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Looking For Lincoln

This week, the JOURNAL joined with actor Sam Waterston and historian Harold Holzer to present a special hour on the life, legend, and legacy of Abraham Lincoln.

As Holzer provided context with a rich historical narrative, Waterston breathed life into the words of a diverse group of writers and thinkers who have shaped our nation’s ever-shifting visions of Lincoln as man, as martyr, and as myth. He quoted abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe:

“When we were troubled and sat in darkness, and looked doubtfully towards the Presidential chair, it was never that we doubted the goodwill of our pilot – only the clearness of his eyesight. But Almighty God has granted to him that clearness of vision which he gives to the true-hearted, and enabled him to set his honest foot in that promised land of freedom which is to be the patrimony of all men, black and white – and from henceforth the nations shall rise up and call him blessed.”

Waterston also gave voice to African-American leader W.E.B. DuBois, who felt that understanding Lincoln’s flaws was essential to appreciating his achievements:

“No sooner does a great man die than we begin to whitewash him. We seek to forget all that was small and mean and unpleasant and remember the fine and brave and good. We slur over and explain away his inconsistencies and at last there begins to appear, not the real man, but the tradition of the man – remote, immense, perfect, cold, and dead! Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the greatest figure of the nineteenth century... the most human and loveable. And I love him not because he was perfect but because he was not and yet, triumphed.”

Though Lincoln is generally considered one of America’s best presidents, some revisionists argue that his reputation rests on generations of propaganda. Libertarian scholar Thomas DiLorenzo wrote:

“[Lincoln historians] routinely refer to him as "Father Abraham" and compare him to Jesus or Moses. They do this because their agenda is not only the deification of Lincoln, but of executive power and nationalism in general... And when some of his more dastardly deeds, such as micromanaging the waging of war on fellow citizens, are mentioned they are always obscured by a mountain of hollow excuses, rationales, cover-ups, and justifications... Lincoln’s (and the Republican Party’s) "real agenda" was the old Hamilton/Clay mercantilist agenda of protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare, central banking, the creation of a giant political patronage machine, and the pursuit of an empire that would rival the British empire.”

What do you think? Who, in your view, was the real Lincoln?


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In an 1865 speech, Frederick Douglass called Lincoln "Emphatically the Black Man's president." Douglass also has written, "In all my interviews with Mr. Lincoln, I was impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race." [1881]

Lincoln's claim to being the Great Emancipator lies not just with his Emancipation Proclamation, but also with the 13th Amendment, which he insisted on & sheparded through Congress. Those who feel Lincoln was insincere about freedom and equality would do well to read LaWanda Cox's Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership, Richard Striner's Father Abraham: Lincoln's Relentless Struggle To End Slavery, and Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as well as Allen Guelzo's Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America; and James Oakes's "The Radical and the Republican." Lincoln felt that politics was the art of the possible. His political artistry included an acute knowledge of public opinion(and prejudices), a finely-honed sense of timing, and political discretion. Lincoln never retreated from emancipation once it was decided upon, just as he never affirmed black inferiority to be inherent. During his debates with Stephen Douglas he never said that he would never(in future) support equality. He didn't put stock in physical differences. In a well-known private memoranda he mused how anyone could be enslaved if the criterion was to have darker skin, or lesser intellect, because everyone was lighter or darker, or of varying degrees of smartness. In Chicago, in July 1858, he implored people to "discard" all their "quibbling" about supposed inferiority, and unite around the equality of the Declaration of Independence. However, a race-baiting Stephen Douglas forced him to subsequently in those debates down-play the full implications of his anti-slavery position. Again, he was a politician seeking an anti-slavery (extension) victory in a racist state [Illinois]. But, during his presidency he approved of bills abolishing segregation on horse-drawn streetcars in D.C.; for equal pay for black troops; for black witnesses in federal courts; for equal penalties for the same crimes; for the Freedmen's Bureau. He supported education for the freedmen. He had African-Americans picnic on the White House lawn; bowed publicly to a black gentleman in Richmond; welcomed (for the first time in U.S. history) an ambassador from Haiti; and met African-American leaders in the White House for discussions. Any colonization (Lincoln recognized the intransigence of white prejudice "even when freed") was to be voluntary, and was later dropped, whites and blacks having to "live out of the old relation and into the new." Sojourner Truth said that she had never been treated with more "kindness and cordiality" by anyone. Lincoln called for the vote for educated blacks and soldiers[a first step]. John Wilkes Booth was in the audience, and told a companion that that meant "N-- citizenship" and vowed it would be Lincoln's last speech. He was assassinated 3 days later. Lincoln was a friend of freedom and equality, but he worked as a politician.

