Let’s get this straight; the hero President Abraham Lincoln was the worst anti-Indian leader since Andrew Jackson. He also did not free all the slaves as American Mythology would have you believe.
Since the big new story this week is about the Emancipation Proclamation, let’s address that issue first.
The Emancipation Proclamation, which Lincoln issued on [November 19, 1863], did not free all slaves. Lincoln knew that, under the Constitution, the president had no power to repeal laws passed by states—including the laws making slavery legal in the South. But he did have the power as commander-in-chief to take action in wartime that he deemed a “military necessity” to save the government—in this case, undermining the Confederacy by declaring its slaves free and recruiting them as Union soldiers. Thus the Emancipation Proclamation was a military measure that applied only to slaves in areas under Confederate control. A half-million slaves in the four border states and West Virginia remained enslaved. Lincoln believed that once the “military necessity” had passed, legislation would be required to end slavery permanently.
Abolitionist critics argued that the Emancipation Proclamation in fact freed no slaves at all. But as Foner explains in The Fiery Trial, the proclamation “was as much a political as a military document.” Before the war Lincoln and many others had argued that slavery should be ended by the states, gradually, and by compensating slaveholders.
Now let us work backwards from this point in time.
If Lincoln was such a hero and anti-slavery advocate, why is proclamation being proclaimed in 1863? Why did the honorable Abe allow slavery to even exist for years after he became President?
Furthermore, when it finally came time for that legislation to free the slaves known as the 13th Amendment, President Lincoln was opposed!
Lincoln did not support the Thirteenth Amendment when it was proposed in 1864—by the Women’s National Loyal League, led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Lincoln’s view at that point, as Foner shows, was that slavery should be abolished on a state-by-state basis, since slavery had been created by state law.
Why is it that American History dismisses the important roll of WOMEN and instead gives all the credit to a racist President who we have made into the American Hero?
After becoming President, Lincoln had the following to say about freeing the slaves:
For generations the virtues of our 16th president and his martyr-like demise at the hands of an assassin have been proudly proclaimed to public school students; so much so that Lincoln has practically attained the status of a deity in our society. His other-worldliness is of course based on the claim that he singlehandedly engineered the freeing of the slaves and rightly saved the Union from the selfish interests of a few malcontents in the South. This shallow revisionist history of Lincoln’s motives and actions has been effective in convincing most Americans that the poor rail splitter from Illinois should be revered and worshiped. However, it is the discerning student of history who knows the aforementioned claims are dubious to say the least and a second look at the railroad lawyer is necessary to see the true character of the man known as “Honest Abe.”
To rebut that Lincoln ever sought to free the slaves all we need to do is read his own words written in a letter to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862, almost a year and half after becoming president.
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union…”
He would allow slavery as long as his white brother in the South would allow themselves to be ruled by the North. So not only are the South’s motives messed up (they wanted slavery), so were the North’s motives which were NOT to end slavery.
We see parallels to false heroism even in today’s society, such as with the new TUSD school board which was elected to unban Mexican American Studies and seven books, and only after three generations of booklists, the first to KEEPING THE BOOKS BANNED and with ZERO Chicano authors on the list, did they get around to unbanning books while keeping the innocent program on death row, and yet the board members are now lauded as heroes who single-handedly went on a crusade against censorship and won without anyone people or bloggers from the community involved.
You cannot have a community of heroes. You must create a myth, and usually a false myth of heroism and American history shows, just as with Lincoln, the heroes were usually the oppressors to begin with.
What NPR may not tell you this week is that 150 years ago, President Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in American History.
December 26, 1862: thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest mass execution in US history–on orders of President Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln’s treatment of defeated Indian rebels against the United States stood in sharp contrast to his treatment of Confederate rebels. He never ordered the executions of any Confederate officials or generals after the Civil War, even though they killed more than 400,000 Union soldiers. The only Confederate executed was the commander of Andersonville Prison—and for what we would call war crimes, not rebellion.
Today Google.com has the original text of the Emancipation Proclamation, but they do not have the original text of President Lincoln’s order to kill the Dakota.
Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit …
The other condemned prisoners you will hold subject to further orders, taking care that they neither escape, nor are subjected to any unlawful violence.
President of the United States
That was just what happened 150 years ago. You can work backwards from there.
