Thomas DiLorenzo

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Thomas DiLorenzo
Thomas DiLorenzo by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Thomas DiLorenzo at CPAC in February 2010.
Born (1954-08-08) August 8, 1954 (age 62)
Nationality United States
Field Economic history, American history, Abraham Lincoln
School or
Austrian School
Influences Henry Hazlitt, John T. Flynn[1]

Thomas James DiLorenzo (born August 8, 1954) is an American economics professor at Loyola University Maryland Sellinger School of Business.[2] He identifies himself as an adherent of the Austrian School of economics.[3] He is a research fellow at The Independent Institute,[4] a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute,[5] Board of Advisors member at CFACT,[6] a member of the Mont Pelerin Society,[7] and an associate of the Abbeville Institute.[8] He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Virginia Tech.[2]

Life and work[edit]

Thomas James DiLorenzo grew up in western Pennsylvania, descended from Italian immigrants. In an autobiographical essay he attributes his early commitment to individualism to "playing competitive sports." His view of politicians in the small western cities of the state was that they were in it for personal aggrandizement.[9] He thought his family and neighbors worked hard and perceived other people getting advantages from the government. As a youth in the 1960s, he began to think that the "government was busy destroying the work ethic, the family, and the criminal justice system."[9] Although too young to worry about the Vietnam War draft, he concluded that other young men turned themselves inside out to avoid it, or came back silenced by what they had done and seen. These conclusions led him to the opinion that politics were “evil”.[9]

DiLorenzo began to study libertarianism in college, which he says helped him gain perspective on his developing ideas.[9] He has a B.A. in economics from Westminster College in Pennsylvania.[10] He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Virginia Tech.[2]

DiLorenzo has taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo,[11][12] George Mason University.[13] and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.[14]

He is a former adjunct fellow of the Center for the Study of American Business at Washington University in St. Louis[11][15] Since 1992, he has been a professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland Sellinger School of Business.[11]

DiLorenzo is a frequent speaker at von Mises Institute events, and offers several online courses on political subjects on the Mises Academy platform.[5] He also writes for the blog,[16]


DiLorenzo writes about what he calls "the myth of Lincoln" in American history and politics. He has said, "[President] Lincoln is on record time after time rejecting the idea of racial equality. But whenever anyone brings this up, the Lincoln partisans go to the extreme to smear the bearer of bad news."[17] Unbundling the issues of racial equality and slavery nineteen months before his election to the Presidency, Lincoln stated, "This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."[18] DiLorenzo has also spoken out in favor of the secession of the Confederate States of America, defending the right of these states to secede.[19]


DiLorenzo's book, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War is a critical biography published in 2002.[20] In a review published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, David Gordon described DiLorenzo's thesis: Lincoln was a "white supremacist" with no principled interest in abolishing slavery, and believed in a strong central government that imposed high tariffs and a nationalized banking system. He attributes the South's secession to Lincoln's economic policies rather than a desire to preserve slavery. Gordon quotes DiLorenzo: "slavery was already in sharp decline in the border states and the upper South generally, mostly for economic reasons".[21] While this was true, in the Deep South slavery was profitable and an integral part of both the agricultural and industrial economy, as slaves worked in factories, in shipping, as artisans and skilled workers, in addition to field labor. The slave markets and associated businesses had made New Orleans the 4th-largest city in the nation and the wealthiest by 1840[citation needed].

Writing for The Daily Beast, Rich Lowry described DiLorenzo's technique in this book as the following: "His scholarship, such as it is, consists of rummaging through the record for anything he can find to damn Lincoln, stripping it of any nuance or context, and piling on pejorative adjectives. In DiLorenzo, the Lincoln-haters have found a champion with the judiciousness and the temperament they deserve."[22]

Reviewing for The Independent Review, a think tank associated with DiLorenzo, Richard M. Gamble described the book "travesty of historical method and documentation". He said the book was plagued by a "labyrinth of [historical and grammatical] errors", and concluded that DiLorenzo has "earned the ... ridicule of his critics."[23] In his review for the Claremont Institute, Ken Masugi writes that "DiLorenzo adopts as his own the fundamental mistake of leftist multi-culturalist historians: confusing the issue of race with the much more fundamental one, which was slavery." He noted that in Illinois "the anti-slavery forces actually joined with racists to keep their state free of slavery, and also free of blacks." Masugi called DiLorenzo's work "shabby" and stated that DiLorenzo's treatment of Lincoln was "feckless" and that the book is "truly awful".[24][25] In 2002, DiLorenzo debated Claremont Institute fellow professor Harry V. Jaffa on the merits of Abraham Lincoln's statesmanship before and during the Civil War.[26]

