Why Confederate History Month is Wrong

mcdonnellA few days ago, Virginia’s recently elected Governor Bob McDonnell decided to renew something that was begun in Virginia under George Allen in the 1990s: a month to honor the Confederacy. To make matters worse, he made no mention of slavery in the proclamation that ushered in April as Confederate History Month. But what had me seeing red was his subsequent defense of leaving slavery out of the initial proclamation: “there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.“

There are few things that get under my skin worse than bullshit revisionist Civil War history. I am no expert on the Civil War, but I know enough to know that it was fought for one primary reason: because the South wanted to expand slavery into the West, and the North wanted it to die a natural death, and knew that it would not do so if it expanded. The South wanted the citizens of the new states to determine if they were to be slave states, and the Federal government wanted to say that they did not have that choice. Therefore it was on some level a state’s rights issue: but by far the most important right the South wanted the states to have was the right to buy and sell human slaves. The “state’s rights” cause was a means to an end, not the issue itself. To say that slavery wasn’t one of the “most significant issues” to Confederates in Virginia is simply not true. It was THE issue, and anyone saying otherwise is either lying, ignorant, or racist. Slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. Period. There is nothing I have ever read or heard (and keep in mind, I grew up in Virginia, so I’ve heard plenty of the “State’s rights” and “self-government” theories) that has led me to even have one shred of doubt as to this fact.

I admire many things about Robert E. Lee, and I have no problem with honoring the Civil War dead. I myself lost Confederate ancestors in the War. I appreciate the fact that the memory of the war is kept alive. It is important for any country to remember what once tore it apart. But to try to rewrite history, to deny that slavery was not only one of the issues, but the overriding issue that caused the South to form a Confederacy and for the Civil War to occur, is akin to denying the Holocaust or claiming that 9/11 was an inside job. You can line up the facts however you want to to make your point, but at the end of the day, you are on the wrong side of the facts.

When the governor of a state says that slavery was not “a significant issue” in the Civil War, it is beyond wrong. It is dangerous. It encourages his constituents to accept something that is false as the truth, and encourages them to belittle the evils of the institution of slavery, and to not claim the responsibility of their ancestors. Slavery was accepted by almost all of the civilized world as being an evil practice in 1860, and therefore while we those of us in the South can still love and appreciate our ancestors, we must also acknowledge the mistake they made in fighting for an unjust cause.

Though the whole episode is a disgrace and has certainly caused me embarrassment as a native of Virginia, McDonnell’s apology and addition to the proclamation are impressive enough to make me forgive him, though I certainly won’t forget why it came to this.

“The proclamation issued by this Office designating April as Confederate History Month contained a major omission. The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed. The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”

Slavery led to the Civil War. The Confederacy fought for it, not only so that they could own slaves, but so that people in other states and in future generations could suppress the freedom of an entire race of people as well. The Confederacy should certainly be duly noted, but neither celebrated nor applauded. As Frederick Douglass said in 1878, “There was a right side and a wrong side in the late war, which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget.”

I grew up in the South. My ancestors have lived in Virginia since the 1600s. I am extremely proud of my Southern heritage and of my Virginian heritage. I am not proud of my Confederate heritage. I think it is important for forward thinking people in the South to acknowledge and people in the North to understand: though they have been often claimed by fringe groups as being one and the same, Southern heritage and Confederate heritage are two remarkably different things. One is the result of hundreds of years of wonderful culture, delicious food, pride in much of our shared history, and generation after generation of people who are taught manners, kindness, and respect for their fellow man. The other lasted four and was born of an unjust cause. There are some in the South who are proud of both. I am not one of those people, and I think it is reprehensible and embarrassing that Virginia’s governor is.

28 thoughts on “Why Confederate History Month is Wrong

  1. The same Southern culture that gave us the things you are so proud of embraced slavery for “hundreds and hundreds” of years prior to the Confederacy. They are not as easy to distance as you would like people to believe.

    It was the slaves that were harvesting all that delicious food, and in large part inventing the dishes for which the South is known. And the manners, hospitality and gentility that Southerners value so highly did not include extending these graces towards the people they owned. The South did not suddenly institute slavery with the inception of the Confederacy. That Godless abomination is an intergral part of the “culture” of the South.

