Abraham Lincoln and The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
By Richard Ravarino
This is the final part, of a three part series
It was 1861 and Southern cannon fire was falling on Fort Sumter. Seven Southern states had just broke away from the once proud Republic, as conspiring European agents had finally achieved their war in America. This war had nothing to do with slavery.
As North faced south, the Central bankers of Europe waited, smacking their lips to carve up America into a second generation of colonial expansion. France was poised on the Mexican border with over 11,000 troops and the British conspirators were stationed just across the Canadian border with 20,000 troops awaiting invasion orders.
Mr. Lincoln, desperate to keep his union of states ventured to New York to appeal to “patriotic” American bankers for the loans needed to give the “Union” the necessary funds to hold the nation together and prosecute the war against the Southern rogue States.
Mr. Lincoln knew the power of the forces he was up against. Chancellor of Germany, Otto Von Bismarck had told Lincoln in no uncertain terms, ““I know of absolute certainty that the division of the United States into two federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War, by the high financial powers of Europe.”
“These bankers were afraid that the United States, if they remained as one block and were to develop as one nation, would attain economic and financial independence, which would upset the domination of Europe over the world.”
Lincoln already knew of the power of this dark cabal, as European assassins had already failed to stop Lincoln in Baltimore, on the way to his own inauguration, just months ago.
When Lincoln arrived in New York, it was to sullen faces and a marked cold reception from the money trust. They also understood the game at foot and refused to loan their money to Lincoln due to the “high chance of default” as this den of vipers fully expected the nation to crumble. One group of bankers “reluctantly” offered Lincoln the money he was asking for, but at a 36% interest rate.
As Lincoln rode back to Washington, D.C., dejected, he thought back a generation to Old Hickory and his travails against the bankers and his warnings to the people of America in his farewell speech.
President Andrew Jackson has said, “Have designs already been formed to sever the Union? This great and glorious Republic would soon be broken into a multitude of petty States, without commerce, without credit . . . Loaded with taxes to pay armies, trampled upon by the nations of Europe”.
Thoughts of Jackson’s speech, thrust Lincoln’s nose into his history books, upon his return, striving for the answers to the future, in the past.
By the end of summer, 1861, Lincoln had his answer. He would return to the standard of pre-colonial America. . . He would print money based on the full faith and credit of the United States government. Thus was born the greenback, giving Lincoln the money to wage the war and hold his nation together.
The Wonderful Wizard
How a man as obscure to American political history, as L. Frank Baum, comes to bear his role in this dark chapter of American politics takes some explaining. First of all, it was a full generation later that Baum, a struggling journalist, writer and playwright was writing his seminal work (alongside illustrator/partner W.W. Denslow). It wasn’t until 1897 that Baum had any serious success, but as often is the case, it was the story of getting to that success that sets up the next chapter of our story.
Baum was born (in 1856) to German/Scottish parents in upstate New York. He grew up in a middle class family, in the Syracuse area. By rule, the children were never given anything. They learned a work ethic from a young age and according to Mr. Baum, learned ”the highest lesson one’s parents could bestow upon their young, self reliance”.
He was the seventh of nine children (only five of whom survived) and despite the middle class trappings of his upbringing, his parents never gave any of his brothers and sisters hand-outs. Their strict Methodist upbringing would see to it that they learned to fend for themselves.
Because of this, his first commercial endeavor was underway by his fourteenth birthday, with the help of his older brother, they purchased an old printing press and helped the local newspaper initially with extra ad runs and even additional editions. This gave the boys a great wage, but even more, it gave them a great deal of freedom, as financially independent teenagers. They were able to take on other projects and by his 17th birthday he had his own weekly newsletter, about stamp collecting. A second one about hybrid breeding of exotic lines of poultry (a rage in the 1870’s) and even his first published book about “Hamburgers” (actually, these were a rare breed of chicken).
Despite financial difficulties through the boom and bust cycles of the time (no period in American history was more rife with financial panics that the last decades of the twentieth century), Baum always remembered to carry himself with a smile on his face. He was generally an affable guy that everyone liked.
The boys in the neighborhood were always sure to catch Baum’s fireworks shows every Fourth of July and, he never missed a chance to don his “Father Christmas” suit, every Christmas and visit the children of the neighborhood (including local hospitals). Long before Baum ever began writing children’s books, he was a hero to the children of New York and possibly America’s only true “Santa Claus”.
Baum continued to float from job to job, becoming a playwright and even touring through his 30’s with a vaudeville troupe. There he met his wife, moved to the Dakota Territory (the impetus of for his barren description of Kansas in the Wizard of Oz) where he shored up his skills as a journalist and an editor, creating some political chops for himself, as well. At one point he even joined a barbershop quartet, that included a man who would become the Populist Party’s first U.S. Senator, Hon. James Kyle.
During his stint in South Dakota (and because of his friendship with Senator Kyle), he developed populist ideas about the waning of Lincoln’s greenback dollars, which he held in esteem and he also took up the cause of “free silver” and of the cause of the great politician, from neighboring Nebraska, William Jennings Bryan, (although Baum often held that Bryan didn’t do enough to push the issue of “free silver” on the national scene).
In 1891, the paper failed and he and his four sons moved to Humboldt Park, Chicago, where Baum took a job working for the Evening Post, but his real passion became working on children’s stories. He would recite fairy tales and nursery rhymes to his boys from memory, sometimes adding lavish passages and those that got a laugh managed to get written down as improvements on the tale. By 1895, Baum began working with Denslow (an illustrator) reworking the grand works of nursery rhymes, but their best work wasn’t to be developed for another five years.
