February 12, 2009

Today is the 200th birthday of our greatest President.

lincoln_1860_large

AND: Alternate Abe:

Alternate vision of Abe

165 comments:

Henry Buck said...

Washington was the greatest President.

AllenS said...

Happy birthday, Abe!

Mark O said...

That's a bad rendering of Obama.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

He looks purple.

lohwoman said...

It's also the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin (thank you, Google).

Marcia said...

Is he purple because he's dead, or because women like him?

Salamandyr said...

Althouse, would you be interested in maybe giving us some details on why you feel Lincoln is our greatest President?

I for one am always up for some Abe hagiography.

Marcia said...

I said "Is he purple because he's dead, or because women like him?"

But my first reaction to the picture was: Lincoln almost looks handsome in this portrait. Maybe that's because he's purple.

Curtiss said...

Is that Lincoln's death mask?

I'm having trouble letting this go.

Trooper York said...

The best friend that old honest Abe ever had was Joshua Speed from Springfield. In fact the rumor is that before he married Mary Todd, Lincoln was on Speed. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Shanna said...

I don't get these kind of things. What are we supposed to say, Happy Birthday dead guy?

Thanks for the holiday on Monday, though. That's nice.

bearbee said...

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln

...and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Bob said...

And even an unreconstructed Southerner like myself would be honored to shake the man's hand, were he around to offer it. Happy Birthday, President Lincoln.

traditionalguy said...

Washington's personality created the American style of governing, and Andrew Jackson perfected it. The long suffering Abraham Lincoln was strong enough to protect the USA from destruction and subsequent conquest by our good friends in England and France. A good trial lawyer on your side seeking to win your case is always valuable. Lawyer Lincoln was very valuable to his client from 1861 to 1865. His detrmination not to lose his client's case eventually sent out Sherman's and Grant's Armies to free the slaves, and their slave masters, from the horrible abuse of the systematic ownership and enslavement of humans, and at the same time he defeated all legal claims of a State's Right to secede. Rip Honest Abe, the honest lawyer we needed so much.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Definitely the right man for the office at that point in our nation's history.

Ironically, he'd be considered a fascist and racist by today's standards.

MayBee said...

My favorite Lincoln quote:

"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe "

Hoosier Daddy said...

His detrmination not to lose his client's case eventually sent out Sherman's and Grant's Armies to free the slaves,

I'm sorry but Grant and Sherman tore through the South to keep the Union intact, not to free the slaves. Emanicpation was simply a by-product of the war, not the cause or ultimate goal.

ricpic said...

The north had Lincoln, the south had Lee,
What a grand bequest both to posterity.

LarsPorsena said...

"I'm sorry but Grant and Sherman tore through the South to keep the Union intact, not to free the slaves."

Why did the South want to secede?
Slavery.
That's why the Union was fraying and that (slavery) was always the root, if unspoken, cause of the war.

The Yanks might have talked about preserving the Union and the South about protecting their way of life, but in the end it was slavery.

Smilin' Jack said...

At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000. At any rate, these casualties exceed the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Vietnam.

Atta boy, Abe.

Crimso said...

Ih he'd had it his way, there would likely have been substantially fewer casualties. It took him a while to end up with Grant (often thought of as a butcher, and not necessarily of the enemy), a general who could "do the math."

traditionalguy said...

Hooser daddy... No one tore thru the south until 1864. My understanding is that saving the union began as the only northern goal, and that Lincoln pulled Emancipation out of his hat in 1863 to give the North another reason to keep on fighting for something when victory began to look too costly to pursue any further. Then Lincoln's new commanders and the midwestern farmboys rolled thru the heart of the south just barely in time for Lincoln to win re-election. The northern tradition of free men paid for their labor proved a far stronger cause than the accepted southern tradition of allowing a few rich planters to own and use intelligent, if uneducated, humans like horses to be bred and sold.

TRO said...

Washington was the best.

Psychedelic George said...

"One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether'."

"How terrible it will be for the world because of the things that lead people to sin! Things like that must come. But how terrible for those who cause them!

Matthew 18:7

(Lincoln quotes the King James Version. The latter quote is from Psalm 19.)

Jon said...

"At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000."

The really remarkable thing is that in 1860, the US only had 1/10th as many people as it does today... so that would be like six MILLION Americans dying in a war today.

Quayle said...

I just saw the movie Not Easily Broken last night. I’ll refer you to the New York Times’ review which pretty much nails it, IMHO.

But I’ve been thinking since them.

In 1844, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, advocated selling public lands and purchasing all the slaves, a plan that would have freed the bondsmen yet also respected property rights. (Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy, account of visit to Nauvoo Illinois published in the winter of 1881.)

In 1855, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the same proposal. Id.

Lincoln had to redeem the slaves with blood because the country would not listen to its visionaries and redeem them with money.

But even since that time, we, the richest country the world has ever known, have pretty much ignored the economic plight of the blacks.

If we pulled together, we could have made the blacks literally rich and fully educated many times over. Instead we heartlessly shoved them to the side and gave them only enough to keep them from burning our cities down.

