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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

Same country, different rules?

The Associated Press just reported:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league. Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner Tuesday as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports . . .

Sterling’s comments — which were recorded by his girlfriend and released by TMZ on Saturday — harmed the league, Silver said. Sponsors were threatening to abandon the NBA, and criticism was coming from fans on social media and even the White House.

Sterling criticized V. Stiviano — purportedly the female voice on the recording — for posting pictures of herself with black athletes Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asks the woman on the recording.

Yes, saying such things is reprehensible, but apparently if you are powerful enough you can get away with not only saying terrible things but also doing terrible things, like murdering black people for the crime of being black, like Irish Catholics did during the 1863 New York City Draft Riots (this year marks the 151st anniversary of that event). The archbishop of New York, John Hughes, could have stopped the tremendous mayhem. Yet he did nothing to stop the riots that threatened New York City and the whole nation, as I discuss in Who Killed Abraham Lincoln?

Similarly, there were a number of factors that set the stage for the bloody U.S. Civil War. Slavery was one of them. It was a Roman Catholic judge who played a vital role by rendering the infamous Dred Scott decision in 1857. This judgment seemed designed to rip up every bit of anti-slavery legislation enacted in the United States since the Northwest Ordinance passed by Congress in 1787. Ruling for the majority, U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a devout Catholic, decreed that blacks could not become U.S. citizens, that they “had no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”

I have not heard of him being rebuked by the Church for such a statement, nor any of today’s mainstream media noting any interest in taking the Church to task for such sentiment. I guess if you are one rich guy in California then it is simple to be destroyed for saying such things, but if you are a powerful religious entity, then different rules apply.

On this day, exactly a hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln delivered his ageless Gettysburg Address. There is five copies of the speech made in Lincoln’s own handwriting. I have had the privilege of holding in my hand, between glass, one of the copies he penned. Some years ago, a very pleasant curator of the Lincoln collection at the Illinois State Historical Library gave me a private tour of the collection which ended with him getting their copy of the Gettysburg Address out of their vault and showing it to me. According to the Library of Congress website, “the copy for Edward Everett, the orator who spoke at Gettysburg for two hours prior to Lincoln, is at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield”, so I may have held this copy. It would have been great to make it to Gettysburg and see a renactment of the speech on this occasion, but it didn’t work out. It is too bad there is so little about this in the media, especially in the History Channels of the world, where one would expect to hear a much about it. Rex Murphy, in the National Post, recently wrote that what Lincoln said remains a “perfect miracle of public utterance”. As I stated in my book, “in his speeches and proclamations, Abraham Lincoln did quote Scripture more than any other President in history, as he led the United States through the worst crisis of its existence. The words that inspired the war-torn nation, echoed and still echo with the power and the beauty of the King James Bible.”
Why does the Gettysburg Address continue to have such an impact among people in America and around the world? I suggest that this speech, like President Abraham Lincoln’s leadership, was exactly what the trying time,  the nation, and the world needed, and still is in need of.

“Fourscore 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot 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 here 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.”

Internet debates on Lincoln


I just came across this article in the Catholic Herald entitled,
“No, the Jesuits didn’t kill Abraham Lincoln: The Society of Jesus has inspired some of the most bizarre conspiracy theories you will ever read.” By Jonathan Wright on Thursday, 11 July 2013.

It is interesting that it comes out now. I would have finished this blog post to have it posted yesterday, the same day of the article but I was instead working to answer what someone had written about me on the internet.

In this article, Mr Wright managed to speak about a number of things and say essentially nothing about what the title of his article states, how the Jesuits didn’t kill Lincoln. He stated, “Back in 2004 I wrote what I regarded, and still regard, as an even-handed history of the Jesuits. I was scrupulous about identifying both the saints and the sinners, and there have been plenty of both over the past five centuries.” It would be interesting to know what Johnathan Wright’s background/worldview is. Is he an atheist? I somehow doubt he would be. Is he a Roman Catholic? I also doubt he is an evangelical Protestant, who values the Word of God above any Catholic Church tradition. I would imagine he has a worldview that is quite sympathetic to the Church of Rome so I wonder about how even-handed his account is. I should try to get a copy and read it although I am busy enough as it is. I did also come across my name and my book in an debate on the internet and I have been working to answer the relatively outrageous statements made about me. More on that in the coming weeks perhaps.

Civil Liberties from Lincoln to now

With the tragic bombing of the recent Boston marathon, there is talk of curtailing civil liberties in the U.S. Prominent people have called for the remaining bomber to be treated as an enemy combatant.