DiLorenzo's book, Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe (2007), continues his explorations begun in The Real Lincoln.[27] In a review, David Gordon stated that DiLorenzo's thesis in the 2007 volume was that Lincoln opposed the extension of slavery to new states because black labor would compete with white labor; that Lincoln hoped that all blacks would eventually be deported to Africa in order that white laborers could have more work. According to Gordon, DiLorenzo states that Lincoln supported emancipation of slaves only as a wartime expedient to help defeat the South.[28]

Reviews in The Washington Post and Publishers Weekly both stated that the book seemed directed at unnamed scholars who had praised Lincoln's contributions. Justin Ewers criticized DiLorenzo, saying this book "is more of a diatribe against a mostly unnamed group of Lincoln scholars than a real historical analysis. His wild assertions – for example, that Lincoln held 'lifelong white supremacist views' – don't help his argument."[29] Publishers Weekly described this as a "screed," in which DiLorenzo "charges that most scholars of the Civil War are part of a 'Lincoln cult';" he particularly attacks scholar Eric Foner, characterizing him and other as "cover-up artists" and "propagandists."[30]

In a 2009 review of three newly published books on Lincoln, historian Brian Dirck linked the earlier work of Thomas DiLorenzo with that of Lerone Bennett, another critic of Lincoln. He wrote that "Few Civil War scholars take Bennett and DiLorenzo seriously, pointing to their narrow political agenda and faulty research."[31]

For a detailed critique of DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln," see the extensive comments by Howard Killion (Ph.D., History, Duke U.) in Wikipedia's article "The Real Lincoln." Highlights include:

Since the first 7 Confederate states seceded before Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, the Declaration of Independence grounds of "destructive" acts by Lincoln's government claimed by DiLorenzo to legitimize their secession do not apply. This in turn casts a big shadow on using the Declaration to legitimize the secession of the other 4 states in the next few months as well. DiLorenzo’s lengthy cataloging of Lincoln’s alleged sins against the virtuous 11 states of the Confederacy are irrelevant to this issue.

As an example of contrast, the genuinely scholarly study, "A. Lincoln: A Biography," by Ronald C. White, Jr., relies on the diaries of Lincoln’s cabinet members, words of other eyewitnesses, and Lincoln’s own writings, including personal writings to himself. So it is not surprising that DiLorenzo’s account is written from the outside and from the perspective of Lincoln’s enemies while White’s account is written from the inside, from the inner workings of Lincoln’s mind and from his colleagues. After reading White’s account it’s difficult to see the Emancipation Proclamation as the product of a calloused, calculating, power-hungry politician, as DiLorenzo tries to depict. Moreover, how could DiLorenzo fail to mention black abolitionist and editor Frederick Douglass’ enthusiastic reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation and Lincoln’s partnership with him in raising black troops for the Union army? A provision in the Proclamation explicitly authorized the raising of such troops. [White, pp. 540–44, 582] Indeed, Douglass’ name does not appear anywhere in DiLorenzo's book, a fact that puts a “you’ve got to be kidding” stamp on DiLorenzo’s pretense to be an objective, legitimate scholar committed to revealing the "real Lincoln," including his attitude toward slavery and black people.

DiLorenzo's entire book rests on his assertion that the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and U.S. Constitution all grant or leave to the states essential sovereignty, including the power of unilateral secession. [pp. 292–93] See above for why the Declaration is irrelevant. While the Articles of Confederation did indeed recognize the states as individually sovereign, the Constitution was written expressly to address the weak central authority under the Articles. The language of the Preamble to the Constitution makes clear that something new is replacing the old. Articles V and VI show that after ratification the states are no longer sovereign. For example, Article VI, under the title "Supremacy of the national government," declares that "This Constitution...shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges IN EVERY STATE shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of ANY STATE to the contrary notwithstanding." In addition, "The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the MEMBERS OF THE SEVERAL STATE LEGISLATURES, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States AND OF THE SEVERAL STATES, SHALL BE BOUND by oath or affirmation, TO SUPPORT THIS CONSTITUTION...." [emphasis by HK] The Federalist Papers and the anti-Federalists all recognized that ratification entailed the permanent loss of a state's sovereignty.

