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07.15.03 The Real Lincoln, A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, a partial biography by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, published in 2002 by Prima Publishing, a division of Random House, Inc..

Notes Concerning the Author:

Thomas J. DiLorenzo (1954-    ) received his bachelor’s degree from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A.  He earned his Ph. D. degree in economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI), Virginia’s primary technical university.  At the time he wrote “The Real Lincoln . . .“ (2002) he was a professor of economics in the Sellinger School of Business and Management at Loyola College in Maryland, where he specializes in economic history and political economy.  He has authored a sizeable number of books and articles in academic journals.  Although his career is as an academic, his research and writings on history is outside of his normal field of work, another example of an author listed in the Society’s Recommended Reading List who did not and is not presently making his living as a professor of history.  In 2007 DiLorenzo would write a sequel to his first Lincoln book titled, “Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe.

In 2005 DiLorenzo totally engaged his primary expertise with the writing of and publication of an economic history titled, “How Capitalism Saved America: The Untold History of Our Country, from the Pilgrims to the Present,”  Which provides some history to be sure, but is primarily his effort to educate and to redirect advocates of big government and related political movements aimed at moving America toward a socialistic society.  


The Real Lincoln, A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, a work of 333 pages, cannot be considered a biography of a scope normally sought in such writings.  If we are generous we will call it a partial biography.  If less generous, we will call it an analysis of the major issues before, during and after the War Between the States which will open your eyes and give you reason to deconstruct the “Lincoln Myth” which today smothers the understanding of the true history of the era.  

DiLorenzo started in 1858, during the Douglas-Lincoln Debates, a mere two years before Billy Herndon concluded his biography (Abe had departed for Washington D. C. and left the law office behind).  So, at first, DiLorenzo gives us 22 pages on “Lincoln’s Opposition to Racial Equality.” 

Pages 33 through 53 discuss “Why Not Peaceful Emancipation,” concluding with the horrible cost of Lincoln’s decision to choose war over peace: “620,000 military deaths, thousands of civilian deaths in the Southern States, hundreds of thousands of men crippled for life, the near destruction of nearly 40 per-cent of the nation’s economy. . . [including the sad fact that] one out of four Southern white males between 20 and 40 perished during the war.”  But Lincoln chose war and persuaded Republican leaders (Cabinet, Congress, Governors, militiamen, etc.) to back his decision to set up the incident at Fort Sumter and to launch a War Between the States.

Pages 54 through 84 reveal “Lincoln’s Real Agenda.”  It was not to emancipate the slaves in Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and the seceded States of the Confederacy.  DiLorenzo’s study of the facts teaches him that the “Real Agenda” of Lincoln and his Republican backers was to destroy State Rights and pave the way for a much more powerful Federal Government, to be controlled by the Republican Party and its industrial, commercial, banking and railroad backers.

But what about State Secession?  Today so few challenge Lincoln’s allegation that the men of South Carolina and the other 10 States were “Rebels” committing treason against the Federal Government.  But, in pages 85 through 129, DiLorenzo proves that there was nothing in the Federal Constitution to prohibit State Secession or to empower militia from another State or the Federal Army to invade a State that did seceded to force its surrender.  Lincoln’s allegation that he was confronting “Rebels,” not “Secessionist,” was his big lie.

But, if the Federal Constitution did not allow the war that Lincoln launched, why didn’t the Federal Supreme Court put a stop to it?  DiLorenzo covers this and other issues of Presidential “power out of control,” as he presents pages 130 through 170, under the chapter titled, “Was Lincoln a Dictator?”.

Subsequent chapters continue the debunking of the myths surrounding the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.  We are forced to suffer through the atrocities of William T. Sherman and other Federal armies and cavalry in the chapter, “Waging War on Civilians.”  But DiLorenzo does not stop with the final surrender of Confederate Armies and Booth’s shooting of Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.  From pages 200 through 279 he reports on “Reconstructing America: Lincoln’s Political Legacy”, “The Great Centralizer: Lincoln’s Economic Legacy,” and “The Costs of Lincoln’s War.”  These last two chapters are the best of the whole study, for in these DiLorenzo is applying his expertise as a well-trained and very capable economist who specializes in economic history — a perfect fit between writer and subject.

The Society recommends David Donald’s Lincoln for the overall biography, Billy Herndon’s biography of Lincoln for more authentic detail on the man up to February 1861, and DiLorenzo’s Real Lincoln to sharpen your knowledge about many true and important facts that you need acquire to get the accurate picture you ought to be seeking.  Furthermore, if you believe you need to understand Lincoln, please be just as eager to understand Jefferson Davis.  The contrast is amazing and essential to living the history.

You will want to read and reread African American economist Walter E. Williams’ 5-page “Foreword.”  He clearly understands Lincoln’s “political gimmick” regarding “Emancipation” and the agenda and consequence of the War Between the States: “that it was to settle by force whether States could secede.  Once it was established that States cannot secede, the Federal Government, abetted by a Supreme Court unwilling to hold it to its constitutional restraints, was able to run amok over State’s Rights, so much so that the protections of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments mean little or nothing today.” 

Availability of this Book

Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s book, The Real Lincoln, can be obtained as a print book, reprint book and as a Kindle e-book.  Select from a book store or Amazon or similar sources.