However Yahoo News has reported that:
“The White House announced Monday that the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be tried in federal court for his alleged crimes. Press secretary Jay Carney flatly rebuffed demands from many Republicans that Tsarnaev be designated an “enemy combatant” in order to interrogate him without constitutional safeguards like access to a lawyer.” (By Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News | The Ticket – Mon, Apr 22, 2013,–politics.html)

Civil liberties were a consideration for Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War. His administration suspended the writ of habuis corpus and he was critized for doing so. In an excellent September 11, 2012 interview through C-SPAN, historian Elizabeth Leonard pointed out that Lincoln basically said, should I protect one law, and at the same time have the whole nation collapse? (

This was also a consideration when trying those involved in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln and other high ranking government officials. Eight, including Mary Surrratt, were tried in the summer of 1865 by a military tribunal. This has been critized from that time up to today but I believe it was entirely proper. As I point out in my book, at the time of the 16th President’s murder, the United States was still at war. The last battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Hills, Texas by southern troops who were unaware of Lee’s surrender more than a month earlier. It wasn’t until August of 1866 that President Johnson proclaimed the insurrection to be at an end in the last of the Secessionist states, Texas. There were other good reasons for the trial by military commission.

John Surratt was finally caught and brought to trial two years after Lincoln’s assassination, after being sheltered by Catholic officials and in Catholic institutions. Charles Chiniquy essentially said that, like what happened to him, there was a Catholic plan to pack the jury and tamper with justice and there is good evidence that happened with Surratt. In her book, The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln, Kate Clifford Larson declared: “much more evidence was introduced shedding light on the extensiveness of the conspiracy, as well as new details about Mary’s complicity in it. But despite the new evidence, John’s case ended in a mistrial – the civilian jury was packed with Southern sympathizers.” Yes, southern sympathizers – read Catholics.Elizabeth Leonard was a historical consultant of the Redford Lincoln film on Mary Surratt and she and I corresponded regarding this movie. Her input was apparently ignored by Redford and she does not have high regard for this film, a view I share.

Letter to the editor exchange ended after criticism of myself by another letter writer

Re: N. R. Ward’s Oct 12 letter. Mr. Ward writes from a position of relative ignorance, I suggest. I researched Charles Chiniquy’s claims over a period of twenty-two years in libraries, archives, etc, across the U.S.and found no significant mistakes. His papers include an 1885 letter from Robert Todd Lincoln, who declared that he was his father’s best friend. I also discovered that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who headed the official US government investigation into Lincoln’s murder, and who effectively ran the United States in the days after the assassination, believed the murder was the result of a Catholic plot.

Regarding whether Chiniquy and Stanton were right, whether it’s relevant today and what’s “disingenuous”, one thinks of Robert Redford’s 2011 movie, The Conspirator. It concerns Mary Surratt, a devout Catholic, who became the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, for her participation in the conspiracy to murder Lincoln. I suggest Surratt remains an embarrassment to the Catholic Church. Funded by a Jesuit educated millionaire, I believe this explains why the movie the public widely saw portrayed her as innocent while the historians consulted for the movie, and a feature length documentary, said she was guilty.
Mr. Ward, are you foolish enough to think you know better than the only remaining member of Lincoln’s immediate family in 1885, as to who his friends were? Do you really think you know better than Edwin Stanton, as to who was ultimately responsible?
My findings are published in a book entitled, Who Killed Abraham Lincoln? You should get one and see if you can find some historical mistakes. The US Parks Service who run Ford’s Theatre bookstore which rejected Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Lincoln, haven’t found anything wrong with my work.

Honest Abe’s Canadian Friend- National Post letter

My letter was printed in the National Post this weekend. Below is my portion. And here is the link  for reference

“Conrad Black penned an accurate and complimentary portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Many, however, do not know that there is an important Canadian connection to this towering American figure.

Lincoln’s best friend, according to his oldest son, was a citizen of Canada. A high-profile Catholic priest, Charles Chiniquy persuaded roughly half of Quebec to give up drinking in the mid-19th century before accepting an invitation to go to Illinois to establish a French-Canadian Catholic colony, where he met Lincoln.
Chiniquy however, later committed the crime of leaving the Catholic Church and becoming an extremely effective critic of this religious organization. Though world famous in his lifetime, memories of him have been carefully suppressed by the mainstream media.”
Paul Serup, Prince George, B.C.,

The Conspirator and Joe Ricketts

So Joe Ricketts bankrolls a movie about Mary Surratt. “The Conspirator,” recounted the story of Mary Surratt, the only woman charged in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Directed by Robert Redford, “The Conspirator” was released in 2011.  The movie alleges that Mrs. Surratt, the devout Catholic who holds the distinction of being the first woman ever executed by the US government, was really innocent. I believe she remains an embarrassment for the Roman Catholic Church today, so why would Mr. Ricketts bankroll this movie? Could it be that he is a Roman Catholic and he wants to help out his church? He certainly was educated Catholic, getting a degree from Creighton University at Omaha, Nebraska. According to the institution, “Creighton is a Jesuit university, rooted in the Catholic tradition. At Creighton we live this mission are guided by our identity”. Interesting.


