“A new nation conceived in Liberty and Dedicated to the Proposition that all men are created Equal.” Majestic words, certainly consistent with the spirit of Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson, Lexington and Concord, of “Light Horse Harry” Lee, Francis Marion and Nathanael Greene.*
If it is true that the United States of America (as a new nation) were conceived in Liberty, Abraham Lincoln was the first major abortionist. If Lincoln said that he sought a “new birth of freedom” what he achieved and affected was a general transformation of a very generally egalitarian society to a society where the gap between the richest and the poor grew greater through the concentration of wealth in corporate hands and the concentration of power in governmental hands.
In the Pre-1860 world, corporate names and brands simply did not dominate America or the world. Since 1865, corporate names and brands have increasingly defined American life. The diffuse agrarian power base of 1860 made centralization almost impossible. 1860 was the first Presidential election to divide the country along “sectional” lines but it was not the last—the war to save the Union in fact indelibly divided the Union, and blocked true integration of black and white by creating a “competition for equality” that persists to this day. All the ideals of the American Civil War were in fact subverted by that very conflict.
The New Birth of Freedom was in fact the New Birth of a quasi-Marxist ideology which took from the individual and gave to the corporate: both the private and public (i.e. governmental) corporations. This needs to be clearly understood: the First Income Tax, the first private-public partnerships in the Central Banking System, all began with Abraham Lincoln, 13 years after these systems were first widely advocated by Karl Marx’ & Frederich Engel’s “Communist Manifesto” of 1848, a mere 52 years before these systems were finally and seemingly permanently implemented by the 16th Amendment, 17th Amendment, and the simultaneous creation of the Federal Reserve Banking System. Yes, Virginia, it all began with Abraham Lincoln: so you are right to say, “Sic Semper Tyrannis.”
What happened during the years 1861-1865 was the total destruction of America as a naive, pure, freedom loving frontier nation. The suppressions of the people of the North and South, the suspensions of freedom of the press and of Habeas Corpus, all for the purpose of destroying one half of the nation and subjecting the entire country to a tyrannical central government was the harbinger of the 20th century, because nothing quite like it had ever happened before 1861-1865. And only Lincoln’s death secured the power of the Radical Republicans to finish the process of constitutional alteration which Lincoln had begun.
No single man deserves the credit or the blame for the American Civil War more than Abraham Lincoln. It is reasonable to infer and indeed conclude that of the Four Candidates for President in 1860 (Bell, Breckenridge, Douglas, and Lincoln), ONLY Abraham Lincoln would have presided over the Civil War was it actually took place, because ONLY Lincoln would have wanted to preserve the Union at all costs, and to remake it by abolishing the Constitution and the spirit of the nation as it existed in that fateful year.
I owe the origins of my perspective on Abraham Lincoln to two women: my grandmother Helen Eugenie Liechtenstein Meyer and my freshman professor of Cultural Evolution, Dr. Victoria Reifler Bricker (Ph.D. Harvard 1971, now emeritus, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA). What’s interesting is that these two women couldn’t have come from more different backgrounds (my grandmother being Southern and Vicky Bricker having been born in China, I believe (she was my top favorite professor in college, and I’m ashamed I don’t know for sure where she was born). But they both concurred on one thing: despite the mythology of the current government, Mount Rushmore, and every High School History Textbook, Abraham Lincoln was a monstrous conniving deceiver and manipulator who did everything he could to destroy freedom and subvert the constitution of 1787.
It is time to rewrite schoolbook American History from the standpoint of the losers of the war of 1861-1865, because we are ALL losers. Now we Americans are all slaves on Uncle Sam’s Plantation, all equally, black, brown, red, yellow and white. Abraham Lincoln preached freedom and equality and tolerance, but the fruit of his administration is essentially the abrogation of both. Reconstruction did not enhance equality in the United States: it fixed inequality in almost insurmountable terms.
On this 148th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, it is appropriate to reflect on what has become of America in the past 150 years: transformed from a decentralized, free nation into a nearly computer-operated and police-controlled oligarchy of robotic servants to a flesh-and-blood oligarchy of bankers and corporate officers who flit back and forth between the private and public realms consuming all the wealth of the land for themselves. ALL OF THIS began with Lincoln and the imposition of “equality” on a landscape of “freedom.”