Jeff

In an 1865 speech, Frederick Douglass called Lincoln "Emphatically the Black Man's president." Douglass also has written, "In all my interviews with Mr. Lincoln, I was impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race." [1881]

Lincoln's claim to being the Great Emancipator lies not just with his Emancipation Proclamation, but also with the 13th Amendment, which he insisted on & sheparded through Congress. Those who feel Lincoln was insincere about freedom and equality would do well to read LaWanda Cox's Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership, Richard Striner's Father Abraham: Lincoln's Relentless Struggle To End Slavery, and Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as well as Allen Guelzo's Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America; and James Oakes's "The Radical and the Republican." Lincoln felt that politics was the art of the possible. His political artistry included an acute knowledge of public opinion(and prejudices), a finely-honed sense of timing, and political discretion. Lincoln never retreated from emancipation once it was decided upon, just as he never affirmed black inferiority to be inherent. During his debates with Stephen Douglas he never said that he would never(in future) support equality. He didn't put stock in physical differences. In a well-known private memoranda he mused how anyone could be enslaved if the criterion was to have darker skin, or lesser intellect, because everyone was lighter or darker, or of varying degrees of smartness. In Chicago, in July 1858, he implored people to "discard" all their "quibbling" about supposed inferiority, and unite around the equality of the Declaration of Independence. However, a race-baiting Stephen Douglas forced him to subsequently in those debates down-play the full implications of his anti-slavery position. Again, he was a politician seeking an anti-slavery (extension) victory in a racist state [Illinois]. But, during his presidency he approved of bills abolishing segregation on horse-drawn streetcars in D.C.; for equal pay for black troops; for black witnesses in federal courts; for equal penalties for the same crimes; for the Freedmen's Bureau. He supported education for the freedmen. He had African-Americans picnic on the White House lawn; bowed publicly to a black gentleman in Richmond; welcomed (for the first time in U.S. history) an ambassador from Haiti; and met African-American leaders in the White House for discussions. Any colonization (Lincoln recognized the intransigence of white prejudice "even when freed") was to be voluntary, and was later dropped, whites and blacks having to "live out of the old relation and into the new." Sojourner Truth said that she had never been treated with more "kindness and cordiality" by anyone. Lincoln called for the vote for educated blacks and soldiers[a first step]. John Wilkes Booth was in the audience, and told a companion that that meant "N-- citizenship" and vowed it would be Lincoln's last speech. He was assassinated 3 days later. Lincoln was a friend of freedom and equality, but he worked as a politician.

Jeff

In the following essay is my favorite Lincoln quote:

- I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts. (Abraham Lincoln)

http://cikehara.blogspot.com/2009/05/from-time-honored-institutions-to.html

Father Lincoln's boys

With blooms of childhood
Still upon their crest
We sent the young
We sent the best
Into the howling mouth
Of the civil war.

We sent the beautiful
We sent the brave
In wave after wave
Of into the grave.

As in Father Lincoln’s dreams,
Flock after flock,
Young Bluebirds and Gray
Slam and dead thud
Day upon day
The waiting white
and frozen snow
Where in the nightmare
Of the Civil War
The red stains
In the darkness grow.

And America,
Her loins bequeathed
A silent Spring,
As a circling, gathered Union
Was still upon the wing.

For now each April
When Redbirds circle,
Without legs and never land,
You can hear the dirge of notes
As the angels of the dead mourn soft
And the white face of passing Winter
Is painted once again
With pock marks
And the ice crusts
Of the fallen red.

And Father Lincoln
"Do you see them?"
Wind whipped, yet still they fly
And though your dreams
Are in our history,
War's remembrance,
Is still upon the wing,
and framed against the sky,

For the heavens are full
Of the sons of America,
The sons of Gray and Blue
Where instead of marching
To tunes and notes of glory
Are chorused with widow’s weeping
And the winds of purgatory.

