David Barton Just Can't Stop Using Dubious Quotes

The allure of attributing ideologically friendly quotes to popular historical figures must be so great for David Barton that it is like an addiction. If that’s true, Barton needs a support group.
On his Wallbuilders Facebook page, Barton again uses a quote oft attributed incorrectly to Abraham Lincoln.

As I have noted in the past, this quote can’t be found in Lincoln’s works or speeches. Barton has attributed it to Lincoln before, and he has contested it before. This time he labels the quote with the phrase  “attributed to Abraham Lincoln.”
I don’t think it helps to pass the buck and say the quote was attributed to Lincoln. Who did that? What is the source of the quote? Barton constantly faults academic historians with revisionism and failure to use primary sources, but a case can be made that he is the biggest offender. In fact, that is why I point this out. His complaints about academic historians ring very hollow when he does exactly what he accuses them of doing.
If he likes the quote, why not just use it and tag it with anonymous or unknown? The only reason I can think of is that it wouldn’t have as much impact on readers. However, isn’t that misleading?

David Barton Criticizes Public Schools Then Incorrectly Links Quote to Lincoln

You can’t make this up.
Writing for OneNewsNow today, David Barton claimed to know the thinking behind the protestors who descended on Washington DC during the inauguration weekend. Without providing any polling or even anecdotal evidence, he said the protestors were unaware of the reasons why a candidate for president could win the popular vote but lose the election. He said the protestors were unaware that America is not a pure democracy. Somehow, Barton knows the views of all those protestors.

The protestors believe that only the national popular vote matters (which Hillary won – barely). But even though she garnered the votes of most of the largest cities in America, she did not win the majority of the states, cities, or counties. In fact, Trump won 30 of the 50 states, more than 80 percent of America’s 3,141 counties, and an equally lop-sided percentage of its 35,000 cities. The protestors were unaware (as are most Americans) that the Constitution establishes an election system that balances diverse measurements. Shame on schools for not teaching the Constitution.

How does he know this? Because some of the protestors carried signs saying, “Trump is not my president.” Of course, legally Trump is the POTUS. However, I suspect many of the protestors know that but had a different meaning in mind. They don’t believe Trump represents their beliefs and values, or that he is someone they can be proud to call president. Thank God for the freedom to protest and express one’s views.
After ranting and mind reading a little more, Barton pronounces more shame on the schools.

Shame on schools for teaching students to elevate personal opinion above absolute facts.

Speaking of facts, I cannot help but point out that Barton ends his article with a quote that cannot be found in Lincoln’s writings. This is a quote Barton himself once said couldn’t be confirmed.

It’s time that Americans demand that their schools once again teach American history (so students know that the popular vote winner does not always win the presidential election), American government (so they know we are a republic and not a democracy), the Constitution (so they understand our bicameral federal and election system), and absolute truth (that personal opinion must submit to truth and reality). If we don’t make these changes, we will not want to imagine, much less experience, the horrifying results from Abraham Lincoln’s warning that “the philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” (emphasis added)

After awhile of looking for this quote in Lincoln’s works, I got that familiar feeling that this was a misattributed quote. Indeed, I can’t find it in any Lincoln source or in any reputable source about Lincoln. I could find no instance of the quote with a citation of anything Lincoln said or wrote.
So after shaming schools for questionable sins, Barton blatantly commits an actual one.
Who should we blame, Mr. Barton or his schools?

Conference on Faith and History: Allen Guelzo on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Christian Historians and PublicsLast night I attended the opening address of the Conference on Faith and History with the keynote speech provided by Civil War historian Allen Guelzo. Guelzo gave an excellent talk on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. He noted several misconceptions (for instance, Lincoln did not write the speech on the way to the ceremony honoring the dead at Gettysburg) and noted the inspiration for the content of Lincoln’s remarks. He presented numerous points but here are a few:
 

  • The Gettysburg address is almost “anorexic” in verbal expression with so much packed into 272 words.
  • The address marked the transition from classical speech in American politics to “middling” speech which was a more common form of oration.
  • Lincoln clearly declared the importance of those who died at Gettysburg as the guardians of democratic principles worth dying for. Democratic ideals survived at Gettysburg even as many soldiers did not.
  • We would not remember the elegance or importance of the address if the North had lost the war. If the South had won, the North might have faded into a “Scandinavian irrelevance.”
  • In his second inaugural address, Lincoln delivered a speech which recognized that the North and South had their “hands in the toilet over slavery.” Noting that Lincoln asserted that God’s judgment had been delivered on both sides, Guelzo referred to the end of Lincoln’s address:

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Guelzo’s speech was worth the price of admission and was a wonderful beginning to the conference.