Abraham Lincoln and Racial Equality

Alan Singer, a professor of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership at Hofstra University, has an article at History News Network which, in my view, shows he has an incomplete understanding of Abraham Lincoln.  He starts by taking us back to 1858 and the Lincoln Douglas Debates.  In Charleston, Lincoln said, “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, 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 forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality … I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman, or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.”  Singer claims, “This was before Lincoln was elected president and before the outbreak of the Civil War, but Lincoln’s speeches, writings, and actions after these events continued to reflect this point of view about race and equality.”  What is most interesting about this quote is what Singer chooses to leave out of it through his use of the ellipses.

William Lee Miller, in his excellent study of Lincoln, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography, discusses Lincoln’s racial views. In doing so, he quotes a fuller version of this famous statement from the Charleston debate with Stephen A. Douglas:

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – 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 forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

Notice Lincoln recognizes a physical difference only which prevents the two races from living together equally.  This is a nod to white prejudice against African-Americans.  He says that IF one race is to be in a superior position, then just like any other man, he would be in favor of his own race being in that position.  That doesn’t mean that he believes one race MUST be in a superior position.  And even then he believes African-Americans are entitled to basic rights as human beings.

And what Lincoln said right after this is important, too:

“I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowledge a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 3, p. 146]

As Prof. Miller writes,

“Here, if you are a racist looking for support from Lincoln or a debunker seeking to discredit Lincoln, is the prime text for claiming that he was a ‘white supremacist.’ But even in this worst of his statements, he immediately makes the ‘nevertheless’ addition that is not a concession to the other side and to the prejudices of the audience, but his own affirmation: ‘I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the Negro should be denied everything.’ There is something still he is not to be denied–his humanity, and his right not to be a slave to any other man.” [William Lee Miller, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography, p. 350]

And we have to remember that in Chicago, only two months prior, Lincoln said, “My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man—this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position—discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.” [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 2, p. 501]

There is much more to Lincoln’s statements on race than his critics have said. As a consummate politician he chose his words very carefully, and his statements have to be read with great care. While William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips made statements that were far more progressive than Lincoln’s, they were in a much different situation. They had the luxury of not running for office and not having to appeal to people for their votes.

Prof. Miller gets deeper into Lincoln and his situation.

“In response to this racist attack and the racist atmosphere he knew well, Lincoln had done–as we saw in his remarks at Charleston–what almost all Republicans, at least outside New England, did: he made defensive concessions to reassure the heavily Negrophobic white male Illinois electorate that he did not propose to upset the racial patterns in contemporary Illinois. These are the statements, often quoted, that are now embarrassments for his admirers and weapons for his critics. He made defensive concessions to racial prejudice on all points except the crucial minimum (the Negro’s humanity and basic right to live his own life) and then used those introductory concessions as a preliminary to a ringing affirmation of that basic right which was the point at issue. But in a later time when that basic right is no longer in question, his preliminary concessions, not his affirmation, becomes the focus of attention.” [William Lee Miller, Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography, p. 353]

“It is not simply that he was, in the cliché, a ‘man of his time’; he was a man of his time, his place, and his role. He was a politician. A mainstream politician, seeking to shape major party victories, and much of the time seeking office himself, in one of the most racially prejudiced–perhaps the most prejudiced–of Northern states.” [Ibid., pp. 354-355]

“Here are considerations before singling out the nineteenth-century provincial white politician Abraham Lincoln for the late-twentieth-century epithet ‘racist’:
“1. White racial prejudice was pervasive and deep in most of the North, especially in the West, and particularly in Illinois, probably the most racially prejudiced free state in the Union.
2. The Democrats, nationwide and in Illinois, made a relentless, nasty attack on all Republicans as ‘amalgamationists,’ ‘mongrelizers,’ ‘race-mixers.’ James McPherson would make a remark about the high tide of Democratic Party racism in the campaign to dislodge President Lincoln in 1864: ‘The vulgarity of their [the Democrats’] tactics [on race] almost surpasses belief.’
3. The key point: Slavery, not race, was the issue in the 1850s. One might say with blunt realism that the Republicans as a major party had to disassociate themselves from racial equalizing in order to gain power to restrain slavery.
4. Almost all Republicans in the West and lower North made statements disavowing practical racial equality, most of them worse than those made by Lincoln.
5. Many Republicans (not to mention Democrats) adopted pseudo-scientific and pseudo-biblical ideas about differences in racial essence and origins, and genetic racial inferiority, accompanied by demeaning racist comments; Lincoln, even under Douglas’s assault, did not do that.
6. Colonization was not a peculiar proposal by Lincoln but a movement with a history. It could boast some quite distinguished earlier supporters (Henry Clay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Daniel Webster), some black support, and in the late 1850s, widespread Republican endorsement.
7. Although the colonization movement could rest on a demeaning racist premise, it could include also or instead a humanitarian motive, and always regarded itself as antislavery; for Lincoln it was always voluntary, and closely tied to emancipation and the moral condemnation of slavery.
8. Part of the reason for putting forward colonizing ideas was political expediency, as an answer to racist fears about what would happen after slavery.
9. Lincoln chose to oppose slavery’s extension on moral grounds, which he did not need to do; and which many antislavery politicians did not do, insisting that their opposition to slavery rested in some ‘white’ ground. The moral grounds that Lincoln made primary meant affirming common humanity with the enslaved black persons.” [Ibid., pp. 358-359]

Prof. Harry Jaffa develops an aspect of Prof. Miller’s points: “Was it more important to lead to victory the anti-slavery party which then existed, and existed on a very tenuous foundation, or to proclaim a policy of full interracial equality, a proclamation that would have wrecked that party, leaving a pro-slavery party in control of the national government? We concede that such a counsel of ‘perfection’ may be demanded in the name of morality. And it may be that obedience to such counsels gain a man the kingdom of heaven. But we believe it is as demonstrable as anything in politics can be that, had Lincoln acted upon it, he would have acted to perpetuate the hell of slavery on earth.” [Harry V. Jaffa, Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, p. 373]

And we must remember the sum of a man is not one year in his life or one decade of his life. Lincoln’s totality was not 1858 or the 1850s. As LaWanda Cox wrote, “During his presidency Lincoln did not reaffirm the disavowals of support for equality beyond freedom which he had made during the campaigning of the 1850s. He did not explicitly disown them, but their repudiation was implicit in his actions and his words. More prescient for his presidential record than his concessions to racism was Lincoln’s prewar resistance to embracing white supremacy wholeheartedly. Of equal import for the future was Lincoln’s prewar intransigence in holding to the principle that a slave was a man entitled to rights as a man. … The experiences of wartime, as well as his political principles and his attitude toward slavery and race, moved Lincoln toward an active commitment to equality beyond freedom for bondage.” [LaWanda Cox, Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership, p. 22]

Lincoln was concerned about how African-Americans were treated, and about their status in the United States.

“How to better the condition of the colored race has long been a study which has attracted my serious and careful attention; hence I think I am clear and decided as to what course I shall pursue in the premises, regarding it a religious duty, as the nation’s guardian of these people, who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle-field, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic, they have demonstrated in blood their right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the flag they have so fearlessly defended. The restoration of the Rebel States to the Union must rest upon the principle of civil and political equality of the both races; and it must be sealed by general amnesty.” [Abraham Lincoln to James Wadsworth, January, 1864, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 7, pp. 101-102]

And he evolved in his thinking.  In what is now recognized as his last public address, Lincoln affirmed his support for limited suffrage for African-Americans.

“The amount of constituency, so to to [sic] speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government, as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is ‘Will it be wiser to take it as it is, and help to improve it; or to reject, and disperse it?’ ‘Can Louisiana be brought into proper practical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining, or by discarding her new State Government?’

“Some twelve thousand voters in the heretofore slave-state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the State, held elections, organized a State government, adopted a free-state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white, and empowering the Legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man. Their Legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These twelve thousand persons are thus fully committed to the Union, and to perpetual freedom in the state—committed to the very things, and nearly all the things the nation wants—and they ask the nations recognition, and it’s assistance to make good their committal. Now, if we reject, and spurn them, we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We in effect say to the white men ‘You are worthless, or worse—we will neither help you, nor be helped by you.’ To the blacks we say ‘This cup of liberty which these, your old masters, hold to your lips, we will dash from you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where, and how.’ If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the Union, I have, so far, been unable to perceive it. If, on the contrary, we recognize, and sustain the new government of Louisiana the converse of all this is made true. We encourage the hearts, and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete success. The colored man too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it, than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it? Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national constitution. To meet this proposition, it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those States which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this, further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be persistently questioned; while a ratification by three fourths of all the States would be unquestioned and unquestionable.” [Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 8, pp. 403-404]

This wasn’t the first time he recommended limited suffrage for blacks.  The year before, in a letter to Michael Hahn, newly elected free state governor of Louisiana, Lincoln wrote, “I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as the first-free-state Governor of Louisiana. Now you are about to have a Convention which, among other things, will probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some of the colored people may not be let in—as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone.”  [Abraham Lincoln to Michael Hahn, 13 March 1864, Collected Works, Vol 7, p. 243]

Lincoln was the first president to welcome blacks into the White House as guests and not as servants. “To Negroes who visited the White House, Lincoln behaved much the same as with Mrs. Keckley; if he as not hail-fellow-well-met, neither was he unfriendly. He treated Negroes as they wanted to be treated–as human beings. … Negro visitors to the White House were treated without false heartiness, but without any sign of disdain. Never condescending, Lincoln did not talk down to Negroes, nor did he spell out his thoughts in the one-syllable language of the first reader. … Of all Lincoln’s host of visitors, white or black, none admired him like Sojourner Truth, the almost legendary abolitionist of indeterminate years.” [Benjamin Quarles, Lincoln and the Negro, pp. 204-205]

William Lee Miller tells how Lincoln met a Haitian named William de Fleurville, who had run out of funds. Finding out he had training as a barber, Lincoln took him to New Salem and drummed up enough haircuts among his friends that Fleurville was solvent again and on his way to Springfield. After Lincoln moved to Springfield in 1837, “Billy the Barber” became his exclusive barber for his entire time in Springfield. Additionally, Frederick Douglass said of Lincoln, “I was never more quickly or more completely put at ease in the presence of a great man than that of Abraham Lincoln.” Douglass praised Lincoln for always treating him [Douglass] as a complete equal. [William Lee Miller, Lincoln’s Virtues, pages 40-41]

Frederick Douglass said of Lincoln, “In his company I was never in any way reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular colour.”

“I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.” Frederick Douglass, “Oration in Memory of Abraham Lincoln,” 14 Apr 1876]

Singer tells us, “African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, for his part, remained very skeptical about Lincoln’s intentions and program, even after the p[resident [sic] issued a preliminary emancipation in September 1862.

“Douglass had good reason to mistrust Lincoln. On December 1, 1862, one month before the scheduled issuing of an Emancipation Proclamation,  the president offered the Confederacy another chance to return to the union and preserve slavery for the foreseeable future. In his annual message to congress, Lincoln recommended a constitutional amendment, which if it had passed, would have been the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

“The amendment proposed gradual emancipation that would not be completed for another thirty-seven years, taking slavery in the United States into the twentieth century; compensation, not for the enslaved, but for the slaveholder; and the expulsion, supposedly voluntary but essentially a new Trail of Tears, of formerly enslaved Africans to the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa.”

