Browsing "Lincoln Revealed"

Lincoln's Party of White Supremacy

The freedmen did not receive the franchise because of their political maturity and judgment as the clear intent was to simply keep the Republican party in power. The Republican party’s Union League organization taught the Southern black man to hate his white neighbor, and to vote for Northern men whose own States had initiated Jim Crow laws. An excellent source for Northern antebellum racial views is “North of Slavery: The Negro in the Free States, 1790-1860,” Leon Litwack, Chicago, 1961.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Party of White Supremacy

“The Republican leaders were quite aware in 1865 that the issue of Negro status and rights was closely connected with the two other great issues of Reconstruction – who should reconstruct the South and who should govern the country. They were increasingly conscious that in order to reconstruct the South along the lines they planned they would require the support and the votes of the freedmen.

And it was apparent to some that once the reconstructed States were restored to the Union the Republicans would need the votes of the freedmen to retain control over the national government. While they could agree on this much, they were far from agreeing on the status, the rights, the equality, or the future of the Negro.

The fact was that the constituency on which the Republican congressmen relied in the North lived in a race-conscious, segregated society devoted to the doctrine on white supremacy and Negro inferiority.

“In virtually every phase of existence,” writes Leon Litwack with regard to the North in 1860, “Negroes found themselves systematically separated from whites. They were either excluded from railway cars, omnibuses, stagecoaches, and steamboats and assigned to special “Jim Crow” sections; they sat, when permitted, in secluded and remote corners of theaters and lecture halls; they could not enter most hotels, restaurants and resorts, except as servants; they prayed in “Negro pews” in the white churches . . . Moreover, they were often educated in segregated schools, punished in segregated prisons, nursed in segregated hospitals, and buried in segregated cemeteries.”

Ninety-three per cent of the 225,000 Northern Negroes in 1860 lived in States that denied them the ballot, and 7 per cent lived in the five New England States that permitted them to vote. Ohio and New York had discriminatory qualifications that practically eliminated Negro voting.

Ohio denied them poor relief, and most States of the old Northwest had laws carrying penalties against Negroes settling in those States. Everywhere in the free States the Negro met with barriers to job opportunities, and in most places he encountered severe limitations to the protection of his life, liberty and property.

[Many Republican leaders], like Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, the close friend of Lincoln, found no difficulty in reconciling antislavery with anti-Negro views. “We, the Republican party,” said Senator Trumbull in 1858,” are the white man’s party. We are for free white men, and for making white labor respectable and honorable, which it can never be when negro slave labor is brought into competition with it.” [And] William H. Seward, who in 1860 described the American Negro as “a foreign and feeble element like the Indians, incapable of assimilation”; [and], Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, who firmly disavowed any belief “in the mental or intellectual equality of the African race with this proud and domineering race of ours.”

(Seeds of Failure in Radical Race Policy, C. Vann Woodward, New Frontiers of the American Reconstruction, Harold M. Hyman, editor, pp. 125-12”

 

Moribund Republican Party Saved by Lincoln

Lincoln reportedly gave a great deal of attention to the last half of his “House Divided” speech, a trumpet call to form ranks against a South which he claimed wanted to push slavery into the Northern States, when no such threat existed. With that paragraph, Lincoln “gently cut the [Republican] party loose from its old Whig moorings and warily charted its course to the port of the abolitionists.” This solidified his party of disunion, and forced the South to react.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Moribund Republican Party Saved by Lincoln

“Lincoln possessed political sagacity to a high degree and well understood the force of public opinion. When [he] sounded the “eventually all free” note in his campaign against [Stephen] Douglas, he had a very definite political object in view. His immediate purpose was to win enough votes to get elected to the United States Senate.

His ground for asking for the votes of his fellow Illinois citizens was that he would represent those who did not want slavery to spread into any of the national territories. However, at the time he was making this race for the Senate with Douglas, it was becoming increasingly clear that slavery did not have the ghost of a show for establishment in any of the unsettled lands then belonging to the nation because the economic basis for the system was lacking in all of them.

The defeat of the slave-State constitution in Kansas made it certain that none of the land which Douglas had opened to slavery north of 36-30 would become slave. In view of the economic circumstances it was becoming more evident that unless the Republican party acquired new tenets there was no reason for continuing its organization.

The purpose for which it had been organized, i.e., restoring the free status of the land north of 36-30, having been accomplished, it would fall to pieces unless it acquired new reasons to continue its existence.

[William] Seward, one of the leading lights of the party, and [Horace] Greeley, the leading editor of the party, were willing at this time to dissolve the party, but Lincoln was unwilling for the Republicans to disband their distinctive anti-slavery organization and have nobody to follow but Douglas, who did not care whether slavery was “voted up or voted down.”

Accordingly, in his debate with Douglas, he had to supply additional material for the sustenance of the party’s life; for the time was rapidly approaching when it would become obvious to everybody that the extension of slavery into the territories had been checked permanently by prevailing economic conditions.