What remains amazing about this film is that is the first movie by Rickett’s American Film Company and therefore according to the company’s mission statement, would “accurately portray extraordinary characters and events from American history”. The two DVD set comes with the movie on one DVD and also a feature-length documentary “The Conspirator: The Plot to Kill Lincoln” on the other one. The movie that the vast majority of the viewing public would have seen asserts that Mary Surratt was innocent, yet on the documentary, all the historical experts that were used as consultants for the film said she was guilty.


One of the historians consulted by the filmmakers was distinguished historian Elizabeth D. Leonard, John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History and Chair of the department atColbyCollege. Ms. Leonard is also the co-winner of the 2012 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. On the UNC Press Civil War 150 site, she made very interesting comments on the movie.
Professor Leonard stated: “My own experience of having most of my advice be dismissed by the filmmakers indicates to me that they had their own agenda, which overrode all other considerations about historical accuracy.” Fascinating. She also expressed her “concern that the emphasis on Stanton and Holt’s apparent malice and steely manipulation seems to crowd out any real possibility that Mary Surratt, who is depicted, in contrast, as a pious and long-suffering mother, was rightly found guilty!” You can visit here for a full review:
Yes, unfortunately there appears to be an interest in smearing the memory of the great patriot, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, to try to excuse Mary Surratt’s actions and depict her as being innocent but it is, of course, not based on historical fact.

Lincoln Vampire Hunter- Give it a miss if you like history

A couple of days ago, I went to see Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter, as it was in my hometown. I had been interviewed by the CBC Radio Daybreak North (B.C.) show about the movie last week so I thought I would view it so at least if I was asked about it again I could answer with personal knowledge of the movie.

I went with a friend who described the show as a colossal waste of time. I have a hard time disagreeing with that. At the 5 pm screening we attended, there was a total of six of us in the theatre for the showing.

This was July 3rd though, some time after originally opened. I found it to be quite violent and gory at times. You could also make the case that it trivializes this extremely important time in American and world history and the sacrifices that were made, including the deaths of more than 600,000 Americans. As we left the theatre, I had the thought that hopefully, the people who have seen the show came away with the question, “it obviously wasn’t about vampires, now what was the Civil War really all about?”.

Is Charles Chiniquy relevant for today?

Who is Charles Chiniquy?

He died more than a hundred and ten years ago and most people in Canada and the United States have never heard of him. Why would he be relevant today? He continues however, to have significance and the events that he lived through and were part of remain a subject of great interest to Americans, Canadians and others around the world.

The curator of the Lincoln Collection, Dr. James Cornelius, who I interviewed in 2008, contacted me last year and updated the amount of titles on Abraham Lincoln. He said that he had re-analyzed the amount of imprints on Abraham Lincoln and now gave the amount of titles on Lincoln at about 17,000. An average of more than a hundred books a year on the 16th President since his death, so the ongoing interest is amazing!
We are now in the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War.In June, 1862, events of the Civil War included the great general Gen Robert E. Lee taking command of the Confederate army. Lee took command as the battle of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks in Virginia continued. The battle of Memphis was a victory for the Union Navy. Confederate cavalryman Jeb Stuart rode completely around McClellan’s army, which was gathering around Richmond. Stuart gained important information with only one of his men killed.

There is also strong evidence that Canadian Charles Chiniquy, (born in Quebec, died in Quebec), was President Lincoln’s best friend. Chiniquy became world famous during his lifetime and was also an extremely effective critic of the Roman Catholic Church so it is not surprising that people are still commenting on him and attempting to dismiss him and what he said. Over the next blog posts, I plan to examine a recent article criticizing the celebrated clergyman and also look at the Conspirator, the 2010 movie on the Lincoln assassination directed by Robert Redford. I have significant problems with it, as do serious American historians.

Although it came out last year, it is still relatively new and relevant. I have the 2 disc DVD and perhaps will get the Blu-Ray edition. As other productions appear, including a movie on Lincoln directed by Stephen Spielberg, to be released next year, the Conspirator’s portrayal of the extremely important events that were the Lincoln assassination and aftermath, are still worth a close, careful examination. There is much to look at as we move through the 150th anniversary of the events of the Civil War and toward the sesquicentennial of the murder of America’s greatest President.

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