonizing of the freed blacks."thereby indicating that it is a direct reply to Lincoln from Bates following an earlier request by Lincoln that he be allowed to retain Mitchell for colonization. Lincoln also received a number of letters and colonization reports from Mitchell, his colonization commissioner, over the course of the previous summer to that letter, thus indicating further pursuit of the policy long after Epperson assumes it was abandoned. In addition to the Bates letter, two pieces of evidence involving two well known generals demonstrate that Lincoln's interest remained strong for colonization as late as 1865. The first involved Gen. Daniel Sickels of Gettysburg infamy, who Lincoln sent on a peculiar assignment in January of 1865. As Sickles' biographer Thomas Keneally writes on p. 310 of his biography, "An American Scoundrel":
Lincoln needed an emissary to go on government business to Panama and Columbia, Greater Colombia, or New Granada, as the Federation of Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama styled itself, formed one loose federal state ruled from the highland capital of Bogota, Colombia. He [Dan Sickles] was to leave by January with the purpose of persuading the Panamanian authorities to allow Union troops to cross the Isthmus of Panama, something they had recently prohibited. He was then to travel to Bogota and raise, with the federal authorities there, the possibility of Colombia's offering a home to freed black slaves, who were now pooling in Washington and in Northern cities.Sickles departed on this mission as told by Lincoln and was in Colombia conducting diplomacy on Lincoln's behalf at the time of the assassination.
The second piece of evidence comes from Gen. Benjamin Butler and is
corroborated in detail by Sickles' mission. Butler, who was a close
of Lincoln's, recounts in his autobiography that the two met only a few
days before his assassination in 1865 (independent verification that
meeting took place appears in a White House record by John Hay that
its date to have been April 11, 1865). Butler writes at length that
conversation included the topic of colonization as espoused by Lincoln
(see "Butler's Book" p. 903-4). Lincoln asked Butler to formulate a
for transporting the freed slaves to Panama by ship - apparently to
the plan that Sickels was negotiating at that very same time in
The evidence of this conversation is anecdotal and comes from Butler
but it is also entirely consistent with the policy of colonization that
Lincoln was pursuing at least as late as November 30, 1864 - just a few
As for Frederick Douglass' alleged and unidentified comments about Lincoln lacking racial prejudice, they are more than contradicted by what Douglass is known to have said about Lincoln. Most likely he is referring to a quote often attributed to Douglass that he was "never...more completely put at ease in the presence of a great man than in that of Abraham Lincoln." Some speculation has been made as to whether this quote is apocryphal, though it is directly overshadowed by what is known for certain to have been said by Douglass. Make no doubt about it, Douglass was a fan of Lincoln and held the president in high regards. But he was also very aware of Lincoln's flaws on racial issues and made no effort to disguise them. Speaking publicly at an event several years after Lincoln's death, Douglass spoke respectfully of the president but did not hesitate to criticize these flaws:
"He was preeminently the white man's president, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men. 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. In all his education and feeling he was an American of the Americans. He came into the presidential chair upon one principle alone, namely, opposition to the extension of slavery. His arguments in furtherance of this policy had their motive and mainspring in his patriotic devotion to the interests of his own race." (Frederick Douglass, 1876)EPPERSON: Pages 10-32 DiLorenzo's entire point in Chapter 2 is "Lincoln's Opposition to Racial Equality." Let's hear what others had to say about Lincoln's ideas along this line. During the senatorial debates in 1858, Stephen Douglas charged that Lincoln "objects to the Dred Scott decision because it does not put the Negro in the possession of the rights of citizenship on an equality with the white man." Now it could well and truly be said that this was asserted in the midst of a political campaign, and it is the nature of politicians to frame their assertions so as to place their opponents in the worst possible light. Fair enough. But why does DiLorenzo then insist that each and every one of Lincoln's statements --- made to racially prejudiced Illinois audiences --- be taken literally? Why is Lincoln not allowed to be a politician trying to walk the tightrope between what he believes and what the electorate believes?
REALITY: Epperson conveniently makes his argument by quoting Stephen Douglas alleging Lincoln's support of racial equality but in doing so completely sidesteps Lincoln's own words (which are also the subject of DiLorenzo's chapter) on that issue. Among them is the following quote from one of the same debates with Douglas:
"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 - that 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; and 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." (Lincoln, August 17, 1858)That statement is but one of literally hundreds throughout Lincoln's career that contained his beliefs in racial superiority, thus it is improper to excuse it away as a simple product of his political pandering. Lincoln is also known to have frequently used the "n-word" racial slur in his speeches and letters when referring to blacks, among other things.
EPPERSON: Page 20: "Lincoln had no intention of doing anything about Southern slavery in 1860." This is true as far as it goes, but it misses the point. Lincoln had spent the six years since his re-entry into politics in 1854 denouncing slavery as morally wrong. This is the theme of literally every speech he gave from 1854 to his election as president, and it was the theme of much of his private correspondence as well. In December of 1860, he would write to his old friend and fellow former Whig, Alec Stephens of Georgia, "You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us."
REALITY: DiLorenzo's statement does not miss the point and is in fact right on the mark as far as describing Lincoln's slavery policy in 1860. After his election in Lincoln began promoting a "compromise" amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would permanently prohibit the federal government from interfering with slavery anywhere that it existed. He guided the measure through congress while he was president elect even went so far as to publicly endorse the measure in his Inaugural Address, stating:
"I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution...has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service...I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable." (Lincoln, March 4, 1861)As for the remainder of Epperson's statement, the issue of slavery was a frequent topic of many Lincoln speeches between 1854-60. It was not however the issue of every speech (Lincoln spoke about other things as well such as tariffs and the union), nor was denouncing slavery as morally wrong the theme of all of his slavery speeches. In some speeches he gave, often depending upon the audience, he did denounce it as wrong. In others he expressed toleration for slavery, pledged not to interfere with it, and restated his belief of white superiority. The Stephens letter cited by Epperson was but one of many statements of Lincoln criticizing the institution. Others, such as his first Inaugural Address, go so far as to pledge that he has no intention of interfering with it at all.
EPPERSON: Page 32 DiLorenzo ends this chapter by saying, "The foregoing discussion calls into question the standard account that Northerners elected Lincoln in a fit of moral outrage spawned by their deep-seated concern for the welfare of black slaves in the deep South." The problem is that this assertion is based on a false premise. I don't think there is a "standard account that Northerners elected Lincoln in a fit of moral outrage..."