So we see that DiLorenzo has no factual justification to dismiss Lincoln’s articulated commitment to preserve the Union as groundless and evidence of evil intent and “a hidden agenda.” [See DiLorenzo’s Ch. 4.] Therefore, we must recognize, as DiLorenzo chooses not to do, that: 1) Lincoln’s commitment as President of the United States to preserve the Union was legitimate and preeminent; 2) Preserving the Union was inseparable from the divisive issue of slavery—why else did most of the seceding states leave after Lincoln was elected but before he had lifted a presidential finger? 3) Political, strategic, and military considerations were essential and valid as grounds for presidential conduct, including Lincoln’s successful care in keeping the vital border states—DE, MD, KY, and MO—from leaving the Union and joining forces with the Confederacy, which would have, among other things, isolated Washington D.C. in a sea of Confederate gray. This is why Lincoln waited to issue the Emancipation Proclamation until after the Antietam victory; and why the Proclamation was aimed at Confederacy slavery, not border-state slavery.

Howard Killion concludes: Of all the troubling aspects of DiLorenzo’s book, the one that bothers me the most is the blithe way in which he faults Lincoln for not letting the wayward South go. This shows an extremely cavalier attitude toward our country and an appalling ignorance of what the Founders worked so hard to create and pass on to us. [See the Library of Congress’ documentary exhibit, “Religion and the Founding of the American Republic,”]. It also demonstrates DiLorenzo’s hypocrisy about slavery. He falsely accuses Lincoln of indifference toward this evil practice—read the full texts of Lincoln's "House Divided" speech and his half of the Ottawa Lincoln-Douglas debate, and compare them to DiLorenzo's abbreviated misrepresentation of the latter and omission of the former [pp. 11–12]--but produces not a qualm when he [DiLorenzo] alleges that the Southern states not only had the right to establish a new country based on slavery, but bemoans the fact that Lincoln didn’t let them do it. [See the National Parks website for the texts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.] While living the good life as a high-ranking professor at a well-known American university, Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo appears clueless about what Lincoln meant when he proclaimed in his 1862 message to Congress that America is “the last best hope of earth.” There's something fundamentally small and mean about DiLorenzo's book.

Controversy over League of the South involvement[edit]

Controversy arose in 2011 when DiLorenzo testified before the House Financial Services Committee at the request of former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul. During the hearing, Congressman Lacy Clay criticized DiLorenzo for his associations with the League of the South, which Clay described as a "neo-Confederate group".[32] In Reuters and Baltimore Sun articles about the hearing, a Southern Poverty Law Center story about DiLorenzo's connection with the League was mentioned.[33][34] Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote about Clay's remarks and he said the League of the South was listing DiLorenzo on its Web site as an 'affiliated scholar' as recently as 2008.[35][36]

DiLorenzo denied any affiliation with the group, telling a Baltimore Sun reporter that "I don't endorse what they say and do any more than I endorse what Congress says and does because I spoke at a hearing on Wednesday." An investigation was subsequently conducted by his employer.[37][needs update] In a column, he described his association with the League as limited to "a few lectures on the economics of the Civil War" he gave to The League of the South Institute about thirteen years ago.[38] In a 2005 article, DiLorenzo endorsed the League's social and political views, stating that it "advocates peace and prosperity in the tradition of a George Washington or a Thomas Jefferson".[39][improper synthesis?]


DiLorenzo has authored several books, including:[40]