There was nothing “supposedly voluntarily” about Lincoln’s plan for colonization.  It was completely voluntary.  To compare Lincoln’s plan with the Trail of Tears is, in my opinion, simply false, and unfortunately for a PhD to do it we have to consider the possibility of dishonesty.  The two are in no way comparable.

Lincoln’s support for colonization stemmed from his belief that there was too much animosity between the two races for them to live together peacefully in the same country, so he favored providing transportation to another country for those who wished to leave the United States.  In no way would anyone be forced to be colonized.

“Lincoln’s fundamental rationale for colonization was noble, as far as nobility was possible on behalf of such a proposal.  He argued that the unequal relationship of whites and blacks in the United States harmed them both.  Indeed, for the blacks this relationship was ‘the greatest wrong inflicted on any people’ anywhere.  He was very pessimistic about a change, and for a century after him the relatively small achievements in race relations vindicated his judgment.  His solution to the problem was federally aided emigration of the oppressed people.  He was too just a man to claim morality for this solution, and enough of a pragmatist and a politician not to concede its inequity.  ‘Whether it is right or wrong, I need not discuss,’ he said, and then took the ground of expediency which almost amounted to ‘absolute necessity.’ ”  [Gabor S. Boritt, “The Voyage to the Colony of Linconia,” The Historian, Vol XXXVII, No. 4, August, 1975, p. 622]  In his support of colonization, Lincoln was in company with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and many others, including the mother and the wife of Robert E. Lee.  Indeed, when he took office it can be said that his view regarding colonization was a mainstream view.  “In ante-bellum and Civil War days it [colonization] was a solution championed by persons like Lincoln with humanitarian motives.”  [Paul J. Scheips, “Lincoln and the Chiriqui Colonization Project,” Journal of Negro History, Vol XXXVII, No. 4, October, 1952, p. 418]  And, “When Lincoln assumed office in March, 1861, he had long held the then middle-of-the-road and not uncommon view that the solution of the nation’s racial problem lay in separation of the races and foreign colonization of the Negroes.”  [Ibid.]

Like his opposition to black voters, though, Lincoln saw the error of his thinking and eventually dropped the idea of colonization.

“Congress gave the coup de grace to colonization in July, 1864, by repealing all provisions of the legislation of 1862 appropriating funds for colonization purposes.” [James M. McPherson, “Abolitionist and Negro Opposition to Colonization During the Civil War,” Phylon, Vol XXXVI, No. 4, Winter, 1965, p. 398] Lincoln signed this measure.

David H. Donald wrote of Lincoln, “the failure of his colonization schemes had taught him that African-Americans were, and would remain, a permanent part of the American social fabric. He believed that the more intelligent blacks, especially those who served in the army, were entitled to the suffrage. Hence he encouraged the education of the freedmen, and he supported the Freedmen’s Bureau to protect them from exploitation by their former masters.” [David H. Donald, Lincoln, p. 583]

As Gabor Boritt wrote, “Colonization was dead and Lincoln did not mourn. He did not march backwards.” [Gabor Boritt, “Did He Dream of a Lily-White America? The Voyage to Linconia,” in Gabor Boritt, ed., The Lincoln Enigma, p. 17]

On 1 July 1864, John Hay recorded in his diary that Lincoln had “sloughed off” all these notions of colonization: “I am glad the President has sloughed off that idea of colonization. I have always thought it a hideous & barbarous humbug.” [John Hay in his diary, in Tyler Dennett, ed., Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, p. 203, quoted in Paul David Nelson, “From Intolerance to Moderation: The Evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s Racial Views,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, Vol LXXII, No. 1, January, 1974, p. 3]

In considering the Emancipation Proclamation, Singer writes, “It was a symbolic but in practical terms a very limited decree. Slavery did not end in the border states that had remained loyal to the Union. The decree did not emancipate the millions of enslaved Africans in the South because the rebelling territories did not accept federal jurisdiction. At best a few thousand enslaved Africans on plantations on the Georgia and South Carolina coast in areas controlled by Union troops were actually freed on that day.”

Singer shows very little understanding of the constitutional issues surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation, nor does he understand its revolutionary character.  The EP was a war measure to deprive the enemy of a key source of labor.  As such, it could not apply to areas that were not enemy territory.  So we shouldn’t be surprised that it didn’t apply to the loyal border slave states.  Constitutionally, it couldn’t apply to them because the only way it could be legal was for it to apply to enemy territory.  So Singer’s talking about its not applying to the loyal border slave states is posturing, nothing of substance.  He focuses on how many slaves were liberated on the day the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

The Union army controlled areas of the south that were not excepted from the Emancipation Proclamation.  They controlled the coast of North Carolina from the Virginia border to a point south of New Bern.  They controlled part of the South Carolina coast from south of Charleston to the Georgia border. They controlled a part of the Atlantic coast of Florida around Jacksonville. They controlled Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They controlled a large swath of Northern Arkansas, a strip of Northern Mississippi and Northern Alabama, and a large swath of Northern Virginia from Winchester moving southeast to the Chesapeake Bay.  All the slaves in these areas, numbering at least 20,000, actually enjoyed their freedom as of 1 Jan 1863, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation.  [William C. Harris, “After the Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln’s Role in the Ending of Slavery,” North & South Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 1, Dec, 2001, pp. 42-53]

But more than that, the EP turned the Union Army into much more of an army of emancipation than it had already been.  While the Union had been emancipating slaves almost from the very beginning of the war, the EP, instead of emancipating the slaves of disloyal masters, declared free all slaves in specific areas, whether their masters were loyal or not.  It meant military emancipation on a larger scale.  And in the EP, Lincoln authorized the enlistment of black soldiers into the Union army.  Singer apparently has no idea this happened, nor does he have any idea of the ramifications of this enlistment.  But Frederick Douglass understood it:  “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”  Lincoln would consistently stand by the black soldiers.

And Singer ignores Lincoln’s crucial role in getting the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery passed through Congress and transmitted to the states for ratification.

Singer next turns to Lincoln’s 10% plan for Reconstruction.  “But Douglass’ suspicions about Lincoln’s motives and actions once again proved to be legitimate. On December 8, 1863, less than a month after the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln offered full pardons to Confederates in a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction that has come to be known as the 10 Percent Plan.

“Self-rule in the South would be restored when 10 percent of the ‘qualified’ voters according to ‘the election law of the state existing immediately before the so-called act of secession’ pledged loyalty to the union. Since blacks could not vote in these states in 1860, this was not to be government of the people, by the people, for the people, as promised in the Gettysburg Address, but a return to white rule.”

Lincoln’s plan was designed to end the war as quickly as possible.  Remember, Lincoln’s goal was to preserve the Union.  His plan was designed to do that by removing states from the confederacy.  It also required these states to adhere to the Emancipation Proclamation, so that any enslaved people who fell within the provisions of the proclamation would be and remain free.

Singer mischaracterizes Lincoln’s December 8, 1863 proclamation.  Singer mischaracterizes it by not identifying that it specifically excepted “all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.”  These exceptions remove a significant chunk of the antebellum and Civil War power structure in what states would attempt to comply with this proclamation [The 10% portion was aimed at all the confederate states except Virginia, which already had a loyal government in existence].  As a respected and noted historian has written on this, “Lincoln offered some clarifications in his annual message.  Any state, having met the requirements he had set forth, would receive protection from the federal government.  But to expect Confederates to be part of that process was ‘simply absurd.’  He sought ‘a test by which to separate the opposing elements, so as to build only from the sound,’ although that included those who renounced their identity as Confederates by taking the oath.”  [Brooks D. Simpson, The Reconstruction Presidents, p. 40]

“Lincoln sought to offer a policy as congruent as possible with current constitutional provisions.  Citing the guarantee clause as the basis for his exercise of executive power, he conceded that at least in some form the states were still in the Union.  He was still willing to leave the decision for emancipation, at least in principle, to white southerners (although if they failed to accept it Lincoln would not recognize the result, thus creating a powerful incentive for white southerners to abolish slavery and qualifying the ‘voluntary’ nature of emancipation.  In so acting Lincoln wanted to ensure emancipation as part of reconstruction and to circumvent questions about the continued applicability of the Emancipation Proclamation, for once white southerners reestablished loyal state governments, they could argue that the principle of military necessity that justified the proclamation no longer applied.  State action would also render immaterial questions about the proclamation’s constitutionality, for no one denied that a state could abolish slavery.”  [Ibid.]  Singer is correct that the 10% plan involved white voters at that time.  But it’s not an indication of racism on Lincoln’s part as Singer might have us believe.  No.  “Lincoln’s proposal was in part a wartime expedient, a way to sap Confederate morale by offering a comparatively painless way for southern whites to reenter the Union.”  [Ibid., p. 42]  Singer claims Lincoln wouldn’t protect black rights had he survived into Reconstruction.  Lincoln’s actions show him wrong.  “When Louisiana leaders hemmed and hawed about the prospects for emancipation in 1863, Lincoln directed Banks to use his power to persuade them to see the light.  In Arkansas, General Frederick Steele received instructions from Washington directing him to nullify any election that resulted in the elevation of proslavery candidates to office.”  [Ibid.]

Lincoln was already paving the way for this earlier in 1863, as his August 5 letter to Banks shows:

“While I very well know I would be glad for Louisiana to do, it is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter. I would be glad for her to make a new Constitution recognizing the emancipation proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts of the state to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some practical system by which the two races could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks should be included in the plan.” [Abraham Lincoln to Nathaniel Banks, 5 August 1863, Collected Works, Vol 6, pp. 364-365]  “Lincoln used the same strategy in occupied Tennessee but without the detachment that he chose to employe with Banks.”  [Richard Striner, Lincoln and Race, p. 50]  In a letter to Andrew Johnson, Lincoln wrote, “Tennessee is now clear of armed insurrectionists. You need not to be reminded that it is the nick of time for re-inaugerating [sic] a loyal State government. Not a moment should be lost. You, and the co-operating friends there, can better judge of the ways and means, than can be judged by any here. I only offer a few suggestions. The re-inaugeration [sic] must not be such as to give control of the State, and it’s [sic] representation in Congress, to the enemies of the Union, driving it’s friends there into political exile. The whole struggle for Tennessee will have been profitless to both State and Nation, if it so ends that Gov. Johnson is put down, and Gov. Harris is put up. It must not be so. You must have it otherwise. Let the reconstruction be the work of such men only as can be trusted for the Union. Exclude all others, and trust that your government, so organized, will be recognized here, as being the one of republican form, to be guaranteed to the state, and to be protected against invasion and domestic violence.

“It is something on the question of time, to remember that it can not be known who is next to occupy the position I now hold, nor what he will do.

“I see that you have declared in favor of emancipation in Tennessee, for which, may God bless you. Get emancipation into your new State government—Constitution—and there will be no such word as fail for your case.