REALITY: DiLorenzo's reference is clearly to the standard street myth that most Americans pick up in grade school when learning about Lincoln. Though it does not withstand any serious scholarly scrutiny, this myth (which portrays the north as abolitionist and Lincoln as their candidate to free the slaves) ranks as a common belief among the general public. As such it is not unlike the commonly believed but historically inaccurate story of Christopher Columbus fighting with the king's scientists who said the world was flat, or the tale of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Sadly this myth of Lincoln, though not openly endorsed, is at least perpetuated among those who seek to portray Lincoln in an overly favorable light. No less a source than the popular "civil war historian" James McPherson does this in his article on the war's causes. Commenting on slavery, McPherson alludes to the abolitionist movement before inserting a quote from Lincoln and then returning to abolitionism as if they were one and the same and to be used interchangeably:
"What explained the growing Northern hostility to slavery? Since 1831 the militant phase of the abolitionist movement had crusaded against bondage as unchristian, immoral, and a violation of the republican principle of equality on which the nation had been founded. The fact that this land of liberty had become the world's largest slaveholding nation seemed a shameful anomaly to an increasing number of Northerners. "The monstrous injustice of slavery," said Lincoln in 1854, "deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world - enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites." Slavery degraded not only the slaves, argued Northerners opposed to its expansion, by demeaning the dignity of labor and dragging down the wages of all workers; it also degraded free people who owned no slaves. If slavery goes into the territories, declared abolitionists, "the free labor of all the states will not.... If the free labor of the states goes there, the slave labor of the southern states will not, and in a few years the country will teem with an active and energetic population.""In reality Lincoln was not an abolitionist (a political movement that consisted of a minority of the northern population) nor were the abolitionists enthusiastic supporters of Lincoln, who was willing to tolerate slavery and continue its existence.
EPPERSON: pp. 38-43 A large portion of Chapter 3 is devoted to a summary of the military history of the Civil War prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. This summary is extremely shallow and one-sided. The account of the Battle of Fredericksburg is particularly poor. The summary almost entirely emphasizes the so-called "eastern theatre" of the war, and almost completely ignores the "western theatre." The reason for this is fairly obvious: DiLorenzo's purpose here is to show that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation out of desperation in the midst of losing the war. But DiLorenzo's construction of the military history conveniently ignores almost all Federal successes, and minimizes those it does not ignore. Federal victories at Pea Ridge, Roanoke Island, Port Royal, New Orleans, and Corinth are ignored. The extent of the victories at Forts Henry and Donelson (12,000 Confederates captured) are minimized as "smaller battles." The importance to the Emancipation Proclamation of the battle at Antietam or Sharpsburg in September, 1862, is completely ignored.
REALITY: DiLorenzo's account of the early years of the war is for all practical purposes a reasonably standard account. It is Epperson, not DiLorenzo, who offers an alternative view. For all practical purposes the early years of the war did not go well for the north. The Confederate victory at Manassas, the repulse of McClellan's attempt on Richmond from the peninsula, and a long series of major confederate victories that followed (Manassas II, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville) both put the war in the south's favor and wreaked havoc on northern command and northern morale. They were embarrassing for Lincoln and the north both in the eyes of the people and the world. Naturally some revisionists have attempted to divert attention away from the embarrassments suffered early in the war by the north and a primary means of doing so is to attempt to refocus attention upon the western theater, where the north had greater success. Epperson does so by listing northern victories in this theater as a means of comparison, but for all practical purposes this approach is unsustainable in scope. Though its relevance should not be overlooked, Pea Ridge, for example resulted in a sum total of between 4 and 5 thousand casualties. Corinth produced about 7 thousand casualties total. Others listed by Epperson were naval expeditions (one of the few areas the north had early successes) with relatively low casualties. As a point of comparison, the major battles of the east discussed by DiLorenzo dwarf any cited by Epperson in scope. There were some 18,000 casualties at Fredericksburg, 22,000 at Second Manassas, and 24,000 at Chancellorsville. As any honest observer can see, DiLorenzo does not leave out Pea Ridge et al out of some bias towards the south. He leaves it out because they simply do not compare in any reasonable scope to the major battles he discusses - battles with some five times as many casualties in cases and far greater impacts on the morale and logistical positions of both sides. Seeing as his introduction is intended to be no more than a brief summary of the war's major battles up until then, the smaller scale union victories cited by Epperson simply do not merit the space. As for Fredericksburg, DiLorenzo's account simply describes it as a slaughter incurred by north. Seeing as Fredericksburg was indeed a slaughter that many consider to be among the north's biggest blunders in the war, for Epperson to complain that it would be characterized as such is absurd and revisionist in its own right.
EPPERSON: Pages 54-84 DiLorenzo writes as if Lincoln's embrace of tariffs were a greater betrayal of liberty than the Confederacy's attempt to nullify the results of a free election and embrace of the "positive good" theory of slavery. Why does DiLorenzo concentrate his moral indignation on the man who emancipated slaves rather than on the Confederate leaders who fought to keep them on the plantation? There is a natural right of revolution but no legal or constitutional right of secession. If any state can leave the Union any time it wants, without first obtaining the consent of all the other parties to the compact, then there is no Union, only a temporary alliance of convenience. This, however, was not what the founders envisioned when they framed the Articles of Confederation ("perpetual union between the states") and, later, the Constitution ("a more perfect union").
REALITY: This so-called disputed interpretation is itself a misrepresentation of DiLorenzo's thesis around the red herring of slavery. Slavery is condemned in very harsh terms by DiLorenzo in his book, but is not in itself the subject of the book (the subject is Lincoln, after all). To expect that DiLorenzo would focus his book on slavery when it is not about slavery but Lincoln is absurd and misses the entire point of the book. As for the moral issue of slavery itself, its existence in no way precludes one from making note of other moral issues and other moral wrongs taking place in its proximity. Just as there are many forms of moral wrongs today other than, say, abortion alone, there were also many other moral wrongs in 1860 besides slavery alone. A person who does the right thing on slavery but also does the wrong thing on several other moral issues is still an immoral person in the end, and especially so if he did the right thing for the wrong reason (which is a major argument of DiLorenzo's with regards to Lincoln's emancipation proclamation). Interestingly enough, Epperson's laundry list of "questions" about issues such as secession, revolution, division of the union etc. are also discussed at length in DiLorenzo's book. DiLorenzo reaches different conclusions about each than does Epperson, but that in itself is no vice so long as DiLorenzo can defend those conclusions. Notably, the Articles of Confederation, which were scrapped between 1787 and 1789, were anything but perpetual. If Epperson disputes any of DiLorenzo's interpretations it would be proper for him to take on the arguments where they are made, not post a list of generalizations and treat the issues as if they were settled.
EPPERSON: Page 2: "The [Civil War] created the highly centralized state that Americans labor under today." Those of us familiar with the New Deal and the Great Society might take issue with this unsupported assertion. Those of us familiar with the dynamics of the Progressive Era might also disagree.