    You are being as much of a revisionist as those you decry. You can't write off slavery as part of the Confederacy, and claim the South is wonderful otherwise. You are far too smart for this, and I can only assume it is your anger at the stupidity of the Governor's actions that let you write this piece.

  2. The most absurd thing you have ever written, Mike. To judge an entire culture for one thing is as dangerous as a governor disowning it. Are we to judge all of German culture by World War II? Because I sure as hell don't, and I find it insulting that you judge my culture for a mistake that I have already admitted was a horrific wrong.

    If we are to discount all Southern culture, as you imply we should, then obviously we should discount the Declaration of Independence, Mike. It was a Virginian who wrote it. And discount the Constitution, too, because it was a Virginian who wrote that as well. And why don't we gloss over our Independence from England, since “Liberty or Death” was uttered by a Virginian, and our Army was led by a Virginian. Forget about the accomplishments of George Washington as President, since he was a Virginian.

    And before you get any higher on your Northern high horse, Mike, I might suggest you take a peek at the comments section of philly.com. Those words aren't written by people in the South. I have owned and am disgusted by my state's racist past. You might want to own up to the racism that is not only a part of the past, but is alive and well in your home state before casting stones at others.

    1. Of course, you try to play the Nazi vs. rest of Germany card. But you're as bad at analogies as you are misguided on this subject. The Germans did not have a 200 year history of exterminating Jews prior to WW II. The South had slavery LONG before the Confederacy. The two situations are completely different and to even try to equate them is to simply muddy the issue. To judge the Germans by a ten year period in their history is an insult to Germans, as you state. But slavery was alive and well in the South for 200 years. It was not a 4 year abberation, as you suggest. If I were to stoop to name-calling and invective such as in your first sentence, I would probably say that comparing the two is the most ridiculous counter-argument I have ever head. But, I'm above that kind of thing, so I won't.

      Moreover, you missed my point entirely. I was merely stating that the excesses of the Confederacy are not so far out of line with the history of the South leading up to it as you suggest.

      And you are being a complete hypocrite. (So maybe i'm not above it after all) You don't want me to judge the South by the slavery issue, but then you cite 3 specific examples admirable Virginians as if that proves your point. Please, either you can judge a group by specific examples or you can't. Be consistant, or find a better argument.

      Where in my post did I say the North was above reproach? I never even IMPLIED the North was not racist or didn't have it's own problems with race relations. You are reading WAY too much into what I wrote. And of course, you want to judge all Pennsylvanians by the comments on philly.com (as if they are representative of everyone in the state), but we are not to judge the South over the issue of slavery? Fine, but again, please be consistant.

      I have no high horse or agenda. First of all, I am of 2nd generation Italian descent and have no deep historical tie to PA. My ancestors were not here for me to either be proud of or aghast at for their part in slavery. I'm not even sure what your point is on this issue, but I assure you, I have no inherent belief in the superiority or infallability of The Commonwealth of PA.

      My point was not that one should dismiss all Southern culture out of hand. I was only trying to say that the Confederacy is not as separate an issue from the deeper one of slavery as you seem to feel it is, and it is that context in which it should be viewed.

      1. I never said that you can't judge the South by slavery, I just said that you can't judge it solely by slavery. Yes, the South's history is inextricably linked to slavery, and it was the South who fought to extend it. I have never denied that fact and in fact rail against it and continue to rail against people who are proud of the Confederate flag. But your apparent belief that all antebellum Southerners were rich white people who sat on their porches while slaves did all of the work is typical Northern bias, and (along with racism, I will readily admit) is one of the main reasons why Southerners can't let the Civil War go and why they rally around the Confederate flag (unfortunately).

        My ancestors were in fact dirt farmers who worked their hands raw, never had slaves, and scratched out a living as best they could. That is the shared history of the majority of us in the South, and this stereotype that all of our ancestors were slave owning demons is shallow and unfair. However, our ancestors fought so that rich plantation owners could continue this practice, and that is an unfortunate and sad legacy. (The reality that almost all soldiers in both the North and South were not fighting to defend slavery or to end it, but rather to get off the farm and collect a paycheck is a different debate for a different day, but worth noting.)

