The Myth of Lincoln and Marx

This page was last updated on August 15, 2017.

Though lefties tend to despise the United States, they are not averse to linking themselves to figures they can’t successfully bash.  President Abraham Lincoln is one of those figures.  That’s how we get lefties falsely claiming Mr. Lincoln and Karl Marx (KM) were pen pals.  Below are a few examples.

Back in 2012, local/national agitprop Carl Davidson (KD) provided some comments in the discussion thread for the letter-to-the-editor entitled “Democrats to blame.”  Here’s an excerpt from one of KD’s comments (Jan 15, 2012 7:15am):

“By the way, Karl Marx corresponded with Lincoln on that battle, lending his support, and had some American Marxists of the day serve in the Union Army as both soldiers and officers.”

Later in 2012, an piece read,

“[President Lincoln] was also friendlier to workers than most presidents, an affinity noted by Karl Marx, who exchanged letters with Lincoln leading up to and during the Civil War. (You won’t see the GOP acknowledging that!)”

In a 2017 discussion thread on KD’s Facebook page, Bruce Bostwick (BB) wrote,

“I agree w your sentiments, but do not agree w the chacterisation [sic] of Lincoln.  He was key to ending slavery, marched society fwd, was a friend, who communicated w Marx.”  (Note: BB was replying to Denis Mueller, a leftist and self-described “documentary filmmaker” who previously in the thread asserted “Lincoln was also quite racist.”)

The truth?  There were only two letters and they were exchanged near the Civil War’s end shortly after President Lincoln’s 1864 reelection.  Further, they were not personal letters between President Lincoln and KM.

The first letter (referred to as an “address”), to President Lincoln, was from the “International Working Men’s Association” (IWMA), not KM.  In his role as Corresponding Secretary for Germany, KM allegedly wrote the letter for the IWMA.  Fifty-eight IWMA members signed the letter, including KM.

Note I wrote “KM allegedly wrote the letter.”  That’s because the minutes of the two relevant IWMA meetings do not identify the author.  First, KM neither proposed nor seconded the proposal to prepare “an address of congratulation on the re-election of Mr. Lincoln,” though as an attendee he would have been part of the unanimous approval of the proposal.  Second, the proposal assigned the task to an unidentified “Sub-Committee,” not an explicit author.  Third, the minutes for the following meeting say, “Dr. Marx then brought up the report of the Sub-Committee, also a draft of the address which had been drawn up …”  Again, the minutes don’t identify the author.

The second letter was the U.S. response to the IMWA.  That letter was neither from nor written by President Lincoln.  That letter was from and signed by our British Ambassador, Charles Francis Adams.

As noted above, KD wrote, “Karl Marx corresponded with Lincoln … and had some American Marxists of the day serve in the Union Army.”  At first read, it appears KD claims KM directed “some American Marxists of the day [to] serve in the Union Army …”  It’s possible KD simply meant some Marxists served in the Union Army but were not told to do so.  Humans being what we are, I would be surprised if no Marxists served in the Confederate Army. 

© 2004-2017 Robert W. Cox, all rights reserved.