(Article continued below)
What was Lincoln’s occupation before politics? He was a lawyer, and similar to how Walmart, one of the most powerful corporations, used to have Hillary Clinton as their lawyer who continues to rise, possibly to the White House, as a hero to the left and labor unions, President Lincoln was the lawyer to one of the largest industrial titans of his time, the railroad companies.
But here’s the inconvenient truth: Some of the most powerful corporations of his time were wildly enriched by having a friend in one Abraham Lincoln.
This friendship goes back to Lincoln’s early days as a scrappy young lawyer. After being admitted to the bar in 1827, he hopped around and finally landed in Springfield, Illinois in the law practice of William H. Herndon in 1844. Like any young lawyer, he had to hustle to handle enough cases to live comfortably. And, like most young lawyers, he went where the money was. And the money was in the burgeoning railroad industry.
In 1851, Lincoln tried his first major railroad case, representing the Alton & Sangamon Railroad before the Illinois Supreme Court. The defendant had bought stock on the belief that railroad lines would run near his home and give his property value a boost. Unfortunately for him, the Illinois legislature subsequently amended the company’s charter and changed the route so that it no longer ran near his land. The defendant refused further payments to the railroad company, arguing that the original contract was altered and thus nullified.
Lincoln argued otherwise, and convinced the Supreme Court. His victory was a big deal and set a precedent that was evoked throughout the rest of the century. The railroad industry was deeply impressed. Lincoln’s career as a railroad lawyer took off.
Through Lincoln’s skilled legal arguments, the railroad barons increased their wealth and a lot of others got the short end of the stick.
The railroad history is because as they headed West, they headed into lands already occupied by Native Americans. Abraham Lincoln was the lawyer that justified the railroad’s expanse into Native Lands, displacing people living on that land long before Christopher Columbus was even born.
The displacement of Native Americans was something he agreed with when defended Andrew Jackson’s Trail of Tears.
“Is it true that the noble hearted man and Christian gentleman who as the agent of a democratic administration, removed the Cherokee Indians from their homes to the west of the Mississippi in such a manner as to gain the applause of the great and good of the land, is a fool?”
Of course America should move West, because the valuable shiny rocks were not being utilized by the people already living there!
why did Yankees almost instantly discover gold in California, which had been trodden upon and overlooked by Indians and Mexican greasers for centuries?
Thus the lawyer for the railroad companies continued to help in the expansion into Native lands.
The Navajos were subjected to a similar situation as the Dakota, as were others. Lincoln followed his “American System” through battles in the Plains, South and Southwest crippling tribes and forcing them from their lands.
Before he was president, Lincoln was the attorney for the railroads, which in order to be completed, the Indian “situation” had to be taken care of—a belief Lincoln carried into office with him. His railroad connections according to United Native America would lead, not only to the attempted annihilation of the Indian, but to tremendous scandals in the administration of another of Lincoln’s war criminals, Ulysses S. Grant.
Author David A. Nichols when describing how Lincoln handled the conflicts with the Indians in The Other Civil War: Lincoln and the Indians addressed it by saying, “in his response to these crises, Lincoln was instrumental in determining the fate of Native Americans in the years following his death.”
It is disturbing how those who write American history textbooks tend to leave out very important facts. It seems as if American had always been run by noble people, but somehow racism and oppression just existed for whatever reason. This is the same situation we find ourselves in today. We know there is racism. We know there are more black men in jail today than there were slaves. We know about anti-Latino laws in places like Arizona, but where are all the racists?
They are tomorrow’s heroes, just as we have learned with Abraham Lincoln and the new myths being created today with TUSD board members who are still not lifting the ban on Mexican American Studies, just as President Lincoln did not free the slaves until 1863, and even then all the slaves were not freed.
Also this week we will hear about the great John F. Kennedy but tend to overlook his assassination attempts against Latino leaders and his lying about it, such as with the Bay of Pigs invasion, or how he furthered our involvement in Vietnam.
While watching a documentary on JFK on PBS, they asked briefly the question of JFK’s own rise to the throne of heroes with the PT boat story with a twist from his jealous older brother. We have made JFK into a hero for working so hard to save the lives of his crew, but never do we ask why he allowed a destroyer to ram into his boat in the first place. Perhaps it was because it took place in the middle of the night and they were all asleep?
But put that question behind you. We are not allowed to even ponder such questions in America, because that challenges all that we believe in. Do not ask how Lincoln rose to fame. Do not ask how the Kennedy’s made their riches.
Do not ask, and history teachers will not tell.
Teachers who do tell the truth will be banned.
God Bless America.