        It is interesting to note that on facebook last night, a black friend of mine commented that he was proud of his Virginia heritage, though he was considering moving north because the governor was showing himself to be a racist. I hardly think that he would be proud of that heritage if, as you insist, it could be solely judged on slavery. There is more to our Virginia heritages than just slavery, and saying that there isn't is stereotypical and insulting. I know that you don't have a prejudiced bone in your body, Mike, and I think you are more trying to make this argument to get my goat. If so, you have greatly succeeded. I think I understand the point you are trying to make, but I think it could have been made without insulting my culture. For someone who has never spent any considerable time in the South to tell someone who spent 25 years of their lives there what constitutes “Southern culture” is exactly what drives people in the South crazy about “Yankees”. With all due respect, your knowledge of “Southern culture” is what you have read and seen in the movies. I don't claim to be an expert on what constitutes “Italian culture”, and if I defined it by what I saw in Godfather and Goodfellas and a few history books, I'd assume and expect you to be furious.

        If I cannot be proud of my Southern heritage then quite frankly no-one can be proud to call themselves an American. Our history of treatment of Native Americans, immigrants, and blacks in both the North and South is vile and shameful, and if we are to judge our shared American heritage by the behavior of our ancestors when it comes to race then we should probably disown our country. But we both know that there is a lot more to the United States than those despicable acts and prejudices, just as I know there is a lot more to my Southern heritage than slavery.

        1. OK. the antebellum Goodtimes family did not own slaves, (probably for the same reasons that today you don't own a Rolls Royce or a Rittenhouse Square condo like BMT, but let that pass). Your ancestors, however, by your own admission did fight to preserve slavery, and hence owe reparations to the decendents of the former slaves, as well as, I might add, to the decendents of Union soldiers who were either killed or wounded or at least seriously inconvenienced by your ancestors' behavior. I think such reparations would go a long way to helping repair the harm done to black Americans, as well as help overcome the resentment I feel against you and your ancestors for killing my ancestors in a stupid war that never would have happened if people such as your ancestors hadn't insisted on defending their wealthier neighbors' right to own other human beings to do their work for them. Being in favor of Head Start and voting for every bleeding heart liberal Democrat who comes along just doesn't cut it, Goodtimes. You owe me and owe me big.

    1. I think this is a trick question. I'll take a wild guess and say it was Mississippi, or at least one of those states in the “Deep” South– “deep” as in up to their nostrils in ignorance and prejudice– who had a Reconstruction type government rammed down their throats. This would be before they got their Klan klaverns up and running and the white supremacy power structure organized and set about disenfrachising the blacks.

  3. I don't disagree with you sentiment regarding the revisionism that uses ancillary issues to decentralize the driving force of slavery as the main source of the conflict. I do however think that slavery, while the central issue, was used as a means to an end by many in the north. The issue of racism and bigotry were alive and well in the north as much they were in the south. All one needs to look it is how abolitionist offices were fire bombed and abolitionists themselves killed or to look at the NYC riots in the summer of 1863 when the draft was instituted. In that case martial law was imposed after hundreds of innocent black women, men and children were summarily executed by a rampaging mob of white people that would dwarf any KKK rally. Reading the editorials of many northern newspapers would also shock many because of the vitriolic content regarding African-Americans. The north was just as racist in many instances as the south was. That they had abolished slavery earlier is as much a testament to economic and sociological realities as it is to moral underpinnings.

    One of the sticking point in the north was control over the Federal Legislature. Because of the 3/5th clause in the constitution, the southerners had a big advantage in terms of census and representatives on top of the fact that they had many states to contribute to the Senate. The Federal Government was in essence in the hands of southerners and as long as slavery existed and would be even firmer in their control if popular sovereignty and expansion were to occur.