“The raising of colored troops I think will greatly help every way.”  [Abraham Lincoln to Andrew Johnson, 11 September 1863, Collected Works, Vol 6, p. 440]

And there’s something else Singer neglects regarding Lincoln’s Reconstruction plan:  “Lincoln required these voters to take a second oath as well if they intended to vote.  They would have to take an oath–an oath upon the holy Bible in the Bible Belt, which was a serious matter in the culture of the South–that they supported the Emancipation Proclamation and all the antislavery acts of Congress.  Only then could they vote.  In other words, the only people whom Lincoln would allow to vote in the ex-Confederate states would be opponents of slavery!  And it would only take a tiny minority of such people–10 percent–to overpower proslavery majorities of up to 90 percent and transform their states into free states against the will of these racist majorities.”  [Richard Striner, Lincoln and Race, p. 51]

Singer talks a great deal about Frederick Douglass’ suspicions regarding Lincoln, but he very carefully limits that talk to the time before Douglass actually met Lincoln.  The two men met twice.  “After his first visit, Douglass claimed that he felt comfortable with Lincoln; had they indeed achieved a way to talk comfortably, the president could have learned a lot from his visitor.  And there is evidence that Lincoln was not as slow a learner as Douglass, with his well-placed impatience, sometimes thought.  Douglass was in Lincoln’s debt for Charles’s discharge, but Lincoln would not have to call in that chit.  By 1865, Douglass’ loyalty to the president was complete.  Lincoln could have had this fervent ally as an adviser for the asking.  He did not ask.”  [William S. McFeely, Frederick Douglass, p. 235]

In talking about Lincoln’s Second Inaugural, Singer writes, “As I read Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, I see a war-weary and politically cautious president who never believed in racial equality; who in December 1862, less than a month before finally issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, offered the South gradual compensated emancipation that would have extended slavery in the United States into the twentieth century, and who in the actual document sharply limited the scope of emancipation so that very few enslaved Africans out of the millions in bondage were directly and immediately affected. This Lincoln expressed tentative support for voting rights for black veterans, but did not believe he had the authority to enforce the idea.”

The Second Inaugural is short enough we can quote it here:

“At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

“On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war–seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.

“One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Those are not the words of the man Singer would have us believe Lincoln was.  And I think it’s instructive as to Singer’s agenda that he chose not to mention Lincoln’s Last Public Address quoted from above.

Again, Lincoln’s actions already outlined show that he was more than willing to enforce the right course of action.  In this article, Singer has shown virtually no understanding of what Lincoln was saying or doing and may have been fast and loose with his scholarship, in this reader’s opinion.

47 comments

  1. Edwin Thompson · · Reply

    Al – Thanks for pointing out the article by Alan Singer. It was a strange article – I don’t have any other word to describe it.

    To add a few comments to yours, I’d say that as a general rule, we are all guilty of misunderstanding the thinking of the mid 19th century America. Child labor would be around for another 50 to 75 years, women could not vote until 1920, and people used Darwinism to argue that mankind was multiple races that developed independently. It is difficult to understand this time period and thinking as we view it from the 21st century.

    As for Lincoln, his simple phrases such as “a house divided against itself cannot stand” and “right makes might” were the ideas that propelled him to the presidency and caused the south to succeed before he even took office. America was slowly growing a social conscience on a national level – thanks to northern abolitionists, northern antislavery people, and enslaved African american people. We have to give credit to these Americans for making this nation great. It can be argued that this was the beginning of a strong national democratic government that made us a world power. What would have been without this conflict is anybody’s guess.

    You should add Lincoln’s debate statement: “I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects—certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the 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”. This statement (even if he only said it to get votes as you would argue – and I might agree with you) is by itself significant progress in mid 19th century America. Compare that to the words of Americans like John Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stevens. These antagonists provided the challenge for great men like Lincoln (and others) to become worldwide legends.

    I found Singer’s article interesting only because George Mason University posted it. There is a bright side. Our understanding of American history during this sesquicentennial is an improvement to the centennial history. And it looks like it will continue to improve.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Edwin. I could have added the quote to which you referred, but I thought it was encompassed in the line that African-Americans had the right to their humanity and to not be slaves. I think you’re absolutely right that by itself it’s a remarkably progressive statement for the time. Even if Lincoln wasn’t as progressive as Phillips or Garrison, he was still light years ahead of Davis, Stephens, and the rest of the confederate leadership.

      1. He was also miles ahead of all but a few Northern Democrats.

        1. I’d like to know which Democrats he was not miles ahead of.

  2. “Like his opposition to black voters, though, Lincoln saw the error of his thinking and eventually dropped the idea of colonization.”

    Aside from the wishful claims of a few historians writing over a century later, what evidence do you have that this is so?

    1. Apparently you stopped reading at that point.

      1. I believe my characterization of what follows is accurate. Let’s look at what you have though:

        1. A quote of James McPherson – a wishful historian writing over a century later – about Congress’ decision to repeal the colonization funds. That is not the same thing as evidence of Lincoln changing his mind.

        2. A quote of David H. Donald – another of those wishful historians writing over a century later – claiming that Lincoln changed his mind. That is not the same thing as evidence of Lincoln changing his mind.

        3. A quote of Gabor Boritt – still another of those wishful historians writing over a century later – claiming that Lincoln changed his mind. That is not the same thing as evidence of Lincoln changing his mind.

        4. A quote with no context from John Hay’s diary claiming that Lincoln “sloughed off” colonization. This one is a little better than the first three as far as evidence goes, but it’s weak evidence built on a very vague statement that, taken alone, doesn’t quite rise to the level of the claim you made. It’s also something that other evidence contradicts.

        So I’ll ask again. Aside from the wishful claims of a few historians writing over a century later, what evidence do you have that this is so?

        1. Your inability to understand the work of historians makes you think they are engaging in wishful thinking. Nobody is going to be able to help you with that. You characterize McPherson as a wishful thinker. That simply shows you don’t know the difference between wishful thinking and a fact. That quote is a statement of a fact. The fact that Lincoln signed the bill and didn’t veto it is significant. If he was still planning to colonize African-Americans, he would need to have that effort paid for. Perhaps you are aware of some alternative funding? More likely, though, you don’t understand the connection between government actions and government funding. Again, this is a weakness on your part, not on the part of others. You characterize David Donald as wishful. That also shows you don’t know the difference between wishful thinking and facts. Lincoln saw the unpopularity of his previous colonization schemes. He did support limited black suffrage–a fact. He did support education for freedmen–a fact. He did support the Freedman’s Bureau–a fact. He wouldn’t have done that if he was still planning to colonize blacks. You characterize Gabor Boritt as being a wishful thinker. It’s up to you to prove it by showing where he mishandled the evidence. I provided his conclusion. You’re perfectly free to go to the cited work and show where his conclusion doesn’t follow from the evidence he provides. You can start by showing where Lincoln publicly called for colonization after the summer of 1864. He wasn’t shy about his support for colonization when he supported it. Therefore, he shouldn’t be shy about supporting it after the summer of 1864 if he still supported it. Hay’s diary entry, combined with the fact that Lincoln stopped referring to colonization shows what was going on. The fact that Lincoln supported limited black suffrage shows what was going on. You can’t have voters who have been colonized. The support for the Freedmen’s Bureau and black education shows what’s going on. It would only make sense if he was planning on blacks still being in the United States.

          1. I only characterize McPherson & the others as wishful because they don’t offer any evidence to back up their claims. They just state them. Simply stating something to be so does not make it a “fact” btw. You need a little something called evidence to back it up, and so far you haven’t offered anything convincing.

            Thank you for raising a few particulars though. Let’s have a look, shall we?

            1. “The fact that Lincoln signed the bill and didn’t veto it is significant. If he was still planning to colonize African-Americans, he would need to have that effort paid for. Perhaps you are aware of some alternative funding? ”

            The following would appear to completely contradict you on each of those points and McPherson on the significance of Lincoln signing it.

            “Evidence exists that the president actually considered the repeal clause an “unfriendly” rider to an otherwise needful budget bill. Lincoln’s colonization agent, James Mitchell of the Interior Department, reported at least one conversation with Lincoln in late 1864 about the future of the colonization policy, in which they agreed that the Confederacy’s mooted plan to enlist slaves provided reason enough to delay reviving it for now. Yet Mitchell alleged that Lincoln had also refused to accept his resignation pending a departmental shakeup and consultation with the attorney general, Edward Bates. That finds corroboration in a November 1864 communication from Bates, which also indicates that the president asked whether he could continue pursuing colonization even with the money gone”

            Source: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/lincoln-colonization-and-the-sound-of-silence/

            Got all that? Lincoln:
            – Considered Congress’ action “unfriendly” but signed it anyway because it was attached to the federal budget bill…which is kinda hard to veto when you’re in the middle of a massive war.
            – Refused a colonization agent’s resignation and told him to hold tight while they sorted out the politics and the war.
            – Asked his Attorney General to find a way to keep colonization alive even with the funds gone.

            …all taking place after Hay’s diary note.

            2. “Lincoln saw the unpopularity of his previous colonization schemes. He did support limited black suffrage–a fact. He did support education for freedmen–a fact. He did support the Freedman’s Bureau–a fact. He wouldn’t have done that if he was still planning to colonize blacks.”

            …that last sentence being not a fact, but a supposition. And it’s a weak one at that. What evidence do you have that colonization – something he always considered to be voluntary and only for those that wanted it – was in any possible way at odds with other policies he pursued that would have helped those who did not? All things considered, they actually sound much more like compliments in Lincoln’s mind: pay for the colonization of the slaves that want to leave, help the ones that want to stay by giving them education and limited voting rights.

            3. “You characterize Gabor Boritt as being a wishful thinker. It’s up to you to prove it by showing where he mishandled the evidence. I provided his conclusion.”

            If you recall, I asked you for evidence that amounted to something more than the “wishful claims of a few historians writing over a century later.” You basically just admitted that Boritt fits into that category, despite heaping scorn my way at the mere suggestion. Also I don’t allege that Boritt mishandled evidence. I state that he made a claim – that Lincoln abandoned colonization – without *any* evidence at all. Doubt me? Go look up Boritt and show me exactly what sources he used, other than reading much more into Hay than is actually there in Hay’s diary.

            4. “You can start by showing where Lincoln publicly called for colonization after the summer of 1864”

            Why only publicly? Presidents make many – if not most – of their decisions in private, you know. As for evidence that Lincoln was still pushing colonization after summer 1864 including to the Attorney General, see the New York Times Disunion I just linked you to.

            5. “Hay’s diary entry, combined with the fact that Lincoln stopped referring to colonization shows what was going on”

            That’s the problem though. He *didn’t* stop referring to colonization after July 1864. See the link above for multiple examples.

            6. “The fact that Lincoln supported limited black suffrage shows what was going on. You can’t have voters who have been colonized. The support for the Freedmen’s Bureau and black education shows what’s going on. It would only make sense if he was planning on blacks still being in the United States.”

            …or if he intended colonization to be optional for those who chose to go, but also did things to help those who chose to stay. Which is the point you were trying to make above about how Lincoln insisted on only voluntary colonization before you jumped off the track into the unsubstantiated wishfulness of McPherson-Boritt land, is it not?

            [edit]

          2. Then you have obviously never read any of their work. Nothing will be convincing to someone who has already decided not to be convinced.

