Abraham Lincoln was not Simon pure when it came to blacks.
The issue as to whether Lincoln was a racist is one oft discussed among historians. He was in his early days. The Civil War moved him towards freeing the slaves. His reasons for so doing not necessarily from an honorable perspective. Rather, based on the practicalities of a situation. Lincoln was an expert politician.
Early in his life he favored abolition. However, he was opposed to racial equality. For the reason the black man did not possess the same mental attributes of a white. The black man was inferior.
By the end of he Civil War, Lincoln was on an upward arc, perhaps heading toward becoming the man he has since been mythologized as being: The Great Emancipator, the man who freed and loved the slaves. His journey however was not complete on the day he died.
Lincoln was still wrestling with race when he died.
Lincoln’s early public position re slavery was clearly spelled out in the 4th of his debates with Stephen Douglas in 1858 in their Senatorial race which Lincoln lost: “I will say that I am not, nor have ever been, in favor of bringing in any way the social and political equality of the black and white races.”
He followed with he opposed blacks having the right to vote, to serve on juries, to hold office, and to intermarry with whites.
He concluded his speech with: “I will say in addition to this there is a physical difference between the black and white races which I believe will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they remain together there must be a 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.”
Lincoln at the time was no different than most white males, whether living in the north or south. He was a white supremacist.
Some other quotes of Lincoln symbolizing his thoughts at various times in his life.
“I have urged the colonization of the Negroes [in Africa], and I shall continue.”
“I can conceive of no greater calamity than the assimilation of the Negro into our social and political life as an equal.”
“Within 20 years we can peacefully colonize the Negro…..under conditions in which he can rise to the full measure of manhood. This he can never do here. We can never attain the ideal union our fathers dreamed, with millions of an alien, inferior race among us, whose assimilation is neither possible nor desirable.”
Politics always seem to play a part in major decisions. Each side having their respective leaders.
Lincoln was a believer of colonization. Send the blacks to Africa or Central America to live and govern themselves.
Lincoln called black leaders to a White House meeting in 1852. He pushed colonization big time. The black leaders were adamant in their opposition. Lincoln argued that given the “differences” between the two races and the hostile attitude of whites towards black people, it would be “better for us both, therefore to be segregated.”
The blacks refused to be swayed by Lincoln’s argument. They argued African-Americans were as much natives of the United States as white people, and thus deserved the same rights.
Lincoln gave up re colonization. Never spoke of it again.
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation the following year in 1863.
Most Americans today are under the impression the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves per se. All of them! It did not.
Lincoln was a war President. He knew the South needed the help of the slaves to successfully carry on the War. Two primary reasons. The South needed the slaves to raise the food to feed Confederate soldiers. Additionally, the Confederacy had begun to absorb slaves into the Confederate Army to fight against the Union.
Lincoln sought to solve the problem by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves only in a limited fashion. It freed those still living in Confederate states and those fighting in the Confederate Army.
Evidence reflects how tightly the Emancipation Proclamation was drawn to solely accomplish the two items. Any black Confederate soldiers who had been captured by the Union did not receive freedom from slavery.
In the next two years, many blacks fled the South to fight for the Union. Two hundred thousand. By the time the War ended in 1865, Lincoln was very much impressed with how these blacks had fought.
Lincoln felt the slaves had earned their freedom by their bravery. Something legal was required since the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not take into account “all” slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment would and did. It was the instrument by which all slaves were freed.
Lincoln approved the Joint Resolutions of Congress which authorized the Thirteenth Amendment on January 1, 1865. Ratification by State Legislatures was required to make it part of the Constitution.
Ratification unfortunately did not come till 18 months after Lincoln was killed. It did however free all slaves thereby earning Lincoln the title of Great Emancipator.
The task was not complete. Perhaps if Lincoln had lived we would not be in the position we are with present day black/white conflicts.
Historians are not sure how much further Lincoln would have pushed the black/white issue had he lived. Therein lies the reason no one knows what Lincoln’s final thoughts were with regard to social and political equality.
So it was.
Do sufficient grounds exist to topple Lincoln’s statues and disparage his accomplishments? Though he accomplished much for the black man, his contrary words and feelings may have been greater and bury the good he did.
What of those who did much less in an anti-black fashion than Lincoln? If Lincoln stands, should they not be resurrected to stand again?
It all comes down to what is to be the standard, if any, by which these decisions are to be made.
Enjoy your day!