Father Abraham passes the Mantle to the Messiah
One often hears the names and sees the images of our current President and those of our 16th President in close proximity to one another, as if to imply that the two men are of a single mind and purpose, and as if to suggest that the greatness of one is the greatness of the other.
When the President celebrated Mr Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th, it doubtless reaffirmed the belief in many people’s minds that here was the fulfillment of a dream; the completion of a plan set in motion by the Great Emancipator. That one of the descendants of the emancipated would, free and equal to any other man, one day sit in that same seat of power from which Lincoln presided.
Let’s overlook for now that the 13th Amendment, which actually emancipated the African slaves, was not ratified until several months after Lincoln’s death. We’ll also ignore the fact that Mr. Obama, as a Kenyan, is not descended from anyone who was ever enslaved by an American or anyone else, and so has about as much ideological stake in the Great Emancipation as a Japanese man has in the building of the trans-continental railroads.
No, the issue is whether Lincoln, looking down on us from his supposed heavenly cloud, would indeed be pleased to see the way events have unfolded, and for him to be given so much credit for their having unfolding the way they have.
Perhaps these clippings from the New York Times, dated December 28, 1860, and January 14, 1861, can shed some light on the question. Download the PDFs, read them and form your own opinions.
“Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery, and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse.” (Emphasis in the original)
My intention here is not to denigrate the legacy of Mr. Lincoln, only to question the motives of those who would misrepresent his legacy to aggrandize themselves.