I realize it’s the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, but the 24/7 recitations on him have almost reached overkill status and critical mass.
On “Jeopardy” as I write this, there’s even a category on him. It’s difficult to compartmentalize Lincoln, the man who once said he didn’t care if the slaves were ever freed, and then when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued with much fanfare, it ended up applying to only the slaves in the Confederate states. No concern over the ones in the non-seceding states was evidenced.
And the “great Emancipator” had a far-reaching idea for the freed slaves, he wanted them to posthaste head for Liberia or another African state, to “return to their roots” as it were. He still harbored the opinion that they were not the equal to whites.
Remembering the age in which he lived, he enjoyed black face minstrelsy, “darky” jokes, and was given to the normal conversational usage of what we are now mandated to call “the N word.”
Black historian Robert Louis Gates, Jr. gave an excellent talk on him this morning, pointing out the various contradictions in his life and the things for which he is noted. One of our Constitutional rights is the right of confronting one’s accuser, yet Lincoln totally abolished the writ of habeas corpus for awhile!
His tall, rail thin posture always seemed unhappy about something, and there are those that think he probably had some mental or emotional problems particularly later in life. Marfan’s Syndrome is a disease that many historians feel he probably suffered from, and even his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, did not escape the accusations of some form of lunacy.
Yet today, he stands alone, this 16th President, as one without fault, without blame, though on whose shoulders the Civil War tragedies must eternally rest, with its terrible toll of lives, and yet the accolades abound.
Someday maybe we’ll learn what he really was all about.
On a cheerier note, a year or so ago the Children of the Confederacy heritage organization used as a fund raiser the collection of pennies. Their slogan was “Making Lincoln work for the South.” It was widely successful!