Yes, my President,
They knew of honor,
And Lady Liberty’s flowing stride,
And a young nation’s tomorrow’s promise,

But our sons of 1865
Were in the South
A mother’s milk
And in the North,
A Father’s pride.

Father Lincoln,
Now father to a thousand,
And a thousand, thousand more,
Protector of the honor
Of our memoried sons,
Washed up against
Time and history’s shore.

They tell us of your greatness
And of your pain,
For in the low haunt
And murmur of the night,
You are said to be heard walking
Abreast the legions of your boys
A thousand steps slip skimming
Along Liberty’s hallowed plain,

Like a freedom march
In the night
Pain for glory and
Greatness was the sight
Of a young nation staggered,
Tilted, then gathered upright
With Lady Liberty tattered,

Father Lincoln and his boys
Led by her
Then carried her
All through the night
Walking out of the darkness
And into the healing light
Of North and South,
Melding the beacons of the heart
That each thought right.

Now all the sons
Of Father Lincoln
Near one Hundred and fifty years
Left behind the sword of might,
Up drafted from battlefields awash
Five score ten thousand mother’s tears
Uplifted eternal flight
Across immortal time, endless space
Wing strokes lifting thunder
Ghost flocks spread the universe,
The canopy of God’s wonder.

Father Lincoln’s hundred thousand
Cast aside a gathering shadow
Of miles upon the land,
And breaking away,
Along Aurora’s ridge,
And the corridors
Of time’s eternal bridge,
Liberty’s young nation
And winged armada,
Pressed the headwinds
Of loss and desolation
And ran the clouds
Of twilight’s infinity
Into the heavens
Of endless absolution.

And so it be said
To hear the trumpets calling
The clarion calls of the dead
Amidst the swirls of heart dust,
The winds of freedom never stalling
Honor spoke "We know thee"
As the last man was falling,

Coming home as star dust
As a mother’s wail
Cold in the night
To a Father’s band
Under summer’s light.

Lady Liberty
Bestow from thee
Upon these boys
The lifetime of diamonds
And sea pebbles and jewels,
Not clustered nor forgotten
But free upon the wing
Riding aloft currents of song,
With cathedral choruses chiming
The bells of eternity's ring...

As someone who shares Abe Lincoln's birthday, I was delighted to watch this exchange with actor Sam Waterston. What a pleasure!

I'd like to see Ford Motor Company drop the entire Lincoln-Mercury line. They are as much duplicates of Fords as Democrats are of Republicans. The hood ornaments don't mean anything. Third parties don't drive electric cars: They take public transit and walk.

Captcha: more piing

Lincoln, eventually, understood the dangers of the private MONEY POWER (President Van Buren always capitalized it to emphasize its fundamental importance).

To read the actual history on this subject (instead of the usual propaganda dressed-up as theory dressed up as economic 'laws' or 'proofs'), please read The Lost Science of Money by Stephen Zarlenga.

Tom DiLorenzo's books have shown the real Lincoln. There is an amazing myth built around Lincoln that is in stark contrast to his real deeds.

Lincoln may well have broken more of our Bill of Rights than any President in the history of these United States. He chose to wage war against his fellow country man without Congressional approval, he suspended habeas corpus, issued an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, closed down 300 dissenting newspapers and destroyed the sovereignty of the individual States. The Founding Father never wanted one country, they wanted a confederacy of States.

It is difficult to see the humanity of Lincoln. He waged a war that killed over 600,000 people and not for the emancipation of blacks. In fact, his favored solution was to have all African American's return to Africa and he made attempts to do just that.

Enough said.

