In this portion of his interview with Brian Lamb, Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo describes another encounter with an unnamed Lincoln scholar:
DILORENZO: I was at another event in Richmond, it was panel discussion with the – well known Lincoln scholar who has identified himself as the president of a committee, the head of committee that gives the Lincoln book award out every year. And …
LAMB: Is this the – Mr. Borat [Boritt], the …
DILORENZO: No, no, it was somebody else who is much less known than Gabor Borat [Boritt] but anyway during the course of this panel discussion this man stands up and says things like, ”no private property was ever stolen from the southern household by Sherman’s army,” and this is Richmond and I’m astounded at the statement like that. I’ve read – you can go to any Barnes and Noble this afternoon and pick up books on Sherman’s March and read the exact opposite about that whole episode. And I got to wondering, well why would a man like this stand up and say such an obvious falsehood? And the impression I got was that he was just trying to make me out to be saying falsehoods because he was the Lincoln scholar. I’m just an economist who picked this up as a hobby. That’s what he seemed to be saying but he’s the real expert.
And so he made statements like that. Another statement he denied the killing of civilians by Sherman’s army, Sherman’s march and I was astounded at that too. He said Lincoln never killed any civilians, you know, as the commander-in-chief. Well, of course, he never pulled the trigger and killed anybody but there have been quite a few books about James McPherson, one of his books said there were about 50,000 southern civilians who just disappeared by the end of the war, killed, died, one way or another and so you don’t have to be a Lincoln critic, like me, to recognize that there was a lot of civilian deaths in the southern states during the Civil War. And here’s this man denying this. And I’d think, why would he say such a strange thing? And I think it was just to make me out to be – you know, I’m spreading falsehoods because I’m just an economist, he’s the expert. And that’s how some of the Lincoln people have behaved.
Crossroads Comments: Given DiLorenzo’s inability to identify his protagonist, who’s a “well known” Lincoln scholar but much less “well known” than Gabor Boritt, long identified with the Lincoln Prize, one is not quite sure what to make of the rest of this statement. Apparently it’s noteworthy to DiLorenzo that the exchange took place in Richmond. What I do know is that given DiLorenzo’s incorrect portrayal of the work of other historians, I would not take his description of this exchange at face value, especially given how vague and somewhat confused it is.
To recognize civilian death and suffering is one thing: to portray Union soldiers as killing large numbers of noncombatants (civilians) and then to charge Lincoln with responsibility for that stretches the imagination. Again, the Confederacy is simply invisible in DiLorenzo’s view of events. For example, why did Confederate commanders put civilian populations at risk when they defended cities such as Fredericksburg, Vicksburg and Atlanta? That suggests they were willing to use their own people as shields. And yet we’d have to pursue that line of argument if we were to accept DiLorenzo’s assertions.
We’ve already documented some of DiLorenzo’s misstatements. Should we call them falsehoods? And should we follow him by pondering what motivates him to offer these falsehoods while presenting himself as the voice of truth? That’s why there’s a comments section.