More of Andrew Ferguson’s hacktastic hackery

Andrew Ferguson is almost certainly correct that the purported Lincoln quote that Al Gore uses in The Assault on Reason is bogus. Snopes says so, as does the University of Michigan.

What Ferguson is wrong about (beyond his hilarious “no footnotes!” mistake) is this:

…the point of the passage is very un-Lincolnian…Lincoln was a vigorous champion of market capitalism, even when it drifted (as it tends to do) toward large concentrations of wealth.

In fact, the bogus quote is not far from things Lincoln definitely did say. Here’s the fake quote, supposedly written by Lincoln in an 1864 letter:

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

And here’s Lincoln in December, 1861 in his first State of the Union address:

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government–the rights of the people…

In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government…

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration…

No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty…Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

Indeed, those are close enough that I strongly suspect the bogus quote was directly inspired by Lincoln’s real statement—which is pretty famous now, and was more so then. And then there’s this well-known Lincoln statement, from 1837:

These capitalists generally act harmoniously, and in concert, to fleece the people.

Yes, vigorous champions of market capitalism say such things all the time. I believe Milton Friedman had that engraved on his tombstone.