Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama and President Lincoln

For some reason the media seems to like linking President Obama with President Lincoln. Why this is so, I do not know.

First of all, President Lincoln was a Republican.

Secondly, President Lincoln was the ultimate flip-flopper and a politician above all else. The great emancipator? Only when it was politically expedient. If you don't believe me, read his first inaugural address, the one they don't teach you about in school, particularly this part:

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that —

'I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.'

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

Hmm, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists." How many of you ever knew that President Lincoln ever said such a thing, and in many speeches including his first inaugural speech?

Oh, and the vaunted Emancipation Proclamation. Ahem, it only declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." In other words, it only applied to states that had seceded from the Union and expressly exempted states that were loyal to the Union and also exempted those parts of the Confederacy that had come under Northern control. And this was only in January, 1863, nearly three years after the Civil War had started. It was strictly a political move to further undermine the Confederacy.

President Lincoln was not exactly the epitome of someone with a strong moral compass, at least when it came to slavery.

So on this day when history is, indeed, being made, it might do us all well to remember history that has already been made. And not distort it because it is convenient to spin this link between President Lincoln and President Obama. In fact, those pictures and news clips that juxtapose President Obama with the statue of President Lincoln could be considered the height of irony.

Now, to give President Lincoln his due, he did push for the passage of the 13th Amendment which did, indeed, outlaw slavery in all of the United States. However, at the time of its passage, only Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky still allowed slavery. Interestingly, these were all Union States.