            1. The “evidence” is the 30+-year-old recollection of James Mitchell of an alleged conversation he “remembered.” That’s not evidence that can be trusted. In fact, it’s less than flimsy. It’s unreliable. The other conversation Mitchell “remembered” is just as bad. Nobody remembers conversations after thirty years with any precision. Mitchell is problematic for a number of reasons. He didn’t have a job. Not only was his office deprived of all funding in the bill Lincoln signed, but he was also deprived of his salary after that time. Lincoln didn’t have to accept any resignation because no resignation would have been required. In May of 1863, Secretary of the Interior John Usher told Lincoln there would be no “further emigration from the U.S. of persons of African descent.” He then suggested that Mitchell be removed from his position. [John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln, Monday, 18 May 1863] On June 29, 1864, Usher reported to Lincoln, in conjunction with the requirement by the Senate that Lincoln provide a report on colonization [Resolution passed 25 Mar 1864]. In that report, he said, “On the 11th of March last, I had the honor to submit to you a report, in answer to a resolution adopted by the Senate, in January of the present year, requesting you to inform the Senate, if not in your opinion incompatible with the public interest, whether any portion of the appropriations for the colonization of persons of African descent, residing in the District of Columbia, in Hayti [sic], Liberia, and so forth, had been expended, and what steps had been taken to execute the provisions of the Acts of Congress relating to colonization. In consequence of the importance which had been attached to the subject, I availed myself of that occasion to lay before you the entire correspondence of the Department on the subject of colonization, together with copies of all the contracts or agreements which had been made, and an abstract of the expenditures which had been occurred up to that date. That report was promptly communicated by you to the Senate, but has not yet been printed, so far as I am informed. No further agreements have since been entered into, and no further efforts made, looking to the colonization of persons of African descent beyond the limits of the United States.” [John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln, 29 June 1864] Lincoln reported to the Senate that “all the official information possessed by the Department on the subject of colonization has already been communicated to the Senate.” [Abraham Lincoln to the U.S. Senate, 29 June 1864] Mitchell went on a 2-month trip in the West and reported to Lincoln on his return, badmouthing his boss, Usher, saying, “I respectfully and earnestly urge a change in the Department of the Interior, and that the choice falls if possible within the States named and on one of the writer’s friends.” [James Mitchell to Abraham Lincoln, 2 September 1864] The following month, Mitchell wrote to Lincoln, “It is now near four months sinse [sic] the men of this Department cut off my salary, and assumed the remaining effects of my office (having drawn my files long before).” So Mitchell was without an office, without files, and without funding. There was no chance of him being able to plan or conduct any colonization projects. Lincoln, his friend, tried to help him out. Why? “My means being slender and my expenses sinse [sic] the revolution of political parties … have been a heavy drain on my slender estate–as I have been under salary but a fragment of that long period through which I have looked to something like present results.” [James Mitchell to Abraham Lincoln, 20 October 1864] On September 9, Lincoln had asked Attorney-General Bates to render an opinion whether or not all the requirements Congress laid on the Administration regarding colonization had been met and whether Mitchell could be retained in order to finish whatever requirements remained. Remember, Mitchell had no office, no files, and no funding. Bates, on his last day as Attorney-General, told Lincoln, “It is too late for me now to give a formal opinion upon the question, as this is my last day in office. I can only say that, having examined all the acts referred to, I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the act which repeals the appropriation contingently, you still have something to do, under those acts; and therefore, that you have the same right to continue Mr. Mitchell.” [Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, 30 November 1864] So your source has done a great deal of creative leaping. With no funding, no office, and no files, there is no way any colonization plans could go forward. Lincoln was the one who signed that into law. If he wanted additional colonization schemes, he would not have allowed the office to be closed and the files to be removed, let alone approve the bill defunding colonization. Got all that? The “unfriendly rider” quote is spurious. There was no funding, no office, and no files for colonization. The commissioner, Mitchell, was a friend of Lincoln’s in need of money, so Lincoln wanted to see what he could do to keep him on the government payroll. Your claim about what Bates was asked to do has no relation to the truth.

            2. Lincoln most certainly knew there would be no colonization, otherwise it’s a waste of money to pursue education and to fund the Freedman’s Bureau. You need to learn some logic in addition to learning how much it would cost just to colonize a sizeable population. There’s not enough money left to fund education and the Freedman’s Bureau in addition.

            3. I pointed you to the exact source. If you’re too lazy to look at it, that’s not my problem. It’s up to you to show where he’s mishandled evidence.

            4. Lincoln was very public in his support for colonization. Not speaking publicly about it is significant. And your claim about what he was doing with Bates is proven false.

            5. Yes, he did stop referring to colonization–in the way that it matters.

            6. He supported voting for those who, if he wanted to colonize, would want to be in the vanguard of colonization, Again, poor logic on your part.

            And your claim about McPherson and Boritt simply shows your own ignorance.

  3. With all the personal invective and needless accusations of dishonesty you are hurling in your last comment, it seems like I’ve touched a nerve or something. So much for Mr. “Keep it Civil” ™ ;-}

    But since I’d rather have a conversation about evidence rather than personalities as you would have it, let’s consider your latest:

    1. First, you say that the report of Mitchell comes from a “30+-year-old recollection” and that it is therefore unreliable. How (other than wishing it) do you actually know this to be so? Did you personally check all the sources in that article and determine their exact dates?

    Second, even if it were all from a 30 year old recollection – and until you demonstrate you’ve checked the sources note that I’m not conceding the point – that doesn’t automatically mean it is unreliable. The Civil War is chock full of many recollections that are 30 years old or more and they are used all the time to establish facts about battles etc. Hell, your hero John Hay even wrote a giant Lincoln biography 30 years later that’s still considered a reliable source. So why does Hay’s count and why do so many others like Hay’s count, but Mitchell’s doesn’t?

    Third, if Mitchell’s recollection is solely motivated by him being out of a job would it not lend credibility to his claims that Lincoln personally intervened to get his colonization position restored? Why would Lincoln _specifically_ ask Bates to find a way to keep him around for colonization purposes if he had abandoned that policy? Why not send him to some other department instead?

    Fourth, Mitchell’s badmouthing of his supposed “boss” Usher (actually, Lincoln was his boss and Usher only the cabinet secretary) must have worked. Because if memory serves me, Lincoln gave Usher the boot from the cabinet shortly after that and had named John Harland his successor right before he was assassinated! Did you get that? Mitchell = personally helped out by Lincoln, who asked Bates to keep him around for colonization purposes (hence the rest of Bates’ letter, which I notice that you left out of your excerpt, where he said he was answering Lincoln’s request “concerning your power still to retain the Revd Mr Mitchell1 as your assistant or aid in the matter of executing the several acts of Congress relating to the emigration or Colonizing of the freed blacks.”) Usher = booted off the cabinet to be replaced by Harland. And yet you’d have us believe Lincoln sided with Usher? Strange.

    2. “Lincoln most certainly knew there would be no colonization, otherwise it’s a waste of money to pursue education and to fund the Freedman’s Bureau” – more supposition on your part, but still no evidence! Who’s to say he couldn’t just split it 50/50? Why not give part of the money to colonizing the blacks that wanted to go, and part to educating the blacks who wanted to stay? Your insistence that it must have been 100% to one or the other betrays your OWN ignorance because the legislative origins of the Freedman’s relief policy started in the same committee in Congress as colonization. See http://books.google.com/books?id=jlYSAAAAIAAJ&dq=committee+on+colonization+and+freedmen&source=gbs_navlinks_s

    3. You pointed to a quote by Gabor Boritt that, based on your exact replication of the formatting, appears to be lifted directly from something some guy named Walt posted on another a Civil War message board in January 2004. In fact, Walt also strangely used the exact same other quotes as you from McPherson and Donald, and in the same order. Imagine that coincidence! Source: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1063684/replies?c=116

    But in answer to your question, I do in fact own Boritt’s book as opposed to simply cut n pasting somebody else’s quote of it as my own, I have in fact checked his sources, and I’ll state my assessment of it quite plainly: he didn’t “mishandle” evidence because he didn’t provide sufficient evidence of his claims at all! He just stated things as if it were so…sort of like you are doing.

    4. Lincoln was famously tight-lipped about even the Emancipation Proclamation as he was planning it. Why would he have to behave any differently on colonization?

    5. Except he didn’t stop at all. There’s ample evidence he kept right on going in trying to find a way to keep Mitchell on board for colonization, even as he was in the process of firing Usher. See above.

    6. “He supported voting for those who, if he wanted to colonize, would want to be in the vanguard of colonization” — so you’re saying that the “highly intelligent” blacks were the ones who wanted to colonize abroad first? Because that’s who Lincoln offered the vote to. Except if we look at some of the key figures Lincoln probably meant by that term, i.e. Frederick Douglass, they were the most vocal AGAINST colonization.

    And just for fun, I’ll add in 7. If you’re so sure that Lincoln abandoned colonization, how come you can’t show me exactly where he did this in his own words? Surely for such a significant about-face he would have left behind something stating as much since, as you claim above, Lincoln was such a public person where colonization is concerned. Not repudiating it publicly must therefore also be significant…unless you know something more, or some other source that shows him actually repudiating it. And please note I’ll accept spoken, written, or even 30 year old recollections if you’ve got them.

    But I suspect you don’t.

    1. You have quite an imagination to make up the charge of “personal invective and needless accusations of dishonesty.” Apparently you have to pretend to have been insulted to make yourself feel good. Fine. You were the one who, out of ignorance, claimed historians simply made assertions with no evidence to back up their claims. It’s very obvious you’ve never read their work if that’s what you really think.

      1. You obviously didn’t check the sources. It comes from a newspaper interview Mitchell did in the 1890s. Go ahead and look it up. Yes, it does mean it’s unreliable. You can’t even accurately describe my post from yesterday with it sitting in front of you, let alone remember it 30 years from now. You obviously don’t know how biographies are written. Did you realize John Hay kept a diary? Did you know Nicolay and Hay had access to all of Lincoln’s papers, courtesy of Robert? They began writing their biography of Lincoln in 1875, not 30 years later. They began publishing excerpts from it in Century Magazine in 1886, and would publish the 10-volume work in 1890. This is an example of the superficiality that passes for historical analysis among neoconfederates that we see all the time. But carry on. No, it does not lend credibility to his 30-year-old account. Lincoln asked Bates if there were still requirements that needed to be met in order to comply with the Congressional legislation regarding the colonization programs, even though the colonization effort had shut down. If there were still requirements to be fulfilled, it makes sense to have the commissioner remain to clean up those remaining tasks. Usher was in fact Mitchell’s boss, because the Commissioner of Emigration fell under the Department of the Interior. Again, superficial knowledge leads to false statements. Mitchell’s undermining of Usher did have an effect, though not as much as you think. See here. Mitchell was a friend of Lincoln’s, was not well off financially, and Lincoln wanted to make sure he had an income. Usher was a good attorney, and Lincoln knew he’d be fine. I didn’t say Lincoln “sided with Usher.” That’s another of your inaccurate renditions. It has nothing to do with siding with anyone in that dispute. It has to do with Lincoln realizing colonization was dead and moving on. Had Lincoln wanted colonization to remain viable he would not have allowed the office to be shut down. As to the rest of Bates’ letter, I gave what Lincoln asked for. It comes from the Attorney-General’s incoming log at the National Archives. The notation reads, “The Pres’t requesting opin. as to whether provn’s of law for colonization of colored persons have ceased & whether office of Comm. of Emigration continues.” You can go to the National Archives and check it for yourself. So, as I said, Lincoln wanted to know if all the provisions of the law had been complied with or whether or not there were still things left to do. That was on September 9. Bates replied on November 30 that “you still have something to do, under those acts.”