    Economically and culturally the north had a fundamentally different normative way of life. It was an industrial/agricultural existence dependent on poor immigrant labor (who by the way were shunned) as well as a combination of urban and farm life. The south was an agrarian society whose major export was cotton and, with the invention of the cotton gin and the forced free labor, was a cash cow for them and a major trading chip to use with England. In fact the English, while a free society, were often very close to recognizing the South as a free and sovereign country. Only when they realized that the north was inexorably driving towards a win did they refrain. Again, these differences in culture contributed to the continuing and growing differences

    Abraham Lincoln, a man who I profoundly admire and see as the true founder of our Republic, only came around to the view that emancipation was the only and moral goal at some point during the civil war. In one of his many debates with Stephen Douglas he stated that he did not want mixing of the races socially, politically and professionally. Additionally Lincoln was very clear that he did not want to end slavery in the states only to prevent its expansion which again harkens back to the political motive of many in the north. In fact mere days after he was elected he sent missives assuring the southerners that he had NO intentions of messing with slavery where it existed. It is only through the Civil War that he had, IMO, a moral conversion and realized that all the other issues were irrelevant completely in the face of the single sin of slavery.

    What I am getting at is that though slavery was the cause of the Civil War and the single most important rallying point, the political and elite of the north had other motives for wanting an end to this peculiar institution. As to some who might look at the south with contempt and see only backwards racists, I caution you to understand and look at the virulence that hatred of fellow men spawned in the north. In fact one might want to look at how NYC, the symbol of modern multi cultural unity, was on the verge of seceding from the north because it did not want its economic ties with the south to be threatened. Or if one wants to look at how human beings are treated as animals one can also look at the steel mines and coal mines in the north during the late 19th and 20th century.

    1. Well stated. My ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War (Patriot side) and the Civil War (both sides and free-lance as well). What I have learned from my study of history is that people's passions are often driven by economics. I can only assume my ancestors went to King's Mountain to kick British Tory butt because the British threatened to come over the Appalachians and ruin their livelihoods, burn their farms, and kill their livestock. I can only assume my rather wealthy and educated landowning Tennessee ancestor fought for the South because he wanted to keep his slaves and money. I can only assume my other ancestors who fought for the North and were poor mountain hillbillies hated the rich valley folks and possibly slavery as well, and maybe they also saw the chance to assume a position of importance in any new power vacuum. I can only assume my bushwhacking hillbilly ancestors during the Civil War were poor, resentful, and opportunistic and wanted to rob folks for easy money during a time of lax law enforcement in the mountains.

      Either way, from my study of history and my own ancestors' choices, most folks seem to pick sides in an issue quite frequently on the basis of its probable impact on their checkbook. Some decisions of this magnitude are of course based on moral absolutes, but most people seem to be more fixated on the dollar. Perhaps also they are forced to make decisions by choosing what they perceive to be the option that brings the least evil upon them and their families.

      Just a thought that maybe these historical settings are far more complex than we can even realize from our far-removed perspective. I shudder to think what I would have done if I had had to choose sides during the Civil War. I think slavery is wrong of course, but joining the Yankees would have put my immediate family in Tennessee in mortal danger from the neighbors. Joining the Rebels would have been wrong morally and also could have been asking for trouble since most East Tennesseans voted against secession. Doing nothing would have resulted in the Tennessee home guard coming to get me, and again would put my family in mortal danger. Tough choices for anybody.

      The good thing is that we should all now be able to do something that the governor didn't do: say that slavery is wrong and try to put it in the past as appropriately as possible.

  4. Good article Johnny- I agree with MM that the Confederacy and the South cannot be seperated so easily but at the same time MM seems to hold a lot of anger against the South still and willing to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. Maybe it's just too soon for this discussion.
    Additionally-I am alternately fascinated, saddened or amused by the comments section on Philly.com-Can a new feature be a Philly.com comments watch? I think that has potential. Maybe follow a specific commentor or two-or highlight some of the more insane comments. Just sayin'.

  5. Some very good comments here on both sides. As I see it, though, the essence of the Civil War was the feudal society that controlled all institutions in the South. Had the rebellion been based on a repudiation of the National compromise embodied in the Constitution and the Missouri Compromise to allow and protect slavery where economically feasible, it could be justified on the basis that Union was predicated on these compromises. However, secession was a reaction to an election defeat—the first time since John Quincy Adams that an anti-slavery Northerner had been elected. Thus, the rebellion must be seen for what it was—the insistence by the Southern Aristocracy that they control the US Government. It is perfectly legitimate for the duly elected government, which had been elected by ALL the people, to insist on a recognition of the results of that election. Indeed, it was a pro-slavery Southerner—Andrew Jackson—who first had made that point by threatening to send troops into South Carolina when it had made noise about nullification under Calhoun.

