Did Abraham Lincoln really exist? It is a hard question to answer, but an important one. Millions if not billions of people believe in His existence, but that doesn’t mean they are right. As Richard Dawkins has wisely said, “The question is not “How many millions believe it?”… But “Is it TRUE? The question is not “Is your belief entitled to respect?” but “Is it TRUE?”
The implications of Lincoln’s existence are potentially profound for how we understand American history, the nature of slavery, and whether or not America should remain as one country, or divide again into North and South.
So today I’d like to draw your attention to a new group. We call ourselves “the aLincolnists” and I am proud to be associated with these freethinking, rational skeptics. We’ve taken our inspiration from the most impressive thinkers of our time: the New Atheists.
Having carefully studied the works of Richard Dawkins, John Loftus, Sam Harris, Richard Carrier, Daniel Dennett, P.Z. Myers, and Christopher Hitchens, we are utilizing their brilliant insights into the study of religion to break ground in new academic disciplines. For far, far too long these formidable scholars have been ignored, disrespected, and unfairly boxed into the narrow study of musty old religions. But it is our conviction that their paradigm-busting scholarship should lead us to new discoveries in other fields!
The time has come. Let’s admit it: Belief in Abraham Lincoln is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. So it is critical that all reason-loving skeptics finally acknowledge that Abraham Lincoln never existed.
Here are some of the arguments that have been carefully developed and are now being shared around the world at the current Center for A-Lincolnism Studies (Facebook, one of the world’s most respected and highly valued companies). This page will be updated as new scholarship is published about the complete lack of evidence for Abraham Lincoln. Please share this groundbreaking research with everyone you know. As even our opponents say, “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
Our starting point, of course, is TIME Magazine, which published an important story on the problems of reconstructing the life of Abraham Lincoln. As David Von Drehle, who graduated from Oxford University with a Masters in Literature as a Marshall Scholar states,
Strange can also mean unfamiliar, alien. This too is Lincoln, who never quite fit in. The youthful Lincoln was a rawboned genius on an uncomprehending frontier. As President, he was a self-taught rustic surrounded by the polished burghers of Eastern society. Magnetic, keenly sensitive, often able to understand others better than they understood themselves, Lincoln was nevertheless profoundly isolated. Perhaps the early deaths of his mother and sister steeped him in sorrow so thoroughly that he learned to prefer loneliness to intimacy. He “never had a confidant,” his law partner William Herndon wrote. “He was the most reticent and mostly secretive man that ever existed.”
Did you catch that? The most reticent and mostly secretive man that ever existed. Makes you wonder: did he really exist at all?
Drehle continues with research from one of Lincoln’s earliest biographers, J.G. Holland:
Despite interviewing dozens of Lincoln’s associates in the months after his death, J.G. Holland, an early biographer, found himself stumped. “There are not two who agree in their estimate of him,” he wrote. One would say “he was a very ambitious man”; another would assert “that he was without a particle of ambition.” People said that “he was one of the saddest men that ever lived, and that he was one of the jolliest men that ever lived … that he was a man of indomitable will, and that he was a man almost without a will; that he was a tyrant, and that he was the softest-hearted, most brotherly man that ever lived.” The real Lincoln, Holland concluded, was the sum of his contradictions.”
Do the math. As one of the aLincolnist mathematicians has astutely pointed out, 1 + -1 = 0. If even early sources for Lincoln can do no better than “he was the sum of his contradictions,” well, think for yourself!
Our cause is not without merit. One prominent Lincolnist has stubbornly continued to disagree with the well-supported claims at our research center, but even he has come to admit:
Well it’s very clear neither of us will yield to the other so I think we should just agree to disagree. You have the right to believe what you will. And while I respectfully disagree with it it isn’t my place to say your [sic] wrong…I am one who believes to live and let live.
So even if you personally don’t have the courage to deny Lincoln’s existence, I hope you will be a good kind of Lincolnist, one who is tolerant and accepting of other viewpoints.
With this introduction out of the way, please join with me in considering some of the best thinking, carefully taken from the strongest New Atheist scholarship (gathered by our international team of scholars), to shed light on the non-existence of “Abraham Lincoln”:
Further A-Lincolnist Research Insights:
You have to remember that presidential claims require presidential evidence.
