Sanjeev Sabhlok's blog

Thoughts on economics and liberty

Rajneesh (Osho) created a myth that Abraham Lincoln’s father was a shoe maker

I met someone today who thought that Abe Lincoln’s father was a cobbler. I had never heard about this so I’ve spent a few minutes to check. ALWAYS CHECK!!

I examined the following books:

  • ABRAHAM LINCOLN: The Man Behind the Myths by STEPHEN B. OATES
  • A. Lincoln: a Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr.

Also the Wikipedia entry on Lincoln’s father.

Lincoln’s father was a carpenter and farmer – and reasonably well-to-do.

There is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that he made shoes for a living.

So how did this myth arise? Our very own mythmaker, Osho – created this myth in his book From Bondage to Freedom (probably in the 60s or 70s). Thereafter, perhaps through repetition within India this myth probably spread far enough that I’ve now come to know of it.


I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln. When he became the president of America, his father was a shoemaker. And, naturally, egoistic people were very much offended that a shoemaker’s son should become the president. They were aristocrats, super-rich: who thought that it was their birthright to be in the highest post. A shoemaker’s son?

On the first day, as Abraham Lincoln entered to give his presidential inaugural address, just in the middle one man stood up. He was a very rich aristocrat. He said Ar. Lincoln, you should  not forget that your father used to make shoes for my family And the whole senate laughed; they thought that they had made a fool of Abraham Lincoln.

But Lincoln – and that type of person – is made of a totally different mettle. Lincoln looked at the man and said, “Sir, I know that my father used to make shoes in your house for your family, and there will be many others here.because the way he made shoes, nobody else can. He was a creator. His shoes were not just shoes, he poured his whole soul in it. I want to ask you, have you any complaint?- because 1 know how to make shoes myself; if you have any complaint I can make another pair of shoes. But I know that nobody has ever complained about my father’s shoes. He was a genius, a great creator, and I am proud of my father!”

The whole senate was struck dumb. They could not understand what kind of man Abraham Lincoln was He had made shoemaking an art, a creativity_ And he was proud because his father did the job so well that not even a single complaint had ever been heard_ And even though he was the president of America, he was ready to make another pair if there was any com plaint.

The man looked silly. Lincoln insisted. “You have to speak! Why have you become dumb? You wanted to make me a fool, and now look all around: you have made a fool of yourself.”


A pretty creative man was Osho.



Extract from A. Lincoln: a Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr.

Within a few years of his father’s death, young Thomas Lincoln was sent out to work. He labored on neighboring farms, earned three shillings a day at a mill, and worked one year for his uncle Isaac on his farm in the Watauga River Valley in Tennessee. Returning to Kentucky, Thomas apprenticed as a carpenter and cabinetmaker in a shop in Elizabethtown.

He served in the local militia, on juries, and became an active member of the Baptist church. Dennis Hanks, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, said of Thomas, “He was a man who took the world Easy—did not possess much Envy,” observing that Thomas “never thought that gold was God.” One neighbor remembered him as a “plain unpretending plodding man.” Another called him a “good quiet citizen,” and a third said he told stories with a wry sense of humor, a trait his son would inherit.

One neighbor recalled that Thomas “accumulated considerable property which he always managed to make way with about as fast as he made it.” Like the Lincolns before him, Thomas Lincoln had a hunger for land. At the age of twenty-five, in 1803, he purchased a 238-acre farm on Mill Creek, a tributary of the Salt River, for 118 pounds in cash. At about the same time, he bought two lots in Elizabethtown. Thomas Lincoln’s accumulation of property was such that within a decade he would rank fifteenth of ninety-eight property owners listed in Hardin County in 1814.

Another myth busted!

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The lying Hindutvas are at it again. This time a fake Rajaji “oath” to the Queen of England.

Apparently this video is circulating on Whatsapp these days:

At 3 minutes above not only is a voiceover put into Rajaji’s video, absurd words were put into it. TOTAL FAKE HINDUTVA NONSENSE.


Source: Speeches Of C. Rajagopalachari (Jan 1948- Jan 1950)


His Excellency the Governor-General made the following speech at the Swearig-in Ceremony on June 21, 1948, at Government House, New Delhi —

I am very grateful to you all for your participation at this ceremony. Your presence has lifted the occasion from the place of a mere ceremony to that of human fellowship and co-operation.

Speaking objectively, the occasion is undoubtedly historic, for this is the first time that one who belongs to the soil has, in accordance with the wishes of the Prime Minister of India and his Cabinet, been entrusted with the honour and the duties of the Head of the State in India. I owe a debt of gratitude, which I cannot hope to repay, for the signal honour implied in this my installation. I hope I shall act, on every occasion and in every matter, in a manner worthy of the trust reposed in me. The work of my predecessor during his memorable term of office was a marvellous instance of detachment, devotion and energy on the part of one who, though not belonging to India, worked as one belonging to her and did his work in the spirit that is laid down in our scriptures with regard to the task that falls to any one. I come after him but I hope I will be judged by standards suitable to one who is inexperienced either in arms or in diplomacy, unlike my predecessor.