    The secession was as much a class issue as a political one. Southern leaders, by and large plantation class based with military backgrounds, did not respect Abraham Lincoln as an equal—indeed there was a general feeling among that class that the immigration based Northern economy threatened social order and diluted the racial purity of America (thus the analogy to Nazi Germany is not totally off the mark). Northerners who dared to attack that social order (i.e., Sen. Charles Sumner in 1856) were brutally attacked and the South felt justified in dishing out that kind of punishment.

    So while slavery was the glue that held together the feudal class based Southern Society, it was not in and itself the direct cause of the Civil War. Rather, it was a class-based rebellion by the Southern aristocracy and the repudiation of a free election and attack on federal institutions more than justified the Union response. What is revisionist in the South was calling it a “War of Northern Aggression.” Clearly, the South was the aggressor against a Federal government in which it had joined in a compact. Disliking the result of an election was never grounds for disunion.

    However, as Johnny and others have written, the aristocracy, while they maintained complete control of all institutions of power in the South, was a small percentage of the population. To blame all Southerners for the awful decisions of their leaders is unfair and avoids the issue that many fought because of either propaganda (the Northerners are invading to take your rights and set the slaves against your wives) or fear of the militia that would brutally attack those who failed to support the rebellion.

    Moreover, Lincoln's greatness, as pointed out above, was his moral evolution into the solution of the root causes of the national tragedy and his effort to bring his country along with him. If only today we had leaders who could convince the people of the need to move in a moral direction, as opposed to sound bites attacking the humanity of their political opponents.

    1. I'm not entirely sure where that final paragraph of yours is heading, but I will point out that if you think that if Lincoln were to be somehow miraculously reincarnated in the year 2010 that he would be pushing for national health care, cap and trade legislation and amnesty for illegal immigrants, in direct opposition, on every one of these issues, to the repeatedly expressed will of the majority of his fellow citizens– North, South, East and West– you're engaging in a bit of historical revisionism of your own. I also doubt that Lincoln would have lowered himself and his presidency to repeatedly attack and attempt to silence his political opponents and critics on a personal level in the same manner as our current president and his supporters have seen fit to do. I also don't recall that Lincoln ever spent his time bemoaning and belittling his predecessor, or blaming all his and the nation's problems on the previous Democratic administration, or on other people. And speaking of Democratic predecessors, let us not forget that Lincoln was a REPUBLICAN, would feel quite comfortable with the present day Repoublican party, but would be appalled by the policies and positions of the Democratic party. To claim otherwise is both ridiculous and ahistorical.

      I also have ancestors to brag about in this discussion about the Civil War. I can trace my forbears to the earliest days of Massachussetts. My ancestors were anti-slavery and, in a number of cases, abolitionist. They were also Republicans from the earliest days of the Republican party. They fought for the Union, and a number of them lost their lives. In the American Revolutionary War they fought, and in some cases, died for the revolutionary side. A certain moron recently suggested on this site that I mourn for the Lost Cause and the Southern Confederacy, and admire Southern slaveholding society. He could not have been more mistaken.

      1. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I put a superfluous “s” in Massachusetts. Sorry about that. Really do know how to spell it.

      2. Lincoln would feel at home in a party that just last week decided to honor the Confederacy and whose power base is the Deep South? I hardly think the Democrats can lay any claim to Lincoln, but come on.

      3. Bob Bob Bob, what on earth are you talking about? Did I mention at all any modern political issues on any side of the political spectrum? Did I suggest that Lincoln would support a national health care policy or anything else? Why construct a straw man just to make the same tired arguments you always make (leaving aside the ridiculous “fact” that most people oppose health care reform)?