      2. Again, you just don’t understand the expense involved. Lincoln had been given $600,000 by Congress, and that was only to be a start. The country had just come out of an expensive war, the unused funds taken back and used elsewhere where they were more needed. In order to colonize, ships had to be chartered, supplies bought, and people hired to work on the project. The Office of Emigration had to be refunded, clerks rehired, administrative materials purchased and provided. That’s before you can move one person. By this time Lincoln knew colonization wasn’t popular among blacks, so he knew any plan wouldn’t get a lot of participation. For all the plans he put forward, less than 500 people had actually tried to be settled outside the United States during his administration. That is not a cost-effective move. To spend other money when you wanted to colonize people doesn’t make economic sense. In order for a colonization effort to make any dent, you had to move well over a million people. At about $100/person [a very low estimate], that’s $100,000,000 for every million people. Thinking that could be funded along with the costs of educating and the Freedman’s Bureau costs is delusional.

      3. The “person named Walt” actually got that from me. I originally wrote all that in January of 2004. If you see where he says, “Saw this on the moderated ACW NG:” he is quoting me. I wrote that on the moderated newsgroup. That’s a very inept way of accusing me of dishonesty. But it’s just more of the same superficiality we normally see from neoconfederates. And now you’re just lying about Boritt’s work, and since I’ve provided a great deal of evidence, you’re lying about what I’m doing as well. Just stating a fact.

      4. Lincoln had a track record of being very open about colonization. He wasn’t as tight-lipped about the EP as you seem to think. He told the telegraphers what he was doing. He told the Cabinet in July about it. He didn’t say anything publicly because it wasn’t finished until he showed it to the cabinet, and then he took Seward’s suggestion of saving it for a victory. Again, more superficiality.

      5. I’m not going to engage in an endless cycle of repeating on this, so this will be the last word. He stopped talking about it–in the manner that counted. Your misinterpretation of what he was doing with Mitchell and Usher is more of the same superficiality.

      6. Yes, that’s what he wanted. “But you ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to white people, you would open a wide door for many to be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are clouded by Slavery, we have very poor materials to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed.” [Abraham Lincoln to “Deputation of Negros” 14 August 1862, Collected Works, Vol. 5, pp. 372-373] And they were indeed very vocal against it. But that is another reason why Lincoln dumped the idea.

      7. That Lincoln didn’t feel the need to proclaim that colonization was dead himself is something you’ll have to take up with him. Often administrations will quietly kill policies without public pronouncements to that effect. In 1864, the Dutch were trying to arrange colonization to Suriname with the US. They had even negotiated a treaty to that effect in 1863, but it had not been ratified by the Senate. They were trying to get the administration to put pressure on the Senate to move the treaty forward, but were unsuccessful. In a reply to the Dutch, Secretary of State Seward said, “The American people have advanced to a new position in regard to slavery and the African race since the President, in obedience to their prevailing wishes, accepted the policy of colonization. Now, not only their free labor but their military service also is appreciated and accepted.” [Quoted in Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, p. 260]

      1. It’s hardly a matter of imagination, Al. Your posts are littered with invective of a personal nature. Every disagreement about a matter of evidence or interpretation seems to provoke a response in you of accusing me of falsehood, ignorance, mishandling, neglect, or malice. Though your profile insinuates otherwise, “Mr. Civility” you are not. But let’s continue:

        1. Setting aside for the moment your highly problematic claim than we can just casually dismiss an 1890s interview because you personally don’t like what it says, there’s still a problem with your sourcing. How do you know everything you have just casually dismissed from Mitchell came from the interview in the 1890s? Do you have that interview or have you read it? And did you check to see if there were any other sources besides it being used? I’ve yet to see any evidence that you ever have, or that you ever did.

        It’s interesting that you raise the matter of Hay’s diary as a base for his biography (10, 15, 20, or years later, be it chapter 1, line 1 in the Century Magazine or the index of the last volume in 1890 matters not, as your argument was that recollections removed by many years are inherently unreliable). For what it’s worth, I agree with you – Hay’s diary DOES lend his later biography greater credibility. So my next question to you is this: How do you know that Mitchell didn’t also have a diary? Or papers of his own to consult when writing a recollection 30 years later?

        And Bates, oh Bates! You state “Lincoln asked Bates if there were still requirements that needed to be met in order to comply with the Congressional legislation regarding the colonization programs, even though the colonization effort had shut down”…except that isn’t what happened at all. He asked Bates *specifically* if he could keep Mitchell on the job for colonization, and he did it as a personal request on Mitchell’s behalf. That’s quite different than the dry procedural administrative question you present it as, but that may also be the reason why you left out the key line where Bates specifically says he’s answering Lincoln’s request about a continuing role for colonization. It’s also quite different than simply securing income for a personal friend. Lincoln was president of the United States and could have given Mitchell a position in almost any department he wanted if it was only a matter of income. But he didn’t. He specifically asked to keep him on for colonization.

        2. Where did I ever say colonization would be cheap? Oh right. Nowhere. But simply being expensive does not mean he was unwilling to consider it. Lincoln did plenty of expensive things. He also offered to pay $400,000,000 to compensate the slaveowners for their slaves, which would have dwarfed colonization. It strains basic logic to suggest that a president who spent hundreds upon hundreds of millions fighting the war without batting an eye would have suddenly found himself in budget straights that he could only choose between the tiny Freedman’s Bureau and his beloved colonization scheme, but not both!

        3. So (1) your buddy Walt plagiarized you and (2) you’ve been recycling a verbatim cut n’ paste job of something you wrote in 2004 ever since as your default answer to Lincoln’s colonizing plans. Thanks for admitting/clarifying that, but it still doesn’t show (3) you’ve actually read or carefully considered Boritt’s use of evidence as opposed to dropping the same stale quote from him over and over again and appealing to its supposed authority.

        4. “He wasn’t as tight-lipped about the EP as you seem to think. He told the telegraphers what he was doing. He told the Cabinet in July about it.”

        But he *was* tight lipped in SPEECHES about it before the public, which is what we’re discussing, is it not? Because guess what – he also told all sorts of people in private conversations what he was doing with colonization. He told members of the cabinet, and employees like Mitchell. Yet you’ve spent the past several days saying, oddly, that those don’t count because they were not public speeches. So why should the Emancipation Proclamation be any different?

        [edit]

        6. Read more carefully. I stated “so you’re saying that the “highly intelligent” blacks were the ones who wanted to colonize abroad first?” – NOT – “so you’re saying that the “highly intelligent” blacks were the ones who *Lincoln* wanted to colonize abroad first?”

        Also please note that had I made a similar mistake in reading your own words I have no doubt you would have accused me of willful dishonesty given the invective you seem to attach to everything, but since I’m trying to keep this discussion civil I will attribute it to common carelessness on your part and forgive you.

        7. Except we have direct testimony from Mitchell stating that Lincoln *wasn’t* planning to quietly let it die. And we have testimony from others to the same effect. Now I’ll grant that you don’t like that testimony, and that you’ve also somewhat flippantly dismissed it because you don’t like it. But what you have not done is (1) offer conclusive evidence as to why it should be dismissed, other than your personal opinion, and (2) offer an affirmative statement from Lincoln or anyone else demonstrating that Lincoln did in fact drop colonization.

        Also your suggestion that I take that up with Lincoln is cute, but ultimately a non-starter for you. Because I did not attribute a position to Lincoln in the first place, you see. You are the one that did that when you claimed repeatedly that Lincoln dropped colonization despite having no statement from him to affirm that.

        Which brings us all back to square one.

        You claimed that “Like his opposition to black voters, though, Lincoln saw the error of his thinking and eventually dropped the idea of colonization.”

        But you didn’t provide any evidence. And no, rehashing the same Gabor Boritt quote you’ve been peddling as a cut n’ paste job on web forums for a decade is not evidence.

        Cheers!

        1. If that’s what you want to imagine, nobody can stop you. You did lie about my comments and about Boritt’s work. You did make claims about McPherson that are at odds with his work. You have shown superficiality of analysis. Ignorance, by the way, has different shades, and to say one is ignorant of something is not necessarily a perjorative. One can be ignorant of something because one hasn’t been exposed to it and doesn’t even know it exists. That usage is not a perjorative. One can be ignorant of something because there has been something preventing one from learning it. That usage also is not a perjorative. One can, however, be willfully ignorant of something, meaning they deliberately avoided learning something. In that case, they are deserving of the perjorative.

          1. Since you have had trouble all along accurately relating my posts, it’s not problematic at all to say that someone recalling something 30 years ago is unreliable. Human memory is a poor crutch to rely on, especially when separated from the event by time. I’ve checked the sourcing. You obviously haven’t. Mitchell did have a diary, but what is in it? We don’t have to assume what’s in Hay’s diary because we have it. The whereabouts of Mitchell’s diary are unknown. If you want to claim Mitchell had papers to consult, where are they outside of your imagination? We know the Lincoln Papers exist because they are in the Library of Congress. At this point, there is nothing corroborating Mitchell, nothing to show that what he said was anything other than his recollection from 30 years previous.

          You mischaracterize what Lincoln requested of Bates. I gave you what he requested. So either you forgot what you read just a few minutes before typing, or you are being deliberately dishonest. You tell us which. He asked Bates specifically if there were any provisions of the colonization legislation that still needed to be complied with, and whether he could keep Mitchell on to do that work. Bates answered him on that. Therefore, it makes sense to keep the commissioner on to complete the work required of the legislation. I’m not going to repeat myself again. Unless you have anything new to advance the conversation and not another mischaracterization, that will be the last word on this portion.

          2. More superficiality. You seem to forget that Lincoln offered to pay compensation in lieu of continuing the war. He saw it would be less expensive to do so. So again you have nothing but mischaracterization.

          3. I don’t know who this “Walt” is, and you were the one who brought him up, so he’s hardly my “buddy.” So that is another lie on your part. I didn’t say he plagiarized me. He cited the moderated newsgroup for where he got the information. It just happened to be a post I made. Since I didn’t claim he plagiarized me, that’s another lie from you. Since I’m the one who wrote that information originally, why shouldn’t I use it? You seem to think there’s something wrong with that. Looking at what you’ve done, your judgment of what is wrong is hardly convincing. Unlike you, I’ve read Boritt’s work.

          4. I addressed the lack of public statements, but you conveniently try to ignore it. Is that dishonesty on your part or did you forget that I addressed it? Would you remember it 30 years from now?

          6. I said they were the ones LINCOLN wanted to colonize first, and I continue to address that aspect.

          7. Unless you have corroboration for Mitchell’s statement, his 30-year-old recollection is unreliable. You claim I dismiss it because I don’t like it. That’s a lie. I dismiss it because a 30-year-old recollection is unreliable. That is the last time I will repeat myself on that.

          As to “others,” who do you have besides Ben Butler?

          I did offer an affirmative statement from two other people that colonization had been dropped: John Hay and William Seward. Are you now being dishonest or did you forget about them?

          You were asking why Lincoln didn’t publicly say colonization was dropped. Like I said, plenty of administrations quietly drop policies without a public statement. If you want to know why he did so this time, ask him.

          I’ve provided plenty of evidence. You just don’t like it. If you have nothing else to contribute, I’m done repeating myself with you. If you have something new to contribute to the conversation, by all means have at it.