Thank you for the How to Rob a Bank...interview. May I suggest you talk to Simon Johnson from the IMF who also has a spin on our Oligarchy problem. E Brandt

"Legend & legacy" That pretty much sums up Lincoln. The legend is that Lincoln was a great president. The legacy was great damage to the Constitution and the Republic.
[... while Mencken embraced self-determination à la that of Congressman Lincoln in 1848, he was struck by the fact that the Union soldiers were actually fighting against it – against the right of the Confederates to fight for "the right of their people to govern themselves."] http://www.lewrockwell.com/peterson/peterson19.html
Lincoln:
Violated the Constitution and his oath of office by invading and waging war against states that had legally and democratically withdrawn their consent from his government,
Raised troops without the approval of Congress and expended funds without appropriation.
Suspended the writ of habeas corpus and interfered with the press without due process, imprisoned thousands of citizens without charge or trial, and closed courts by military force where no hostilities were occurring.
Waged war against women and children and civilian property as the matter of policy.
Following Lincoln, the central government continued to grow in power and the states and the people lost power and rights.

I throughly enjoyed this program on Lincoln. Thank you for putting on such an knowledgeable program.
i thought the 2 men you had on, did real justice to the whole theme of Lincoln and his rule.
I am a Canadian, but I would be so proud of this president if we had him for our prime minister and would be only to glad to have someone bring him to life as these knowledgeable men have done.
The poetry that was brought into the program was superb and added so much to the show.
BROVO!

I am a huge fan of Bill Moyer's but I disliked this show.
With the present condition of the country I am dumbfounded as to what or who would think the most celebrated President needed another whitewashing.
If there was any mention of the railroad Lincoln worked for prior to politics and the role that railroad had on the man and his views I missed it and nothing about this show showed any journalistic integrity in my opinion.
To a population being screwed over completely by the federal government he made so much stronger, I find the picture painted of Lincoln to be troubling at best.
Biased at best and clearly done to distract attention away from Obama being such a let down.
This show did not need made, ever.
With so many problems facing the world this show almost smells.

Mr. Rockman, do not be afraid to read Lincoln's own words for a change. They tell the true story. Even a prevaricator such as he was reveals the truth. It was not in his nature or being to do anything like Garrison because he did not believe in what Garrison believed. His feelings about the brutality of slavery are and were insignificant because his actions and deeds are what mattered. Rockman, slavery did not end with the emancipation. White union soldiers did not vote for its end either.

In my reply to nikinomo I stated: "was it right for the white traders not to provide the Indians with food they requested. Yes..."

That answer should have been "No, it was not right for them not to!"

There were cries from some whites in Minnesota about the avarice of the traders and the mistreatment of the Sioux who had lived peacefully side by side with the settlers for years. The complaints had been forwarded to Washington, and Lincoln was aware about it and was ready to act against those traders when the Sioux chose violence.

My "yes" comment was a regrettable slip for typing fast, as I meant to say no. Thanks to these unscrupulous traders, no better than many of those who would follow them,a score of innocent folks, both white and red, would die.

nikinomo,

As sympathetic as I am to the cause of Native Americans, and I am very much so, those Sioux that rebelled in Minnesota slaughtered women and children as well as menfolk. They were indiscriminate in their brutality, and received a just response.

Was it right for the white traders to not provide them with food as requested? Yes, and Lincoln was about to take action removing some of the traders when the Sioux chose violence - even murdering a few whites who sympathized with them.

As it was, he trimmed down a list that originally had several hundred names, troubled by the rush to judgment on the part of Minnesota authorities. And many whites were NOT happy with even the 38, almost all of whom did take part in the slaughter, who were hanged.

Remember this too, Lincoln, as a young militia Captain in the Black Hawk War went in front of his men when they wanted to kill an aged, hungry, peaceful chief who had come into New Salem to seek food. That was the kind of man he was.

Slobodan Milosevic? You ought to be ashamed of yourself!

Yes, Mr. Johnson, Lincoln may have fallen short in comparison to Garrison and Phillips, but remember, he was never an abolitonist. He was a lawyer and a politician. He was on record condemning John Brown's actions too.

BUT...having said that, Lincoln hated Slavery with a passion unparalleled with the lame excuses of a Seward or the wringing of hands by Davis and other so-called Southern "moderates". He witnessed the slave markets first hand, and never forgot that image. His letters to Speed and others reflected his own visceral feelings on the subject.

