Lincoln’s Leftist Associates—Part 4

By Al Benson Jr.

The Communist website http://www.worker-communist.org carries quite a bit of commentary on the War of Northern Aggression. This site claims that the War brought the communists in America and those in Europe “back into regular contact.” Actually, that contact had never been severed. Actually it was reinforced due to the “news” items that appeared in Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune and the New York Daily Herald that were written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Even “Civil War historians” according to the Communist website, have been forced to admit how important Marx’s articles were. If they’ve been forced to admit that, then they must have limited their admissions to each other because they sure haven’t bothered writing enough about it to inform the American public. This has been one of those little secrets among the “historians” that has been studiously ignored, or if dealt with, they briefly mention it in one or two sentences—not enough to give folks any real information.
The Communists claimed that by the end of the War of Northern Aggression, all of the pieces were in place for “an explosive growth of the movement in the U.S. The mass exposure of workers in the U.S.—both ‘native’ and immigrant—to communist political figures and ideas during the war made it possible for the movement to move beyond its previous organizational forms as propaganda societies and ‘experiments’ and work directly toward becoming a mass force in American politics.” I don’t know if they were quite as influential as they like to let on, but they were definitely in place in this country and making their presence felt.

For instance, their website contains a photo of Wendell Phillips, and the caption under his photo says: “…renowned abolitionist who joined the International Working Men’s Association and became a self-described communist following the end of the Civil War.” What book have you ever read that told you this about Wendell Phillips?

The Worker article had a little more interesting info. It stated that: “In 1866, an emissary for the IWMA,…came to the U.S. and met with prominent leftwing Republicans Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips and Horace Greeley. Orsini interviewed each of them and, when finished, all three joined the International. At the time, Sumner was also the senior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, thus it can be argued that he was the first elected communist official in U.S. history (albeit one who was not elected as a communist per se). Phillips pledged to donate money he received from his lectures and speeches to the International, and Greeley became a regular publicist for both Marx and the International.” More “memory hole” material! And the article refers to “leftwing Republicans. The Republican Party was already to the left in the 1860s. I guess these guys must have been to the left of left.

These people are mentioned in yet another article on http://www.columbia.edu entitled Marx, Woodhull and Sorge. The article notes: “The people who launched a section of the Communist International in the USA were veteran radicals, who had fought against slavery and for women’s rights for many years. They saw the emerging anti-capitalist struggles in Europe, most especially the Paris Commune of 1871, as consistent with their own. They saw revolutionary socialism as the best way to guarantee of the broader democratic movement…The names of some of the early recruits should give you an indication of the political character of the new movement. Included were abolitionists Horace Greeley, Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner. Feminist Victoria Woodhull joined in and put her magazine Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly at its disposal. The weekly not only included communications from Karl Marx, but spiritualist musings from Woodhull. The native radical movement of the 1870s was a mixed bag. Socialism, anti-racism, feminism, pacifism and spiritualism co-existed comfortably…Victoria Woodhull was unquestionably the biggest irritant, since she defended all these deviations while at the same time she spoke out forcefully for free love, the biggest deviation imaginable in the Victorian age.”

Even the book Radical Spirits by Ann Braude mentions Woodhull in this connection. Braude comments on her “…participation in the formation of Section 12 of the socialist International Workingman’s Association (commonly known as the First International), both of which offered great potential for Woodhulls self-promotion.”

Way back in 1999, about ten years this side of the Neanderthal period, I did an article for my old website http://www.csa-dixie.com/copperheadchronicle which, believe it or not, is still up there, though nothing has been added to it for years now, called Beast Butler and the Free Love Feminist. It goes into the unusual political relationship between the Beast and Ms. Woodhull in which the Beast, then in Congress, arranged for Ms. Woodhull to speak before the congressional committee he was part of. This was somewhat unusual for the day, but then, we are dealing with leftists here all around and so anything they can get by with goes.