In order to win victory at the polls in 1858 it would be necessary for a Republican candidate not only to hold persons already enrolled in the moribund political organization, but also gain additional recruits . . . [and] two groups from which new members could be drawn were the bona-fide abolitionists and the Henry Clay “Whigs,” who had hitherto refused to enroll themselves in the sectional political party.

The abolitionists supplied the soul of the anti-slavery movement of the north, but they had in general refused to vote for anybody who compromised on anything less than a declaration in favor of abolition of slavery in the slave States. The Henry Clay Whigs of the North opposed further acquisition of territory which could be devoted to slavery but desired ultimate abolition only under conditions equitable to the South. They had the most kindly feelings toward the Southern whites and like Clay preferred the liberty of their own race to that of any other race, although they were no friends of slavery.

Lincoln so skillfully calculated the wording of his famous House-Divided speech that it won converts to his following from both the above-mentioned groups. It carried water on both shoulders, so to speak, for it was so constructed that it was acceptable to both radicals and moderate conservatives.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861, A Study in Public Opinion, Mary Scrugham, Columbia, 1921, pp. 17- 20)

European Mercenaries for Lincoln

Lincoln’s endless levies for troops and dwindling enlistments forced him to scour Europe for mercenaries, sending agents with cash and promises of government land to attract military age immigrants. The editor of the Ulster Observer cited below pointed out that the Southern army was full of Irishmen and “asked on what principle the Irish people could leave their homeland to steep their hands in the blood of those who were their kith and kin.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

European Mercenaries for Lincoln

“[T]here had begun to be opposition to the departure of Irishmen from the country by the thousand, a migration greatly aggravated by the economic distress of the island. As early as January, 1862, the Liverpool Reporter observed that for several months young men loaded with gold watches and large bounties had been leaving Ireland, ostensibly to emigrate to America, but actually to serve in the Federal army, for which they were engaged by Northern agents.

An extract from the Ulster Observer of Belfast is typical of the comments appearing in the opposition press:

“We have more respect for our country and our countrymen than to see them wearing the livery of a foreign state in a cause which involves no principle with which they can be identified . . . [but America] cannot, and should not, expect our countrymen to be her mercenaries in the present fratricidal struggle. Already the battlefields are white with the bones of their brethren.  Thousand of Irishmen have, thanklessly, it would appear, laid down their lives for the North . . . and if President Lincoln still stands in need of human hecatombs, he should look elsewhere than to the decimated home of Ireland for the victims.”

In general, it can be stated that the public journals were loud in denouncing “Federal agents” and clamorous for their prosecution and punishment.

” . . . One might say that [Secretary of State] Seward did everything he could to encourage . . . [foreign enlistments] . . . the Homestead Act of May, 1862, which provided free farms to all aliens who had filed declarations of intention to become citizens of the United States. It further provided that foreign-born residents might become full citizens after one years’ residence on condition of honorable service in the army.

By an act approved July 4th, 1864, the Office of Commissioner of Immigration was created under the Secretary of State; the duties imposed upon him were to gather information as to soil, climate, minerals, agricultural products, wages, transportation, and employment needs. This information was to be disseminated throughout the countries of Europe.”

(Foreigners in the Union Army and Navy, Ella Lonn, LSU Press, 1951, pp. 412-418)

 

 

Lincoln's Instrument of Subjugation

Lincoln was not the first to invoke an emancipation of slaves in the South for the purpose of carrying off his enemy’s agricultural labor and inciting a bloody race war – Virginia’s Royal Governor Lord Dunmore did this in 1775 and Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane the same in 1814. As enlistments for his war machine had virtually ceased after the carnage of 1862, Lincoln saw more blue-clad troops in slaves carried off from their Southern plantation homes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Instrument of Subjugation

“Lincoln had laid aside his [emancipation] proclamation waiting for a victory. He waited two months, meanwhile giving out public statements based on his previous noncommittal attitude [regarding African slavery]; then on September 22, after Lee’s invasion had been foiled at [Sharpsburg], he issued the preliminary proclamation.

That this proclamation was far from an abolition document is shown by a careful reading of its provisions. The President began by reiterating that the purpose of the war was the restoration of the Union and reaffirming his intention still to labor for compensated emancipation. He then declared that on January 1, 1863, slaves in rebellious States should be “then, thenceforward, and forever free” . . .

The proclamation was not expressive of any general antislavery policy. On January 1, 1863, the definitive proclamation was issued, its chief provision being that in regions then designated as “in rebellion,” (with certain notable exceptions) all slaves were declared free. [But] the stereotyped picture of the emancipator suddenly striking the shackles from millions of slaves by a stroke of the presidential pen is altogether inaccurate.

The whole State of Tennessee was omitted [from the proclamation]; none of the Union slave States was included; and there were important exceptions as to portions of Virginia and Louisiana, those being portions within Union military lines. In fact freedom was decreed only in regions then under Confederate control.