Our problems have multiplied beyond all expectation and are such as may perturb even the most adventurous spirits among us. The only remaining interest in life which moves my colleagues who are entrusted with the charge of the affairs of India is the happiness of our people and the good name of our country. This is the passion that binds them together. They have experience and nobility of character May God enable them to achieve the purpose so dear to their hearts. I shall be proud to render them all such assistance as I can in this position.

India is unchangeably committed to the policy of making everyone within her borders find pride and joy in citizenship irrespective of caste, creed or race. No one will suffer any disability by reason of the community to which he or she belongs.

The days of dynastic rule or domination through force are gone in India. No territorial or racial or religious community can hope to thrive or maintain its happiness through force without the willing and full co-operation of other people and the utmost intercommunication. It is therefore necessary that all communal and territorial isolationism should be abandoned and the best talents in every community should seek to serve the whole State. Communities should spread themselves out rather than build walls round themselves.

Whatever be the technical phraseology which public law may use to describe it, what disturbs the peace of India now is internecine discord pure and simple and it is utter folly. Our economy has not yet had time to separate into two parts corresponding to the political division to which we have agreed. It is very doubtful if it ever can be so split. We are far too interdependent and whatever we might do, there will yet be vital links that can never be severed. It is folly to quarrel and make into a scene of strife and misery what has been shaped by the pressure of age-long forces into a field of beauty and joy. Let us pray for wisdom and let us do what will make good thoughts grow and save them from being swamped by folly and evil which wait to tempt man.

I have received blessings and good wishes from great and good men in all parts of the world. May these help me to steer clear of error and enable me to be of some service to our people in the great office conferred on me.



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A history of the Indian Liberal Party by B. D. Shukla, 1960

I chanced upon this book today and I’ve spent some time to OCR and convert it into RTF. The book discusses the history of the Indian Liberal Party that existed from 1918 to 1948.

Download here.

It is intriguing that this subdomain on ( has the word ERNET in it. Further, this book was originally in the Shanti Niketan Library. This suggests that Shanti Niketan is digitising its books, and that’s GREAT news for India!

In fact, there is a PUBLIC LIBRARY OF INDIA, which currently contains 404,081 books!


I’ll extract interesting snippets from this particular book when I find time.



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CONCLUSIVE evidence that the British DID NOT cut off any Indian weaver’s thumbs. Myth busted.

I decided to conduct original research on this topic given the following FB comment in response to my blog post on Gurcharan Das’s views (see this) – screenshot below.

This particular view, below, is quite a radical new invention (that the Queen was involved – which one?!!), but the more common one is that Dhaka weavers had their thumbs cut off.

Shashi Tharoor made a somewhat similar claim in his book, Inglorious Empire, to which Professor John M. McKenzie, chief editor of the Cambridge History of the British Empire, responded:

“I am not sure of Mr. Tharoor’s source for the cutting off of weavers’ thumbs. It is not something I have heard of. What can certainly be said is that this was never official policy. If it happened at all, it must have been a localized, unofficial, and illegal activity. And if this practice had been publicized, it would have produced a storm of protest in Britain.” [Source]

But McKenzie’s rebuttal is simply not good enough. When this professor has not even heard of it, how can he rebut the allegation?

This Telegraph article makes bold claims that

“In the early 19th century, the East India Company, eager to promote British textiles, had cut off the hands of hundreds of weavers in Bengal” [Source]

However, it cites no original sources that date back to the period referred to. This is quite a problem. If HUNDREDS of weavers had been so affected, surely there would have been some documentary evidence somewhere.


The following suggests that this is a myth: “This story is debunked in the chapter by Jasleen Dhamija on “Regional Weavers of India” in the book “Handwoven Fabrics of India” edited by Jasleen Dhamija and Jyotindra Jain published by University of Washington Press in 1990.” [Source]

However, I don’t have access to this particular book.

This note suggests that issue arose during the impeachment of Hastings but doesn’t quite point to any original source on this issue.

On the other hand, this particular 2013 discussion was very helpful in pointing me to the right direction.

I look to the ORIGINAL SOURCES if possible, given such sources are now readily available. And the original source is WILLIAM BOLTS (see this blog post for the full quote – including from Romesh Dutta’s 1902 economic history.).

The Bolts 1772 text shows clearly that the British were not trying to end weaving. They were trying to mopolise it and force the weavers to work for them. In doing this they did oppress weavers. BUT THEY DID NOT CUT OFF THEIR THUMBS.

I also note that Dadabhai Naoroji’s 617 page book, Poverty and Unbritish Rule in India does NOT ever mention ANY weaver cutting off their hand. How is it possible that the ultra-diligent Naoroji would have missed this if it was anywhere documented?



Myth busted.



British ended muslin production in Bengal, British East India Company cut off weavers’ thumbs and hands

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