Arlington House and the Many Crimes of Abraham Lincoln

By Nathan Barton

This week is the 150th anniversary of the first military burial at what today is Arlington National Cemetery outside the District of Criminals in Virginia.  The site was, in 1863, known as Lee House, the Custis-Lee Plantation, or Arlington House.  It was the home and the plantation (“big farm,” in Southron) of a man well known for his service to his state and nation and opposed to slavery.

His house and land was stolen by the direct order of President “Honest Abe” Lincoln, because Lincoln hated and despised and sought to punish the man who had rejected Lincoln’s offer of command of ALL American (Union) forces, because he believed in his oath to the Constitution that Lincoln had trashed.

Yes, I know that Lincoln committed many more serious crimes than simply stealing the property of a single man (and his family) whose honor made Lincoln look like the cheap Chicago shyster that he was.  A man whose father had devoted his life to liberty and the Republic, and who himself had grown old in the field fighting in defense of his nation and the Constitution, even when the politicians were busy betraying both.

But for sheer sliminess, it is hard to picture something more than this: putting dead, enemy soldiers into the sod of your front lawn, while you are living in a tent trying to keep that enemy from raping and pillaging your home state.  With a bad ticker (which would kill him a mere seven years later).  Robert E. Lee was no perfect paladin, but he came closer to that ideal than 99.9% of military men and leaders.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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5 Responses to Arlington House and the Many Crimes of Abraham Lincoln

  1. Rocketman says:

    Lee was far more of an honest and noble man than his detractors give him credit for. An absolutely outstanding book showing what kind of man he was is unbelievably a “science fiction” novel called “Guns of the South” by the award winning author Harry Turtledove.
    It’s 1864 and Gettysburg has broken the back of the Confederate military. A man with an strange accent comes to Lee with a proposal. He has a unique rifle that he can provide the south with in large qualities along with tons of ammo to quickly end the war. This rifle is quick firing and incredibly deadly. The rifle that the strange speaking man is offering is called the AK-47.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      The victors write the history, as well as enjoy the spoils. But there are many fine books on Lee if one looks for them. The gun is important, no doubt… but without the will to be legitimate self owners, they are not much help in the fight for freedom. A better gun for one side in the war of northern aggression would merely have increased the terrible death toll, most likely. The real problem was the fact that the politicians and bureaucrats of the south were little different than their northern contemporaries. Their only goal was the same: total control of the people and their property. Therefore, it probably doesn’t matter which side “won.” We all lost.


  2. Thomas Knapp says:


    I’m interested in your source for the claim that the place was stolen on “direct orders” from Lincoln.

    My understanding is that the house was purchased at public auction in 1864 by the US government, presumably like lots of other property on which Virginians had not paid property tax to the “right” government, but I’ve never heard of any personal involvement on Lincoln’s part there.

    My understanding is also that the use of the place as a national cemetery location was decided by Montgomery C. Meigs (the Union army’s quartermaster general) in consultation with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Once again, I’ve never heard of any personal interest on Lincoln’s part in the matter.

    It’s an interesting story if true, and I’d like to read more on it.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      It will be interesting to see what Nathan says here.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      This from Nathan:
      Sorry for delaying so long in answering your query. I was in the middle of a 2100-mile trip when I got it, and got slammed with e-mails.

      I don’t have a source for the information about Lincoln and the Custis-Lee Mansion, as it is something I was taught and read at least 40 years ago. It may have been in one of Bruce Catton’s histories. I don’t disagree that Meigs and Stanton (both real pieces of work) were the official decision makers, but like many other things (such as appointing the various commanders of the Army of the Potomac, though they were theoretically at least two levels down the chain of command from him) Lincoln had his beard in it. And as I recall, Meigs himself (a former subordinate of Lee, pre-war) admitted it was a matter of spite towards Lee.

      Another thing, the entire plantation had been confiscated to be used as a military headquarters several years earlier, and at least partially looted. I think that the 1864 “decisions” and “auction” were essentially eyewash to make it “legal.” (Shocking! I know.) And certainly in wartime DC or occupied Northern Virginia, it would not have been hard for the auction to have been fixed. And the property tax issue was fabricated, as well: it was a blatant attempt by the FedGov to force surrender or allow for confiscation, because (as I recall) the property tax had to be paid IN PERSON – a federal law which is quite interesting, since the FedGov normally has NOTHING to do with property taxes.
      I do recall that my father, who is a historian, confirmed that, based on his own research (although his specialties were the Second World War and the Indian Wars), and though he (though Texan-born of Anglo-Texan and Comanche/Apache roots) was a strong supporter of Lincoln and of the North. (I am, of course, neither.) He considered it REL’s just desserts for “betraying” the Union.


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