Parallels to the “Abraham Lincoln” story:
“The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Lincolnism does not worry me in the least should suggest to you just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Lincolnist are.” – Ham Sarris
Lincoln is just a fictional character written by deluded Industrial Age men. Why should I believe the claims of Industrial Age texts?
Is your intense hatred of aLincolnism, perhaps attributed to an insecurity you have with your own Lincoln beliefs and ideals?
When confronted with the facts, Lincolnists always avoid the argument.
“Tell a devout Lincolnist that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the books he keeps by his bed was written by a bearded self educated state lawyer who single handedly emancipated slaves in 19th century southern America and he seems to require no evidence what so ever.” ~ Ham Sarris
The mythic development of the Lincoln story:
“If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: The prior probability of a person being Abraham Lincoln, a man missing a middle name, being a proficient wrestler as a young man, having a famous beard, wearing a famous hat, being an American President, invading the South and abolishing slavery, using ordinary, everyday Bayesian methods, is really, really, really, really small. So small that no matter what you multiply it by, the answer will still be really, really, really, really small. That’s how probability works.” ~ Tryhard Farrier, author of ‘Not the Impossible President.’
The Scandinavian countries have the highest standard of living. And Lincoln plays almost no role in their lives.
Certainly if Lincoln existed, contemporary writers such as Charles Dickens, etc. would have written about such a remarkable man. Many of Dickens writings have survived to this day, and yet none of them mention Abe Lincoln! Why not? Because he never existed!
Given that people have put forward so many different ideas about the figure of Abraham Lincoln I think the most parsimonious and obvious conclusion is that he never existed at all. Define for me your Lincoln before I can tell you whether I believe in your Lincoln or not.
And it doesn’t really seem clear where he’s from, Kentuckians claim him, Illinois’ claim him, c’mon man.
A-Lincolnism is merely a lack of belief in Lincolnism. We cannot know that Lincoln did not exist, as it’s “impossible to prove a negative” (Rames Jandi).
Don’t forget the manuscript variants. There’s 200,000 to 400,000 of them! How can these devout Lincolnists believe such writings of this mythical figure are reliable.
Consider this argument:
- I would need 100% certainty to believe that Lincoln exists.
- It is logically possible that Lincoln never existed.
- Therefore, there is at least some doubt about whether or not Lincoln existed.
- Therefore, it is irrational to believe that Lincoln existed.
Lincolnism is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. — Edward Gibbon
We’re not saying that Lincoln didn’t exist, even if we say that he didn’t. We simply lack Lincoln-belief.
No-one is born believing in Lincoln. Only when people are taught about Lincoln, and usually at a young age, do people become Lincolnists.
And no one actually saw Booth shoot Lincoln. The entire testimony is based on his alleged wife’s statements and clearly she was not unbiased.
We respect your freedom to believe in Lincoln, or Zeus, or Scooby Doo if you’re so inclined. But we are sick and tired of you thinking that you can shove your beliefs, which have no actual evidence, down our throats. Get it out of the classroom, out of congress, and out of … our town!
“Congress, in 1861, claimed to be in dialogue with President Lincoln. If they said that they were talking to President Lincoln through hairdryers, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.” ~ Ham Sarris
Wouldn’t it be more parsimonious to posit a purely natural reason for freedom? Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a personal cause of freedom, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to persons. Calling it “Lincoln” is at best unhelpful and at worst perniciously misleading.
All of those “independent” sources [for Lincoln's existence] are biased, though, because they all believe that Lincoln existed. We would need sources that don’t believe in Lincoln’s existence to have evidence of his existence, which we don’t have.
Science and the existence of Lincoln are incompatible!
Replace ‘Lincoln’ with ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ and your argument is the exact same.
Keep in mind that if you were born in a time and place where this Lincolnist propaganda wasn’t pushed down your throat, you likely wouldn’t be a Lincolnist. Whether or not you are a Lincolnist is a complete accident of your birth.
Lincoln exists… In your imagination. But you can’t just imagine a president into existence (try as you might).
Do you have any scientific evidence for Lincoln’s existence or would you rather keep believing in blind faith? Where is your documented evidence published in peer reviewed scientific journals?
