Who Killed the Iceman? 
July 26, 2001 

by Joe Sobran

     So the Iceman was killed. 

     Ten years ago the well-preserved frozen body of a 
man, estimated at 5,300 years old, was found in the 
Italian Alps. Now it appears that the Iceman, as he has 
been nicknamed, died violently: an arrowhead has been 
found lodged under his left shoulder. 

     By now the trail is cold. The identity of the 
culprit may never be known. Authorities insist, however, 
that Congressman Gary Condit is not a suspect. 

     Reconstructing the past is a fascinating and endless 
enterprise. We never have as many facts as we would like; 
what we know is always a tiny fraction of what remains 
unknown; and we never know how small even that fraction 
really is. 

     Whole biographies of William Shakespeare, up to 600 
pages or so, are written from a handful of documents 
totaling maybe 30 pages. The rest is surmise. And there 
is plenty of reason to doubt whether he even wrote the 
works ascribed to him. 

     The hunger for data about Shakespeare has led to a 
long series of forgeries and blunders. The latest 
excitement concerns a supposed portrait of Shakespeare, 
which is certainly bogus. 

     It's a portrait of a young man, date and identity 
unknown, bearing this inscription: "Shakspere Born April 
23 -- 1563 Died April 23 -- 1616 Aged 52 This Likeness 
taken 1603 Age at that time 39 yrs." 

     One thing is certain: portraits in those days didn't 
carry that sort of detailed information. The huge 1623 
Folio of Shakespeare's plays didn't even mention the 
years of his birth and death, let alone calendar dates. 
His exact birthday (in 1564, by the way) is still 
unknown, after centuries of research. 

     So the information on the portrait must have been 
added long after the painting was made, in an attempt to 
pass it off as an authentic likeness of Shakespeare. 
Whoever committed it was too naive to realize that his 
"facts" themselves would expose the fakery by being too 
precise to be true. 

     False history can have disastrous consequences. Our 
own Civil War was the needless result of some bad history 
on the part of Abraham Lincoln. 

     Lincoln denied the right of the Southern states to 
secede from the Union. He based this assertion in 
history: the states, he said, had never existed 
independently of the Union, so they couldn't reclaim 
their independence in 1861. 

     But what about the Declaration of Independence, 
which said they were "free and independent states"? 
Lincoln answered with a sophistry: that the states were 
merely claiming independence of Great Britain, not of 
each other. 

     He went on to say that the Union had been further 
"matured" in the Articles of Confederation. Apparently he 
never read those Articles, because they say at the outset 
that "each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and 
independence." How could a state "retain" what it had 
never had in the first place? Obviously the states 
already recognized their own independence by emphatically 
reaffirming it. 

     So the Articles of Confederation, far from making an 
unbreakable Union, was actually a second Declaration of 
Independence! Lincoln was also unaware that in the age of 
the Founding Fathers, a "state" was still, by definition, 
free, sovereign, and independent, whereas a 
"confederation" was -- also by definition -- a voluntary 
association of sovereign states, any of which might 
withdraw at will. Until Lincoln's time, the Union was 
often called a "confederation"; Lincoln himself sometimes 
referred to it as "this confederacy." 

     Nevertheless, 620,000 young men paid with their 
lives for Lincoln's willful falsification of history. 
Beyond that, the Civil War wrecked the original federal 
system and paved the way for monolithic centralized 

     It's sometimes said that history is written by the 
victors; but such "victors' history" is really official 
propaganda rather than a serious and conscientious 
attempt to reconstruct the past. 

     Fortunately, the records of American history are 
ample enough to allow us to correct Lincoln's version of 
it; but the fact remains that Lincoln's version is the 
one taught in the government-run schools, so it will take 
a long time for the general public to realize the truth 
-- if indeed that is even possible at this point. 

     Maybe history is its own reward. Those who cherish 
and study the past for its own sake will find it full of 
surprises -- some of them heartbreaking. 


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