REALITY: Epperson's interpretation of DiLorenzo's statement is deceptive and perhaps intentionally so. DiLorenzo made no attribution of the New Deal and Great Society to Lincoln himself. He did, however, make note that both were further acts of centralization that directly built upon Lincoln before them. It is demonstrable that Lincoln significantly increased the power of the executive and the size of the federal government to levels that surpassed practically all of his predecessors, and in fact DiLorenzo makes this argument in detail in his book by citing many pro-Lincoln scholars who approvingly agree. It is also a perfectly reasonable inference that later big government policies during the Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson Administrations enjoyed a far more advantageous precedent upon Lincoln than they would have had in his absence. This inference ranges from the increased exercise of federal power over the states in general down to specific legislation signed by Lincoln such as the first income tax and the many government subsidy programs and federalized monetary policies he enacted.
EPPERSON: Page 3: "Lincoln thought of himself as the heir to the Hamiltonian political tradition" This is another unsupported assertion (no footnote is given), and I conducted a brief experiment to see if Lincoln's own words would back it up. I went to the Lincoln Papers online site and did a simple search on the word "Hamilton." If DiLorenzo's assertion were valid, it seems clear to me that I ought to get a lot of hits; I got a grand total of 26 hits, the first three of which were not to Alexander Hamilton! In fact, looking through the citations, only five of them referred to Alexander Hamilton; the rest were to locations named Hamilton or to Union officers named Hamilton. It seems to me that this is a sparse degree of citation for someone who thought of himself as Hamilton's "heir."
REALITY: Epperson leaves out a significant portion of DiLorenzo's argument (again perhaps intentionally so) in which the connection to Hamilton is made. This connection is demonstrable on at least three levels.
First, Lincoln repeatedly stated throughout his career that he had modeled himself after Henry Clay. Lincoln referred to Clay as his "beau ideal of a statesman" and adopted practically the entirety of Clay's economic policies as his own. Before his death in 1852 Clay, along with Daniel Webster, had been the nation's most consistently recognizable leader of the Whig Party for several decades. The Whig Party's economic policies were adopted directly from Hamilton before them and the old Federalist Party faction he led. As such, Henry Clay was openly recognized as the direct political heir to Alexander Hamilton and the Hamiltonian tradition. Lincoln therefore assumed the role of heir to that exact same tradition by picking up Clay's banner in 1852 and carrying it until his dying day.
Second, Lincoln was an heir to the Hamiltonian tradition in political party affiliation. For years before his death in 1804 Hamilton led an influential segment of the old Federalist Party, which dissolved after 1816. A decade later several old Hamiltonian Federalists formed what was then called the Nationalist Republican Party, soon to become the Whig Party. From 1831 to his death in 1852 Henry Clay, the direct heir of the Hamiltonian philosophical tradition, served as the leader of the Whig Party. Also among the Whig Party's prominent members and office holders during this period was a Illinois young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. When the Whig Party dissolved in the 1850's most of its members including Lincoln joined the new Republican Party, formed in 1854. Lincoln, carrying Clay's banner, rose to leadership of that party in 1860 as its presidential nominee. Thus Lincoln was also head of the direct political heir of Hamilton's Federalist Party.
Third, Lincoln was an heir to the Hamiltonian tradition in his espousal of its policies. Alexander Hamilton laid out his political agenda for the United States in a 1791 treatise to Congress that is now known as his famous "Report on Manufactures." The report strongly espoused a form of economic nationalism characterized by widespread protectionist tariffs and government incentive and expenditure programs to benefit industry. Hamilton also championed a federal monetary policy in the form of a national bank. After Hamilton's death these exact same policies were taken up by the Whig Party membership, one of whom was Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln helped author the 1844 Illinois Whig Party platform, which espoused policies that were virtually identical to Hamilton's such as protectionism and banking. In fact, Lincoln himself was a champion of protectionist tariffs within the Whig Party, as he later recalled in 1860:
"In 1844 I was on the Clay electoral ticket in this State (i.e., Illinois) and, to the best of my ability, sustained, together, the tariff of 1842 and the tariff plank of the Clay platform . This could be proven by hundreds---perhaps thousands---of living witnesses; still it is not in print, except by inference. The Whig papers of those years all show that I was upon the electoral ticket; even though I made speeches, among other things about the tariff, but they do not show what I said about it. The papers show that I was one of a committee which reported, among others, a resolution in these words: ``That we are in favor of an adequate revenue on duties from imports so levied as to afford ample protection to American industry.'' But, after all, was it really any more than the tariff plank of our present platform? And does not my acceptance pledge me to that?" (Lincoln, October 2, 1860)Thus, in addition to being Hamilton's philosophical heir by way of Clay and Hamilton's partisan heir by way of the Whig and Republican Parties, Lincoln was also Hamilton's policy heir by way of his espousal and adoption of the same policies promoted by Hamilton in 1791. Lincoln readily acknowledged all three of these connections in such a simple statement as the following from 1859: "I was an old Henry Clay tariff whig. In old times I made more speeches on that subject, than on any other. I have not since changed my views."
EPPERSON: Page 7: "Chapter 9 describes Lincoln's economic legacy: the realization of Henry Clay's American System. Many (primarily) Southern statesmen had opposed this system for decades." DiLorenzo conveniently ignores the many prominent Southern Whigs who favored Clay's ideas and the many Northern Democrats who did not. The point is that the debate over the American System did not split along North-South lines.
REALITY: For the decades prior to 1860, the majority of southerners adamantly opposed Clay's policies, which were characterized by federal banking and protectionist tariffs. Tariffs in particular had been a sore spot with the southern majority since the 1830's when the nullification crisis almost prompted South Carolina to secede. That it was a sore spot was also understandable as the southern economy was almost entirely export-based and therefore had the greatest to lose from a policy that would severely diminish international trade. While there were indeed tariff Whigs in the south in earlier years, they were an increasingly smaller minority as 1860 approached. A similar trend afflicted the pro-trade Democrats of the north across this same period. Accordingly, as of May 10, 1860, there was but a single southerner in the entire House of Representatives who would vote for the protectionist Morrill Tariff act. At the same time there were less than a dozen northern members who would vote against it. These demographics effectively made the May 10th action on the Morrill Tariff the single most sectionally divided vote in Congress that entire year - more so than the votes on slavery or practically any other issue.
By 1860 the free trade northerners of years before were either out of power or had climbed on the protection band wagon in exchange for other legislative perks and tradeoffs given to them by the protectionist majority. In order to secure their votes Morrill strategically offered protectionist tariffs for northern crops, thereby gaining the support of rural northern Democrats and even the northern Democrat president, James Buchanan. Just as DiLorenzo indicated, the south in that year stood alone in opposition to the "American System" policies espoused by Clay's heir Lincoln and his party making it very much a sectional issue that split precisely on North-South lines.
