Restricted Lincoln's Political Pedigree

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David Ireland

Nov 29, 2017
Many Neo-confederates, such as Brion McClanahan, Thomas Dilorenzo, Clyde Wilson, etc., argue that Lincoln was a Hamiltonian. I am not convinced, particularly since he seemed to have had a respect for states' rights and federalism(as laid out in the Constitution, not as perverted by the slave oligarchs).

I know that he was a great admirer of Henry Clay, but in terms of strict construction and the power of government, was Lincoln more of a Jeffersonian or a Hamiltonian? Was he really a consolidationist who favored a broad reading of federal power?

Aside from being interesting to me in that it will help me evaluate him, the answer to that question is also relevant in my opinion because it sheds light on the view that the rebellious states were revolting against a "big government" ideologue who wanted to pervert the original balance of power. If he can be considered a Jeffersonian, I think that destroys that narrative to a large degree. I think there is a case to be made that he was a Madisonian, which is essentially a Jeffersonian Lite, and I think that has a lot of implications for the "Lost Cause" story.

However, there are many well read folks on here, so I'd like to solicit input.
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Lt. Colonel
Feb 23, 2010
I agree that this would be a good topic. It is far beyond my poor knowlege of the subject matter I fear. However, I would like to stte that I believe, Lincoln would have described himself as a Whig, of the Henry Clay school. I am not sure he really thought much about 'profound' political truths in the sense of origins or historical lineage.

His poor circumstances and hard-scrabble up bringing and life, prevented him receiviing anything like a formal education of any kind. He was a voracious reader, but on the Western Frontier for a man of his means, books of any kind were few and far between. Because of this,, I tend to think of Lincoln as being an original thinker in developing his concept of gov'ts and societies, based uon his observations and contempary readings, rather than history. By original, I do not mean unique or original to him, but original in the sense he came to many of them from his own efforts rather thanstudying the thoughts of others. whose beliefs happened to coincide with his.

I read an article once that noted that Lincoln probably received what at the time was called 'Classical' Education,except for Euclid's book on the study of Geometry, which Lincoln claimed he struggled through many times, until he could solve all the problems presented in the book and the author of article believed that it taught Lincoln to bring rigorous Logic to any problem to be solved.

I have no problem in believing Lincoln was truly a Political Genius(if not in all aspects of that word) considering the circumstance he worked himself up from.
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