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Lincoln's reputation

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Elaine Since the revisionist histories of the 1970's, Americans seem hell-bent on ripping down every hero we have, every admired person. They have made no exception with Lincoln, accusing him of all sorts of things. For instance, the first President to confer with African Americans about policy, and to invite them to the White House, including formal receptions, is accused of being a racist. What do you think?

Kathryn I think the problem lies in using modern definitions to define historical figures. You have to use the definition that was existent when they were alive. Was Lincoln a racist using Civil War definitions? I really don't think so. Would he be considered one today? Quite possibly. His early letters seem to show that he felt that inequality was necessarily, but not slavery. Looking at history out of context doesn't do anyone any justice.

message 3: by Thomas (last edited Aug 01, 2015 06:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas Rush When I think of my ancestors, I will not get into a debate of "modern" definitions or "contemporary-at-the-time" definitions of racism. All I know is me and my ancestors have been, and are, human beings, no matter what the fad may have been at the time. I will not get into whether to label Lincoln a racist or not. I say this as a person who is probably more familiar with Lincoln, and what he thought, than at least 90% of the people on Earth. I will say that in my study of Lincoln, it is clear that he considered White People superior to African-Americans on multiple levels, and for most of his life, reconciled himself to slavery, though he didn't necessarily like it. He carried his acceptance of white supremacy throughout his life to his grave. He was no exception in this amongst the general White populace of the United States, as that mindset was prevalent during the 1800's, and in my view, is still the mindset of many White people today. It is a mindset that no self-respecting African-American respects or accepts, no matter what point in History it was put forth. I will not concede Lincoln, or anyone else, devaluing the humanity of my ancestors no matter what may have been "contemporary-at-the-time" of the 1800's. Irrespective of definitions of "racism," me and my ancestor's humanity is not to be negotiated or rationalized by implying "that was how things were viewed during the 1800's." Too often, throughout History, African-Americans have had others attempt to tell us whether we have been mistreated or insulted, or not. We are our own authorities in these decisions, based upon what our experiences,intellects, feelings and observations tell us. I put this forth and it can be made of it what people will.

Elaine But, despite much opposition, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Considering the historical times, that was huge. He, before that, welcomed an African American to visit him in the White House. That may have signaled that Lincoln had abandoned his racist views. I agree with you that raise is evil no matter what point of history when it occurred in.

message 5: by Thomas (last edited Aug 13, 2015 04:15PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas Rush Elaine wrote: "But, despite much opposition, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Considering the historical times, that was huge. He, before that, welcomed an African American to visit him in the White ..."

I would not be making Lincoln a subject of concentrated study if the things you say were not true. I get that. But, I stand behind what I said in my previous remarks. Despite Lincoln's life-long conviction of white supremacy, I still find him worthy of study, though the very notion of white supremacy, as a concept, disgusts me. There are quite a number of personal qualities that attracted me to my study of him, his intellectual brilliance being one of them. I will not categorically dismiss the whole man, even though I know he held some deep beliefs that are quite troubling to me and that cause an eclectic mix of thoughts within me. Thanks for your remarks Elaine. I encourage you to read my reviews of books that I've read about Lincoln.

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