  4. [continued repeat misrepresentations edited out]

    the Attorney General’s log book of September 9th (and fortunately i do not have to “go to the National Archives and check it” because it’s online). Right below the line you quoted appears the following:

    “Endorsed on commt. to Prest. from Jas. Mitchell requesting opinion of Atty. Genl. on points above mentioned to be ordered by Prest.”

    Source: http://lincolnpapers2.dataformat.com/images/1864/09/245263.pdf

    Now what does that mean? It means that Lincoln signed his own endorsement on the back of Mitchell’s letter asking for the colonization office to be reinstated. It means that Lincoln SUPPORTED Mitchell’s claim to be reinstated. That’s significantly different than simply sending an inquiry about whether there were any tasks to be done to “comply with the legislation,” or whatever it is you’re peddling. Lincoln would not have done that if he had changed his mind on colonization, as you so fervently but without any evidence insist.

    Want more evidence? Mitchell also specifically THANKED Lincoln for what he had done in his next letter asking about “the fate of my petition now in the hands of the Attorney General” – “I am thankful to you for what you have done” — meaning he knew that Lincoln endorsed his petition to Bates, colonization and all!

    Source: http://lincolnpapers2.dataformat.com/images/1864/10/226379.pdf

    You do raise an interesting, although not entirely accurate, point in noting that Hay and Seward suggested that colonization had been dropped. We’ve already looked at Hay – the “sloughed off” quote – which is merely suggestive and insufficient to establish the more conclusive turn that you attribute to it. I might also note that Hay was personally opposed to his boss’s colonization plan and had every reason in the world to disparage it, so he isn’t exactly an impartial observer on that subject.

    But what of Seward’s statement to the Dutch? Was it the final word?

    This would seem to suggest that it was not and indeed the Dutch were STILL going back and forth with the State Department about colonization as late as November 1865:

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/hollands-plan-for-americas-slaves/

    And neither was Seward a particularly impartial witness. In fact Seward was one of the most vigorous opponents of colonization on the cabinet. He even went out of his way to sandbag it whenever he could. Don’t trust me? Here’s Seward’s own words:

    “No knife was ever sharp enough to divide us upon any question of public policy,” said the Secretary ; ” though we frequently arrived at the same conclusion through different processes of thought.” ” Once only,” he continued, musingly, “did we disagree in sentiment.” Mr. D. inquired the subject of dissent. “His ‘ colonization ‘ scheme,” was the reply.”

    Source: Francis Bicknell Carpenter, (1866), Six Months at the White House, p. 291

    Note that this statement was made when Seward was bedridden following the assassination attempt on him and only a short while after he learned of Lincoln’s death. When asked on the one thing that they disagreed upon he said without any qualifiers that it was “His ‘colonization’ scheme.” He didn’t say “well, we used to disagree on colonization, but these last few months old Abe saw the light and changed his mind and then we were in perfect agreement!” and he didn’t give any indicator whatsoever that Lincoln had ever departed from his earlier view.

    So there you have it – neither of your two witnesses affirmatively demonstrate that Lincoln dropped colonization, and both of them had strong opposing beliefs on colonization of their own that calls into question their impartiality as witnesses.

    So where does that leave us? Let’s summarize:

    I. We know for a FACT from the 1864 documents to and from Bates that Lincoln endorsed Mitchell’s petition to Bates to have his office reinstated

    II. We know for a FACT that the Lincoln-endorsed petition specifically pertained to continuing colonization.

    III. We know for a FACT that Mitchell’s later recollections are consistent with what the 1864 documents show.

    IV. We know for a FACT that Seward, shortly after Lincoln’s death, told Carpenter that colonization was the only policy he disagreed with Lincoln on and gave not even the slightest hint that Lincoln changed his mind.

    V. We know for a FACT that Seward and Hay were both strongly opposed to their boss on colonization, which makes their impartiality on the issue suspect.

    And are there others then who can corroborate?

    Well, you just mentioned one – General Butler, who stated that in 1865 Lincoln approached him about resuming colonization after the war. I’m sure you’ll flippantly dismiss that one too since it’s a “30 year old recollection” and those apparently don’t count in Al Mackey Land. But back here in the real world, arguments demand evidence. So please do tell me how you get around and excuse away that one as well.

    1. I’ve taken out your repeats of previous distortions and now let’s look at your current distortions. I allowed the first one because you were kind enough to provide the link to the online image. I’m glad you were able to find it. You quote the endorsement, but you conveniently ignore the subject, which clearly states the President was inquiring about provisions of the law that still needed to be fulfilled and whether the Commissioner could be continued in his position to complete those provisions. Your claim about what it means, of course, has no relation to reality since you ignore the actual content of the request. You misrepresent what Lincoln was asking. Yes, Mitchell thanked Lincoln, and why not? He was able to be continued in office in order to complete fulfilling the provisions of the law.

      Again, Seward told the Dutch that United States policy had changed. Colonization would no longer be pursued. If Lincoln wanted to continue colonization, the Dutch proposal was ideal because they would pay for the transportation and would provide places for the colonized people to live, along with food, water, and jobs. Any thinking person ought to realize this.

      Your weak attempt to dismiss this amounts to nothing except a desperate grasp at straws.

      So let’s look at your summary:

      “I. We know for a FACT from the 1864 documents to and from Bates that Lincoln endorsed Mitchell’s petition to Bates to have his office reinstated”

      Wrong. We know that Lincoln endorsed Mitchell’s letter in order to remain in office, not to be reinstated.

      “II. We know for a FACT that the Lincoln-endorsed petition specifically pertained to continuing colonization.”

      Misrepresentation. Lincoln’s request to Bates was to see if there were additional provisions of the law that needed to be fulfilled.

      “III. We know for a FACT that Mitchell’s later recollections are consistent with what the 1864 documents show.”

      Misrepresentation. Mitchells’ later recollections are of something very different.

      “IV. We know for a FACT that Seward, shortly after Lincoln’s death, told Carpenter that colonization was the only policy he disagreed with Lincoln on and gave not even the slightest hint that Lincoln changed his mind.”

      Misrepresentation. There is no doubt Seward was against colonization, but he worked loyally for Lincoln and carried out Lincoln’s policies. He was not on his own in 1864.

      “V. We know for a FACT that Seward and Hay were both strongly opposed to their boss on colonization, which makes their impartiality on the issue suspect.”

      Misrepresentation. That they opposed colonization does not mean Seward fabricated a policy or that Hay fabricated Lincoln’s dropping of support for colonization.

      In other words, nothing you have here is of any real value.

      As to Butler’s claim, the fact that there are details of his story that don’t match actual occurrences shows his memory was off. Accounts written so many years after the fact are simply not reliable. Study after study by reputable psychologists shows that memory is unreliable. Especially so after 30 years.

  5. [edit]

    “You quote the endorsement, but you conveniently ignore the subject, which clearly states the President was inquiring about provisions of the law that still needed to be fulfilled”

    It was all an inquiry as to what “still needed” to be fulfilled, eh?

    That’s funny, because the actual text says nothing of the sort. Rather it requests an “opin. whether provns. of law for colonization of colored persons have ceased & whether the office of Comm. of Emigration continues.”

    In other words, Lincoln wasn’t asking *what* he “still needed” to do under the colonization law. He was asking *if* he could keep the colonization office open. Which is exactly what Mitchell petitioned for, and exactly what one would expect from a president who was still very much wedded to the idea of colonization.

    “Again, Seward told the Dutch that United States policy had changed. Colonization would no longer be pursued. If Lincoln wanted to continue colonization, the Dutch proposal was ideal because they would pay for the transportation and would provide places for the colonized people to live, along with food, water, and jobs.”

    Interesting. It raises a few issues though:

    1. How do you know that Lincoln didn’t want to continue the Dutch proposal, and this wasn’t just another instance of Seward obstructing a policy of the president that he personally opposed?

    2. Foner also notes that the letter is slippery in its language, calling it a coy attempt to absolve Lincoln of his well-known colonization advocacy. Not exactly confidence inspiring!

    3. Do you know the context of the letter you quote? You should, because you claim to have pulled it from p. 260 of Foner’s The Fiery Trial. I note that above you described it as “a reply to the Dutch” by Seward. The problem with your representation though is it wasn’t actually “a reply to the Dutch” but – and Foner notes this – a private message that Seward sent to the US ambassador to the Netherlands. So either you mistakenly represented the nature of that quote or you, what’s the word, oh yeah – MIS-represented it to strengthen your claim. Or maybe you just don’t have a very good grasp of the historian’s trade, or the literature on this subject, or basic reading comprehension. Don’t worry though – I’ll forgive you on this one, now that the record is set straight.

    “Wrong. We know that Lincoln endorsed Mitchell’s letter in order to remain in office, not to be reinstated.”

    Mitchell’s salary had been suspended and his office cleared out, was it not? Or as you yourself stated above, he was “without an office, without files, and without funding.” In seeking to have all of that stuff restored to Mitchell, Lincoln was attempting to have him – what’s the word for that exact situation? – reinstated.

    “Misrepresentation. Lincoln’s request to Bates was to see if there were additional provisions of the law that needed to be fulfilled.”

    Misrepresentation? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    There’s also absolutely nothing in the text of either Bates’ letter or the logbook that I found for you that raises the issue of there being some unnamed “additional provisions” that they still needed to “fulfill.” It was – plain and simple – a request to keep the office running “notwithstanding the act which repeals the appropriation contingently.” Bates also told Lincoln “have the same right to continue Mr Mitchell that you had to appoint him originally” meaning that, in his opinion, nothing on Mitchell’s appointment status had changed even though the main source of his budget had been removed. Again, that all points to an attempt to keep the colonization office running so they could regain funding to colonize at a later point – just like Mitchell claimed.

    Source: http://memory.loc.gov/mss/mal/mal1/388/3884500/001.jpg

    “Misrepresentation. There is no doubt Seward was against colonization, but he worked loyally for Lincoln and carried out Lincoln’s policies.”

    Is that really so? Then why does Seward’s most recent major biographer state quite plainly that “Seward never pursued colonization with the vigor that Lincoln would have wished.”

    Source: Walter Stahr, (2012) Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, p. 341.

    “That they opposed colonization does not mean Seward fabricated a policy or that Hay fabricated Lincoln’s dropping of support for colonization.”

    I didn’t say they fabricated policies. I said they were not impartial witnesses to Lincoln’s policy. In Sewards case he did in fact sandbag it or only carry it out in extreme reluctance, and he was always deprecating its objectives to others in the government such as the US ambassador to the Dutch in that letter Foner quoted. The young and idealistic Hay was also very capable of projecting his own strongly felt opinions onto Lincoln, which may have been the case with the diary considering that Lincoln then spent the next several months trying to get Mitchell’s office reinstated.

    “As to Butler’s claim, the fact that there are details of his story that don’t match actual occurrences shows his memory was off. Accounts written so many years after the fact are simply not reliable.”

    And indeed his memory may have been off on certain details! But that does not disprove the whole story. Believe it or not, people actually do tend to remember specific events if they are in proximity to something dramatic. Most people remember with reasonable accuracy where they were when JFK was shot, or when 9/11 happened. The same might be expected of General Butler, because as he points out this was the very last conversation he ever had with Lincoln before Lincoln was shot. That’s the sort of thing that can in fact stick in memory for 30 years, and even if some of the details fade it’s not at all far fetched that Butler would remember that his final visit with Lincoln happened only a day or two before the assassination and that they talked about colonizing the blacks after the war.

