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The Real Lincoln By Thomas J. Di Lorenzo

1919 words - 8 pages

Thomas J. DiLorenzo is an economics professor at Loyola College. He has written eleven books, and is very widely published in many magazines and journals. In his book, The Real Lincoln, a twist is placed on the traditional picture of Abraham Lincoln. One of the most famous men in American History, Lincoln was regarded as being many great things, but were these things an accurate depiction of who he really was? As DiLorenzo states, “In the eyes of many Americans, Lincoln remains the most important American political figure in history because the war between the states so fundamentally transformed the nature of American government” (2). Lincoln helped begin a transformation from a small national government to a larger, more centralized one. Perhaps one of the largest misconceptions about Lincoln was his stance on slavery. DiLorenzo goes in depth about this saying, “He (Lincoln) could have ended slavery just as dozens of other countries in the world did during the first sixty years of the nineteenth century, through compensated emancipation, but he never seriously attempted to do so” (9). These two major topics, along with many more, are examined from a different perspective in discovering the man Abraham Lincoln really was.
In The Real Lincoln, Thomas J. DiLorenzo argues thematically throughout nine chapters about the misconception of Abraham Lincoln. He opens each chapter with an argumentative main body, and then provides sources and examples to back up his argument. In chapter two, the belief that Lincoln was the man who fought solemnly against slavery is questioned. DiLorenzo says that, “… Lincoln stated over and over that he was opposed to racial equality” (11). Before his reign as governor of Illinois and presidency, Lincoln was a very successful lawyer. DiLorenzo states, “from 1837 to 1860, (Lincoln) tried literally thousands of cases and was frequently employed by other lawyers as a consultant” (15). What makes it interesting is that “In twenty-three years of litigation he never defended a runaway slave, but he did defend a slave owner” (DiLorenzo 15). Why would the man who fought for racial equality not use his greatest talent to defend a slave? DiLorenzo does not question Lincoln’s skills as a politician by saying, “Abraham Lincoln was a master politician and, as such, was a master of rhetoric as well” (10). He even goes a step further by saying, “It is doubtful that any American politician has ever matched his skills in this regard” (10). DiLorenzo is trying to argue that Abe did what any good politician did, lie. DiLorenzo says Abe, “Was not above saying one thing to one audience and the opposite to another” (10). Chapter three opens by posing the question, why not peaceful emancipation? If it is true Lincoln opposed slavery, why was a war necessary to abolish it? DiLorenzo states, “he (Lincoln) had several opportunities to liberate thousands of slaves, but he refused to do so” (33). The cost of the war was estimated to be around seven...

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