EPPERSON: Page 15: "In twenty-three years of litigation [Lincoln] never defended a runaway slave, but he did defend a slaveowner." The reference to defending a slaveowner is to the notorious Matson case, in which Lincoln represented (as an assistant) a Kentuckian who owned land in Illinois which he worked with the help of some slaves he brought over from Kentucky for part of the year. There is no denying that this case causes some embarassment to those who hold Lincoln in high esteem, but the fact is that Lincoln did defend a black woman, Nance, who was accused of being a slave (Bailey v. Cromwell, 4 Ill. 71 ; strictly speaking, Lincoln did not represent Nance, he simply demonstrated that her alleged owner could not establish that she had ever been a slave, thus legally establishing her as a free person under Illinois law). While DiLorenzo's assertion, "he never defended a runaway slave," may be, strictly speaking, true, to omit the Nance case in this discussion is shoddy scholarship.
REALITY: Epperson's criticism of DiLorenzo is rendered erroneous itself by his own admission that the Nance case did not involve a runaway slave. To cite the omission of this case, however, as evidence of "shoddy scholarship" is fraudulent in its own right considering both the obscurity of the event and the degree of disconnect between the slave and Lincoln. Put another way, Epperson is grasping at straws to divert attention away from an unflattering fact about Lincoln - the Matson case - and that is a far more shoddy enterprise than anything DiLorenzo did with his quote on page 15.
EPPERSON: Page 24: "The more or less 'official' interpretation of the cause of the War between the States, as described in The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, by historian William A. Degregorio, asserts that the slavery issue 'pitted abolitionists in the North who viewed it as a moral evil to be eradicated everywhere as soon as practiable against southern extremists who fostered the spread of slavery into the territories.'" I, for one, have never heard of William A. Degregorio nor The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, and I would think that many better sources would exist for an "official" interpretation. This is nothing more than a strawman, and a weak one at that. No serious scholar takes this view of the Civil War, and while I do grant that many ordinary citizens might, that is an indictment of history education, not of Lincoln's record.
REALITY: For purposes of accommodating Epperson's inability to obtain information about the said book, William A. Degregario's book may be found at the following link on Amazon. As for its subject matter, DiLorenzo is once again referring to a commonly believed myth of American history on par with Columbus and the flat earth scientists, George Washington and the Cherry tree, and the characterization of Abe Lincoln as an abolitionist. As with each of these popular but demonstrably false myths of history the view of the civil war as a battle pitting abolitionists against slave owners is commonly held. Nor is it a strawman for DiLorenzo to make note of this myth as it is in fact a prominently stated purpose of his book to dispel these very same creations as they pertain to Lincoln. Amazingly enough, even Epperson's claim that no serious scholar takes this mythical view of the war is a dubious assertion in itself. While he does not completely endorse this view, the well known "civil war historian" James McPherson comes disturbingly close to doing so in his previously quoted article on the causes of the civil war:
"The fact that this land of liberty had become the world's largest slaveholding nation seemed a shameful anomaly to an increasing number of Northerners. "The monstrous injustice of slavery," said Lincoln in 1854, "deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world - enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites." Slavery degraded not only the slaves, argued Northerners opposed to its expansion, by demeaning the dignity of labor and dragging down the wages of all workers; it also degraded free people who owned no slaves. If slavery goes into the territories, declared abolitionists, "the free labor of all the states will not.... If the free labor of the states goes there, the slave labor of the southern states will not, and in a few years the country will teem with an active and energetic population."...The South accepted the gauntlet flung down by the Free-Soil movement. Proslavery advocates countered that the bondage of blacks was the basis of liberty for whites. Slavery elevated all whites to an equality of status and dignity by confining menial labor and caste subordination to blacks. "If slaves are freed," said Southerners, whites "will become menials. We will lose every right and liberty which belongs to the name of freemen."" (McPherson, Civil War: Causes and Results. Emphasis added to highlight his interchangable uses of abolition/Lincoln/north and proslavery/south to characterize the conflict)EPPERSON: Page 45: DiLorenzo states that the emancipation proclamation "caused a desertion crisis in the U.S. Army. At least 200,000 Federal soldiers deserted; another 120,000 evaded conscription; and at least 90,000 Northern men fled to Canada while thousands more hid out in the mountains of central Pennsylvania to place themselves beyond the reach of enrollment officers." This statement is referenced to p. 67 of The Confederate War by Gary Gallagher. However, this is wrong in two ways. First, no such statements are to be found in Gallagher's book, either on the page noted or anywhere else. (Gallagher's book tends to focus only on the Confederate side of the war.) Second, DiLorenzo is blaming all desertions on the U.S. side of the Civil War on the Emancipation Proclamation --- 200,000 is the consensus estimate for the total number of deserters throughout the war, according to Mark Weitz's article on desertion in the Encyclopedia of the American Civil War (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000). Needless to say, some Federals deserted before the proclamation was passed, so not all the desertions can be ascribed to it, and it seems unlikely that every U.S. soldier who deserted after September 1862 did so because of the proclamation.
EPPERSON: Pages 125-126: "Since they were so dependent on trade, by 1860 the Southern states were paying in excess of 80 percent of all tariffs..." There is no question that some prominent Southerners believed this, but it is difficult to reconcile that belief with the data. Stephen Wise's book on blockade running (Lifeline of the Confederacy, University of South Carolina Press, 1988) gives a table of tariff amounts collected at some ports (page 228); according to these figures, the Northern ports of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia took in more than $40 million in tariff duties, while the Southern ports of New Orleans, Charleston, Mobile, Savannah, Norfolk, and Richmond took in less than $3 million, total. While some of the import duties paid in the North would no doubt be on goods sold to Southerners, it is difficult to accept that enough of this happened to result in 80% of the tariff being paid by Southerners, given the customs house figures. Even if DiLorenzo's intent was to characterize the effect on Southerners of paying higher prices for tariff-protected domestic goods, it is difficult to justify his claim. The burden of the tariff would have fallen almost completely on the consumers, and the North had many more consumers than did the South.
REALITY: Epperson is exploiting a highly fallacious line of
reasoning to suggest that the south's tariff burden was minimal.
Epperson is evidently not an economist, making his mistake somewhat
understandable but it is a mistake nonetheless. Any undergraduate
student who has ever taken a basic introductory course in international
economics can tell you that the cost of protective tariffs is borne
primarily in two places: (1) the incidence of taxation of the tariff
and (2) the harm caused to certain sectors from the reduction in
international trade caused by the new tariff.
The incidence of taxation, interestingly enough, almost never falls
upon the initial buyer of imported goods who receives them at the dock.