    [edit]

    1. Yes, it was all an inquiry as to what needed to be fulfilled–in order to allow his friend Mitchell to remain in office and have an income. That’s the clear meaning of what the log says–what provisions of the law still need to be fulfilled. This is a president whose friend is in need of money and asking if he could be continued in his position.

      I know Lincoln didn’t want to continue the Dutch proposal because Seward very clearly says the policy had changed. Foner’s comment about Seward being coy referred to Lincoln’s previous position, as anyone honestly reading his statement can tell.

      You seem to want to be deliberately obtuse in a few areas. In sending a letter to the Dutch ambassador, Seward was replying to the Dutch. Or didn’t you know that an ambassador represents their country? Your claim about me misrepresenting anything is simply another lie on your part. Just a fact.

      Mitchell was out of a physical office, but he was still in the position (aka “office”) of Commissioner of Emigration. He didn’t need to have it reinstated because he was in it. He would have to have the physical office re-funded. “Reinstated” means putting him back into the position.

      I know exactly what a misrepresentation is, and I keep using it because you continue to misrepresent the record.

      You claim there’s nothing in the logbook that raises the issue of additional provisions. The logbook very clearly states that Lincoln was asking about unfilled provisions: “The Pres’t requesting opin. as to whether provn’s of law for colonization of colored persons have ceased & whether office of Comm. of Emigration continues.” If the provisions of the law ceased, then there are no unfulfilled provisions. If they have not ceased, then there are provisions of the law that are unfulfilled. Again, you’re being deliberately obtuse. You also keep misrepresenting the record when you claim that Bates’ reply shows it was an attempt to regain funding later. Bates clearly says, “I am satisfied that, notwithstanding the act which repeals the appropriation contingently, you still have something to do, under those acts; and therefore, that you have the same right to continue Mr. Mitchell.” In other words, there are unfulfilled provisions of the act, and Lincoln can continue Mitchell to accomplish those unfulfilled provisions. Your claim about Bates’ reply is unfounded.

      The quote from Stahr’s book is interesting, but it doesn’t mean Seward wasn’t loyal and didn’t carry out Lincoln’s policies. It’s a very thin straw you’re trying to grasp.

      The clear meaning of what you claimed was you thought they were fabricating policies. Seward may not have liked the colonization policy, but he carried it out. His telling the Dutch things had changed is not a fabrication on his part. Things had changed. Lincoln no longer supported the policy. If he did, he would have taken the Dutch up on their proposal and tried his best to get the Senate to ratify the treaty in 1864. He didn’t.

      Your imaginings about Hay are interesting, but he’s very clear in his writing and your imaginings aren’t evidence.

      I don’t need to disprove Butler’s claim. Butler’s claim needs to be corroborated. People don’t remember events. People remember what their brain has reconstructed from events. Butler didn’t know what his last conversation with Lincoln would be at the time he was conversing with Lincoln, so he had no extra motivation to remember that conversation. No recollection after 30 years can be reliable. That recollection is only evidence of what that person remembered. It is not necessarily evidence of what actually happened. Human memory is just not reliable. People remember all kinds of things that never happened all the time. “[I]t is surprisingly easy to convince people that they remember something that never happened.” In the same article we learn that “most memory researchers today would not accept an account of memory without additional evidence.”

      Butler may have met with Lincoln around the time he claimed. Nobody remembers conversations 30 years later. He remembered what he had convinced himself was discussed.

  6. [edit]

    “You seem to want to be deliberately obtuse in a few areas. In sending a letter to the Dutch ambassador, Seward was replying to the Dutch. Or didn’t you know that an ambassador represents their country?”

    [edit]

    Seward sent the private letter to the United States’s own ambassador TO the Netherlands. He sent it to his own State Department employee who was there carrying out his instructions. That is NOT the same thing as the representative from the Netherlands to the United States, the Dutch government, or anything else of the sort.

    Again – it was a private internal letter that began and ended INSIDE the State Department from Seward to the US’s own ambassador James S. Pike, NOT a communication sent to the Dutch government.

    Source: Page 310, http://books.google.com/books?id=-CoOAAAAQAAJ&dq

    [edit]

    “His telling the Dutch things had changed is not a fabrication on his part.”

    Except he *didn’t* tell the Dutch that. He told his own State Dept. representative to the Netherlands that in a private letter. See the link above. Big difference as one would be the official policy of the US government to another country and the other only an internal conversation in the State Department.

    “I don’t need to disprove Butler’s claim. Butler’s claim needs to be corroborated.”

    Now that is the rub, is it not? Butler’s claim pertained to a conversation in which there were only two participants: himself and a guy who died a day later. So who other than Butler, pray tell, would you expect to be there to record the conversation in minute detail for your desired level of corroboration? Unfortunately for all of us, there wasn’t anybody else in the room with them so your standard of corroboration is intentionally designed to be unreasonable.

    Here’s what we do know though:

    – Lincoln and Butler definitely met.
    – It was a significant and memorable meeting for Butler because it was the last time he saw Lincoln before the assassination, and things like that do in fact tend to stick out in memory.
    – Butler later published an account of their conversation where he very specifically said they discussed resuming colonization.
    – The context of Butler’s account specifically ties the resumed interest in colonization to the fact that the Confederates had just surrendered and there was uncertainty about what would happen to the slaves now that the war was over, so it’s unlikely he was misremembering the date of another earlier conversation about colonization.

    You’ve also offered no reason, no motive, and no basis for your invented speculation that Butler remembered something different than what actually happened…other than you personally don’t like what he remembered because it complicates your own unfounded and unproven claim that Lincoln dropped colonization. And no, a pop psychology article from the BBC is not “evidence” that Butler got it wrong.

    1. I’m not going to repeat myself again to correct your misstatements so I’ve removed them.

      Thank you for providing the link to the diplomatic correspondence. I direct your attention to page 208, Pike to Seward, cable No. 121:

      “I have been several times inquired of when our government would probably act on the treaty.”

      He’s asking Seward what he should tell the Dutch.

      I now direct you to page 309: “Your despatch of January 27, No. 121, has been received.” Seward will give him the answer to give to the Dutch.

      Turn now to page 310: “I am obliged to confess that it is not now expected that the treaty in regard to negro emigration will be ratified. The American people have advanced to a new position in regard to slavery and the African class since the President, in obedience to their prevailing wishes, accepted the policy of colonization. Now not only their free labor but their military service also is appreciated and accepted.” Seward tells Pike that the policy has changed. This is what Pike is to tell the Dutch.

      Now turn to page 312, Pike to Seward: “This government receives with regret the intimation that the treaty with regard to emigration to Surinam, lately negotiated here, is not likely to be ratified. Surinam wants labor, and the colonial department is anxious to have the credit of making a treaty that looks to the obtaining of it. I have no doubt, however, of the good policy on our part of rejecting the treaty.” The change of policy has been communicated to the Dutch, and Pike agrees with the new policy.

      As I said, the ambassador represents his country.

      Seward did indeed tell the Dutch that the official US Government policy had changed. Pike was his conduit.

      Lincoln and Butler met at some point–probably yes. What was talked about? We have Butler’s recollection 30 years later of a conversation that might have been around the time when he claimed or the gist of it might have been three years earlier and he was conflating more than one conversation with Lincoln. We don’t know. But our brains work to fill in the gaps in our memory, and what they fill in is mostly wrong. As memory is so unreliable, we can’t credit his recollection without corroboration. Whenever Butler last spoke with Lincoln, he didn’t know it would be the last time he would speak with Lincoln, hence there is no particular reason he should remember it more than any other conversation. Butler’s recollection has no reliability.

      Your characterization of the findings of memory researchers as “pop psychology” is another example of your own lack of honesty in dealing with this. Study after study reveals that memory is unreliable, especially in older people like Butler was when he wrote his memoirs.

      http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09541440802281183

      http://pss.sagepub.com/content/11/1/39.short

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/2/49/761.short

      1. “This government receives with regret the intimation that the treaty with regard to emigration to Surinam, lately negotiated here, is not likely to be ratified.”

        …which opens the next question. Was Seward’s private letter to Pike sent because Lincoln directed him to stop all colonization plans? And if so, where, pray tell, is that letter from Lincoln to Seward instructing him to stop the treaty ratification?

        Or did Seward do a little informal vote counting in the Senate, figure out that he didn’t have enough to get 2/3rds to ratify the treaty and – consistent with his own documented tendency to not pursue colonization “with the vigor that Lincoln would have wished” – simply tell Pike to let the matter drop?

        I know you are probably quite sure of yourself that it is the former. But what evidence do you have other than Seward, who we’ve already established is a biased witness on colonization?

        1. We haven’t established any lack of reliability on Seward’s part. Seward was a loyal member of the cabinet who carried out Lincoln’s policies. In this case, he would certainly be happy at the change of policy discussed between himself and Lincoln. As Seward and Lincoln met face-to-face nearly every day, there is no need to have a document from Lincoln to establish a prima facie case that it was a change in policy. We have Seward, acting in his role as Secretary of State, transmitting that change in policy, which in turn was given to the Dutch as the official policy of the United States Government.

          1. So you disagree with Walter Stahr’s assessment that Seward did not live up to Lincoln’s wishes and expectations of performance wherever colonization was concerned?

            Also, what evidence do you have that Pike communicated Seward’s personal letter to the Dutch, as opposed to simply telling them “sorry guys, we don’t have the votes right now to get it through the Senate”?

          2. I disagree with your characterization. I take Stahr’s assessment at face value that Seward didn’t pursue colonization as aggressively as Lincoln would have wished; however, that doesn’t mean Seward fabricated a change in policy, which is the clear implication of your claim. Seward would certainly be happy that the policy changed. Pike certainly was.

            Look at the wording of Seward’s reply to Pike. he was clearly communicating the diplomatic language Pike was to use in speaking to the Dutch regarding the treaty.

  7. Since you’re into pop psychology “memory” studies though, there is substantial evidence that people retain specific and detailed memories that they associate with a major event or trauma. Even 30, 40, or 50 years later.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/17/jfk-assassination-dallas-remember-memories-50/3574847/

    This was Butler’s last private meeting with Lincoln before he was shot. It’s precisely the type of thing that would have been seared into his memory.

    1. I was in school the day Kennedy was shot, and I don’t remember anything about it. That these people claim to remember details is interesting, but hardly conclusive. How accurate are the details they claim to remember? How many times have they discussed the event with friends over the years, and incorporated what their friends thought they remembered into their own reconstruction of what happened? We don’t know.

      Butler didn’t know at the time it was his last meeting with Lincoln. It’s not comparable to the Kennedy assassination at all, even if we accept these people remember accurately. It would only be comparable if Butler was speaking with Lincoln during some other traumatic event, or maybe if he were speaking with Lincoln in the theatre box when Booth shot Lincoln. In that case, though, the trauma of actually being there may block out his memory. But there was no emotional experience at the time he claimed to have had a conversation with Lincoln. It was just another day, just another conversation. There was no reason he would remember it. If it turned out to be his last conversation with Lincoln, that knowledge was after the fact, after he was already forgetting the details. And 30 years later, it’s unreliable.