Personally I am an Aglincolnist. Maybe he existed. Maybe he didn’t. If he did exist I’m sure he would understand why I couldn’t fully believe in his existence. He was a good man after all. If he didn’t exist, then our views do not matter. You can’t prove me wrong. But, both sides of the debate seem to be able to prove each other wrong. I’m not wrong, while everyone who holds to the Alincolnist or Lincolnist worldview is.
Often, it takes threats of “Fs” on tests to force certain stubborn children to believe.
Should slaves have been freed because Abe emancipated them? Or did Abe emancipate them because they should have been freed? Euthyphro wins again.
Why do we have to believe that an individual was responsible for the emancipation? Why couldn’t it just have happened? Surely the addition of a human being, who is inherently more complex than the emancipation itself, to explain the emancipation, provides no explanatory value to the issue.
The burden of proof is on the believer.
The beauty of relinquishing our blind commitment to the juvenile belief of Lincoln’s existence, is that we become free to follow the evidence where it leads. It’s ok to not know. That why science is powerful. It finds answers.
All scientific knowledge is provisional. A thing is “proved”; then later the oposite is “proved” (e.g. when I was a kid in the 1950s eggs were good for you, etc). Science therefore contradicts itself. Therefore one cannot rationally believe science. So if science “proves” the existence of Abe today, it may disprove it tomorrow. Ergo, it’s not rational to believe in science, and belief or otherwise in the existence of Abe must remain a result of unfounded faith in a creature of mythological proportions.
The idea that you need to believe in Abraham Lincoln to think that the concept of the emancipation of slaves in the 19th century actually happened and was a good thing, is ludicrous.
Ignorance is assuming without proof.
Beware of the Lincoln of the gaps.
Interesting speculation from a good scholar, but we submit that Lincoln didn’t exist at all. The pertinent point here is that we dismiss the vampire hunter stories as mythical, so why don’t we do the same for the other hero worship stories?
Everyone who wrote about Abe were biased; they already believed Abe existed, so we can’t trust their words. They wanted to create an emancipation movement to free the slaves, so they made up a good, moral leader for their movement who would inspire people. Even though Abe Lincoln inspires people to this day, he never really existed. He’s just a product of wishful thinking.
Some people feel the need to believe in “Abe Lincoln” because it gives them a sense of decency, opposing the evil of slavery. But you can be good without Lincoln! 42 people are so far. Join us!
If there is no Abe Lincoln, “The Great Emancipator,” how was there an emancipation? Well, I should say that the emancipation is just there and that’s all.
There is not a shred of testable scientific evidence for the existence of Abraham Lincoln, but an astonishing 95.73% of American citizens believe that Abraham Lincoln actually existed. Why would anyone believe such a ridiculous idea? Undoubtedly, Lincolnite public school teachers and textbook writers are to blame: they want our money, and they are willing to brainwash and indoctrinate our children to get it.
1. If Abe Lincoln exists, vampires exist.
2. Vampires do not exist.
3. Therefore, Lincoln didn’t exist.
There is so much evidence to doubt his existence. This whole page is devoted to that evidence. For one thing, Lincolnists say he lived in the 1800’s. Were any of us there to see this? No. And for that matter, none of those who claimed to have seen him are alive either. As for the “records” we have of his existence. How do we know they weren’t doctored and changed over time? So many peope want to believe that there was a president who fought for emanicipation. But science shows that it’s much more likely that this happened as a natural part of our evolution rather than the uniqueness of one man. Even if Lincoln did exist (which is highly unlikely), to claim he was president and fought for emanicipation is unfounded. People will say and claim anything to have some kind of hope to cling to, even if it’s false hope.
Lincolnists need to think for themselves. I am glad I deconverted and can now think for myself! You might as well believe in the flying spaghetti Lincoln.
Fundamentalist Lincolnists, like the fundamentalist Alincolnists with whom they match wits, have got the story all wrong. Abe Lincoln exists, but not out there somewhere; he exists in each of us. We create our own Lincoln. We are the Lincolns of our own universe. I heard that on Oprah. Some guy named Deepfried Cobra.
“If Abraham Lincoln didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” – Voltaire
Quantum mechanics proves that you don’t need Lincoln to cause emancipation. Emancipation can emerge from nothing, because nothing is unstable.