Instead he passes it on to his own buyers by simply charging higher
prices with surprisingly little burden of his own from the tax. Thus
the tax falls on the consumers of imported goods and especially
consumers who work in price-taking sectors (meaning that they cannot
pass their own increased costs onto somebody else since they have to
sell their goods in a price taking situation. Incidentally, agriculture
and export production - two words that describe virtually the entire
southern economy in 1860 - are two of the biggest and best known
price-taking sectors of any economy. In 1860 the south produced more
exports than any other region of the country (about 73% of the entire
nation's exports) and all of them were in agricultural cash crops, so
the incidence of taxation for the tariff fell disproportionately on
Furthermore since the south was the nation's main exporting region,
they stood to lose twice over from protective tariffs. The intentional
goal of a protective tariff is to block foreign competitors from
importing goods into the United States through higher prices.
International trade, however, is a two way street where imports are
brought and exports are sent out in return giving a country its trade
balance. When a barrier is put up to block goods coming into the
country it also hurts goods going out because there are fewer imports
that will be accepted in return and also because foreign countries
often retaliate against tariffs by the United States with tariffs of
their own against American goods. As a result, export-heavy regions
like the South in 1860 bore another cost of the tariff in losing a
substantial chunk of their export trade to the barrier.
The statistical data in Wise's book is also interesting in that it
shows not that the northern ports but rather one single northern port -
New York City - took in the majority of the nation's tariff duties in
most late antebellum years. The reason for this, interestingly enough,
has very little to do with more imports going to northerners. Instead,
geography and economical trade routes plus the warehousing industry
made New York City the main dropoff point for European shipping to the
Americas in the North Atlantic (Havana Cuba similarly was the main
warehousing dropoff point for the central Atlantic in those years).
Since merchants seldom had buyers waiting for them to immediately take
their goods (and pay the tariffs on them) at the dock, merchants would
deposit their cargo into warehouses where they would wait until a buyer
was found long after the merchant had sailed on to another port. Later
when buyers were found the goods would be removed from the New York
City warehouses and placed on another ship (or canal or railroad) for
transfer to somewhere else in the country. This gave rise to the
triangular trade pattern from Europe: a ship full of European
manufactured goods departs England for New York, unloads them into a
warehouse, picks up goods that have a buyer out of the warehouse, sails
down the coast to Charleston and unloads them to the buyer, picks up a
shipment of cotton, and returns to England. Since the tariff was paid
when the goods were removed from the warehouse (and not, as is commonly
believed, when they arrived in port), it is only expected that the
customs post in New York City - where most of the warehousing was -
would have the highest receipts. This says absolutely nothing however
about the final destination of any of the goods.
EPPERSON: Page 128: "To a very large extent, the secession of the Southern states in late 1860 and early 1861 was a culmination of the decades-long feud, beginning with the 1828 Tariff of Abominations, over the proper economic role of the central government." The documentary record of the Secession Winter, and the arguments put forward by the secessionists themselves, argues against this claim. See, for example, the documents archived here.
REALITY: Epperson is apparently quite fond of linking to his own website alleging to contain a relatively complete record of secession era documents. Naturally, many of the documents Epperson chooses to include on his page are dominated by the issue of slavery. While slavery cannot be ignored in its own right as an issue of this conflict, neither can the tariffs and simply linking to a website that contains only slavery-related speeches and no tariff related speeches as "proof" of the latter's absence is a fraud. The fact is that dozens upon dozens of prominent southern secessionists railed against the Morrill tariff from the moment it was introduced in early 1860 to the day their states left the union. Below is a small sample of these speeches, very few if any of which are contained on Epperson's extremely selective cite. Some of these speeches in fact have not appeared in print since they first appeared in the Congressional Record circa 1860 and 1861, thus giving credence to the argument that some historians have intentionally neglected and downplayed their role in the secession crisis.
Louis T. Wigfall, a Senator from Texas who later served as a Confederate general and a prominent Confederate Senator, brought up the tariff frequently in his secession speeches:
"How will it be with New England? Where will their revenue come from? From your custom-houses? What do you export? You have been telling us here for the last quarter of a century, that you cannot manufacture even for the home market under the tariffs which we have given you. When this tariff ceases to operate in your favor, and you have to pay for coming into our market, what will you expect to export?" (2/7/61 Congressional Globe p. 789)Another prominent confederate to take up the tariff issue was Sen. Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter of Virginia. Hunter later served prominently in the confederate government including as its Secretary of State. This excerpt comes from a speech he made during the height of secession fervor in February of 1861. The dialogue consumes almost a dozen pages in the congressional record and is devoted entirely to the subject of tariffs with not a word espousing slavery. Hunter made the southern case eloquently:
"Five million bales of cotton, each bale worth fifty dollars at least - fifty-four dollars was the average price of cotton last year - give us an export of $250,000,000 per annum, counting not rice, or tobacco, or any other article of produce. Two hundred and fifty million exports will bring into our own borders - not through Boston and New York and Philadelphia, but through our own ports - $250,000,000 of imports; and forty per cent upon that puts into our treasury $100,000,000. Twenty per cent gives us $50,000,000. What tariff we shall adopt, as a war tariff, I expect to discuss in a few months, and in another Chamber. You suppose that numbers constitute the strength of government in this day. I tell you that it is not blood; it is the military chest; it is the almighty dollar. When you have lost your market; when your operatives are turned out; when your capitalists are broken, will you go to direct taxation?" (12/12/60 Congressional Globe p. 73)
"Mr. President, the necessity for free intercourse and for free trade among men is now beginning to be recognized as so high that the civilized nations of the world justify themselves in enforcing it at the point of the sword. Look now at those boundaries which China has set up for immemorial centuries between herself and the rest of the world; how they are falling before the advancing tide of civilization. See how the two leading civilized nations of Europe are even now engaged in forcing their intercourse and their trade on her at the point of the sword and the cannon's mouth. Is it at such a time as this that we are to introduce this legislation, which is nothing but at wanton attack upon the merchant and the great commercial interests of the country in order to put him down? Does not he suffer enough under the monstrous taxations which this Morrill bill imposes? Are we to add to it the withdrawal of the warehousing system?Another to take up the tariff issue was Senator Thomas L. Clingman of North Carolina. On March 19, 1861 he too made a speech entirely about tariffs and their relationship to the impeding war. His speech on tariffs came on the verge of the war itself and openly predicted that tariff collection, and not slavery, would be the spark that set the war into motion. The word "slave" does not appear a single time in the entire speech:
Mr. President, what justification can there be for it? Every other abuse that I have heard of, somehow or other, is justified by the Chicago platform. If we want to take the proceeds of the public lands to pay the public debt, the Chicago platform, with its homestead bill, stands in the way. If we want to resist an appropriation of between one hundred and two hundred million dollars to three Pacific railroads, the Chicago platform requires that too. Its principles have become a sort of higher law; higher than the Constitution, higher than public justice, higher than public credit. Let everything else fail and perish so that the principles of the Chicago platform are carried out!
