— American Bastille Article Proposal —

Louis and Lincoln:  Their Battles, Bondage, Binds, Bodies, and Buildings


This article covers fascinating similarities between France’s Louis XVI and America’s Abraham Lincoln regarding rights of prisoners in police custody, especially for insurrection.  With many opportune publication times, the first might be 27 April 2021, the 160th-anniversary of Lincoln’s Habeas Corpus Suspension, aka “American Bastille.”    

What do Louis XVI and Lincoln have in common? 

1.  Battles:  a.  Louis XIV: Storming of the Bastille, French Revolution   b. Lincoln:  Firing on Ft. Sumter, American Civil War  

2.  Bondage:  a.  While France no longer had land-bound serfs, peasants were bound by heavy debts to aristocrats.  Many prisoners were mistakenly viewed to be held in the Bastille.   b.  America had slaves and would soon have prisoners denied due process.

3.  Binds

a.  (i)  Louis XVI wanted to destroy the Bastille and replace it with a public plaza dedicated to him as the “restorer of public freedom.”  (ii)  Lincoln wanted to save the Union, but prohibiting slavery spread set off the Civil War. 

b.  (i)  Louis XVI was torn between aristrocrat and Third Estate demands.  Vacillation between keeping promises to each group brought unstoppable violence.  (ii)  To fight his war, Lincoln found significant numbers of Southern sympathizers in the North.  He revoked the Writ of Habeas Corpus and had many of them imprisoned without trial for extended periods throughout the war. 

4:  Bodies:  Both Louis XVI and Lincoln, viewed as freedom-lovers by many but tyrants by their executioners, “took it in the head.”  Louis XVI by the guillotine, Lincoln by gunshot.    

5.  Buildings:  Besides Versailles, the Bastille was most associated with Louis XVI.  Today, the Lincoln Memorial is most associated with Lincoln. Their architectural similarities are striking. 

Visuals:  www.bahrnoproducts.com/Lincoln&Louis.htm




Lincoln was born in 1809, one score of years after the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. 

Why would anyone think that America’s Bastille, if America has one, looks like the Lincoln Memorial?

Well, first of all, there is a concept of the American Bastille based in a 1869 book called the American Bastille:  A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens During the Late Civil War, Annotated  by John A. Marshall [possible relation to SCOTUS Justice Marshall] ( https://amazon.com/American-Bastille-Imprisonment-Citizens-Annotated/dp/1497367050/ )  The book details imprisonments in various buildings following Abraham Lincoln’s first suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus on 27 April 1861 (see photograph below).  Lincoln was in a bind:  What to do with individuals in the North suspected of insufficient loyalty during the Civil War? 

Note from this webpage the forceful ways Lincoln dealt with due process rights during the American Civil War:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habeas_corpus_in_the_United_States

Note from this book the many times in which Lincoln is viewed as a tyrant (despite having freed the slaves), much as Louis XVI (who had supported the American Revolution) was viewed as a tyrant in France.    https://www.google.com/books/edition/American_Bastile/6q40AAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=tyrant

Indeed, “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” (Virginia state motto:  “Thus always to tyrants!”) was what John Wilkes Booth claimed to have said when he shot Lincoln.  Louis XVI, the French Bastille “tyrant and traitor,” was killed “more humanely” by guillotine. 

Other related American Bastile [sic] books can be found at https://amazon.com/s?k=american+bastile&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

The article would compare the sometimes arbitrary and tenuously legal imprisonment during the American Civil War with the mostly arbitrary yet totally legal imprisonment prior to the Storming of the Bastille at the start of the French Revolution, 14 July 1789, some 70 years earlier.  Below are two written imprisonment orders, one from French King Louis XVI, the other from President Abraham Lincoln.    



Lettre de Cachet, Louis XVI,     Habeas Corpus Suspension Letter,
Imprisonment Order               Lincoln to GEN Winfield Scott



                 Execution of Louis XVI                         Assassination of Abraham Lincoln


In addition, the article would compare buildings. If the Bastille was Louis XVI’s building, which building today signifies Abraham Lincoln’s building?  The Lincoln Memorial?  Several photographs show the amazing similarities between the French Bastille and the Lincoln Memorial are available: 




Building measurements for the Lincoln Memorial can be found at https://www.nps.gov/linc/learn/historyculture/lincoln-memorial-building-statistics.htm

Correct Bastille measurements can be found at:

Update:  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346743570_Bastille_Measurement_Academia_April_2020_Updated_WJB_Bahr


Note:  Louis XIV's Civil War (the Fronde insurrection) was fought in front of the Bastille in 1652.  Louis XIV was Louis XVI's 3x-great-grandfather. 

Episode of the Fronde at the Faubourg Saint-Antoine by the Walls of the Bastille.png


"The [Fronde] insurrection did not start with revolutionary goals; it aimed to protect the ancient liberties from royal encroachments and to defend the established rights of the parlements – courts of appeal rather than legislative bodies like the English parliaments – and especially the right of the Parlement of Paris to limit the king's power by refusing to register decrees that ran against custom."   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fronde


Storming of the Bastille (insurrection) and the beginning of the French Revolution, 14 July 1789



Confederates fire on Ft. Sumter, Charleston, SC,12 April 1861; Confederate Insurrection: beginning of the American Civil War.



Bottom-line, there are many intriguing similarities between Louis and Lincoln, both in behavior and in buildings


 Opportunities to publish: 


21 January 2021; 21 January 1793, 228th anniversary Louis XVIth  execution by guillotine  

12 April 2021; 12 April 1861, 160th anniversary, Firing on Ft. Sumter.

27 April 2021; 27 April 1861,160th anniversary  Habeas Corpus Suspension

27 May 2021; 27 May 1861, 160th anniversary Habeas Corpus Suspension Challenged

Juneteenth 2021; 19 June 1865, 156th anniversary Slavery ended in TX

14 July 2021; 14 July 1789, 231st-anniversary Storming of the Bastille, with an intriguing “Spirit of 76” years between France’s 1789 and America’s 1865. 

22 September 2021; 22 September 1862, 159th-anniversary Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation





Article proposal from William J. Bahr, author of George Washington’s Liberty Key, a best-seller at Mount Vernon, and many other published articles and books.  A publication sample:

My most recent article, “WHY Leaders of Character,” is being targeted for publication in the April issue of West Point Magazine



Copyright © W. J. Bahr

— American Bastille Article Proposal —