“That this Nation, under God, shall have a New Birth of Freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
Lincoln’s use of “birth” imagery again aims and carefully calculates to evoke strong emotional reaction. “Rebirth” or “new birth” stands as the great and central metaphor of Salvation in general and specifically Baptism in Christianity, of course. Lincoln’s 19th Century American Protestant audience would immediately have recognized it as such. In essence, Lincoln claimed America’s birthright, and the right to re-Baptize his nation in fire and blood, at the same time that he was burning 13 states to ashes and putting the other 20 or so in chains. 4 million black slaves in 1860 would be nominally free by the end of 1865, but 20 million Southern whites and many white northerners would feel enslaved (or at very least that their world had been inalterably changed) by that same time.
The “moral justification” of the Civil War was to eliminate the dying institution of Chattel Slavery, but as I have pointed out many times, personal property chattel slavery was already dying worldwide, and survived barely another 30 years in Brazil and Cuba, and another 60 years in Africa where it had all begun. And ONLY in America did the abolition of slavery cost a million lives and destroy one sector of the country completely, and contribute to the formation of industrial oligarchies in the North which survive to this very day as the real ruling elite in America.
And so it was that the Sixteenth President went to speak on November 19, 1863, an astounding two biblical lifetimes, 148 years ago (3 score & 10 plus 8 x 2). A new national cemetery was to be dedicated at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in the midst of the bloodiest war in United States History, with losses more readily comparable to the Russian death toll during World War II than any other conflict readily familiar to the Anglo-American world.
I had at least four ancestors on both sides of my family at Gettysburg. Not a single one was honored on November 19, 1863**. They were all soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia, the highest ranking than that of “Major” in the Quartermaster’s division, and the most storied of whom was Great-Great Grandpa known as “Uncle Wolf”***. While growing up my grandmother reminded me that when she was growing up, there was no more hated name in the (Southern) world than Abraham Lincoln.****
But my purpose today is to deconstruct the famous “Gettysburg Address” of which today is the 148th Anniversary in Biblical terms: “By their works shall you know them.” (Matthew 7:16 “By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?“)
The text of the Gettysburg Address appears almost Biblically eloquent and laconic, but it is 100% fraudulent in its intent to deceive and mislead the American people and the people of the world. Abraham Lincoln was a false prophet, a traitor to the American Constitution, the ancestral founder of the Federal Income Tax and modern Central Banking System. My great-great grandfather may have been named “Uncle Wolf” but “Uncle Abe” was the real thing: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
The admittedly inspiring full text is surely familiar to every semi-educated American, and to many around the world. But the inspiration ceases to satisfy, as Dr. Victoria Bricker at Tulane pointed out to me in about November 1975, when you realize that slavery was replaced by a vast prison system, and that suspension of habeas corpus made American jails much more “fatal” as prisons and places of execution than they ever had been before.
The real test of whether there was a “new birth of freedom” was the changes in the socio-economic and politico-legal systems which took place during 1861-1865 at breakneck speed, and which have been seeping deeper and deeper into concrete ever since:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As a piece of rhetorical expression and even political literature, he Sixteenth President’s brief introit, invocation of the ancestors, and general structure (Glorification of the Dead, Invocation of the Laws of Equal Justice, Charge and Call to the Living) have been so often compared to Pericles’ Funeral Oration (Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War, 2:34-2:46) to be repeated here, except to note that Abraham Lincoln’s true genius was in his adaptation of the ancient format to a brief summary outline format, rather than inventing it.
The Biblical framework begins with the use of archaic “King James Version” language “score” for “twenty” (compare Psalm 90:10–“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
If the calculation of 87 years from 1776-1863 is uncontroversial, the next phrase captures both the mythology and the beginning of the words of the false prophet: “a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
In one sense, America was a new nation: a Novus Ordo Seclorum as the Masonic pyramid on the back of the dollar bill reminds us. But the “New Order” embodied in the American Constitution of the United States reflected the cross between two very very different traditions: the most ancient of these was the structurally tri-functional government, considered by Georges Dumézil to be among the most distinctive indicators of the eternally westwardly migrating and conquering Indo-European peoples (of whom the Anglo-Americans were only the most recent)**** and the nearly equally ancient (but less linguistically defined and determined) Western Indo-European tradition of government by a citizens’ assembly which possesses both legislative and judicial functions, whose decisions constitute “the Common Law of the People” (“Allthinga”, “Thinga”, “Res Publica”, or Demos Kratos)*****
In particular, the Founding Fathers of 1775-1797 saw themselves as heirs to the English Tradition of Liberties, which they saw as betrayed by the British Parliament. So, up to a point, as I have believed since studying the writings of Georges Dumézil in researching my doctoral dissertation, the American Revolution was a “recreation by revolution of the most ancient structures”, which one might even call evolution according to “Natural Law”.