Sir, I have presented these views in regard to this tariff for the purpose of showing how it will operate upon the whole country; for the purpose of showing how it will operate upon the non-slaveholding States themselves. I have said nothing about my own State or my own section. Within the last four or five years, my State has been reviving; the tide of emigration, which was getting out to a great degree, has ceased; the statistics will show that she has been increasing in population and wealth. But pass this bill, and you send a blight over that land; the tide of emigration will commence - I fear to flow outward - once more, and we shall begin to decline and retrograde, instead of advancing, as I had fondly hoped we should do. And what I say of my own State I may justly say of the other southern States. But, sir, I do not press that view of the subject. I know that here we are too weak to resist or to defend ourselves; those who sympathize with our wrongs are too weak to help us; those who are strong enough to help us do not sympathize with our wrongs, or whatever we may suffer under it. No, sir; this bill will pass. And let it pass into the statute-book; let it pass into history, that we may know how it is that the South has been dealt with when New England and Pennsylvania held the power to deal with her interests." (Speech begins on p. 898 of the Congressional Globe)
"Now, it is idle for the honorable Senator to tell me that the importations at Charleston and Savannah were small. I know that the merchants have gone from those cities to New York, and bought goods there; that goods are imported into New York are bought there, and then are sent down and deposited at Charleston, New Orleans, and other places. But, in point of fact, here is an enormously large consumption of dutiable articles, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty million. These people make their own provisions mainly, and cotton to sell, and do very little in the way of manufactures. Their manufactured goods came from the United States, or from foreign countries. I put the question to the honorable Senator, how much duty does he think this Government is going to lose by the secession of those States, supposing, of course, that they do not pay us any duties; for if New England goods are to pay the same duty with those of Old England, and Belgium, and France, we all know that the New England goods will be excluded, unless they make up their minds to sell much cheaper than they have been heretofore doing?...Senator Robert Toombs of Georgia, another prominent confederate who later served in the confederate cabinet, also spoke at length on the tariff issue during the Georgia State Secession Convention on November 13, 1860. This speech, which also deals with slavery and other issues, is actually one of the few tariff passages that Epperson excerpts on his website. Needless to say, Toombs' grievances with the tariff consume a substantial section of the speech and go into extensive detail:
My apprehension, as I have already expressed it, is that the Administration intend, (I hope I may be deceived) as soon as they can collect the force to have a war, to begin; and then call Congress suddenly together, and say, “The honor of the country is concerned; the flag is insulted. You must come up and vote men and money.” That is, I suppose, to be its policy; not to call Congress together just now. There are two reasons, perhaps, for that. In the first place, it would be like a note of alarm down south; and, in the next place, if you call Congress together, and deliberately submit it to them whether they will go to war with the confederate States or not, I do not believe they would agree to do it. Of course, I do not know what is the temper of gentlemen on the other side; but, though they will have a large majority in the next Congress, I take it for granted from what little I have heard, that it will be difficult to get a bill through Congress for the war before the war begins; but it is a different thing after fighting begins at the forts.
The Senator himself says they are going to enforce the laws and carry them out everywhere. I cannot tell what he means. In one part of his speech, I understood him to say that he was willing to let the seceded States alone; but towards the close of it, he spoke of enforcing the laws, and collecting the revenue everywhere. There is a very wide difference between these lines of policy. If you intend to let the confederate States stand where they now do, and collect their own revenues, and possess the forts, we shall get nothing, or very little, under the existing system. If on the other hand, you intend to resort to coercive measures, and to oblige them to pay duties under our tariff, which they do not admit that they are liable to pay, and to take back the forts, we shall be precipitated into war; and then, I suppose, we shall have a proclamation calling Congress together, and demanding that the honor of the United States shall be maintained, and that men and money shall be voted. I would rather the country should ace into this matter." (Congressional Globe, p. 1476-77)
"The instant the Government was organized, at the very first Congress, the Northern States evinced a general desire and purpose to use it for their own benefit, and to pervert its powers for sectional advantage, and they have steadily pursued that policy to this day. They demanded a monopoly of the business of ship- building, and got a prohibition against the sale of foreign ships to citizens of the United States, which exists to this day.Nor did the tariff speeches only appear in the secession winter of 1860-61 - They were in fact the culmination of similar beliefs that prominent southerners had been espousing since the northerners began pressing for the Morrill tariff in 1860. Rep. Lawrence M. Keitt, a leader in the secessionist "fire-eater" movement, made the southern position very clear early on. He stated his grievances back in the spring of 1860:
They demanded a monopoly of the coasting trade, in order to get higher freights than they could get in open competition with the carriers of the world. Congress gave it to them, and they yet hold this monopoly. And now, to-day, if a foreign vessel in Savannah offer[sl to take your rice, cotton, grain or lumber to New-York, or any other American port, for nothing, your laws prohibit it, in order that Northern ship-owners may get enhanced prices for doing your carrying. This same shipping interest, with cormorant rapacity, have steadily burrowed their way through your legislative halls, until they have saddled the agricultural classes with a large portion of the legitimate expenses of their own business. We pay a million of dollars per annum for the lights which guide them into and out of your ports. We built and kept up, at the cost of at least another million a year, hospitals for their sick and disabled seamen when they wear them out and cast them ashore. We pay half a million per annum to support and bring home those they cast away in foreign lands. They demand, and have received, millions of the public money to increase the safety of harbors, and lessen the danger of navigating our rivers. All of which expenses legitimately fall upon their business, and should come out of their own pockets, instead of a common treasury.
Even the fishermen of Massachusetts and New England demand and receive from the public treasury about half a million of dollars per annum as a pure bounty on their business of catching codfish. The North, at the very first Congress, demanded and received bounties under the name of protection, for every trade, craft, and calling which they pursue, and there is not an artisan in brass, or iron, or wood, or weaver, or spinner in wool or cotton, or a calicomaker, or iron-master, or a coal-owner, in all of the Northern or Middle States, who has not received what he calls the protection of his government on his industry to the extent of from fifteen to two hundred per cent from the year 1791 to this day. They will not strike a blow, or stretch a muscle, without bounties from the government. No wonder they cry aloud for the glorious Union; they have the same reason for praising it, that craftsmen of Ephesus had for shouting, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," whom all Asia and the world worshipped. By it they got their wealth; by it they levy tribute on honest labor. It is true that this policy has been largely sustained by the South; it is true that the present tariff was sustained by an almost unanimous vote of the South; but it was a reduction - a reduction necessary from the plethora of the revenue; but the policy of the North soon made it inadequate to meet the public expenditure, by an enormous and profligate increase of the public expenditure; and at the last session of Congress they brought in and passed through the House the most atrocious tariff bill that ever was enacted, raising the present duties from twenty to two hundred and fifty per cent above the existing rates of duty. That bill now lies on the table of the Senate. It was a master stroke of abolition policy; it united cupidity to fanaticism, and thereby made a combination which has swept the country. There were thousands of protectionists in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New-York, and in New-England, who were not abolitionists. There were thousands of abolitionists who were free traders. The mongers brought them together upon a mutual surrender of their principles. The free-trade abolitionists became protectionists; the non-abolition protectionists became abolitionists. The result of this coalition was the infamous Morrill bill - the robber and the incendiary struck hands, and united in joint raid against the South.