The great aLincolnist scholar Rertrand Bussell was once asked what he would say if he found himself standing before Lincoln on President’s Day and Lincoln asked him, “Why didn’t you believe in Me?” Bussell replied, “I would say, ‘Not enough evidence, Abe! Not enough evidence!'”
And don’t even get me started on the whole “Proclamations need proclaimers” line, for who proclaimed the proclaimer?
According to fundamentalist Lincolnites, the first verse of their holy book teaches that “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation.” But only an anti-scientific moron would believe that America was created just 87 years ago.
If we take in our hand any volume; of pro-Lincolnist history, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
As you can clearly see, the development of the Lincoln tradition is evidence of a father complex on behalf of his followers. With each iteration, Lincoln inherits more masculine traits. Clear evidence that Lincoln is nothing more than a psychological crutch for Republicans. It’s no coincidence that Lincoln (assuming he existed) was a Republican as well!
I’m currently writing a book about the Civil War. After looking at an early draft, my editor asked me why I made no mention of Abraham Lincoln? My response? “I had no need of that hypotheses…”
What kind of explanation is “Lincolndidit”?
Isn’t it enough to see that the Emancipation is beautiful without having to believe that Lincoln was at the bottom of it too?
We only go one Lincoln further. Alincolnism.
Abraham Lincoln is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: started a war over a that killed 600,000 people, threw people into cages or just executed them simply for disagreeing with him, started a draft–military slavery, was an ardent racist and proud of it; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
When someone tells you that Abraham Lincoln changed their life, you have to ask, “WHICH Lincoln?” Is it the Lincoln of Sandburg, or of Goodwin, or even such Lincoln popularizers such as Ken Burns. There are just so many Lincolns to choose from. If he actually existed at all, which Lincoln do we believe in?
If there was a historical person call “Abe Lincoln” we have no evidence for his existence. What we have are stories that were told, and retold. The signs of redaction are everywhere. Getting back to the original data before interpolations is a lost cause.
I love it when people are like, “You just haven’t read enough Lincolnistic books to know enough about this.” Like I need to read up on your hero worship mythology! Show me some real evidence and I’ll believe in Lincoln; offer me more mythology and I’ll do something better with my life.
The best thing about A-Lincolnism is that it isn’t even a hobby.
There are plenty of other explanations for the emancipation of slaves than the simplistic explanation that ‘Lincoln did it’. We don’t need your Lincoln-of-the-gaps theory to explain this chapter of history.
You cannot use the Gettysburg Address to prove that Lincolnism is true….that is circular reasoning.
How could a good President command the genocide of innocent Southerners? Lincolnists have a lot to answer here.
America needs Lincoln like a fish needs a bicycle.
Just look at the wars started in the name of President’s! One of the worst examples of carnage was the Civil War started by who? LINCOLNISTS!
A question for you Lincolnites: How can Lincoln be powerful and good AND there be a Civil War? Did he let it happen, but just didn’t care? Or did he care but was unable to prevent it?
It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims to believe in Lincoln, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).
Let me propose what I call the Outsider Test for Presidents: If you were born after the Civil War, you would be a Lincoln supporter right now, say it isn’t so? That is a cold hard fact. Dare you deny it? Since this is so, or at least 99% so, then the proper method to evaluate your presidential beliefs is with a healthy measure of skepticism.
If people were more objective they wouldn’t try so hard to defend the existence of a fake president. You can see the biased, prejudicial passion in everything they say.
Why do we simply write off “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” as a work of apocrypha? How is it we give Sandburg, Goodwin, or McPherson more credibility than Graeme-Smith? Could Lincolnists be suppressing the truth about Lincoln?
Does anyone find it suspicious that sightings of Abraham Lincoln mysteriously stopped occurring not long before video cameras were invented?!
[If there is such great evidence,] hen by all means, let them publish their work in a reputable scientific journal like Science or Nature and collect their Nobel Prize rather than in the Lincolnist-dominated spin-machine that forms the historico-industrial complex…Please provide citations to Nature and or Science papers reproducibly showing “Lincoln” delivering the Gettysburg Address, taking the Oath of Office, and being born in a log cabin.
