Was Lincoln anti-freedom? See free debate Tuesday in Boise

Loyola University Professor Thomas DiLorenzo, who argues martyred President Abraham Lincoln trashed the sovereignty of the Confederate states, will debate former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. Gov. David Leroy at the Morrison Center on Tuesday at 8 p.m.

The event is free and sponsored by the Ralph Smeed Foundation. Smeed, a beloved libertarian bachelor curmudgeon from Caldwell died in 2010. (Smeed would have welcomed the event, though I wonder what he’d say about paying rent to a government-owned auditorium rather than holding at his cherished College of Idaho.)

The debate looks to be entertaining. DiLorenzo is a professor of economics at Loyola of Maryland, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and an associated scholar of the Abbeville Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Virginia Tech. He is the author of “The Real Lincoln” and “Lincoln Unmasked.”

Leroy is an amateur Lincoln scholar who, along with his wife, Nancy, has amassed a trove of Lincolnia so extensive the Idaho State Historical Society will open a permanent exhibit of the collection in November.

Austin Hill, a reporter for the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s IdahoReporter.com, will moderate.

Among those touting DiLorenzo’s revisionist history are Dan Symms, a Freedom Foundation director and the son for former U.S. Rep. and Sen. Steve Symms, a veteran of countless Idaho GOP “Lincoln Day” dinners honoring the first Republican president.

In a letter to the editor in Friday’s Statesman, Dan Symms wrote:

“DiLorenzo’s books note that every other western nation was able to abolish slavery without war. Lincoln’s imposition of punishing trade restrictions (the tariff) and invasion of the southern states resulted in over 600,000 American deaths. It also gave birth to the modern, omnipotent federal government.

“President Lincoln clearly demonstrated his view that the individual states were not sovereign, but rather were administrative provinces of an all-powerful central government. Those states that disagreed with his view were invaded and conquered.”

Here’s the notice for the event:

The Great Debate

Lincoln: Friend or Foe of Freedom?

Was Abraham Lincoln a Friend of Foe of Freedom? You’ll have your chance to hear both sides of the argument on Tuesday, September 10th at the Morrison Center in Boise! Idaho’s own Lincoln expert David Leroy and noted Lincoln scholar and critic Thomas DiLorenzo will present their opinions about Abraham Lincoln and whether he was actually a friend or foe of Freedom. This educational discussion is sponsored by the non-profit Ralph Smeed Foundation, and there will be no charge for admission. The debate begins at 8:00 PM on Tuesday, September 10th at Boise’s beautiful Morrison Center and will be moderated by Idaho morning talk show host Austin Hill.

Complete details are available at www.LincolnDebate.com and any questions or comments should be directed to info@lincolndebate.com.




Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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