Thus stands the account between the North and the South. Under its ordinary and most favorable action, bounties and protection to every interest and every pursuit in the North, to the extent of at least fifty millions per annum, besides the expenditure of at least sixty millions out of every seventy of the public expenditure among them, thus making the treasury a perpetual fertilizing stream to them and their industry, and a suction-pump to drain away our substance and parch up our lands."
EPPERSON: Page 131: "Even though the large majority of Americans, North and South, believed in a right of secession as of 1861..." DiLorenzo provides no basis for this statement, which is refuted by the fact that Lincoln had wide-spread support for the war effort. The several resolutions by Northern state legislatures condemning secession as treason or rebellion would also argue against this assertion. See the resolutions of New York, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These legislative resolutions, which ought to reflect some degree of popular sentiment, would by themselves contradict DiLorenzo's assertion about "a large majority" believing in a right of secession.
EPPERSON: Page 144: "'Under the protection of Federal bayonets,' wrote David Donald, 'New York went Republican by seven thousand votes' in the 1864 presidential election." DiLorenzo cites this passage to page 81 of David Donald's collection of essays, Lincoln Reconsidered. In the third edition, the correct citation is to page 180, but this is yet another minor matter. It is clear from his context that DiLorenzo is suggesting that somehow these Federal troops influenced the outcome of the election in New York. Now perhaps they did, but is there a larger context which Prof. DiLorenzo has failed to mention? In fact, there is. During the fall of 1864, the Confederacy was active in fomenting and aiding numerous attempts to disrupt the election. Some of these efforts centered on New York City, whose mayor (Fernando Wood) was suspected of being sympathetic to the Southern cause. In fact, a team of sabateurs would attempt to set fires in several New York hotels some weeks after the election, an effort which was supposed to have been timed to coincide with and therefore disrupt the election. It was to prevent this kind of disruption that Federal troops were sent to New York around election day, and they had the desired effect, according to the postwar memoir of one of the arsonists (Confederate Operations in Canada and New York, by John W. Headley, pp. 268-270). But readers of DiLorenzo's book would never learn this.
REALITY: That Lincoln employed a federal troop presence during the 1864 election to influence its outcomes is generally accepted as historical fact among Lincoln scholars including those who praise the president or even deemed his actions as necessary. Lincoln's use of Gen. Butler for this purpose is particularly well known, thus DiLorenzo is only guilty of stating established fact. Epperson attempts to indulge in a tu quoque fallacy by offering as a counterexample the claim that confederates were attempting to influence the election as well. This claim does not alter the original fact stated by DiLorenzo, nor does it make Lincoln's election meddling any less undemocratic. It should be further noted that Epperson's specified counterexample of hotel arsonists is curious to say the least because it defies the timeline. He cites as "evidence" of election disruption efforts an event that he then claims to have happened "some weeks" AFTER the election itself. He claims that the arsons were intended to coincide with the election date, yet this defies common sense. Surely the confederate arsonists he speaks of would have known the day of the election, and surely they would have known that Lincoln had already won several weeks later at the alleged time of their arson.
EPPERSON: Page 148: "Lincoln was not opposed to secession if it served his political purposes." DiLorenzo then begins to discuss the formation of West Virginia, which is admittedly a controversial topic. Alas, he appears to be unfamiliar with the extensive literature on the subject. While there were some irregularities in the process by which West Virginia came into being, for the most part the Federal government followed established constitutional procedures and standards. The Constitution requires only the permission of the parent state government for a state to be partitioned (Article IV, Section 3). As it happened, the recognized government of Virginia, the so-called loyalist Pierpont government, agreed to the partition (the fact that the Pierpont government was mostly from the western Virginia counties would explain this). By what authority did the Federal government recognize the Pierpont government as the legitimate government of Virginia? By Supreme Court decision, as written by no less a figure than Chief Justice Roger Taney (Luther v. Borden, which held that the determination of legitimacy of competing state governments was a task for the "political" branches of the government, i.e., Congress and the President). It should also be pointed out that Congress, with perfectly clear Constitutional authority, implicitly recognized the Pierpont government by seating its Senators and Representatives. Without question, there were some irregularities in the process, but most of these centered on the issue of which counties to include in the new state. See the article in North & South ("Montani Semper Liberi," by Ed Steers, Jr., vol. 3, no. 2, January 2000) for a good overview, as well as the extensive discussion in James Randall's Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln. It is instructive to note, as DiLorenzo does not, that Virginia did not contest the partition in court after the war, but only the inclusion of some specific counties (Virginia v. West Virginia, 78 US 39).
REALITY: The case cited by Epperson that supposedly allowed Lincoln to admit West Virginia was decided a full 12 years BEFORE the war in 1849 (though a reader of Epperson would not know this since he neglected to include the date). Thus it could not have given sanction to an event that had not occurred yet. While a subsequent court argument could indeed be made upon the obiter dictum of Luther v. Borden to encompass the issue of West Virginia, that issue was not deliberated at the time. In fact, the binding portion of the Luther ruling itself held that the decision of what constituted the legitimate government of a state simply affirmed that it was not something the federal court system could decide. Thus for Epperson to argue that Roger Taney or the Supreme Court ever gave sanction to West Virginia's creation is specious at best. Nor was the issue clear cut in 1863 when even staunch northerners such as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens openly questioned the constitutionality of Lincoln's West Virginia partition. Stevens said he was in favor of admitting West Virginia as a wartime necessity even though he believed it was unconstitutional to do so. An additional note upon the "irregularities" of West Virginia's creation also reveals that Lincoln treaded on extremely specious legal territory of the same breed that debates what the meaning of "is" is. West Virginia came into being by the actions of a self-declared rump government meeting in Wheeling, a city in the extreme upper northwest panhandle of the state that was also the only part of the original south located to the geographic north of the Mason-Dixon line. The counties around Wheeling were staunchly unionist and voted some 90% against secession during the Virginia secession referendum. Though adamant in their unionism, they were also a very small and geographically isolated section of Virginia that did not even encompass half of what is today the state of West Virginia. The rump Wheeling convention claimed roughly four dozen counties in western Virginia as its own and claimed to be representative of them. This claim had one substantial flaw though: about half of the counties they claimed did not even have representatives (most of whom were self-appointed anyway) at the rump convention to speak for themselves. Also, roughly 1/3rd or more (election records for some of the rural areas have not been found) of the counties claimed at Wheeling and located in West Virginia today actually voted in favor of secession during the statewide referendum and were accordingly claimed by West Virginia against their desire to secede. Many of the others had only marginal unionist sympathies that did not even come close to matching the 90% rates around Wheeling. The Wheeling "government" formally split itself (along with several dozen counties that had either no say in the matter or had expressly indicated their opposition to remaining in the union) from the state of Virginia by way of its own "referendum" midway through the war. This referendum was a notoriously rigged Saddam Hussein style election in which about 99% of the voters said "yes." Despite these glaring legal and moral problems, Lincoln gave his full sanction to admitting West Virginia as a state.
