Letter: Lincoln’s stature

February 5, 2013


To the editor:

The Emancipation Proclamation was a logical extension of Old Abe’s sense of justice and commitment to the “proposition that all men are created equal.” Abraham Lincoln did more for America than any other American. Yet he has been relegated to “Presidents Day.” His life, deeds and sacrifice for the nation deserve better.

Abe was born in a log cabin, taught himself to read, write and cipher. His sense of humor and willingness to laugh at himself made him the most successful American of the 19th century. He successfully fought for and ensured the continuation of American democracy. Abe declared that slavery was founded on both injustice and bad policy, and that he hated it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.

Abe clearly saw the darkening clouds of civil war. He knew that compromise had its place in achieving political goals. However, there was no compromise when recognizing the right for all Americans to be free: “I believe this government cannot endure permanent half slave and half free.”

Lincoln suffered greatly as the commander-in-chief. He had to save the Union, find a fighter to carry out the destruction of Robert E. Lee’s army and seek to ensure compassion and justice in the implementation of Reconstruction. Lincoln’s assassination assured a hundred years of racial struggle and cultural conflict. 

I truly resent our collective acceptance of Abe Lincoln as just another president. There simply is no other president, save for George Washington, deserving of a national holiday — a day to renew our commitment to freedom.


Liberty275 5 years, 4 months ago

"Lincoln suffered greatly as the commander-in-chief. He had to save the Union, find a fighter to carry out the destruction of Robert E. Lee’s army"

Lincoln is only second to Washington as one of our greatest presidents. I have problems with his allowing Sherman to terrorize civilians across Georgia. I wish he had found a better way to end the civil war than waging it against women and children.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

One way to reduce the morale of the Confederate Army was to destroy the crops and homes of the civilians at home. Then more soldiers would feel compelled to leave (although some had already deserted through out the war as they didn't agree with it), as well as let down because the Confederacy couldn't protect their loved ones. Also, destroying the crops and supplies kept them out of the soldier's hands. It's what the Confederacy would have done if they could have reached further North.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

We did it again during WW II when we fire bombed certain German cities. Dresden was largely known as a cultural center, but we bombed it to virtual oblivion for the purpose of demoralizing the German people and their troops. War sucks. Always has, always will.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree. And the Confederacy burned some of their own supplies to keep them out of Union hands. War isn't pretty.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 4 months ago

Lincoln was a politician. Not a dirty word.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

One thing to remember, although I greatly admire Lincoln, is that he did not believe in equality for the greater portion of his life. I am not sure if the letter writer understands that. Lincoln was anti slavery, but NOT an abolitionist. Lincoln hated slavery, because men deserved the fruits of their labor.
And Lincoln was a GREAT politician during the war. He was a brilliant man.

fiddleback 5 years, 4 months ago

The idea that people think of Abe as "just another president" is a total straw-man, and I for one don't think we need a separate holiday to further mythologize him. I can agree that he is second perhaps only to Washington, but he certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of attention. Scholars have long joked that there are perhaps more books written about him than about Jesus...

And would a holiday in his name really help get us towards a better understanding of the man rather than the icon? Would it help us peel the onion and examine the darker angels of his nature and his tenure? His suspension of habeas corpus and other civil rights? His alleged extra-marital homosexuality? Probably not; only history buffs like to look under those rocks...

Plus, the film alone has already encouraged more outrageous claims to his legacy and naked self-aggrandizement than can be stomached, especially by the party he helped to found. In one of our most bitter historical ironies, the GOP has won the South for the past few decades by actively encouraging resentment of both federal authority and racial minorities (nevermind the whites) on federal assistance. But of course GOP leaders will conveniently overlook Lincoln's ultimate demonstration of federal dominance and shamelessly attempt to bask in his luster...No, we don't need to lobby for another holiday only to endure more flag-waving and chest-thumping from their ilk.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

fyi - he wasn't gay. and people know that the republican party of today in no way represents the republican party of lincoln's time.

fiddleback 5 years, 4 months ago

Regarding homosexuality, I was careful to say "alleged" as it's a scholarly controversy. Are you familiar with Joshua Speed or David Derickson? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_of_Abraham_Lincoln

And when you suggest that everyone recognizes that the G.O.P. of then and now are not really similar, I think you'd be very surprised by what's expressed by many G.O.P. leaders and voters, including comments on this site...

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

Yes, I am familiar with Joshua Speed. And I generally do not refer to Wikipedia. Gerald J. Prokopowicz spoke about it in his book, and is pretty convincing that Lincoln was not gay.
The G.O.P may think they are similar to Lincoln's GOP, but when you look at the historical evidence, such as the Republicans being radical in 1860 and the current republicans as conservative. That's enough difference.

fiddleback 5 years, 4 months ago

So what's wrong with Wikipedia? Especially for controversial subjects, I find that it offers a great forum for competing arguments usually resulting in an even-handed overview without partisan swipes.

