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 Posted: Mon Jul 4th, 2011 05:00 pm
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Texas Defender

Joined: Sat Jan 27th, 2007
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 907

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  The first thing I wish to say about Mr. Lincoln is that he was a 19th century man and a product of his times. Like the vast majority of white men of his day, he considered the white race to be the superior and the black race the inferior. Attitudes that would be considered racist in the present day were the norm in his.

  Mr. Lincoln said more than once that he did not consider the black man to be his equal. One of these times was during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates in 1858 when he 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...." He then went on to say that he doubted that the two races would ever live together: "On terms of social and political equality."

  Mr. Lincoln always hated the institution of slavery and desired to see the slaves freed. But his preferred solution to dealing with the problem of the races was the voluntary deportation of the negroes to places like South America, Central America, or the Caribbean. (Or back to Africa). He is on record as early as the 1840s as being in favor of this.

  When the war began, Lincoln set in motion government efforts to find places where the freed negroes could be sent to. In September of 1862, an effort was made to find homes for 50,000 negroes in an area of Panama. This effort failed due to questions about land titles and the opposition of Central American governments. In December of 1862, an effort was made to settle 500 on the Isle a Vache, just off the coast of Haiti. This effort failed for various reasons, including a smallpox epidemic.

  Mr. Lincoln even set up an agency to oversea colonization efforts, employing the Reverend James Mitchell (of Indiana). It was called the Bureau of Emigration, under the Department of the Interior. It attempted to find suitable places in British Honduras, and in the British West Indies.  These efforts failed, and there were no more efforts made after the US Navy had to rescue survivors from the Isle a Vache effort in 1864.

  As for Mr. Lincoln's war aims, his purpose was clear. It was to preserve the Union at all costs. In the letter to Horace Greeley referenced on this thread, he said: "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery." He wrote: "What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union." Thus, the issue about the races was subordinated to the issue of saving the Union.

  In 1861 and 1862, this ordering of priorities can be seen in Mr. Lincoln's reaction to some of his generals proclaiming emancipation of negroes in captured areas. He first repudiated General Fremont in 1861, and then General Hunter in 1862.

  As for the Emancipation Proclamation, it was a war measure attempting to re-energize the northern people by putting the war on a higher moral plane. Mr. Lincoln announced his intentions to publish it when he met with his cabinet on 22July 1862. It was agreed to delay its proclamation.

  The next month, Mr. Lincoln met with a committee of black leaders. His intent as he expressed to them, was still to keep the races separate and find other places for the blacks. He said to them: "You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but, this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffers very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side."  Deportation of blacks was still his preferred solution.

  The Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on 01January 1863, but in actuality it freed no slaves at that time. In August of 1863, there was the reading of the Conkling Letter (26 August 1863), linked to on this thread. In that letter, Mr. Lincoln wrote that his fellow citizens had rejected the idea of compensated emancipation. He said that the Emancipation Proclamation policy was to hurt the south by depriving it of its property (negroes) and enlisting them against the Confederacy. He said that the use of colored troops constitutes: "..the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion," and that: "I issued the Proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union." Thus, the order of priorities had not changed.

  I see nothing in Mr. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address discussing voting rights for negroes or equality of the races. However, in his speech delivered on 11 April 1865, he did mention the : "New Legislature " of Lousiana. It had adopted emancipation and ratification of the proposed 13th Amendment. It also discussed negro suffrage. By this time, a few days before his death, Mr. Lincoln had come to the view that some of the: "More intelligent" blacks might be given the vote. He especially thought that those who had served the nation in the war should be compensated for helping him to preserve the Union. But that saving of the Union was always his highest priority.

  Most black people of that time viewed Mr. Lincoln as their savior, but this view was not universal. On 14 April 1876, Frederick Douglass made a speech in Washington, DC at a monument being dedicated to Mr. Lincoln. It was clear that he wasn't buying into the: "Great Emancipator" label being given to Mr. Lincoln. Douglass wrote: "He was preeminently the white man's president, entirely devoted to the welfare of the white man. He was ready and willing at any time during the first years of his administration to deny, postpone,and sacrifice the rights of humanity in the colored people to promote the welfare of the white people of this country."

Last edited on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 06:47 pm by Texas Defender

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