Lincoln the Racist

“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.” – Abraham Lincoln in his first debate with Stephen Douglas in the campaign for the United States Senate at Ottawa, Illinois on August 21st of 1858.

“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. I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor 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 ever 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.” – Abraham Lincoln in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in the campaign for the United States Senate on September 18th of 1858.

“I have never had the least apprehension that I or my friends would marry negroes if there was no law to keep them from it, but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to be in great apprehension that they might, if there were no law to keep them from it, I give him 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 negroes.” – Abraham Lincoln in the fourth debate with Stephen Douglas.

“It is the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.” – Abraham Lincoln in his seventh debate with Stephen Douglas at Alton, Illinois on October 15th, 1858.

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” – Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Henry L Pierce on April 6th, 1859.

“Understanding the spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.” – Abraham Lincoln in a letter to Dr. Theodore Canisius on May 17th, 1859.

“Negro equality! Fudge! How long, in the government of a god, great enough to make and maintain this universe, shall there continue to be knaves to vend, and fools to gulp, so low a piece of demagogue-ism as this?” – Abraham Lincoln in notes for speeches in September of 1859.

“We know, Southern men declare that their slaves are better off than hired laborers amongst us. How little they know, whereof they speak! There is no permanent class of hired laborers amongst us…Free labor has the inspiration of hope; pure slavery has no hope.” – Abraham Lincoln in a manuscript of a speech on free labor in September of 1859.

“An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not ‘distinctly and expressly affirmed’ in it.” – Abraham Lincoln at Cooper Union on February 27th, 1860.

“Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the national territories, and to overrun us here in these free states? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — such as a policy of ‘don’t care’ on a question about which all true men do care — such as union appeals beseeching true union men to yield to disunion-ists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance — such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.” – Abraham Lincoln at Cooper Union on February 27th, 1860.

“I hope a flock of pigeons fly into the Lincoln Memorial and dump a hail of Washington cherry laden bird droppings on the effigy of this product of nineteenth century racism.” – brotherpeacemaker on February 18th, 2008.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest epitomes of racism and one of the greatest products of propaganda in America. He was a racist. I understand white people fondness for this president. But the black community celebrates this man’s life with fondness ignorant of his support for the status quo of black subjugation. Black parents dress their children up to play this man for school plays. We have bought the lies hook, line, and sinker. This was no friend of the black community. Abraham Lincoln was no abolitionist. Black people really need to do more to know our history instead of having it spoon fed to us by the dominant community.

It would be nice if black people would learn more of the truth and become more aware of our history and change the behavior accordingly. But too many people have become too enamored with the idea of acceptance from the dominant community to change their ways now. The thinking here may run along the lines of the dominant community loves President Lincoln therefore as a black person who wants to be more racially generic, I must love President Lincoln. Or maybe it’s just an attitude that it happened so long ago it doesn’t mean anything any more.

But the opposite is true. It means a lot when black people take their history and their heritage seriously. When we know our relationship in the past we will learn about our relationship now and we should understand what steps we need to take in the future. When black children see black parents taking their black history more seriously maybe the black children wil take their black identity more seriously. Unfortunately black history is not our priority. As long as black people allow the dominant community to control who learns what we will never change anything about our relationship with the white community.

Happy President’s Day!