  8. A small point to ponder. The following makes no sense:

    “Whenever Butler last spoke with Lincoln, he didn’t know it would be the last time he would speak with Lincoln, hence there is no particular reason he should remember it more than any other conversation.”

    If you had a conversation with the president and he was unexpectedly shot the next day, do you think that you would easily forget the content of your conversation? Sure – you may not have thought much of it at the time it happened, especially if you were a high ranking official in your own right and communicated with the president fairly routinely. But suppose it was the very last one and then – without warning only a day later – a message comes over the telegraph and says the guy you just had lunch with has been shot.

    Do you not think that your last conversation with him would be – at that moment – seared into your memory forever? Would you not try to recollect and commit to memory everything you could about what you just witnessed?

    Besides, Butler also stated quite clearly that the occasion for them discussing colonization was the fact that the war had just ended. That in itself is evidence that he was NOT confusing some different conversation from several years earlier.

    1. If I had a conversation with the President, I wouldn’t have known he was going to be shot the next day, so there would be no reason for me to remember it any more clearly than any other conversation. There would be no significant emotion associated with that conversation. If I had a conversation with him and while we were discussing things a report came in of a tsunami covering Manhattan with water and causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, I might remember it–or at least I would remember I was discussing something with the President, and after I had forgotten the details of the conversation my brain would fill in the gaps with what my imagination believed was a reasonable conversation to have had.

      Conversations 30 years later are simply not reliable.

      1. But if he was in fact shot the next day, do you think you would have a greater reason to remember what your last words were to him? Or his to you?

        Speaker of the House Colfax had a conversation with Lincoln shortly before he left for Ford’s Theater. It was a routine conversation about an upcoming trip to California related to the postal service routes they were considering. He didn’t share its details until many years after the fact and it wasn’t recorded in full public view until a posthumous biography in 1886. His report is treated as a credible and memorable account of his last conversation with Lincoln on something utterly mundane.

        So how is Butler any different?

        1. That’s not the way memory works. The event itself has to be linked with the emotion. Even then, it’s still iffy. I don’t recall many conversations I had on the most emotionally significant days of my life. In fact, thinking now, I’m hard-pressed to remember any conversations, though I know I must have had several conversations with various people on those days. I don’t know the details of why Colfax’s conversation with Lincoln would be accepted as credible. I wouldn’t accept it on its own, but I would see if I could corroborate the details. I can imagine that in 1886 it was accepted on face value, as they didn’t have the research into memory and how easy false memories can develop that we have today.

          1. Or it could simply be that in 1886 or 1890, many people who knew Lincoln were still alive and they saw absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about Colfax or Butler’s memories because they knew them to be consistent with their own knowledge of Lincoln.

            If there’s one constant of all those Civil War recollections published in the 1880s and 1890s, it’s that people who made inaccurate claims about something during the war usually got smacked down by somebody else who was still alive and could serve as a counter-witness. Nobody challenged Butler’s story because they knew it accurately matched the Lincoln they also remembered.

          2. Your speculations about who was alive and what they knew are not evidence. And you’re assuming anyone who could contradict him read what he wrote. That’s not yet in evidence.

  9. You still aren’t reading carefully enough. Seward does not tell Pike “the administration’s position has changed” or “The U.S. government’s position has changed”

    He says “The American people have advanced to a new position in regard to slavery and the African race” – a reference to popular OPINION changing. That is also entirely consistent with Seward’s observation that they don’t have the votes to ratify the treaty any more. It doesn’t say anything about official policy having changed, and Seward’s slippery wording actually goes out of its way to AVOID attributing anything related to colonization to Lincoln as per Foner’s original point.

    1. That’s not language Seward would employ if he meant it solely for Pike, because he would have no reason to absolve Lincoln from his previous position on colonization. It was quite obviously meant for the Dutch.

      1. It could be if he thought it was a politically sensitive subject, and Pike – who was a famous newspaper editor and political appointee – might react negatively to the news and cause trouble for the administration.

        If it was “meant for the Dutch,” do you have any evidence that the Dutch ever received that message and not as Pike’s response suggests a simple message that the treaty “is not likely to be ratified” for lack of votes?

        And why would Seward tell the Dutch that the “American people” – meaning popular opinion – had changed, as opposed to official policy unless he was being intentionally coy to obscure the fact that Lincoln was still dreaming about colonization?

        1. Pike told us he delivered the message in the subsequent cable.

          Once again, he was being coy about Lincoln’s previous commitment to colonization, as anyone reading it with any honesty would see. We won’t go down that road again.

          1. Not quite true. The only thing Pike confirms delivering is “the intimation that the treaty with regard to emigration to Surinam” was not likely to be ratified.

            So I’ll ask again: do you have any evidence that the Dutch ever received Seward’s message?

            Or that they responded specifically acknowledging that? Perhaps curious to know why Seward was basing his claim on some vague appeal to the wishes of the “American People” as opposed to a specific directive from Lincoln that also seems not to be in evidence?

          2. Pike told Seward he was getting questioned about the treaty. He didn’t ask, “What do I tell them?” He didn’t ask, “What’s going on with the treaty?” Those questions were implied in his statement. Seward replied in the diplomatic language he wanted relayed to the Dutch. He didn’t have to say, “Tell them this.” That’s implied in his answer, because the language he used doesn’t make sense if he didn’t intend for it to be transmitted to the Dutch. Pike dutifully complied, and responded that the Dutch got the message.

            The Dutch acknowledged it to Pike personally. We know that because he tells us, “This government receives with regret the intimation that the treaty with regard to emigration to Surinam, lately negotiated here, is not likely to be ratified. Surinam wants labor, and the colonial department is anxious to have the credit of making a treaty that looks to the obtaining of it.”

            As Seward no doubt received his instructions from Lincoln verbally, there’s no wonder a written directive doesn’t exist. What we have is Seward’s relay to Pike. Seward being the loyal cabinet minister he was in 1864 wouldn’t go off on his own and simply make up foreign policy on his own. The Seward of March and April, 1861 probably would. That was before he realized who Lincoln really was. But we’re talking about the Seward of 1864, after he and Lincoln were close friends. Additionally, we have Hay, who spoke with Lincoln on a daily basis, telling us the President had “sloughed off” the idea of colonization. As a matter of clarification, I agree with Foner that Lincoln would still be willing to assist individual African-Americans who requested to go to another country. That is, however, quite different from the colonization proposals he had been pursuing. Any individual not imprisoned or obligated to the military or otherwise so prevented has always been free to leave the country if they chose. That would be the same for individual African-Americans who wanted to leave the country.

            Once again, Seward worded his reference to the American people as a way of, in Foner’s word, “coyly” absolving the President of some measure of responsibility for his past colonization support. Saying the American People had changed their views was telling the Dutch the policy changed, since in that statement he said the President followed the views of the people. So when the people supported colonization, in Seward’s formulation, the President did, and hence US policy pursued it. Now that they don’t, he doesn’t, and hence US policy had changed. If this were meant solely for Pike, he wouldn’t have had to go into any of that.

  10. I love your honesty and objectivity.
    Personally I know little compared to your life long passion of studying about the Civil War era.
    For me you hit the nail on the head comparing the words of Abraham Lincoln to those of John Calhoun, Jefferson Davis or the volumes of books written by ministers justifying slavery and this idea of “white-supremacy.”

    One has but to look at the political propaganda from the archives of history to see how the Democrats of that day portrayed Lincoln.
    Even this idea of miscegenation pushed to invoke anger and fear by that same party drips with the same seeds of racism offered by today’s racists.

    Now we have men like Judge Napolitano brazenly telling the audience of Fox News
    that slavery was dying a natural death when anyone knows every state that seceded proclaimed loudly why they were seceding.

    Thank you so much for sharing with others facts left in their historical context.

    For what it is worth I thought you offering the various other words of Lincoln took the lopsided effort of Mr. Singer to the “woodshed.”

    Perhaps landing on the wrong side of history like those Confederados who migrated to Brazil to maintain their “states rights” of human bondage is part of the revisionist effort to sanitize the secession statements of the South.

    Trying to make Lincoln into a KKK wizard without examining what the South wanted to continue is rather disingenuous in my opinion.
    Warts and all Lincoln evolved which is more than I can say for those who now want to sanitize the brutality of “the peculiar institution” they claimed was divinely given.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I call ’em like I see ’em. 🙂

  11. Charles · · Reply

    After reading many post on here it would seem there are many who don’t understand there is no such race as African-American . The legal race designation for a black person is and always has been Negro . The feel good term African-American was coined in the late 1980s to pacify the black population in the US . The PC crowed likes to change terms and evidence at the drop of the hat if it does not fit their agenda .

    1. There is evidence that what we view as “race” is a fictional construct. See here. See also here. As such, whatever we as a society decide to call these demographic groups is what is accurate, and if we as a society decide that an old taxonomy is a remnant of an ignorant, racist time and we wish to create a new taxonomy, then the new taxonomy takes over for the old. Your claim regarding the “legal race designation” is, to put it mildly, laughable. The United States Government disagrees with you. See here. When one examines mixed races, one sees quickly the old taxonomy breaks down completely.

      If race is largely a social construct, then it makes sense that we should consider people more as what they would like to be considered. For example, would you rather be considered an ignorant racist, an ill-informed dinosaur, or simply a misinformed person? Let us know so we can apply your preference.

      1. I suspect that some unreconstructed types continue to use the term “Negro” for the same reason my grandfather, fifty years ago, habitually used the word “nigra” — it’s as close as you can get to using another word without being activity called out on it.

  12. It always amazes me how various individuals try with all their efforts to filter historical facts with their own bias concerning race and the issues still surrounding the race issue in America.

    We can look at Lincoln’s election and see the constant effort of his opponents to tie him to all the racial taboos of that day.
    What is amazing is you can still see this effort today in various corners.

    No one doubts the cultural influence of “white supremacy” that America swam in since it’s founding.

    No one doubts Lincoln would have been influenced by these same ideas of his day.

    However I think it is fair to say Lincoln also was on a path of openness as revealed by his words concerning what he saw happening to those people of color during his time.

    Coming into contact with men like Fredrick Douglas and others who smashed the racist stereotypes of ignorance opens the mind and perspective of anyone willing to learn.

    I don’t think any reasonably well-read person would see Lincoln as an “abolitionist” but to not see him progressing on this issue of fairness and justice is not a fair assessment of his own words.

    We are all evolving in one-way or another.
    Hopefully we are all remaining objective and honest to what we are learning.

    Lincoln no matter what his imperfections were seems to me to be like any fair minded person who often evolves on various positions as experience and facts become clearer to them.

    Meeting a man like Fredrick Douglas would challenge the cause of “white supremacy” to its foundation.

    As has been posted many have evolved from the words of “grandfathers” of the past who still hung on to these racist concepts.

    Thanks for all your devotion and passion Al on this subject.

    1. Thanks, Rob.

  13. Al do you have a post on the claim that Lincoln owned slaves? I’m so sick of hearing this blatantly false claim. Neoconfederates will ignorantly parrot make any dishonest claim.

    1. No post specifically on that, but it’s baloney. Lincoln never owned any slaves. Mary Lincoln never owned any slaves, though she came from a slave-holding family. Once she left Kentucky, she had no enslaved people with her. Gerald Prokopowicz wrote a book that addresses the question, though. It’s called Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln.

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