With Lincoln you never got the wishy-washy thing so common with today's politicians, especially, yep, Mr. Johnson, that current Islamofascist appeaser in the White House (in fact Obama really should stop the Lincoln thing as he is so close to Buchanan when it comes to appeasing the intolerable). He could never come out like a Garrison as there was quite a huge sentiment in the North that Blacks were NOT equal to Whites, and he would have never been elected.

Read James McPherson's for "Cause and Comrades" to get the real feeling of the "Boys in Blue" who volunteered after Sumter. They wanted to preserve the Union, but many of them were as bigoted towards Blacks as the most virulent secessionist in the South. It was only later, when Lincoln could push through the Emancipation Proclamation and when these soldiers saw how courageous the Black man was when he fought alongside them, was when that sentiment changed.

Lincoln would have never been elected if he had campaigned as Garrison. Thankfully he did campaign as Abraham Lincoln.

Rockman,
Is it possible that the Carpet Baggers sent south by the government to micro- manage the south had something to do with Lincoln's death?
I understand there was a great fiasco on that account.

sorry for the numerical error that should read 38 not 362

I don't know why Americans attempt to mythologize their dead presidents and turn them into undeserving heroes, while people of great accomplishments are ignored. People like Charles Sumner and other 'Radical Republicans' kept Lincoln's feet to the fire on emancipation even as Lincoln was firing generals who liberated blacks in conquered southern territory. I wasn't aware before of Lincoln's murder of 362 Sioux in Minnesota. Doesn't this put him in the same category as Slobodan Milosevic? That's not to say that he wasn't the best president only that like most heroes, he's only as good as the facts his marketers can conceal

Rockman is so intent on preserving the mythology of a man who was indeed just a man and not a saint. All men should be judged by their deeds and actions and Lincoln falls short in comparison to Garrison and Phillips.
I never mentioned Obama in my comments so one can see that your mindset is obvious. Obama should be judged by the same criteria. By the way, Mr. Rockman I never mentioned my race so your conclusion that I would be a slave is obviously ridiculous as is your diatribe about democrats and republicans.

Rockman,
I appreciate your knowledgeable response.
Both the north and the south were responsible for the death and destruction of the Civil War. Neither was concerned about the carnage they were creating with their vested interests. Instead of working together to solve their problems; they opted out to create an emotional dilemma to create hate and discontent. My point is that if the people involved in the conflict had done what was consistent with their religious beliefs; there would have been no emotional reason for the Civil War.
The constitution was written to assure that this is one nation indivisible with justice for all. Slavery and succession should have been against the law and not viable threats to the security of the nation.
Actually, the slavery still exists with people having to work three jobs to support their family and millions of people spending a big part of their life in a cubicle smaller than a packing crate. Then and now, it is all about cheap labor and great wealth. Slaves provided cheap labor for the south and immigrants provided cheap labor for the north. Now we have a problem with cheap labor in third world nations.
Surely you understand that.
If we are going to have justice for all; we need to protect workers from abusive employment. Corporations are based on profit not human compassion. The working people have been had by the
corporations, the banks, the stock market and the government.
A revolution would be an even greater disaster than a civil war. We need to address our problems before it is too late.
We need to learn from the mistakes of the past not glorify great failings.
We have the resources for a great nation with justice for all. We just need to apply ourselves.



For David Johnson,

Since you obviously have the same kind of animus towards President Lincoln as your beloved Obama apparently had BEFORE running for President, then kindly explain Obama's sucking up to Senator Robert C. Byrd, an obnoxious reptillian Racist who should have been drummed out of the U.S. Senate decades ago for his Klan enthusiasm had he NOT been a Democrat.

Also, Davey, kindly explain what Lincoln, a product of his times could have or should have done? Guys like you, Obama, Eric Holder*, Lerone Bennett and Jeremiah Wright always have the answer, and it boils down to "pity poor us. Lincoln hated us too because he wouldn't drop everything and declare emancipation"...

As I pointed out earlier, he had considerations which your hero Obama thankfully doesn't have to face - at least not yet. After Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers in the wake of Fort Sumter, Virginia and Robert E. Lee went South. Had he declared Emancipation in the summer of 1861, Kentucky too would have declared itself for the Confederacy - and you might still be a slave today if that happened.

He may have been methodic, slow, but he did the job and he not only saved America, he ensured that Slavery would end. This despite the whines and nonsense of a Davey, an Obama, a Lerone, or Holder.

