Calvin Freiburger

Was Lincoln the Father of Big Government?

Posted on April 12 2010 6:36 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.
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By Allen C. Guelzo

here is a persistent rumor in the ether of talking heads that runs something like this: If we want to know who the “father” of big government in the United States is, point the finger at . . . Abraham Lincoln.

Of course, it has been a long time since Abraham Lincoln was headline news, and most Americans will meet this with little more than a shrug of the shoulders. But there is a certain strain of conservative thinking today (some of it on display at the Conservative Political Action Conference this February) that gets its jollies from wailing that big government has been a slow-growing cancer in American life, so slow in fact that its origins need to be traced back to the 16th president. Sometimes the motivation for this is a neo-Confederate urge to take yet another shot at the man who presided over the loss of the Lost Cause. Sometimes it comes from the satisfaction paleo-conservatives get in beating up their neo-conservative rivals, who are supposed to have given away the conservative store in the Bush years by endorsing big-government solutions under the standard of “compassionate conservatism.”

Whatever the motivation, they’ve got the wrong man in Abraham Lincoln.

Read the rest at National Review Online.

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