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Thomas DiLorenzo's book, "The Real Lincoln" is poorly written and very inaccurate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/8/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,341 times Debate No: 34614
Debate Rounds (3)
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Thomas DiLorenzo is an economics professor at Loyola University and a pro-secession, neo-confederate. His book is full of historical errors and "quote mining":
taking quotes out of context or even misquoting. His book is also extremely one-sided, never giving the reader a quote that would destroy his arguments, or even misquoting to make a point. Most of his sweeping statements do not come with footnotes, and therefore cannot be verified (though most likely he makes up these "facts"). His "career" as an historian is a joke and so is his book.


I accepted this debate for several reasons and to ask some questions.

1) Why does your profile say that you are a democrat, but your ideology is conservative?

2) Why are you not accepting messages at this time?

3) Why are you so pissed at Thomas DiLorenzo?

4) If you do not like him, why would you read his book?

5) I accepted to piss people off

6) Make fun of people

7) And get everybody to comment and/or vote on one of TheGamer1998's debates, because
Debate Round No. 1


1) I agree with the Democrat's economics, but not their social values
2) I'm new to this site and was not aware I was not accepting messages
3) Because he is full of BS and Lincoln is my favorite pres (also, he claims that anyone who disagrees with him is part of the "Lincoln Cult", because it is easier to do that then come up with historical evidence to back his points. Evidence that does not exist).
4) I had never heard of him until I read his book

Now getting on with the Debate, His book has major errors:

Major Errors:

1. The book is a compendium of misquotations, out-of-context quotations, and wrongly attributed quotations " one howler after another, yet none of it funny.

For example, DiLorenzo repeatedly asserts that Lincoln did not believe in human equality and shared the widely held prejudices of his time that blacks were inferior. Here is DiLorenzo:

"Lincoln even mocked the Jeffersonian dictum enshrined in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. He admitted that it had become "a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation," but added, "I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese Twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism" So, with the possible exception of Siamese Twins, the idea of equality, according to Lincoln, was a sheer absurdity. This is in stark contrast to the seductive words of the Gettysburg Address, eleven years later, in which he purported to rededicate the nation to the notion that all men are created equal."

DiLorenzo cites the first joint debate between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, held in Ottawa, Illinois, in 1858, as the source of the quotation. The language actually comes from Lincoln's eulogy of his longtime friend and colleague Henry Clay, delivered in July 1852. But that is the least of DiLorenzo's problems. He uses this quotation, and a few other excerpted phrases, to "prove" that Lincoln's professed belief in human equality was disingenuous. Here are Lincoln's actual words:

[There are] a few, but an increasing number of men, who, for the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter of freedom, the declaration "that all men are created equal." So far as I have learned, the first American, of any note, to do or attempt this, was the late John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its way into some of the messages of the Governors of South Carolina. We, however, look for, and are not much shocked by, political eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But, only last year, I saw with astonishment, what purported to be a letter of a very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied, with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper, containing the following, to me, very extraordinary language:

I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it, than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson, and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority 'All men are born equal and free.'

This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese Twins, and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a proof of this sage aphorism.

This sounds strangely in republican America. The like was not heard in the fresher days of the Republic.

DiLorenzo thus attributes to Lincoln the words of a Virginia clergyman whom Lincoln quoted and then went on to criticize. In the course of his eulogy of Clay, Lincoln defended the proposition of human equality and equal natural rights, as he did in all his major addresses. His argument is precisely the opposite of what DiLorenzo claims it to be.

2. (First edition) "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. In his second edition, DiLorenzo omits the direct reference to the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and instead says, "Lincoln frequently made it a point to champion the nationalization of money and to demonize Jackson and the Democrats for their opposition to it." No footnote is given to point to any examples of this, of course.

3. 87-88: (First edition) DiLorenzo cites John Quincy Adams as supporting a right to secession in his 1839 Discourse, "The Jubilee of the Constitution," pp 66-69. (The second edition makes the same point.) 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."

4. (First edition: 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." (The second edition uses the same language.) 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 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."

5. 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.


Why is there a 61 after theunionforever?

Are you the only person in the world to be a fiscal liberal and social democrat?

Why are you pro Obama?

What are your opinions on Communism?

Does Slash really exist?

Is there a god?

Where did you here about this website?

Why do your answers to my questions seem condescending?

Getting on to the debate...

How do you know Abraham Lincoln is real? How do you know Thomas DiLorenzo is real? Are you sure Lincoln said what you said that Lincoln said in the last round about what Lincoln did and did not say is correct? How do we know you are not the one who is misquoting Lincoln?

Besides, Lincoln was a d*ck. He freed the slaves, but then gave them no rights whatsoever. Andrew Jackson would have kicked his a*s in a fight.
Debate Round No. 2


1) The Civil War started in 1861
2) Possibly
3) I think Obama is doing the best he can given the circumstances and the constant Republican refusal to cooperate with a Democratic Pres.
4) Like many utopian ideas it is good in theory, but the worst system in practice
5) What is Slash
6) Yeah.
7) I think I looked something up about a debate and this website showed up in the search results
8) Sorry if they seem condescending to you, but I'm just answering your questions.

Lincoln actually proposed suffrage for black soldiers and in his words, the "very intelligent" black people. He also established the Freedmen's Bureau to help former slaves get an education and transition into the life of freedom. This was better than about 98% of the white population of the US. The only people that proposed more were the radical Republicans and a few abolitionists He also thought that they should be afforded all the protections of the Constitution and should be treated like human beings and be able to earn the fruits of their labor. (btw Lincoln was 6' 4" and Jackson was 6' 1", Lincoln was also a champion wrestler and won just about all his fights. He was renowned for his strength and wrestling prowess and would easily defeat Jackson) Why did you choose Jackson?


I am sending you a debate about Jackson vs. Lincoln in a fight.

How dare you not know who slash is! Do you not know what music is? Did you even google his name? Are you gonna tell me next that you don't know who Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Kurt Cobain are? Do you love America?

Anyway, you failed to prove that Lincoln and/or DiLorenzo are even real, let alone that DiLorenzo wrote an entire book about jack- sh*t. You think he wrote an entire book and did no research on anything?

Anyhoooo, sending you the debate now.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by TheYummyCod 3 years ago
I'd vote for Union, but I can't vote without a cell phone. :/

I'm also a 'Civil War buff', and would love to debate you on a Civil War related topic sometimes, Union. Please message me if you are interested.
Posted by Subutai 3 years ago
I'd possibly bite, but I haven't read the book.
Posted by theunionforever61 3 years ago
Neither do I Noumena, but that is the logic of many neo-confederates
Posted by Noumena 3 years ago
"Lincoln was a terrible president and the south was right"

I see no reason why accepting the former necessitates the latter.
Posted by theunionforever61 3 years ago
Thanks Magic8000. I always get annoyed when websites and people claim that this books "proves" Lincoln was a terrible president and the south was right. People should push back against these false claims.
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Good to see a debate on the lost cause myth.
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