Sunday, March 04, 2007

Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

By Richard E. Noble

Abraham Lincoln may not be all that he is cracked up to be, according to Gore Vidal in his book “The Second American Revolution and Other Essays”.
Nancy Hanks, Abraham’s mother was illegitimate, and this is documented by Abraham himself, says Gore.
He was no shy, modest, warm, gentle person. “No great man is ever modest. It was his intellectual arrogance and unconscious assumption of superiority that men like Chase and Sumner could never forgive,” says John Hay, Lincoln’s secretary.
He was no little po-boy, rail-splitter from a log cabin in the backwoods. By the time he became president he was a thriving, well to do, ambitious, aggressive lawyer.
Lincoln was not a good Christian. In fact, he wrote a book, Infidelity. “Lincoln, in that production, attempted to show that the Bible was false: first on the grounds of reason, and, second, because it was self-contradictory; that Jesus was not the son of God any more than any man.” Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, friend and biographer confirms this account in his biography of Lincoln.
Lincoln spoke of God in later speeches, according to Gore, because of political pressure, but even so, made no references to Jesus.
Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd, went mad, and they had three sons who all died prematurely. This may be due to the fact that Lincoln around 1835-1836 went to Beardstown and contracted syphilis. He got treatment for it by a Doctor Daniel Drake in Cincinnati. He may have infected his wife, Mary, with the disease and hence her madness and the death of his three boys. This, claims Gore, may also explain his terrible bouts with melancholy, depression and “chastity”.
In 1846, as a Congressman, he opposed the war with Mexico on the grounds that it was a nasty, aggressive business started by the United States to seize new territories from an obviously weaker opponent. In a speech thirteen years before the Civil War he declared... “Any people anywhere being inclined and having the power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.” OOPS!
Old Abe wasn’t even a friend of the Negro, according to Mr. Vidal. He didn’t precipitate the war to free the slaves or to abolish slavery, but to save the Union. “If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong,”... but ...”if I can save the Union without freeing any slaves, I will do that. If I can save the Union by freeing some and leaving others alone, I will do that.”
Early in his administration he and his Republican buddies “acquired” a bunch of land in Central America for the purpose of re-locating American blacks. I guess he didn’t know about Liberia. OOPS, again.
Gore goes on to credit Lincoln with the “creation” of the American Nation State. In other words, he says... Lincoln, with his war, destroyed the “Union”, and created a “Nation”.
I think old Gore has got his history mixed up with his fiction here. Lincoln did not start the Civil War; the South did when it attacked Fort Sumter. And Lincoln did not deny the South their “right” to secede from the Union. The South gave up that right when they signed onto the Constitution... “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance OR CONFEDERATION ... ENTER ANY AGREEMENT OR COMPACT WITH ANOTHER STATE OR WITH A FOREIGN POWER OR ENGAGE IN WAR...”
So much for legal and social contracts, I suppose?

Abe and the War

As previously stated Abraham Lincoln did not start the Civil War. The Cotton South started the Civil War even before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. They had been threatening secession and rattling their sabers for over twenty years. The Atlanta Confederacy proclaimed
“Whether ... Pennsylvania Avenue is paved ten fathoms deep in mangled bodies ... the South will never submit to ... the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.” The South was so aggressive and adamant on this slavery issue, I actually wonder if they intended or had a plan for conquering the North. With their aggressive attitude, it does seem difficult to believe that if they had been the victorious party in this conflict that they would have allowed the North to go on harboring runaway slaves or even continuing in their free slave state status. Did they want independence, or domination?
Abe, though a member of the right wing, abolitionist Republican Party was not about to abolish slavery anytime soon. He was in favor of a slow turn over of the policy, one that might take ten, even twenty years. He even talked of a colonization program for transplanting discontented black and freed slaves in South America. His initial emancipation proclamation outraged his Republican cohorts in 1863. It freed slaves only in those areas of the Confederacy still in rebellion, not in any Southern States already occupied by the Union army, nor in any loyal slave states. After much criticism he announced to strong critics, such as Horace Greeley and William Garrison, that his goal as president was not to abolish slavery but to preserve the Union.
Lincoln was a hands-on Commander and Chief. He fired McClellan and replaced him with Burnsides. Burnsides was replaced by Hooker, and Hooker by General George Meade.
At the battle of Gettysburg a defeated and escaping Lee was trapped by the flooding Potomac. But disregarding Lincoln orders, Meade hesitated and Lee escaped. Lincoln blamed Meade for missing the opportunity of ending the war.
It wasn’t until U.S. Grant came along that Lincoln found a man that he trusted. When the press went to Lincoln criticizing Grant on his unwillingness to provide information about the war or his plans, Abe told them not to feel bad because General Grant wouldn’t tell him anything either. When they criticized Grant for drinking too much whiskey, Lincoln asked them to find out what brand General Grant drank so that he could send a case of it to his other Generals.
When John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, point blank in the back of the head at the Ford Theater, while the newly re-elected president and his wife and some friends were watching the comedy, “Our American Cousin”, Mister Booth may have executed the best friend a defeated army could ever have had.
There were many in the North who were screaming for execution for Confederate generals and political leaders, firing squads or imprisonment for officers and lesser personages, military occupation of all the rebellious states and land reform and redistribution of all Southern plantations and wealth. Lincoln’s attitude was saintly when looked at from the point of view that this group of Southern conspirators and “traitors” were responsible by their belligerent attitude for the death of 600,000 thousand of their fellow citizens and probably double that number in wounded and maimed. And all for a cause that is considered by almost everyone today to be, not only immoral but unjust and criminal to humankind – the buying, selling, torture, abuse and trading of human life. Some say, cutely, that the issue of the Civil War was not slavery but State’s Rights. But the right that the Southern States were trying to secure was slavery. So no matter how one attempts to “spin” it, the issue was slavery.

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