*which leads me to this, Holder called Americans cowards on Race matters. As someone who actually shed blood fighting for open housing for Black Americans in the Southern California of the 1960s, methinks he should have had the guts himself to point a finger at the guy who hired him for A-G, the same guy who sat reverently at Kleagle Byrd's side and who sat in that pew for 20 years.

Lincoln accomplished much, and what he had hoped to accomplish for ALL Americans after the Civil War was so tragically cut down by John Wilkes Booth, who murdered Lincoln in great part because of his willingness to help Black Americans cope in the Reconstruction period. Mr. Davey needs to direct his venom at Senator Byrd, at Eric Holder, at Lerone Bennett, or yes, at Obama, or be classified as the victricrat he is.

Lincoln never changed or grew regarding the so called "negro problem". One need only read his words to understand that critical point. Unlike great men like Garrison and Phillips who were the true heroic leaders of his time, Lincoln always chose the path of enslavement and degradation for "negroes". The notion of regarding Lincoln as the great emancipator is the ultimate lie that this nation refuses to face even today. This nation does not need to rely on myths for the true story of emancipation lies not within the mythology of Lincoln as a emancipator but in the deeds of men of courage like Garrison and Phillips and the slaves who in the end truly freed themselves.

I don't think Lincoln's farewell speech at Springfield needed the revisions Sam Waterston gave it. It was perfect exactly as Lincoln delivered it.

Thank you so much for today's presentation. Watching and listening to Sam Holterston and Harold Holzer brought Abraham Lincoln alive as I have experienced before. He has been my favorite since elementary school in the Bronx, NY. Yes, our 16th president still lives.

Blessings to you and your wonderful informative weekly programs. I look forward to them each week.

P.S. to Eddy,

Remember too, that the U.S. Presidency up until 1860 was controlled by men of the South.

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Polk - all Southerners, Pierce and Buchanan might as well have been from the South as well, since they both refused to do anything about Slavery or the Slave Power.

As for the argument about cheap labor in the North, I don't follow you at all. The only cheap labor was those of the poor Slaves in the South, which rich Southern aristocrats went hunting, sipped Juleps, or held their cotillion Balls. They might not have had factories there but they could have developed their ports and railroads with what they had. They chose the backs of the Slaves and their cash crops of cotton and tobacco instead.

Prominent Southern leaders, including Sam Houston and Davis envisaged a railroad stretching from the Carolinas to California in the 1850s. Davis, as Secretary of War was fully prepared to implement this railroad. It wasn't so much Northern opposition BUT Southern Opposition, indifference and apathy that put paid to their version of a Union Pacific that might have created jobs and bolstered the South's economy too.

Again, the 697 wealthy rabble rousers including Toombs, Cobb, Ruffin, and others were those who decided the fate of 9 million. Even Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee can be excused from their terrible choices.

Reply to Eddy,

The Civil War began for three general reasons propelled by specific events. The three reasons were Slavery, States Rights, and the Economy. While there were some enlightened souls in the South (Jeff Davis was actually more enlightened than Lee was on the subject of Slavery), the majority of the Southern Establishment, 697 wealthy men, according to Historian Paul Johnson (no Leftist like Zinn) decided the fate of 9, almost 10 million poor Southerners by clinging to their outdated beliefs and biases.

Secondly, while one can make an argument for States' Rights, especially in these times, the bottom line is that we are still the United States. United we stand, Divided we fall. Back then it was easy for a Lee in Virginia, a Twiggs in Georgia, or a Hood in Kentucky to renounce allegiance to a nation they - and their parents served because there really was NO concept of unity then. The Civil War changed that. Remember, Jackson was fully prepared to send General Scott and an Army to Charleston in 1832. If Buchanan had been equally willing, the war, yes could have been avoided.

Finally, economics. The South prefered, or seemed to, an Agarian economy based on cotton, corn and tobacco while the North industrialized, enlarged their ports, built railroads. Those 697 and their friends might not have had many of the resources the North held, but they could have built up their ports, and their infrastructure. Instead they whined over the taxes (which they may have had a case) and threatened to secede, which they did not.