So yes, Lincoln shared beds with Speed while living in Springfield, and with Derickson in 1862 when he was his bodyguard. Sharing beds was not uncommon, but it obviously creates the potential for these relationships. Please note that I’m hardly stating that Lincoln was predominately homosexual. But the possibility for sexual relationships with either Speed or Derickson can’t be denied, and that would perhaps put Lincoln towards the bisexual middle of the Kinsey spectrum (like a “2” or “3” rather than a “1”). Obviously, I don’t have a problem accepting this possibility and wouldn’t think any less of him if it were true. You saying flatly, “he wasn’t gay” is fair enough; I’m just saying there’s obviously complexity and controversy in his relationships with men.

As for the stark differences between the GOP then and now, I obviously agree that it’s practically a 180. But it sounds like you haven’t been exposed to the hordes of conservatives who would argue to the contrary. They would say that the GOP has continued to be pro-business and pro-human equality (abortion being their new abolitionist cause) since its inception. They’d say that despite now being painted as the more racist party, that the Democrats have simply switched from overt Dixiecrat racism to a more covert racism of encouraging minority welfare dependence. They simply won’t concede merit to the observation that the G.O.P. was the more socially liberal, pro-federal party at its founding and is now the more socially conservative, anti-federal party of today. And there’s no question that such opinions as theirs abound.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

Wikipedia tends to be NOT historically verified, meaning anyone can post anything they want and no one checks it. That's the first thing they tell you in college, if you are studying history, is that wiki is NOT a source, NOT a place to get accurate information. and no, I dont believe he was gay. Prokopowicz, a history chair and Lincoln scholar is pretty sure too. he has great evidence in his book.
And yes, I am exposed to hordes of conservatives...I am related to most of them. I know what they say. And I don't think abolition and abortion is even that closely related in how the conservatives want to state it. While they may be equality of a fetus, they are putting the mother in second class status by ignoring her rights.

fiddleback 5 years, 4 months ago

I'll go reverse order: I agree that pro-lifers drawing an analogy to abolitionism is complete false equivalence (and esp. ironic as their goal would make women slaves to their reproductive systems), but I've nonetheless run into such arguments multiple times. Yes, I should remember that it would be hard to come from this area and not have at least a few staunch conservatives as relatives...

Yes, I would never reference Wikipedia itself as a formal source in a paper, but their pages are usually full of links to academic papers and other often legitimate sources. Obviously students are always obligated to perform due diligence to verify. But this isn't a formal paper; I shared the link to provide an overview, just the broad strokes, in case you weren't familiar with the theories...

And yes, fine for you to prefer to side with a certain scholar on this matter. Again, no one is arguing that he was predominately gay, but rather that there may have been such relationships in his sexual history.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

Just remember that only few of their pages are linked to academic papers and some of them are linked to complete crap. I once had a professor that showed us on a certain Wiki page that it was fine, because HE verified it, but as a rule and general note of thumb, wikipedia is a no-no.

fiddleback 5 years, 4 months ago

Duly noted about the "no-no" for academic writing...to me, it's a forum no-no to shame a person for innocently linking to Wikipedia, or moreover, to quibble about statements that, while not my favored characterization, are ultimately defensible in their wording and therefore a waste of time to assail...So let's pick something worthwhile to argue about next time...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

Wikipedia is like any other source of information-- it may or may not be accurate on any given topic, and that's going to vary depending on the authors involved. It does have mechanisms for correcting bad entries, and on topics that have been of particular interest to me, in which I seek out other sources for confirmation, I haven't found it to be unreliable at all.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

You can't compare John Brown's actions and Lincoln's actions during times of war. Two ENTIRELY different things. Sherman was IN a war, Brown was in a self-declared warfare against the institution of slavery. John Brown broke the law to advance his beliefs. While his absolute hatred and declaration for ending slavery is most admirable, his methods, however, are not. And you have to remember the methods when you remember the man.
One way to end the war was to destroy morale - destroy food and shelter - destroy anything that could aid the Confederacy and be used against the Union. The Confederacy was doing the same thing. Doesn't make it right, but measures are different in times of war.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 4 months ago

And I cannot imagine how ashamed Republicans must feel today for their bigotry, hatred, acceptance of the Southern "Dixiecrat" into their ranks and their allowance of the Tea Party take over.

Abdu Omar 5 years, 4 months ago

Linclon said " I mean to save the Union, if I can. If by freeing slaves I save it, I will do that, but if freeing one slave means that I cannot save the union, I would not free a slave."

He is saying that the most important objective to him was saving the union. It was his only task as he saw it but he also wanted to free the slaves. He didn't have to make a choice and his proclamation to emancipate the slaves was a great move on his part and angered the South even more. But he issued the proclamation after a victory to show that he was in control of the Union.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

Lincoln decided to work on emancipation after he realized the war would be a lot longer than they thought. And since the slaves were escaping to Union lines, it made sense to take the slave power away from the South, so they couldn't use it against the Union.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 4 months ago

Wallace was a "Dixiecrat" and believe me, there was a HUGE difference. It was because the Democratic party of the sixties wouldn't accept him that he left it and ran as an independent. The Republican party ended up welcoming these racists with open arms. (May I also point out Jesse Helms?) How do you think Nixon ended up taking the south in 1969? I have no idea how old you are but I LIVED this stuff. These are not "half truths".

Commenting has been disabled for this item.