The Merry Ol’ Land of OZ
In 1900 Baum and Denslow, released The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, which was an instant sensation. It led the New York Times Best-Seller list for a full two years after its release. Baum never wanted for money again, with his great work spawning some thirteen more sequels to the original and a Broadway play that ran until 1911 and finally the classic MGM movie, in 1940.
It wasn’t until long after Baum’s death (in 1919) that people started to look closer at the story and realize what a masterpiece he had truly created. This book had indeed, taken a lifetime to write and not only were there deep hidden meanings in some of the situations within the book, but whole allegories written into the characters and devices of the story.
What Baum had written, although on one level was truly an amazing children’s book, was also an incredible cautionary tale about out of control government and monetary spending.
Much of this symbolism is lost to today’s generations, as devices like Dorothy’s silver slippers have been replaced in our minds, by the movie’s ruby ones. But just the mere idea of the Dorothy’s silver slippers, dancing down the yellow brick road to the see the wonderful Wizard of Oz, simply drips in allusion and allegory.
Taking a closer look, Dorothy was meant to represent the “Everyman” or the girl next door. She is everything that is good about America, honest and kind hearted. The yellow brick road (is the gold standard), leading you through the Land of Oz (the abbreviation for ounce, in precious metals), to the rich and powerful Emerald City (the color of greenbacks), which Washington D.C. was loaded with. As Dorothy dances down the yellow brick road, she does so in her silver slippers, representing the people’s free silver movement, moving closer to the Capital city.
Of course, Dorothy had friends. The scarecrow, representing populist farmers, who seemingly brainlessly, allowed themselves to be “brainlessly” manipulated under gold’s design without “bi-metallism” and silver to hold down prices.
There was the tin man, he symbolized the industrial worker and there was the clear suggestion that the industrialists had taken the heart out of the working man. When Dorothy first meets the Tin Man, he is immobilized, either by his heavy debts, or he has joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Next, the Cowardly Lion was believed by many to be portraying Senator William Jennings Bryan, who fully understood the power of “bi-metallism”, but was often hot and cold on the issue of “free silver” and never seemed to do enough to see the standard restored. Later allusions, would be spun of Bryan too, for his standing against the annexation of the Philippines. For both reasons, the Cowardly Lion seemed to befit the esteemed Nebraska Senator.
The Wizard himself seems to represent both politicians and charlatans. The Great and powerful OZ is really just an ordinary man, pulling strings and levers from behind a curtain. It is also conjectured that the Wizard could be J.P. Morgan, the most powerful banker of the day.
The Wicked Witch of the East, although quickly dispatched in the story, is thought to represent Grover Cleveland, who fought the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which further crashed the price of silver to all-time historical lows. The Witch of the East could also represent the pro-gold financial industry, like Wall Street.
The Wicked Witch of the West represented the untamed land, West of the Mississippi, which was much less fertile than the land to the East. When she is destroyed with water, it is representative of the farmer’s needs for successful crops and the water with which to grow them. Interestly, the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkey’s were supposedly representative of the American natives, thought by many to grab children in their sleep. Baum wished to see all American Indian population’s irradicated. He saw them as a blight on the land.
Glinda, the good witch of the North, was symbolic of the good people of the Midwest and North who supported the “free silver” movement. Keep in mind it is Glinda who gives the silver slippers to Dorothy and tells he she must go to the Emerald City, representative of her taking the will of the people to Washington.
Other devices of the book included are Toto, a bit of a pun really, based on the word “teetotaler “– A prohibitionist of the era, generally a part of Populist politics, following the free silver movement. Kansas itself, represented the great Midwest and her simple folk, although the munchkins share this reference of ordinary American citizens. Even the Crime of ’73 seemingly gets a nod from Baum, as in the book, Dorothy is led to a room via seven passages and three flights of stairs.
The Secrets Of Oz
Scholars have now fought over these references since the 1960’s, but in recent memory, it is author, journalist and documentary film-maker Bill Still which may have institutionalized many of these allegorical references, with his 2009 film, “The Secret of Oz”. This movie was a follow-up to his 1989 masterpiece, “The Money-Masters”, both of which shine new light on the historical role of money and better solutions for monetary policy, going forward towards the future.
The truth may lie in the reading for you, as to whether The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is simply a whimsical children’s tale, or whether there just might be some greater allegorical lesson, hidden just under the surface. Either way, it is a story worth telling that dovetails nicely with the story of The Crime of ’73 and the fall of “free money” in America.
The final word may be a cautionary tale, that this single event cannot be underestimated. Many see this single event as the catalyst that eventually caused the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Truly, financial warfare continued long after the Civil War, starting with the 1866 Contraction Act, which started to withdraw Lincoln’s “Greenbacks” from circulation.
This single act may have further exasperated the American economy over the next 40 years, as money was already held in tight circulation after the Civil War. This Act only further contracted the supply. Coupled with the Crime of ’73, it was if the powers in Washington and New York, that were in full financial warfare with the people of the United States. Even then, it is speculated that they were mere puppets on a string, being manipulated by European banking powers.
By the time the Sherman Silver Purchase Act came into law in 1893 the value of silver (America’s #1 form of currency, prior to the Fourth Coinage Act of Congress) had fallen from a 16:1 balance with gold, to over 100:1. This was insanity in the eyes of most Americans and led to the Populist revolts of the 1890’s and early 1900’s.
In the words of Otto Von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany, “The death of Lincoln was a disaster for (the world). There was no man great enough to wear his boots. . .
I fear that foreign bankers with their tortuous tricks will entirely control the exuberant riches of America and use it systematically to corrupt modern civilization. They will not hesitate to plunge the whole world into wars and chaos in order that the Earth should become their inheritance.”
THE SECRET OF OZ