Finally Brown at Harper's Ferry, the juvenile response of Southern "leaders" to Uncle Tom's Cabin and the legitimate outrage of the North over the Dred Scott decision, followed by the election of our Greatest President caused these Southern "leaders" to behave like spoiled children, walk off in a pout, throwing their toys down. It would have been hysterically funny had nearly 700,000 Americans and Lincoln not pay the ultimate price for their behavior.

Again, Eddy, read a solid history of the Civil War, not a Southern revisionist one, or even the spew of a Zinn. McPherson spells it out much better than I can, though I think I presented a solid response.

Ellen,
Your article is wonderful and what a truly remarkable opportunity for us to revive Lincoln's legacy to its full depth. Thanks for this and thanks too Bill!
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=3394

Excellent and timely! There is a certain theory that perhaps Obama IS Lincoln returned, come to rectify any mistakes and complete any unfinished missions of the earlier Presidency. Fanciful perhaps, but I've written an article that was published last week in Yes! Magazine Online, on an unfinished mission of Lincoln few are aware of today -- taking the power to create money from a private banking cartel and returning it to the people and their representative government. It is here:
"Revive Lincoln’s Monetary Policy: an Open Letter to President Obama" --
http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=3394

Rockman,
I am sorry to have to have to point up the facts of life ...
The civil war had a lot to do with providing cheap labor for the industrial north. Just like the present; there is alway a hidden agenda. Industry is meant to be the servant of humans not the enslaver of humans for the benefit of the wealthy few.
The death and destruction of the civil war should have been avoided and the slaves freed without the war if Christians practiced what they preach.

To read of Lincoln's care and concern to reduce the list of condemned Sioux, and, of his determination to reform Indian policy after the war, see Cox, Hank. H.;
Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862 (2005)

For RE Mant,

Sorry that you seem to be so ignorant of American History, or who we are as a people.

Andrew Jackson in 1832 was fully prepared to go to war, even taking on his own Vice President, John C. Calhoun when South Carolina then threatened to secede from the Union. I suppose you would have allowed that to happen, right?

Lincoln chose to save America, preserve the Union, and end Slavery, and he and 400,000 Union soldiers gave their lives to keep this country united. Had he failed, we would have become another Bosnia, Sudan, or much worse.

I suggest you pick up a book entitled "April 1865" by Jay Winik which tells it like it would have been.

Lincoln was still OUR Greatest President despite the muddying up of his image and "love-hate" spin our current inexperienced, incompetent. We wouldn't have had an America left if it wasn't for his wisdom, courage, and humanity.

Just reading the blog comments it is obvious that history and its participants are rife with ambiguity, controversy, and sometimes a universal truth unveiled.
Lincoln's suffering as a young man informed his life and character. It could be argued that he should have grown up to be an uneducated racist, but instead aspired to law and governance. This is the juncture of his life which changed history. He chose the positive, albet ambitious path of power and accomplishment versus the easy and familiar. Throughout his life, and embedded in his writings, are an unmistakable sadness, a legacy of his brush with the brutish, common and greedy nature within and without. I think he overcame and triumphed, but at great cost to himself and his family.

The comments regarding Obama and Lincoln were curious and interesting. One of the points of the program was to look at the Lincoln myth or legacy discovering its evolutionary nature which speaks to his dynamic position in the history of this country. Consequently, one is free to assess Lincoln not in stone but on whatever evolutionary scale one finds appropriate at the time.

Lincoln was a soldier for true freedom, much like Jefferson, Buddha, Gandhi, and King. They like many others tried to open the door that binds us all. We have still so very far to go. Who will be strong enough to carry the light, to teach us the truth, to show us the rest of the Way? Who will tear down the door of our own manmade inequities; who will remove the cage or walls that divide us, and destroy us? Who will lead us to the unity of One, to our own universal salvation? Who will open the door and set lion free at last, free at last? Who will be so powerful and so self evidently strong? Who will be the change we wish to see in the world? Who will carry the torch of freedom the rest of the Way?

Truth will,
Only The Truth of us All.

=
MJA

As someone who admires both Sam Waterston and Hal Holzer very much, I do wish Professor Holzer would stop subscribing to the myth that Mr. Obama has always loved our Greatest President.

