"I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgement, will forever forbid their living together in perfect equality; and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there should be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the supremacy."
"I have no purpose to produce political and social equality. I am not in favor of making voters or judges of negroes or qualifying them to hold office or of allowing them to intermarry with white people."
"I give him (Judge Douglas) the most solemn pledge that I will, to the very last, stand by the law of this state which forbids the marrying of white people with negros."
"I agree with Judge Douglas that he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color, and perhaps not in moral and intellectual endowment."
QUOTES BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN DURING THE LINCOLN DOUGLAS DEBATE, IN 1858.
"Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race, as a basis, the war could not have an existence. It is better
for us both, therefore, to be separated."
PART OF SPEECH GIVEN BY LINCOLN TO A DELEGATION OF PROMINENT COLORED MEN INVITED TO THE WHITE HOUSE AUGUST 14, 1862.
Important Negroes Disown Lincoln
by John Chamberlain
copyright, 1968, King Features Syndicate, INC.
"Myths After Lincoln," so Loyd Lewis called his book about the reputation of the Great Emancipator. We have been comforted by the myths for more than a full century. But this year's Lincoln's Birthday represents some sort of turn in historical evaluations.
In the February issue of Ebony Magazine, Lerone Bennett Jr; after combing over the Lincoln's biographies, has decided that our Civil War President was, in actuality, a "White Supremacist" who had to be badgered against his will into signing the Emancipation Proclamation as a matter of military necessity. Since Ebony Magazine is prominent Negro publication, the decision of influential Negros that they had better discard Lincoln as an emotional crutch is a point worth recording.
On quite another historical front, the opponents of "Lyndon Johnson's war" in Vietnam have discovered that Lincoln was the Eugene McCarthy or Bobby Kennedy of Mexican War times. And in point of fact, Lincoln, as a one - term Congressman, did challenge President Polk to name the exact "spot" where the Mexican War started. He wanted to pin Polk down because he suspected that the first shots in the war had been fired, not on U.S. soil, but on territory that belonged without question to Mexico. This sounds rather like Bill Fulbright expressing dubiety, not to say disbelief , about what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin to those U.S. destroyers in August of 1964. Lincoln was called "a second Benedict Arnold" in the Illinois State Register for doubting Polk's motives in starting the Mexican War.
So, a full century and more after his assassination, Lincoln is being disowned by at least some or more important Negro opinion -makers, and, at the same time welcomed by the New Left as its spiritual antecedent in opposing a war in which our armies, willy - nilly, were already engaged.
In Lincoln's Defense, it should be said that it is given to few men -- and to practically no successful political figures -- to transcend their times.
Lincoln specialists have never supposed that the Civil War was fought exclusively over the issue of freedom for the slaves. With Lincoln, it began as a war to hold the Union together. Ebony Magazine is quite correct when it says that Lincoln was not opposed to slavery where it already existed, he was opposed only to its extension into the still uninhabited territories of the West. In short, Lincoln , whatever his feelings about the sufferings of the slaves, was beng on upholding the law of his times as it existed. The evil of slavery was supported by the Constitution, and second, to work out some solution that would compensate slave owners for freeing their slaves over a rather long period.
When the Emancipation Proclamation finally came, it was limited to those parts of the South that had not yet been taken by the advancing Union armies. It was a policy, says Ebony Magazine, that was "conditionally determined." At about the same time Lincoln was involved in
an abortive attempt to settle black people in the Caribbean or in a sparsely inhabited portion of Texas.
Does any of this detract from Lincoln's historical importance? The Editors of Ebony might ask themselves whether an Abolitionist like William Lloyd Garrison could have been elected President of the United States in 1860. If they had put this question to themselves, which could hardly be answered affirmatively, they might have concluded that Lincoln was not such a bad historical choice after all. History is always a ragged process, and the actors in its dramas are seldom what the myth makers would like them to be.
As for those who try to claim Lincoln as the blood-brother of Henry David Thoreau in unwavering opposition to the Mexican War, the historical record doesn't quite back them up. It is perfectly true that Lincoln challenged Polk on the question of war's legitimacy. But he voted for all supplies for the soldiers, and for every request to help them in the field. He was not an obstructionist, and when Stephen Douglas accused him in one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of letting down our soldiers in the war, he was incensed to the point of dragging someone up to the platform to testify that he had voted precisely as Douglas himself had voted on every specific supply issue.
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