EPPERSON: Page 158: (Regarding the 1862 Santee Sioux uprising in Minnesota) "Three hundred and three Indians were sentenced to death, and Minnesota political authorities wanted to execute every one of them, something Lincoln feared might incite one or more of the European powers to offer assistance to the Confederacy, as they were hinting they might do." I would really like to know what evidence there is that the Europeans threatened to aid the CSA because of US Indian policy. Certainly DiLorenzo points the reader to none. The fact that the executions happened months after the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued also weighs against the story. The conventional story is that Lincoln intervened to prevent the execution of all but the most culpable offenders among the Indians. Supposedly (David Donald's Lincoln, page 394) he insisted on executing only those who had actually committed murder or rape, and he insisted that the telegraph operator be especially careful in transmitting the 38 Sioux names over the wire, since an error in tapping out the the imperfectly anglicized names of the Indians in Morse Code could send the wrong man to the gallows. DiLorenzo, who cites Donald's book when it suits him, omits the comment on pp. 394-395 that Minnesota Senator Alexander Ramsey, who had been Governor of the state at the time of the uprising, told Lincoln in 1864 that if he had hanged more Indians he would have carried the state by a larger majority. Lincoln's response was, "I could not afford to hang men for votes."
EPPERSON: Page 201: "Shortly before his death in 1870, General Robert E. Lee told former Texas Governor Fletcher Stockdale that, in light of how the Republican Party was treating the people of the South, he never would have surrendered at Appomattox, but would have died there with his men in one final battle. 'Governor, if I had foreseen the use these people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in my right hand.'" This story is weak on several levels. Douglas Southall Freeman, the premier biographer of General Lee, does not accept it. DiLorenzo cites a book by Thomas Nelson Page as his source, but Freeman notes that the evidence for the incident is second-hand (to DiLorenzo's source it might be third-hand) and says, "There is nothing in Lee's own writings and nothing in direct quotation by first-hand witness that accords with such an expression on his part." (R.E. Lee, vol. IV, p. 374).
EPPERSON: Page 203: DiLorenzo states that revisionist historians of Reconstruction "have been dominated by 'Marxists of various degrees of orthodoxy'" and cites p.9 of Kenneth Stampp's book The Era of Reconstruction: 1865-1877 as support. Let's see what Stampp really says (the first sentence starts on page 8): "The revisionists are a curious lot who sometimes quarrel with each other as much as they quarrel with the disciples of Dunning. At various times they have counted in their ranks Marxists of various degrees of orthodoxy, Negroes seeking historical vindication, skeptical white Southerners, and latter-day northern abolitionists. But among them are numerous scholars who have the wisdom to know that the history of an age is seldom simple and clear-cut, seldom without its tragic aspects, seldom without its redeeming virtues." I will leave it to the reader to decide if DiLorenzo's comment accurately reflects the meaning of Stampp's words. Stampp does in fact use the words "Marxists of various degrees of orthodoxy", but he does not say that they have dominated the school; he lists them merely as one of several groups that have been lumped together as revisionists and points out that the revisionists have frequently disagreed with each other.
REALITY: That Stampp lists other groupings of individuals in addition to Marxists in no way alters the fact that Marxists have been prominent among the ranks of these historians. DiLorenzo seems only to have been citing Stampp as a source who has observed this fact while making his own argument on the presence of Marxists in the post Lincoln revisionist class. The assertion that Marxists figure prominently among revisionists who have shaped post-Lincoln and post-reconstruction histories is itself strongly supported in the historical record. No less a source than Karl Marx himself frequently opined in the north's favor during and after the war by way of European newspaper editorials. The Collected Works of Karl Marx contain dozens upon dozens of these writings. After the war Marx issued a Communist Party proclamation praising the martyred Lincoln and urging the continuation of his work to reorganize an existing social class. Subsequent historians with known marxist affiliations have continued Marx's legacy in writing on reconstruction and the civil war. Carl Sandburg, the famous Lincoln biographer, had known communist sympathies for example. In modern times Eric Foner, an author of major works on the civil war and reconstruction, is known to have strong marxist political beliefs. Another prominent modern historian, James McPherson, also has affiliations on the far left of the political spectrum and maintains an active affiliation with a socialist political party in their internet publications.
EPPERSON: Pages 200-232 It is fair to ask, in my opinion, why DiLorenzo spends an entire chapter (33 pages) of a book on Lincoln on the subject of Reconstruction, which occurred after Lincoln was dead. Apparently, DiLorenzo's point (see page 211) is that Lincoln's agenda and policies led to Reconstruction and so it is proper to consider it part of his legacy. This thesis founders on the very real fact --- which DiLorenzo conveniently ignores --- that Lincoln and the radical wing of the Republican Party disagreed about Reconstruction policy, to the extent that Lincoln's "pocket veto" of the Wade-Davis bill was a serious issue in the 1864 election campaign. DiLorenzo, of course, does not mention the Wade-Davis bill at all.
REALITY: While Epperson is certainly entitled to ask why a chapter on reconstruction was included, his approach in doing so neglects the fact that the very purpose of the said chapter was to offer an argument on why reconstruction should be included with Lincoln's legacy. Put differently, DiLorenzo made his case on the reconstruction issue in the text of his book itself. Unhappy with that case and unwilling to take on its arguments in greater detail, Epperson chose to respond to it by tap dancing around the book's text itself. He also offers a as counter argument the division between Lincoln and the radicals in his own party. That is fair enough but it alone is insufficient to settle the matter seeing as he did not bother to even scratch the surface of the said chapter or its arguments.