Even Wikipedia cannot dodge Woodhull’s involvement with the far left. On http://en.wikipedia.org we are informed that “Woodhull joined the International Workingmen’s Association, also known as the First International. She supported it goals by articles in her newspaper. In the United States, many Yankee radicals, former abolitionists and other progressive activists became involved in the organization which had been founded in England.” However, all was not well in Marxist la-la land in this country. Because in 1871 the Germans managed to expel most English-speaking members in the First International’s U.S affiliates, which contributed to a speedy decline of the group here. Imagine, a communist group founded in London expelling English-speaking members in this country. And even though Woodhull and promoted Marx and his excuses for writing, he approved the expulsions which gave her the boot along with others. There’s just no gratefulness among communists and socialists!

Even though Lincoln had gone to his eternal reward, whatever that might be, in 1865, just about all the people mentioned here in connection with the International Workingman’s Association had had come connection with him somewhere over on the far left of the political spectrum in the Republican Party with the possible exception of Ms. Woodhull, and she had connections with Beast Butler.

I couldn’t possibly go into it all here, but there was an amazing interlocking relationship between many of these people, Republicans, communists, socialists, abolitionists and others that all, to one degree or another, supported each other’s socialist agendas.

Even Hollyweird has, to a limited extent, had to acknowledge Lincoln’s leftism and that of his associates. In a short article on http://www.breitbart.com the actor Tommy Lee Jones notes “Lincoln’s GOP was left-wing.” Jones is supposed to be somewhat of a history expert so he just might know what lots of others don’t seem to grasp. Lincoln’s Republican Party was left-wing. So was Lincoln. Our problems with socialism and communism in this country go back much further than most folks really want to think about. To sum up, might I suggest folks reading Walter Kennedy’s and my book “Lincoln’s Marxists”? If you don’t want to spend the money to buy it then see if your local library can get a copy so you can read it for free, but read it either way.

Lincoln’s Leftist Associates–Part 3

by Al Benson Jr.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the Republican Party nomination for president, with lots of help from Horace Greeley, and also lots of help from socialist Carl Schurz, who worked at rallying the German-American Forty-eighters and ordinary German voters as well.  Your ordinary German voter had no idea what was being pulled on him via Schurz and the rest of the Forty-eighter immigrants in this country. They were all being recruited to combat the “slaveholding capitalists” in the South while ignoring Northern railroad and banking capitalists.  As I stated earlier, it was really the Southern capitalists they were after. The Northern variety got an automatic pass–and most folks never noticed, just like they’ve been conditioned via the media today to not notice the almost total lack of any substantive information about the individual sitting in the White (Red) House.

In the very early days of the Republican Party a man most folks have probably never heard of surfaced. This was Alvin Earl Bovay. He had lived in New York State and become a lawyer there in 1846. He was really into both the Abolitionist and Free Soil Movements.  He became secretary of something called the National Reform Association. This group was mainly concerned with people concentrating too much wealth. According to http://www.abovetopsecret.com “They felt there should not be a right to the unlimited accumulation of wealth in this country. The association soon turned toward what is described as ‘a spectrum (of) the most revolutionary anarchist and socialist currents in American life.’ This hostility toward concentrated wealth made them hostile to the South especially seeing as how it was governed largely by wealthy gentry using slavery in replace of paid labor,…Some historians have charged the NRA’s most important members to being under the influence of Socialism, Trade Unionism, and of course Abolitionism.”

By the late 1840s Bovay had moved his family from New York out to the new town of Ripon, Wisconsin. Prior to the forming of the town, the area had been used by a utopian socialist commune, which still seemed to have quite a bit of influence in the area.  Bovay was instrumental in the formation of the new Republican Party, having been in contact with Horace Greeley who was, after all, a utopian socialist. Bovay had suggested that the name of the new party be the “Republican Party.”  Greeley liked that name, as he had also thought of it himself.

Another biggy on the agendas of both the NRA and the new Republican Party was the Homestead Act, which allowed all adult citizens to claim 160 acres of land then in the public domain. Greeley felt it was one of “the most vital reforms ever attempted”  and thought it would bring in a new era of prosperity.  Even though they agreed on the idea of homesteading, Greeley and Lincoln differed over the timing of it. At this time, Greeley and Frederick Douglas  joined forces in demanding of Lincoln that he make the War of Northern Aggression not only a crusade of “preserve the Union” but also an “Abolition war.” Lincoln wasn’t quite ready to do this, being as he had a lot of slaveholding voters in four states that had remained in the Union thorough one way or another.

