Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln - False idol?

President Obama has glorified President Abraham Lincoln and some of Obama's supporters even liken him to Lincoln as a savior of the country. Too bad; if Obama had done a little homework he might have discovered that he doesn't like what Lincoln believed and said publicly about black folks. Does Obama really want to compare himself to Lincoln?

Who said?

“There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people to the idea of indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races ... A separation of the races is the only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an immediate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas ...” (said about the Kansas-Nebraska Act). “Racial separation must be effected by colonization of the country's blacks to a foreign land. The enterprise is a difficult one but where there is a will there is a way, and what colonization needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall find a way to do it, however great the task may be”.

If that was said today almost everyone in the country would yell “RACIST”. The news media would hound the person into oblivion and very likely criminal charges of some sort would be brought.

The answer: Abraham Lincoln!

Lincoln was a proponent of resettling negroes. He also said to affirm the humanity of blacks was more likely to strengthen public sentiment on behalf of colonization than the Democrats' efforts to "crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite hatred and disgust against him ..." Resettlement ("colonization") would not succeed, Lincoln seemed to argue, unless accompanied by humanitarian concern for blacks, and some respect for their rights and abilities. By apparently denying the black person's humanity, supporters of slavery were laying the groundwork for "the indefinite outspreading of his bondage." The Republican program of restricting slavery to where it presently existed, he said, had the long-range benefit of denying slave holders of an opportunity to sell their slaves at high prices in new slave territories encouraged them to support a process of gradual emancipation involving resettlement of the excess outside of the country.

In the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858 "Little Giant" Stephen Douglas focused on the emotion-charged issue of race relations. He accused Lincoln and Republicans in general, of advocating the political and social equality of the white and black races, and of thereby promoting racial amalgamation. Lincoln responded by strenuously denying the charge, and by arguing that because slavery was the chief cause of miscegenation in the United States, restricting its further spread into the western territories and new states would, in fact, reduce the possibility of race mixing. Lincoln thus came close to urging support for his party because it best represented white people's interests.

On August 21, before a crowd of 10,000 at Ottawa, Lincoln declared: “I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so”, and further, “I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position”.

At the time Lincoln ran for president presidential contenders did not make public speeches after their nomination. However in a widely reprinted pre-nomination speech, delivered at Cooper Union in New York City on February 27, 1860, Lincoln expressed his agreement that slavery is "an evil not [to] be extended, but to be tolerated and protected" where it already exists. "This is all Republicans ask -- all Republicans desire -- in relation to slavery," he emphasized, underscoring the words in his prepared text. After stating that any emancipation should be gradual and carried out in conjunction with a program of scheduled deportation, he went on to cite Thomas Jefferson:

“In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, 'It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and in their places be, pari passu [on an equal basis], filled up by free white laborers"'.

Abraham Lincoln took the oath as President on March 4, 1861. Among the first words of his Inaugural Address was a pledge (repeating words from an August 1858 speech) intended to placate Southerners: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so in Kansas ...". Referring to a proposed Amendment (the Crittenden amendment), which would make explicit constitutional protection of slavery where it already existed, he said, "I have no objection to its being made express, and irrevocable." He also promised to support legislation for the capture and return of runaway slaves.

Of course, Abraham Lincoln is noted for the Emancipation Proclamation. However from Lincoln’s own words as well as his actions, something other than a desire to free the slaves is responsible for his Emancipation Proclamation. Largely unreported by most American histories of the war is the revolt launched against Lincoln by United States Senate Republicans in mid-December, 1862, just before he signed the proclamation into law.

According to an old friend of Lincoln, Illinois Representative Orville Browning, and others, many senators demanded the President conduct a more effective war effort and they were apparently prepared to bring down his administration if he did not. This threat included emancipation as a method of war that would torpedo the South’s economy and ability to defend itself. It was expected, they thought, that a slave uprising – with the attendant slaughter of white Southern women, children, and old men – was within the realm of possibility and hence would bring success to the North more quickly.

When told the Constitution gave individual states and not the national government jurisdiction over slavery, Lincoln claimed emancipation as a war powers act that he as commander-in-chief he could employ – for military purposes.

With the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln quashed the Senate revolt but his ambivalent feelings for it resurfaced when he ignored the urging of his cabinet, including Seward, Chase, Blair, and Bates, and confined his decree to those slaves in Confederate-controlled territory. That is, he freed none of the slaves over which he had control when he had the opportunity.

Thus, contrary to popular belief, the Emancipation Proclamation did not in fact give freedom for all slaves as has been widely believed. The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named the specific states where it applied.

The proclamation did not free any slaves of the Border States (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), or any southern state (or part of a state) already under Union control. It directly affected only those slaves who had already changed to the Union side.

After the war, abolitionists were concerned that since the proclamation was a war measure, it had not permanently ended slavery. Several former slave states passed legislation prohibiting slavery; however, some slavery continued to be legal, and to exist, until the institution was ended by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.

The famous former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said about Lincoln views of negroes: "Illogical and unfair as Mr. Lincoln’s statements are, they are nevertheless quite in keeping with his whole course from the beginning of his administration up to this day, and confirm the painful conviction that though elected as an antislavery man by Republican and Abolition voters, Mr. Lincoln is quite a genuine representative of American prejudice and Negro hatred and far more concerned for the preservation of slavery, and the favor of the Border Slave States, than for any sentiment of magnanimity or principle of justice and humanity."

Happy Birthday Abe!

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