Obama, if he didn't despise Lincoln, seemed to subscribe heavily to the reverse Racism of Lerone Bennett and others who slammed Lincoln for making some "racist" jokes and for not moving fast enough for Emancipation.

All one has to do is read segments of "Audacity of Hope" to know that Mr. Obama was no fan of Abraham Lincoln BEFORE he ran for President. Then he chose to invoke History - but not before. If Obama truly revered Lincoln, he would have ran as fast as he could away from a party that gave America Slavery, Secession, the leadership of the Confederacy, Jim Crow, Plessy v. Ferguson, Poll Taxes, and yes, even the Ku Klux Klan of Obama's good buddy Senator Byrd.

He only became an admirer of Lincoln when it was politically expedient to do so.

Lincoln was his own man; Obama looks like a puppet.

"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed."

- Abraham Lincoln

As someone who very much appreciates the talents and dedication of both Sam Waterston and Hal Holzer to the Lincoln epic, I remain deeply troubled by the insistence by many, including Professor Holzer, of Mr. Obama's "love" for our Greatest President.

Why?

Because if one reads "Audacity of Hope", you will find that Mr. Obama did not like Abraham Lincoln BEFORE he was running for President, and seemed to subscribe to the views espoused by Lerone Bennett in "Forced into Glory" where Lincoln was described as a Racist and at best a reluctant Emancipator.

Lincoln, as any good schoolboy knows, if he truly studied the subject of the man, detested slavery from his teens when he went on that fated boat ride down the Mississippi and saw his first Slave market. But Mr. Obama, who writes about his reverence for Senator Byrd only pages later, didn't get it back then - but chose only to do so when he ran for President.

I do wish that Harold Holzer, so gifted and great a Historian, would drop the myth that Obama loves Lincoln. If he truly did so, he would have run as far away from the party that gave us Slavery, Secession, Jim Crow, Plessy V. Ferguson, Fort Pillow, the Klan, Bilbo, Rankin, Woodrow Wilson, the young Klan acolyte Carter, as he could.

Well done, Bill.

I took something quite different away from watching the lincoln special... The singsong rhythm of speeches, poetry, and historical analysis (plus the wonderful subject matter)... all came together and made me wonder if this was the beauty and power of oral traditions... like homer of the greeks. it was only at the end when holzer was addressing myth and I was still basking in the coolness/beauty of what I had experienced.

I can honestly say I think nothing at all of Abe Lincoln. He did everything he possibly could, wrong. The civil war was as futile and unnecessary as all the others, and in the end accomplished nothing more than would have happened anyway, in the fulness of time. And the real division behind all of them is still with us, between the ancestors of Whig and Tory, Republican and Democrat.

Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South.

What brought about the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians in Minnesota December 26, 1862 was the failure again of the U.S. Government to honor it's treaties with Indian Nations. Indians were not given the money or food set forth to them for signing a treaty to turn over more than a million acres of their land and be forced to live on a reservation.
Indian agents keep the treaty money and food that was to go to the Indians, the food was sold to Settlers, food that was given to the Indians was spoiled and not fit for a dog to eat. Indian hunting parties went off the reservation land looking for food to feed their families, one hunting group took food form Settlers land and the rest is history.
President Lincoln and Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey set out to exterminate Indians from their home land.
Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all 303 Indian males found guilty. Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 39. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. Remember, he only owed the Sioux 1.4 million for the land.
So, on December 26, 1862, our Great President ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.

Mr. Moyers, I found your site because of a TechTicker link about William Black's book on banksters and I liked the discussions in your blog as well to the point I want to suggest doing a piece on this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pVmxQsvj6lo (Greenspan Admits Federal Reserve Is Above The Law and Answers To No One) that correlating to your question - how do they get away with it?

A. Lincoln changed his mind over the years about slavery. He was truly open minded.

"Lincoln wrote to Joshua Speed in 1855: 'How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty — to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be take pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].'"

He was honest in his evaluation that the "Negro" was protected by the US Constitution.

(Will President Obama change his mind about the preborn and be really honest to himself and the country? He knows when life begins; it's not above his pay-grade, especially now.)

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