By this time, Charles Dana was no longer working for Horace Greeley, but was working instead for Lincoln. He was officially assigned to the War Department, which organization he would eventually serve as assistant secretary of.  So already in the 1860s you had an admitted socialist and confidant of Karl Marx serving as Assistant Secretary of War in the United States. That fact is hardly a reassuring one. But it points to the fact that socialism and communism were alive and well in this country much earlier than we have been told about. That just may be why they omit it from our history books. Nothing to see here, folks, just move along!

Part of Dana’s assignment was to be an advisor and an aide to Lincoln pertaining to what has been described as “judicious, humane, and wise uses of executive authority.” So we have a socialist advising Lincoln on the “humane” use of executive authority.  Wonder is such advice had anything to do with why so many Northern folks who disagreed with Lincoln on so many issues wound up in prison with no trials, no lawyers, often their own families not even knowing where they were. I guess some might consider this “judicious” use of executive authority. At least Lincoln didn’t have them executed! But, then, there were so many of them that such might have proved a tad embarrassing.

Appearing on http://historyengine.richmond.edu  was an article entitled The People’s Lincoln. It stated: “In Lincoln’s time, public opinion vigilantly labeled a danger posed by their anti-Constitution imperialist.  Lincoln was widely hated, caricatured, and actively opposed. His concern for the government outweighed his concern for the people, their freedom and prosperity. The Lincoln depicted with loyal troops and grateful slaves is far from the man exposed in John A. Marshall’s series from 1869 American Bastille: A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens in the Northern and Border States on Account of Their Political Opinions During the Late Civil War. This was eventually published in 1883 as a book, American Bastille.” I recall seeing a copy of this once at a Civil War book sale. It wasn’t in very good shape and I didn’t have the money to buy it–but I thought about it. The History Engine article observed: “Once an arrest was made, not only was the right to a trial denied, but also seeking council was itself considered active rebellion.” It sounds so much like something a socialist would have come up with. The article noted one man who was arrested and, as of 1883, he had yet to be informed why. He had been released long before that, but with never any information as to why he was picked up in the first place. Welcome to the American Gulag–19th century style!

Lincoln spent a good part of his presidency reading dispatches from and seeking the counsel of the man who hired Karl Marx to write for Greeley’s newspaper. John Nichols, who was mentioned earlier, noted in his article that he (Lincoln) “…awarded military commissions to the numerous comrades of the author of The Communist Manifesto who had come to the United States as political refugees  following the failed European revolutions of 1848–is a shard of history rarely seen in the hagiographic accounts that produced a sanitized version of the sixteenth president’s story.”

The Communists, themselves, tell us some interesting things if we can discern between the truth and the propaganda. An article on http://www.worker-communist.org  informs us that the communists were active in the abolitionist movement. No surprise there if you’ve read anything about the abolitionists. Several years ago the chief theoritician  for the Communist Party, Herbert Aptheker, wrote a book called Aboltionism–a Revolutionary Movement. Aptheker had glowing praise for the Abolitionist Movement, which shows that their agenda and that of the Communists coincided. William Lloyd Garrison, one of the leaders among the most radical of the abolitionists once said the same thing. He made a statement that, after the slavery issue had been resolved, the abolitionists would set their sights on “world peace” and the “women’s rights movement”–both of which are on the Marxist agenda. The article also mentions that communists “were active in the left wing of the Republican Party.” Remember, folks, this was in the late 1850s-1860s. Who, in your “history” books, ever read about the “left wing” of the Republican Party in the 1860s, or even today? But they also tell us that the left wing of the GOP was in favor of a “centralized democratic republic.” That would have coincided with Lincoln’s version of what he wanted for a government.

Some of you may have heard of the International Working Men’s Association.  This was the organization that officially sent the letter that Karl Marx wrote to Lincoln congratulating him on his re-election to a second term.  This organization had some very interesting people that ended up as members.  This was a group founded in 1864, which sought to unite a plethora of left-wing, socialist, communist and anarchist groups and trade unions that were based on the working class and class struggle. This is what Wikipedia said about them, and this time they were pretty much on target. More about them in the next installment.

To be continued.