I used to believe in Lincoln. How could I not when it’s all my parents ever talked about? As I got older I began to realize I only believed he existed because I grew up in a home prone to Lincoln-ness. But when I looked into it myself I realized saying Lincoln is real is like saying Santa Claus is real… it’s a childish belief that needs to be eradicated with maturity.
There are at least half a dozen other, earlier Presidents who rose from poverty to become President. Therefore, the Lincoln myth must simply be the retelling of the Washington myth, the Jackson myth, or the Harrison myth.
I think you mean an intellectually fulfilled ‘A-Lincolnist’. However, I disagree with that term. I am not an ‘A-Lincolnist’ any more than I am an ‘A-unicornist’ or an ‘A-Eskimo-ist’. I am just a rational person who doesn’t believe in myths.
Wake up, sheeple!!
It’s not important whether or not we actually believe in Lincoln; we should use this concept of Lincoln to inspire us to believe in freedom and treat one another better.
It is impossible to use electric light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in presidential myths.
How do I explain the fact that slavery ended in the 19th century? There is an infinite number of universes and we happen to be in the one in which slavery ends in the 19th century.
You think I have to believe in Lincoln to believe that slavery is immoral? Shame on you!
It was all so long ago… how do we know that the alleged “Abe” documents weren’t forged, decades after his supposed presidency by his followers? They obviously had an agenda to propagate this whole farce.
Name me a political statement made or a political action performed by a Lincolnist that could not have been made or performed by a non-Lincolnist.
But now name me a wicked action that could ONLY be performed by a Lincolnist and not by a non-Lincolinist, well, brothers, sisters, comrades, friends, slaves, you don’t even need to blink before you’ve thought of one.
If Abe Lincoln really exists, why does he allow all this slavery in the world?
Some Lincolnists think that by showing us “photos” of their mythical hero, they have somehow produced useful evidence. If that is the case, then we have something which would be slightly alarming for you:
“The longer I have been an Alincolnist, the more amazed I am that I ever believed Lincolnist notions. “[Ban Darker, Losing Faith in Lincoln]
A king once presented a look-alike of Lincoln and asked three blind men to describe Lincoln to him. So one man grabbed the look-alike’s shoe and said “Lincoln is smooth and leathery.” Another man grabbed his hat and said, “No, Lincoln is made of quality velvet.” Finally, the third man grabbed his beard and said, “No, Lincoln is coarse and hairy.” This parable serves to illustrate that everyone has their own subjective notion of what Lincoln is like, and nobody provides a complete and objective description of Lincoln.
Again, another typical Lincolnist trying to derail the issue by talking about religion, yet nowhere on this page have we mentioned anything even related to religion, especially not Christianity. You, like all the other blind-faith Lincolnists, are trying to avoid the fact that you have not a shred of evidence for your mythical bearded industrial age wrestler president.
The existence of doctrinal differences among Lincolnists is further evidence of how false this religion is.
Do statutes of Lincoln prove his existence? Response: There exist great ruins dedicated to figures of myth–Zeus. Apollo. There’s a memorial to Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. I suppose Mickey’s legit? Have you heard of the temple of Horus at Edfu? An Egyptian memorial to the mythical deity Horus? I suppose you believe in Horus as well?
Lincolnists beg the question by assuming the evidence is there. All you know about Lincoln you learned from your parents and teachers, right? What evidence do you have about Lincoln’s existence that YOU personally know about?
Lincolnism is called FAITH because its not KNOWLEDGE. –Ristopher Catchens
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. We don’t need to believe in “Honest Abe” to know how to be honest. Free your mind.
Ghandi’s comments are also worthy of note:
This page will be updated as new research on the non-existence of “Abraham Lincoln” (do we even know his real name?) comes to light.
Also, I hope others will be inspired to demonstrate the non-existence of other, even harder-to-prove figures of history, such as Confucius, Mohammad, Alexander the Great, and Plato. As even Wikipedia says,
It is sometimes hard to discern whether apparently historical figures from the earliest periods did in fact exist, due to the lack of records. Even with more recent personages, stories or anecdotes about the person often accumulate that have no basis in fact. Although the external aspects of a historical figure may be well documented, their inner nature can only be a subject of speculation.
Update: a collection of a-lincolnist art has been created.