        I was commenting on Lincoln's ability to LEAD…something notably missing from almost all modern politicians on both sides of the spectrum. Indeed, your reference to (bullshit) polls on health reform is almost comically ironic, since you apparently believe that leading means adhering to polls (albeit I seem to recall you had a very different point of view when we debated the merits of a very unpopular Iraq war).

        Lincoln led Americans to an almost universal abolitionism in a time when it was accepted that the races were biologically unequal. That is leadership. Lincoln provided the country with a reason for going through its sacrifice. That is leadership. Lincoln, without formal military training, grasped the strategy to win the war from the start and found the people to pursue that strategy. That is leadership.

        It is irrelevant whether Lincoln would be more comfortable in today's Democratic or Republican parties—my guess is that he would be uncomfortable in both since it is impossible to have much independent thought in either. But Lincoln was a Progressive from his beginnings in politics, and to suggest he would support corporate interests that are at the heart of the Republican Party today is extremely doubtful.

        1. Bob, your paranoia is showing. There is nothing to take from PJs final paragraph that says anything to me other than that politicians on both sides of the aisle today are cowards, while Lincoln was a true leader. I don't see any praise of Obama even subtly hinted at, so I don't know where you are coming from. Nonetheless, let's save Iraq and Obama for another post. If possible, I'd like to keep this discussion limited to Lincoln, the Civil War, and the Confederacy. I know I haven't thrown you guys a modern political bone in a while and you are both chomping at the bit, so I'll throw something up next week, but in the meantime let's keep this rather interesting and entertaining comments section focused on the topic at hand.

          1. OK. OK. I'll certainly concur in the praise for Lincoln, who, incidentally, to me should be the hands down winner in your recent “Best President” poll.

            One small point: PJ said that blacks were universally considered inferior to whites in Lincoln's day, and seems to be saying that Lincoln thought differently. There is no reason to think that Lincoln did not share in this near universal belief in black inferiority. Many of his public utterances certainly support the argument that he did. The majority of the abolitionists, in fact, probably would have agreed that blacks were an inferior race. Lincoln, however, who certainly did not start out as an abolitionist, did not believe that the supposed inferiority of blacks justified their enslavement, and thought that slavery was an evil that could not endure in a republic founded on the idea of freedom and the Enlightment belief in the inalienable rights of man.

          2. BTW, I agree with you that “Confederate History Month,” with or without reference to slavery, is a really bad idea. I have to wonder at people's intelligence sometimes. How could any politician think that such an idea could be anything but a public relations disaster. This whole business of proclaiming this or that month in honor of something or other is pretty embarrassing in any case.

            Oh, and btw, May is National Quizzo Month. You heard it here first.

          3. Bob, I am currently reading Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin's excellent bio of Lincoln and his cabinet, and I am getting the impression that Lincoln had to weigh his personal beliefs about slavery, which were downright radical for the time, with his ability to get elected. Here is something I found particularly fascinating:

            “Even more telling is the observation of Frederick Douglass, who would become a frequent critic of Lincoln's during his presidency, that of all the men he had met, Lincoln was 'the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color.'” With Lincoln, Douglass felt an “entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race.”

            Considering that Douglass met regularly with abolitionists, that is fairly remarkable. Whether that was Lincoln being charming or being radically progressive, it is hard to say. As you state, however, there are several political utterances that make it seem that he was not as progressive as we'd like to think him.

          4. I read that book as well, and while it is a good read, it is not a scholarly work. If you really want to get into the prevailing mindset and learn about a man who was probably a century ahead of his time, you should read “Arguing Against Slavery”, a book about John Quincy Adams and his time in the House of Representatives after he lost the Presidency. He almost single-handedly took on the controlling Southern block in the House and pushed through petition after petition seeking to debate and outlaw slavery 30 years prior to the Civil War.

            With respect to Lincoln, you need to read about his time in the House, only 1 term because he viciously attacked the immorality of the Mexican War. He was the Dixie Chicks of his day, and paid a similar price for attacking a war of aggression as being anti-American.

          5. It is interesting that Johnny talks about Lincoln's political considerations because he was a thoroughly ambitious politician. Growing up in a cabin in Illinois, he showed contempt for his father Thomas's rustic ways and resolved to rise to the top . He became a lawyer, a state legislator, ran for Senate and then won the presidency in large part because people saw him as the safe candidate that the south could accept whereas as others, such as Seward, were deemed to have too much baggage.

