The first of Lincoln’s two most oft-noted achievements was ending the abomination of slavery. There is little doubt that Lincoln abhorred slavery, but likewise little doubt that he held racist views toward blacks. His own words undermine his hallowed status as the Great Emancipator.
For example, in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln argued:
“I will say then that 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, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
“What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races…”
In 1860, Lincoln racial views were explicit in these words:
“They say that between the nigger and the crocodile they go for the nigger. The proportion, therefore, is, that as the crocodile to the nigger so is the nigger to the white man.”
As for delivering slaves from bondage, it was two years after the commencement of hostilities that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation — to protests from free laborers in the North, who didn’t want emancipated slaves migrating north and competing for their jobs. He did so only as a means to an end, victory in the bloody War Between the States — “to do more to help the cause.”
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery,” said Lincoln in regard to the Proclamation. “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”
In truth, not a single slave was emancipated by the stroke of Lincoln’s pen. The Proclamation freed only “slaves within any State … the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States.” In other words, Lincoln declared slaves were “free” in Confederate states, where his proclamation had no power, but excluded slaves in states that were not in rebellion, or areas controlled by the Union army. Slaves in Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware and Maryland were left in bondage.
His own secretary of state, William Seward, lamented, “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”
The great abolitionist Frederick Douglass was so angry with Lincoln for delaying the liberation of some slaves that he scarcely contacted him before 1863, noting that Lincoln was loyal only “to the welfare of the white race…” Ten years after Lincoln’s death, Douglass wrote that Lincoln was “preeminently the white man’s President” and American blacks were “at best only his step-children.”
With his Proclamation, Lincoln succeeded in politicizing the issue and short-circuiting the moral solution to slavery, thus leaving the scourge of racial inequality to fester to this day — in every state of the Union.
Many historians argue that Southern states would likely have reunited with Northern states before the end of the 19th century had Lincoln allowed for a peaceful and constitutionally accorded secession. Slavery would have been supplanted by moral imperative and technological advances in cotton production. Furthermore, under this reunification model, the constitutional order of the republic would have remained largely intact.
In fact, while the so-called “Civil War” (which by definition, the Union attack on the South was not) eradicated slavery, it also short-circuited the moral imperative regarding racism, leaving the nation with racial tensions that persist today. Ironically, there is now more evidence of ethnic tension in Boston than in Birmingham, in Los Angeles than in Atlanta, and in Chicago than in Charleston.
Found on The Patriot Post