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Thread: Was Abraham Lincoln a racist?

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    #1

    Was Abraham Lincoln a racist?

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    I ran across this article just now, and it was fascinating:
    http://www.theroot.com/views/was-lin...=0,0&GT1=38002

    I will say, then, that 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—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of 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 forever 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.” - quoted from Abraham Lincoln's speech in Charleston in 1858

    The article, including the above quote, raised SO many questions in me:

    Do you think his attitudes changed? Do you think he's so beloved by so many because of misconception about the man himself? Do you think his attitudes were shaped by his upbringing and the society in which he was raised, and therefore his truly progressive actions were a mark that he'd had a change of heart before his death?

    I studied Lincoln a bit in high school, but this is a new perspective I'd never heard. Why have I never heard this?

    What do you all think?
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    Lincoln had a hard time toeing the line, there were very deep rooted differing opinions on this matter, and he couldn't come off too strongly one way or another. He wanted to free the slaves, but he didn't want the country divided (which ultimately happened anyway). In fact, I just watched a show on the assisnation of Lincoln last night on PBS, and even when he died he wasn't very well liked, but then his assissination kinda brought the country together to mourn him and it also painted him as a Jesus-like figure. He was doing the best he could in the times he lived in. Everyone needs to remember the context in which this speech was made.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennypage View Post
    Lincoln had a hard time toeing the line, there were very deep rooted differing opinions on this matter, and he couldn't come off too strongly one way or another. He wanted to free the slaves, but he didn't want the country divided (which ultimately happened anyway). In fact, I just watched a show on the assisnation of Lincoln last night on PBS, and even when he died he wasn't very well liked, but then his assissination kinda brought the country together to mourn him and it also painted him as a Jesus-like figure. He was doing the best he could in the times he lived in. Everyone needs to remember the context in which this speech was made.
    Yeah, I agree with you. It's hard to look back on this in the mindset of modern society. Considering how INCREDIBLY against the grain he went with the choices he made, he was just about as progressive as could have been expected for a man elected to office SOLELY by white men. I dunno, I just was surprised by the perspective, and disappointed that I never heard any of this before. Personally, it shows me how much he had to struggle with the choices he made, and makes me try to put myself in his position more than when he's simply painted as a saintly hero, you know?
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    I think he was. He was against slavery but still thought black people should be segregated in society and was against interracial marriage, etc. Some people say he was still ahead of his time or that interracial marriage was such a big deal back then, blah blah.

    I still believe he only signed the Emancipation Proclamation because he was losing the Civil War and he thought if the slaves knew the North would free them they would start an uprising and help us topple the South. I don't think it would have happened otherwise.
    It's Halloween so.... you know, BOO!
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalacrap View Post
    I think he was. He was against slavery but still thought black people should be segregated in society and was against interracial marriage, etc. Some people say he was still ahead of his time or that interracial marriage was such a big deal back then, blah blah.

    I still believe he only signed the Emancipation Proclamation because he was losing the Civil War and he thought if the slaves knew the North would free them they would start an uprising and help us topple the South. I don't think it would have happened otherwise.
    Your second thought was developed a bit in the article I posted. I need to brush up on my Civil War history now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalacrap View Post
    I think he was. He was against slavery but still thought black people should be segregated in society and was against interracial marriage, etc. Some people say he was still ahead of his time or that interracial marriage was such a big deal back then, blah blah.

    I still believe he only signed the Emancipation Proclamation because he was losing the Civil War and he thought if the slaves knew the North would free them they would start an uprising and help us topple the South. I don't think it would have happened otherwise.
    I think his motives were more altruistic than that. I just think he had to be very careful of aligning with one side or the other too much.
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    I just read that article. To be honest? Most people were racists back then. Just because they wanted to abolish slavery does not mean they thought blacks and whites were equal.
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    People have a problem differentiating between a racist and slave owners these days it seems. Slaves were tools - beasts of burden that performed a function. As with any animal (which is very much they were viewed), they are beaten when performing poorly and praised when performing well. Some owners are cruel, some were kind. Slaves were just not viewed as people - they were viewed as beasts. You don't give horses the right to vote, even though they CAN stamp out a candidate with a hoof. I believe that's the socially accepted train of thought that Honest Abe took during those times.

    Why he decided to free the slaves can be argued eternally - he was a saint or he was a tactician. Why he did it is irrelevant. That he did do it proves that popular opinion can be ignored and the right thing to do can be done with a strong enough will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HollyJay View Post
    Your second thought was developed a bit in the article I posted. I need to brush up on my Civil War history now.
    HA! Of course I didn't read it.

    I actually think Abe Lincoln is overrated. I have to hear about him all the time in school so now I just want to know more about Millard Fillmore or something, LOL. Maybe its also because they talk about him all the time because of Obama now too.
    It's Halloween so.... you know, BOO!
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    Quote Originally Posted by vivalacrap View Post
    HA! Of course I didn't read it.

    I actually think Abe Lincoln is overrated. I have to hear about him all the time in school so now I just want to know more about Millard Fillmore or something, LOL. Maybe its also because they talk about him all the time because of Obama now too.
    Maybe he is but there has to be a point where you realize he is only a man and sometimes the ends justify the means. kwim?
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