  1. ^ Thomas DiLorenzo, The New Deal Debunked (again), Mises Daily, September 27, 2004.
  2. ^ a b c Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola University Maryland Faculty Directory and Sellinger School of Business school staff profile of Thomas DiLorenzo, accessed November 22, 2013.
  3. ^ Interview with Thomas DiLorenzo at Ludwig von Mises Institute website, August 16, 2010.
  4. ^ Thomas DeLorenzo profile at The Independent Institute website, accessed November 22, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Thomas DiLorenzo profile, at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website, accessed November 22, 2013.
  6. ^ Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow Board of Advisors
  7. ^ "Mont Pelerin Society Directory" (PDF). DeSmogBlog. Retrieved 28 Jan 2014. 
  8. ^ Abbeville Institute associates list, accessed November 22, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d DiLorenzo, Thomas, "The Evil of Politics",, 25 December 2002.
  10. ^ Anthony Wile, "Interview with Thomas James DiLorenzo on Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Authoritarianism and Manipulated History", The Daily Bell, 16 May 2010, published by High Alert Capital Partners.
  11. ^ a b c Thomas J. Dilorenzo profile, Contemporary Authors, January 1, 2005, via Highbeam.
  12. ^ Thomas J. DiLorenoz, Book Review : The Public's Business: The Politics and Practices of Government Corporations, Public Finance Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 1, January 1981, 117–19
  13. ^ James T. Bennett and Thomas J. DiLorenzo, "Poverty, Politics, and Jurisprudence: Illegalities at the Legal Services Corporation", Policy Analysis No. 49, Cato Institute, February 26, 1985.
  14. ^ Thomas J. DiLorenzo, "The subjectivist roots of James Buchanan's economics", The Review of Austrian Economics, Volume 4, Issue 1, 1990, pp. 180–95.
  15. ^ Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Suburban Legends: Why "Smart Growth" Is Not So Smart, Washington University in St. Louis Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy, “Contemporary Issues”, Series 97, November 1999.
  16. ^ Archive of DiLorenzo commentary for
  17. ^ Thomas DiLorenzo, "Confronting the Lincoln Cult,", Mises Daily, 3 June 2002]
  18. ^ Abraham Lincoln Online: Speeches and Writing. "Letter to Henry L. Pierce and others". Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  19. ^ Thomas DiLorenzo, "An Abolitionist Defends the South,",, October 20, 2004].
  20. ^ Thomas DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Random House LLC, 2002, ISBN 9780307559388.
  21. ^ David Gordon review of Thomas J. DiLorenzo, "The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War", The Mises Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, February 2002.
  22. ^ "The Rancid Abraham Lincoln-Haters of the Libertarian Right", The Daily Beast, 17 June 2013
  23. ^ Gamble, Richard M. "The Real Lincoln: Book review" The Independent Review [1].
  24. ^ Masugi, Ken. "The Unreal Lincoln". Claremont Institute. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  25. ^ Ken Masugi is an academic in the fields of American history and multiculturalism at Johns Hopkins University and the Claremont Institute. See: "Ken Masugi Faculty bio". Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  26. ^ Harry V. Jaffa; Thomas J. DiLorenzo (May 7, 2002). "The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate". Events. The Independent Institute. 
  27. ^ Thomas DiLorenzo, Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe, Random House LLC, 2007, ISBN 030749652X
  28. ^ David Gordon review of Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe, Mises Review, Vol. 13, No. 2, February 2007.
  29. ^ Ewers, Justin (January 14, 2007). "Memorializing Lincoln". The Washington Post. 
  30. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Lincoln Unmasked: What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe by Thomas J. DiLorenzo". 2006-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-13. 
  31. ^ Dirck, Brian. Review: "Father Abraham: Lincoln’s Relentless Struggle to End Slavery, and: Act of Justice: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War, and: Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment (review)", Civil War History, September 2009, Vol. 55, No. 3; pp. 382–85
  32. ^ Walker, Childs (February 11, 2011). "Loyola professor faces questions about ties to pro-secession group". The Baltimore Sun.
  33. ^ Sullivan, Andy (February 9, 2011). "Paul calls Fed's Bernanke "cocky" in House hearing." Reuters
  34. ^ Walker, Childs (February 11, 2011). "Loyola professor faces questions about ties to pro-secession group." The Baltimore Sun
  35. ^ Milbank, Dana (February 9, 2011). "Ron Paul's economic Rx: a Southern secessionist". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 
  36. ^ League of the South Institute for the Study of Southern History and Culture at the Wayback Machine (archived October 29, 2007)
  37. ^ Burris, Joe (February 14, 2011). "Loyola investigating whether professor has ties to hate group." The Baltimore Sun
  38. ^ "My Associations with Liars, Bigots, and Murderers",, February 11, 2011
  39. ^ Dilorenzo, Thomas J. (February 25, 2005). "The Dreaded 'S' Word".
  40. ^ Loyola University Maryland, listing of representative publications for Dr. Thomas J. Di Lorenzo

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