Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Lind’s Lincoln

Some months ago I discovered a new book about Lincoln by Michael Lind, What Lincoln Believed: The Values and Convictions of America’s Greatest President. How could I resist, even though I knew the author was on the Left? I got a bitter cup of coffee, hoping for the best. Thirty pages later, appalled at the silliness and inacurracy of the whole thing, I put it back on the shelf, next to two other worthless books on Lincoln. I was right and

James M. McPherson (in The Nation, no less) explains why. Great review. McPherson savages the book. Thanks, professor. By the way, why would the famous Doubleday publish such rubish? Just one paragraph from McPherson regarding some factual things:

Puzzled readers may be forgiven if they come away from this book convinced that Lincoln’s beliefs were closer to those of the Ku Klux Klan than to those of the NAACP--for that is precisely Lind’s argument in most of the book. Or perhaps they will conclude that Lind does not know what he is talking about when he maintains that there was no inconsistency between Lincoln the liberal democrat and Lincoln the racist despot. This conclusion would be reinforced by some of the alleged "facts" reported in these pages: that the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in states (it applied only to territories); that the Dred Scott decision applied to a runaway slave in Ohio; that "most Northern states" in the 1850s banned free blacks from settling therein (only four of eighteen did); that William Seward was Secretary of State in the Grant Administration; that ratification by a simple majority of states could amend the Constitution; and that the Congress elected in 1936 contained 524 representatives and 112 senators (the actual numbers were 435 and 96, respectively).

Discussions - 11 Comments

Lind is an overrated windbag who has written equally stupid things about Churchill. Can’t find the link right now, but it exists.

"While I was at the hotel to-day an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]---that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will for ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality." This from the 4th Lincoln-Douglas debate.

Lincoln was a disgusting racist which is one reason why conservatives love him so much.

So, MOC, if Lincoln had come out for full equality between blacks and whites, what do you think his chances would have been of ever winning an election in the 19th-century United States? And, had he not been elected president, what do you think are the chances that slavery would have been abolished?

To hold historical figures up to today’s standards is silly; it is when one compares Lincoln to his contemporaries that we best understand him. As he put it elsewhere in the debates, "I agree with Judge Douglas he [the Negro] is not my equal in moral or in many respects — certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man."

Amen to John’s reply. Reading MOC’s out of context post, I got to thinking it must have been some other Abraham Lincoln that issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Of course, Andrew Jackson is the good ’ol boy of the Democratic party. And he certainly was not a disgusting racist. Or wait, what about the Indian Removal Act of 1830? What about considering Indians less capable than Anglo-Saxons based on race and blood?

Strange, is that why the Democrats love him so much? guys just don’t understand that your moral imperatives and social justice is a new development, and hasn’t directed the actions of men for all time. Hell, the specifics of what constitutes you "absolutes" change with the political season.

If you aren’t able to grasp the greatness of Lincoln; if your insistence on racism is the final test of what greatness is, regardless of time or circumstance; if your notion of tolerance is so absolute that it outweighs magnanimity, then it is no wonder you find yourselves on the losing end of the stick.

Hiya folks, Cammy Walker with your Hollywood Connection. Did You Know? A young Henry Fonda played "Honest Abe" in the 1939 film entitled Young Mr. Lincoln. Helmed by the Great American Director John Ford, the movie depicts Lincoln when he was still a lawyer in the Prairie State and is definitely worth a look!

While I think it’s good for folks not to sweep such realities as Lincoln’s quote (too many kids go through school and never know about this kind of thing) under the carpet, I gotta say that this is one of those rare instances where I find myself agreeing with Mr. Moser for the most part. That said, Lincoln’s thoughts on race were certainly not the most enlightened though, even for his time. God, both quotes sound like they could be in the foreward to The Bell Curve - another book deservedly savaged in the pages of The Nation, by the way...

Some of what is said here is true, but what bothers me is the double standard. If it’s OK to give Lincoln a pass on racism, why do his defenders turn around and crucify Southerners like Calhoun and Davis? What chance would THEY have had to be influential had they been anti-slavery? Same logic. Even more to the point, why do we give the North a pass on racism? The feelings of Northerns toward blacks became VERY apparent when blacks migrated to Northern cities. Instead of using the slavery issue to legitimate a questionable war against free Americans who had decided to leave the United States, why don’t we hold slavery "constant" and just look at the other political issues involved? What will it take for Lincoln’s "cheering section" to realize that, for most people North and South, slavery was a side issue? Let’s get historical, shall we?

Slavery was a side issue? I don’t even know what that means. I assume you are pointing to the question of states’ rights v. Federalism, but it is not historical to say the cause of the debate was whether or not slavery was in line with the principles of America (a la Declaration).

The cheering section of Lincoln is not a result of some fantasy concerning anti-racism, but rather because he put into practice (necessarily, I believe) the American political regime’s idea that all men are created equal (and therefore entitled to equal participation status in the Republican political regime).

Again, I got ahead of myself. The first line should read:

Slavery was a side issue? I don’t even know what that means. I assume you are pointing to the question of states’ rights v. Federalism, but it is not historical to say that the cause of the debate was not a result of whether slavery was in line with the principles of America (a la Declaration).

If only more southerners were of Marse Lee’s mettle.

"He walked with a purpose up to the communion rail; all eyes in the congregation watched to see what he would do next. Without a word, Lee knelt down not far from the black man, looked straight ahead and also awaited communion. Following the lead of the most beloved figure in the post-Civil War South, the proud people of Richmond quietly came to the rail and knelt on either side of the two men already there. Minnigerode immediately began giving communion to everyone at the rail."

Sources: “Lee: The Last Years” by Charles Flood “Duty Faithfully Performed” by John Taylor.

Seems Lee’s courage and leadership was forgotten and the South lived in darkness for another 100 yers or so.

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