Unless historians or other scholars can refute what Professor John Chandler Griffin has revealed in Abraham Lincoln’s Execution, the history not only of the administration of the 16th President of the U.S. and his death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth will have to be rewritten, but also that of the American Civil War.
Griffin, professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina, has revisited what happened in the 1860’s for two basic purposes: first, to demonstrate that members of Lincoln’s cabinet were implicated with the Confederate Secret Service in the murder of Lincoln (which is why Griffin calls it an execution in lieu of an assassination); and, second, to demolish the standard mythology re the character of Lincoln and his motives in instigating the military action that metastasized into all-out civil war.
Rather than “The Great Emancipator,” Lincoln appears in Griffin’s book as “The Great Dictator.” Blocking the South’s secession in order to establish and maintain a centralized government, Griffin writes, was the true motive behind Lincoln’s instigation of civil war, and not the elimination of slavery.
In fact, Griffin documents, Lincoln repeatedly expressed his view of whites as superior to blacks, opposed equal rights for them, wrote to Illinois legislators that “eliminating every black person from American soil would be a glorious consummation,” appropriated taxpayer money to fund his plan to export freed slaves to a variety of countries; and, despite his famous Emancipation Proclamation, engaged in manipulations so that only slaves in the south would be freed and not those in the north. Lincoln’s prejudices also showed up, Griffin points out, in Lincoln’s support of the war on American Indians unwilling to move to reservations, resulting in their systematic extermination.
At the root of the South’s rebellion was the North’s bleeding the southern economy through exorbitant tariffs on goods that had to be purchased from northern industries. Because many influential northerners were adamantly opposed to military action to stop the rebellion, Lincoln waited until Congress was not in session to use the outbreak of hostilities at Fort Sumter to initiate an all-out war, according to Griffin. Lincoln then proceeded to declare martial law, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, ordered the imprisonment without trial of thousands of northern citizens opposed to war, ordered the jailing of newspaper editors and publishers opposing his actions and then had their operations shut down and their buildings burned, and initiated a host of other illegal and unconstitutional acts.
Once war was in full swing, Lincoln enabled well-to-do families to keep their sons out of the conflict by paying $300 per youngster to the government in return for exemption from service. So it was that the Union army’s enlisted ranks consisted mostly of poor whites and blacks willing to fight.
Support for Lincoln from hardline Republicans collapsed, Griffin explains, when it became clear that Lincoln opposed their vision of Union military victory resulting in a centralized government’s using its power to confiscate southerners’ property and enrich northern mercantilists by reducing southerners to vassals of their conquerors. Instead, looking toward a future election with southern as well as northern support, Lincoln laid out a plan for reconstruction of the South with fully restored voting rights. At that point, in the scenario Griffin presents, plans were formulated – especially by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and Vice President Andrew Johnson – to get rid of Lincoln.
The original plan of Confederate Secret Service member Booth and his co-conspirators was not to kill Lincoln, but rather to abduct him, transport him to………………..