“The President has purposely made the proclamation inoperative [declared the New York World] in all places where we have gained a military footing which makes the slaves accessible. He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it. The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia renders the proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous.

The proclamation is issued as a war measure, as an instrument for the subjugation of the rebels. But that cannot be a means of military success which presupposes this same . . . success as the condition of its own existence . . . A war measure it clearly is not, inasmuch as the previous success of the war is the thing that can give it validity.”

“We show our sympathy with slavery, [Secretary of State William] Seward is reported to have said, “by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”

The London Spectator declared (October 11, 1862): “The government liberates the enemy’s slaves as it would the enemy’s cattle, simply to weaken them in the . . . conflict . . . The principle is not that a human being cannot justify owning another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.”

Earl Russell in England declared: “The Proclamation . . . appears to be of a very strange nature. It professes to emancipate all slaves in places where the United States authorities cannot exercise any jurisdiction . . . but it does not decree emancipation . . . in any States, or parts of States, occupied by federal troops . . . and where, therefore, emancipation . . . might have been carried into effect . . . There seems to be no declaration of a principle adverse to slavery in this proclamation.”

It will be noted that Lincoln justified his act as a measure of war. To uphold his view would be to maintain that the freeing of enemy slaves was a legitimate weapon of war to be wielded by the President . . . [and] in the new attitude toward slavery which the war produced [in the North] it was natural to find considerable support for the view that slavery was a legitimate target o the war power [of the President]; but it is a matter of plain history that prior to the Civil War the United States had emphatically denied the “belligerent right” of emancipation.

Indeed, John Quincy Adams, who has been credited by his grandson [Charles Francis Adams] with having originated the idea of the emancipation proclamation, declared officially while secretary of state in 1820 that “No such right [emancipation of slaves] is acknowledged as a Law of War by writers who admit any limitation.”

To Lincoln’s mind the war emergency justified things normally unconstitutional. “I felt that measures otherwise unconstitutional,” he said, “might become lawful by becoming indispensible to the preservation of the Constitution through the preservation of the nation.”

(The Civil War and Reconstruction, J.G. Randall, D.C. Heath and Company, 1937, pp. 489-493)

 

Lincoln and a Few Gourds of Corn Aboard

H.L. Mencken famously held that it is hopeless to look for the real man in biographies as they tend toward distortion and sentimentalism. Regarding the authors he added: “Nearly all our professional historians are poor men holding college posts, and they are ten times more cruelly beset by the ruling politico-plutocratic-social oligarchy than ever the Prussian professors were by the Hohenzollerns. Let them diverge in the slightest form from what is the current official doctrine, and they are turned out of their chairs with a ceremony suitable for the expulsion of a drunken valet.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln and a Few Gourds of Corn Aboard

“Even Lincoln is yet to be got vividly between the covers of a book. The Nicolay-Hay work is quite impossible; it is not a biography, but simply a huge storehouse of biographical raw materials; whoever can read it can also read the official Records of the Rebellion.

So far as I can make out, no genuinely scientific study of the man has ever been attempted. The amazing conflict of testimony about him remains a conflict; the most elemental facts are yet to be established; he grows vaguer and more fabulous as year follows year.

One would think that, by this time, the question of his religious views (to take one example) ought to be settled, but apparently it is not, for no longer than a year ago there came a reverend author, Dr. William E. Barton, with a whole volume on the subject, and I was as much in the dark after reading it as I had been before I opened it. All previous biographers, it appeared by this author’s evidence, had either dodged the problem or lied.

The official doctrine, in this as in other departments, is obviously quite as unsound. One hears in the Sunday-schools that Abe was an austere and pious fellow, constantly taking the name of God in whispers . . . [and] that he was a shining idealist, holding all his vast powers by the magic of an inner and ineffable virtue.

Imagine a man getting on in American politics, interesting and enchanting the boobery, sawing off the horns of other politicians, elbowing his way through the primaries and conventions, by the magic of virtue!

Abe, in fact, must have been a fellow highly skilled at the great democratic art of gum-shoeing. I like to think of him as one who defeated such politicians as Stanton, Douglas and Sumner with their own weapons – deftly leading them into ambuscades, boldly pulling their noses, magnificently ham-stringing and hornswoggling them – in brief, as a politician of extraordinary talents, who loved the game for its own sake, and had the measure of the crowd.

His official portraits, both in prose and daguerreotype, show him wearing the mien of a man about to be hanged; one never sees him smiling. Nevertheless, one hears that, until he emerged from Illinois, they always put the women, children and clergy to bed when he got a few gourds of corn aboard, and it is a matter of unescapable record that his career in the State legislature was indistinguishable from that of a Tammany [Hall] Nietzsche.

(Roosevelt: An Autopsy, Prejudices, A Selection, H.L. Mencken, Johns Hopkins Press, 1996, pp. 48-49)

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