            Whether he was as radical in his thoughts as mentioned above or not, his election and political progress was much more important to him. His political positions (stop the spread od slavery, etc.) were well in line with the meat and potatoes beliefs of his northern Whig party and later the Republican party. Fredereick Douglass was a frequent critic of his partly because he saw Lincoln as dragging his foot in not declaring a clear emancipation. Lincoln made sure to introduce Douglass as his friend and charmed the heck out of him but I do think that by that point Lincoln had gone towards a moral conversion that left little room for political considerations or, conversely, that atavistic attitudes of those around him.

          6. CP, I am virtually certain that Lincoln did run for reelection and lost as a House member (although you are correct that there often were agreements to serve a term and step aside—understandable when you consider that until the railroads were built, you would be home only once or twice a year). Lincoln was virtually the only member of the House to attack the President (harshly) as conducting an immoral policy vis-a-vis the Mexicans. Most politicians (including Whigs) had no problem with imperialism—it was standard practice.

            As for the Mets, ugh. I thought Maine was healthy, but I watched the game the other day and he is 5-7 mph short of where he used to be, Ollie Perez is a head case supreme and who knows about Pelfrey. When they moved a rookie to No. 3 in the rotation (although he pitched well) I knew that there is big trouble. At least Reyes is coming off the DL Saturday.

          7. Lincoln didn't run for a second term and in fact went to his first term promising he wouldn't run for the second term…

            His main attacks on the war were based on 1)constitutional grounds and in fact wrote his law partner that the war making power is in the hands of the Congress so that one man doesn't get to embroil a country into war and 2) he and other Whigs thought that Polk had gotten the country into war based on the lie of Mexican agression into our borders…in fact Lincoln had a proposal in the House that would have asked Polk to point to the spot in the US were Mexicans had shed American blood…he was a great speech maker but he wasn't the only Whig to attack Polk's policy in certain terms…people such as Joshua Giddings and others had much harsher words for the morality of the war than Lincoln did in fact…I am not saying that he did not have moral aversions to it but the fact that he supported the Wilmot Proviso tells me that his main concern was not with the acquiring of the territories (in moral terms anyway) but with the expansion of slavery into them…

            Re: Mets…Maine's problem has been his control and his pitch count and if his MPH is off then forget it…Niese pitched well but at this point given the fact the Perez is a nutjob, that Pelfrey and Maine will be .500 pitchers IF we have a fairly healthy offense behind and that our bullpen is unproven gives me little hope…If Beltran and Reyes come back healthy and close to their former selves then our offense will be very good…as it is though, I have less than an optimistic view…

          8. Just on the re-election issue, you are correct that he did not “run” but he wanted to. He tried to obtain Whig backing for his reelection to Congress but he failed.

          9. You are absolutely correct. Lincoln also believed in the inferiority of blacks, which is one reason he advocated the African black homeland of Liberia as a solution. However, he evolved in office, developed a deep friendship with Frederick Douglass and came to the realization that his past beliefs were wrong. He attempted to encourage black enfranchisement in Louisiana and elsewhere and, had he lived, would have tried to lead the country past retribution such that Reconstruction would not have been nearly so painful. His moral evolution in office (as well as beforehand, but especially afterwards) is simply unparalleled among American leaders.

  6. Good stuff here, so I will add one point only: if you have any moral fiber or decency, whether you be Yank or Reb, you should immediately stop reading the comments section on Philly.com. Yeah, I used to look at it every now and then under the “car wreck” theory, but eventually I got over that, too. It is, by God, the very tablet on which the end of our existence is foretold. Before I kicked the habit, I used to wonder how the commenters could neither think nor spell (nor, probably, wipe themselves), yet somehow manage to use a computer.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

  7. Slavery was not a Godless institution as you ignorami claim.

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    There are lots more. You should all know that the real cause of the Civil War was Lincoln trying to push through an amendment on gay marriage. He actually said “sodomy” but it was misreported by the liberal press. I know these things. I have a degree.

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