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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/3807/largest-mass-execution-in-american-history/

Largest Mass Execution in American History

July 11, 2005 by

I was particularly moved by this passage from Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln (also available from Amazon.com), reviewed here by David Gordon. DiLorenzo is one of the few people to take an honest look at Lincoln, instead of treating him like a saint and making excuses for his atrocities. This passage is from the chapter, Was Lincoln a Dictator?

In 1861 the Santee Sioux Indians in Minnesota sold 24 million acres of
land to the federal government for $1,410,000. By August 1862 thousands
of white settlers were pouring onto the Indian lands, but there was such
corruption in the government that almost none of the money was paid to
the Sioux. A crop failure that year meant the Sioux were starving. The
federal government refused to pay what it owed, breaking yet another
Indian treaty, and the Sioux revolted. A short “war” ensued, with
Lincoln putting General John Pope in charge. Pope told a subordinate,
“It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux…They are to be
treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom
treaties or compromises can be made.”

The Indians were overwhelmed by the Federal army by October, at which
time the “war” was over and General Pope held hundreds of “prisoners of
war,” many of whom were women and children who had been herded into
military forts. Military “trials” were held, each lasting ten to fifteen
minutes, in which most of the male prisoners were found guilty and
sentenced to death. The lack of hard evidence against the accused was
manifest; many men were condemned to death just because they were
present during a battle.

Three hundred and three Indians were sentenced to death, and Minnesota
political authorities wanted to execute every one of them, something
that Lincoln feared might incite one or more of the European powers to
offer assistance to the Confederacy, as they were hinting they would do.
So his administration pared the list of condemned men down to
thirty-nine, with the promise to Minnesota’s politicians that in due
course the Federal army would remove every last Indian from Minnesota.
This was the bargain: Lincoln would look bad if he allowed the
execution of three hundred Indians, so he would execute only thirty-nine
of them. But in return he would promise to have the Federal army murder
or chase out of the state all the other Indians, in addition to sending
the Minnesota treasures $2 million.

On December 26, 1862, Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in
American history — and yet the guilt of the executed could not be
positively determined beyond reasonable doubt.

For those interested, there are MP3-formatted lectures on Lincoln given by Prof. DiLorenzo and Prof. Denson on Mises Media, under the section Reassessing the Presidency series:

Also of interest may be an James Ostrowski’s DiLorenzo and His Critics on the Lincoln Myth, which summarizes DiLorenzo’s charges against Lincoln, and responds to some erroneous criticisms.


Roderick T. Long July 11, 2005 at 12:35 pm

The italics are committing imperialist aggression! An un-italicize command is needed after the indented quote.

Charles Hueter July 11, 2005 at 2:12 pm

On December 26, 1982, Lincoln ordered the largest mass execuation in American history…

Geez, who knew Lincoln was so powerful he could reach across time and strike in the early ’80s? :)

This is something of which I was utterly unaware. Did he really have the 39 killed after the trial and then have the other 270 chased out/murdered afterwards in a general Indian purge…or are the 39 the group that constitute the execution? The exerpt doesn’t make that quite clear.

curiousgeorge July 11, 2005 at 2:36 pm

Chilling account. Two typos that I could see. 1. Eighth word of the first sentance of the second paragraph of the cited passage should be ‘army’ instead of ‘amry’. 2. The date in the beginning of the last paragraph of the cited passage should be ’1862′ not ’1962′

Alain July 11, 2005 at 2:40 pm

Spelling errors aside, I highly recommned THE REAL LINCOLN. This should be required reading in every public school. The whole book is an eye opener, so much so that whenever I have a $5 bill in my wallet, I immediately exchange it for other denominations.

Paul Edwards July 11, 2005 at 2:41 pm

Holy mackerel, Charles! Was that sarcasm? That’s a lot of mileage for such a typo. But when picking on one typo (1962), you manage to turn it into another (1982). That is also funny.

David J. Heinrich July 11, 2005 at 3:41 pm

My apologies for the typos. I’d thought I’d stamped them all out with spellcheck. Lesson: don’t trust MS Word.

Anonymous Coward August 18, 2005 at 5:32 am
Peter August 20, 2005 at 12:49 am

This guy (Peter Cresswell) really needs a few good whacks with a cluestick. FWIW, the LibertariaNZ (http://www.libertarianz.org.nz) seem to be just Randians.

Peter Cresswell (Not PC) August 20, 2005 at 4:25 am

Thanks Peter and Coward. Your eloquence is enviable.

Anonymous Coward August 20, 2005 at 6:16 am
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