How the Lincoln Myth Was Hatched

by: Thomas J. DiLorenzo

The violence of the criticism aimed at Lincoln by the great men of his time on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line is startling. The breadth and depth of the spectacular prejudice against him is often shocking for its cruelty, intensity, and unrelenting vigor. The plain truth is that Mr. Lincoln was deeply reviled by many who knew him personally, and by hundreds of thousands who only knew of him.
~ Larry Tagg, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President

This quotation is the theme of Larry Tagg’s 2009 book, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln, which utilizes thousands of primary sources to make the case that no American president was more reviled by his contemporaries – at home and abroad – during his own lifetime than Abraham Lincoln was. Tagg is no Southern apologist: He is a native of Lincoln, Illinois, and profusely thanks Harold Holzer, one of the high priests of the Lincoln cult, in his acknowledgements. This book establishes Mr. Tagg as a card-carrying member of the cult.

Anyone who has read The Real Lincoln (or scanned the “King Lincoln Archive” at would not be surprised at all to hear that Lincoln was hated and reviled by most of the “great men” (and the Northern masses) of his time. As Tagg hesitantly admits in his Introduction, Lincoln was widely criticized in the North as a “bloody tyrant” and a “dictator” for his “arbitrary arrests, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the suppression of newspapers . . .” More specifically, imprisoning tens of thousands of Northern civilianswithout due process for verbally opposing his policies; shutting down over 300 opposition newspapers; deporting an opposing member of Congress; confiscating firearms and other forms of private property; intimidating and threatening to imprison federal judges; invoking military conscription, income taxation, an internal revenue bureaucracy, and huge public debt; and ordering the murder of hundreds of draft protesters in the streets of New York City in July of 1863 are all good reasons why Lincoln was so widely despised.

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