An Essay Dispelling The Myth Of Abraham Lincoln's "High Moral Status"

838 words - 3 pages

"There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgement,' will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes necessary that there must be a difference, I..... am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position."There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all white people at the idea of an indiscriminate amalgamation of the white and black races..."The above remarks were made by a man in mid-19th Century America. Can we imagine the uproar that these words would cause today? They would be regarded as ignorant and repellent. One might expect that such comments would be made by a Ku Klux Klan member or perhaps a Southern Plantation Lord. No, these comments were made by Abraham Lincoln. Surprised? This is not startling. The image of Abraham Lincoln as the "Great Emancipator" and a hero of civil rights has been drilled into our heads since kindergarten. The myth of Lincoln as a profoundly moral man has been perpetrated since the end of the "War for Southern Independence" by his advocates.During his term of office in Illinois, Lincoln did little to aid the cause of enslaved blacks. While he was in the state congress, Lincoln did not oppose several laws and amendments to the state constitution which prohibited blacks from entering the state both physically (whipping, jail sentences, etc.) or economically ($1000 dollars required to enter the state, a sum a runaway slave could never achieve.)1 His party advocated no new slavery in the territories. This was not to stop the spread of this moral stain, but rather he wished to prevent the west from becoming a "dumping ground" for blacks - which he feared would lead to the mixing of the white and black races. If he favored any policy concerning the issue of slavery he proposed a long period of "apprenticeship" where freed blacks would remain in a state of service to the white class until they gradually would receive full rights. Or, he supported the deportation of blacks back to Africa with the slaveholders compensated for their losses.1Indeed, the legend has lasted longer than many had expected. HL Mencken is quoted as saying, "When this generation of history fakers dies out, Lincoln will smell to high heaven." Unfortunately, this myth has yet to have died out and Lincoln is still glorified as the savior of oppressed blacks. It...

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