*Greene was indeed one of those early “meteoric rise from rags to riches” stories which have inspired Americans and people around the world throughout history. started the Revolutionary war as a “Militia Private” and rose to be George Washington’s top Major General in charge of the Southern Campaign against Lord Cornwallis. Major General Greene, assisted by the Polish Engineer Tadeusz Kosciousko, inflicted heavy losses on Cornwallis at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. From Cornwallis devastatingly pyrrhic victory on March 15, 1781 Cornwallis retreated to Wilmington and then to his final defeat at Yorktown on October 19, 1981, where an actual ancestor of mine, Benjamin Lincoln, accepted Cornwallis’ sword…. Benjamin Lincoln famously suffered from occasional narcolepsy, as does the author of this blog….as did his father, and his grandfather….
**I am neither a descendant of Abraham Lincoln nor probably anything but extremely remotely related to him, as remotely as I might be to any other person of English descent, although we both had seventeenth century ancestors in Hingham, Massachusetts (his ancestor Samuel, mine Thomas).
***Franz-Adam Wolfgang von und zu Liechtenstein, an Austro-German immigrant to Virginia who with his brothers had arrived after the 1848 Collapse of Metternich’s “Congress of Vienna” Europe in the aftermath of the publication of the Communist Manifesto. “Uncle Wolf” was shot three times in Colonel Pickett’s infamous (heroic in song and story but pathetically hopeless and strategically disastrous uphill) charge (into a battery of artillery) and taken to a Northern P.O.W. hospital in New York. There he was released in 1864 and hired on account of his superior education by the Bank of New York to go to New Orleans, where he remained and helped reconfigure the Bank of New Orleans after the war, marrying an “Acadian Princess” who owned some land with Indian mounds around Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, and was reputedly “moitié” [Canadian French “Metis”] or 1/4 Indian herself.
****My somewhat humorously and sardonically “reactionary” mother Alice (who spent most of her life overshadowed by my grandmother and hating ever minute of it, but “accepting reality” until my grandmother died in 2001) once while still married to my father informally shortened her maiden initials and married name to “AM LINCK” (German “To the Left”), which seemed to my grandmother an acceptable modification and characterization, since almost any one was “am links” of either of my grandparents, although it left the rest of the world hopelessly confused and questions still come up about it from time to time. Of course, my grandmother also hated my father, possibly even more than she hated Abraham Lincoln…. albeit for different reasons.
*****In my doctoral dissertation at Harvard, Ethnicity and Social Organization, I concluded that neither Dumézilian tri-functional structures nor “third-function” legislative or judicial groupings of the people were strictly Indo-European. Marshall Sahlins had led the way in his paper “Dumézil among the Fijians” which I followed emulated with my own paper “Dumézil among the Maya.” Valerio Valeri at the University of Chicago helped me realize just how widespread tri-functionalism really was in the New World by pointing out to me the French account of early 18th Century social complexity among the Natchez of Mississippi, who prior to their final defeat and enslavement were organized into three elite castes: “Suns, Snakes, Honored Men” and one caste of “untouchables” (“Stinkards” or “Puants“). This so closely parallels the Maya evidence as to be eerie.
And likewise, a legislative and judicial “Council of the Gods” was a characteristic of Early Sumerian and Akkadian Cosmology which even makes its way into the Hebrew Bible, possibly by sloppy editing by Baruch in the time of King Josiah. (See, e.g. Psalms 82, 86 & 89: especially we read in Psalm 89 that the “sons of God” (be5ne< )e4l|<m) in “the council of the holy ones” (be5so<d qe5do4s\|<m) meet “in the clouds” (bas\s\ah[aq; Ps 89:6). And above all Isaiah 40:1-8, 40:22-26. One name of God “Elohim” is grammatically plural throughout the Bible and often the translators are at a loss to disguise the residue of pre-Elijah Hebrew Polytheism, but the point is that the Gods, like the elders of Israel or the “Senate” (= Elders) of Rome all do meet together. So Root Elements of both constitutional trifunctionalism and democratic governance exist in widely dispersed Indo-European, Semitic, Polynesian, and Native American.