And even the little we gave (e.g. in the 1960s) was done in such a way that further destroyed the black families previously disrupted by slave-trade. The result has been generations of black children to growing up too little love, too little nurturing, and too little wealth.

Lincoln was a great man, but it didn't have to go the way it went. Smith and Emerson had it right. We’ve always had enough means to solve the problem but we’ve never wanted to share.

chickenlittle said...

And 100 years ago, the Lincoln cent was introduced into circulation to commemorate Lincoln's birth.

Will the Lincoln cent last another 100 years? Is there anybody else worthy of putting on a coin or bill who hasn't been already?

AllenS said...

Well, they are presently selling Obama commerative coins. I wouldn't buy one with a Lincoln penny.

Lem said...

Now he belongs to the ages..

What a Dam good quote.

traditionalguy said...

My favorite comment on why the Yankees won the War of Northern Agression is, "the north had the best battle hymn". That song ends ..."let us die to make men free." We all still sing that one, no matter how many dofuses pretend that mentioning God, Mighty in Battle, offends their delicate ears and new found constitutional rights to abort our culture too.

Crimso said...

"The really remarkable thing is that in 1860, the US only had 1/10th as many people as it does today... so that would be like six MILLION Americans dying in a war today."

Another interesting bit of perspective is that 2 days of fighting at Shiloh resulted in more American casualties than all previous American wars COMBINED. Conventional wisdom says it was due to technology outstripping tactics, but Paddy Griffith wrote an interesting (and somewhat controversial) book that reached a different conclusion.

Crimso said...

Were Washington's greatest trials faced before or during his Presidency?

Crimso said...

"What a Dam good quote."

There are also other earlier quotes he made about Lincoln that weren't quite so positive.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why did the South want to secede? Slavery. That's why the Union was fraying and that (slavery) was always the root, if unspoken, cause of the war.

You misread. Slavery was one cause, for certain however, ending slavery and freeing the slaves wasn't the goal of the war which is what my previous comment was centered on. The goal was the destruction of the Confederacy and the preservation of the Union. Period.

Smilin' Jack said...

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein blah blah blah....

What garbage. Slavery had been accepted as the natural order of things by all civilizations since the dawn of time. It was only recognized as an "offense" and stamped out by the Anglo-American civilization that is now blamed for it.

Tom Tucker said...

He was pretty great, but you have to watch out for his ghost. Isn't there a curse of Lincoln's Ghost or something? I think Obama is under the curse of Lincoln's Bible!

Smilin' Jack said...

Also, the idea that our "greatest" president is the one who presided over nearly a million American deaths gives me a newfound appreciation for the mediocrity that holds the office now. May we have no more great presidents!

Me, I'll be drinking to Darwin tonight. Happy birthday, Chuck!

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hooser daddy... No one tore thru the south until 1864.

Yes, so?

My understanding is that saving the union began as the only northern goal, and that Lincoln pulled Emancipation out of his hat in 1863 to give the North another reason to keep on fighting for something when victory began to look too costly to pursue any further.

Correct. The Emancipation Proclomation was a political tool to give the Union war effort some moral emphasis. Needless to say it only freed those slaves in the states which were not under Union control (it ignored the border states as well as those states which allowed slavery but fought for the Union). It's no surprise that little detail is rarely, if ever mentioned in school.
Probably because it takes away some of the glow out of Lincoln's halo.

Lincoln definitely was one, if arguably this country's greatest President simply for the fact that he preserved the United States. I tend to be a bit more critical mainly because my knowledge of him and the era extends a bit farther than the grade school curriculum that most seem to have on the topic.

Psychedelic George said...

It's hard to imagine how frenzied and crazed people were immediately before the Civil War began.

John Brown and his gang hijacked a train, went to a small town in Maryland, occupied a federal armory there, took hostages, and killed people in cold blood, because they thought it would cause a gigantic slave uprising, a race war.

(He had previously dragged some pro-slavery men out of their Kansas homes in the middle of the night and hacked them to death.)

Today we'd call him a terrorist or even a Manson-type maniac.

He became an immediate hero in the North. Melville and Emerson (or maybe it was Thoreau) and ministers compared him to Jesus for his selfless martydom. Meanwhile, Southerners were horrified because it seemed that Northerners wanted slaves to rise and kill them.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic was written by the wife of one of Brown's secret financial backers. (In fact, conspiracists of the day thought Lincoln backed Brown.) The song is as much about Brown as it is about Christ.

His truth is marching on.

Bissage said...

What’s with all this talk about intercrural intercourse, anyway?

Great Emancipator, indeed.

Clyde said...

Washington was the indispensable man. Without his leadership during the American Revolution, there would have been no United States. Lincoln was the tenacious man who kept the secession of the southern states from becoming permanent, and who permanently made the power of the federal government over the state governments supreme.

Prior to the Civil War, the United States was referred to in the plural, "the United States are..." After the war, the United States became singular, "the United States is," and has remained so to this day. Out of many, one.

There's a reason that Washington and Lincoln were the two presidents to each have their own holiday. They were the two greatest presidents we have had, and without either one of them, our nation would be unrecognizable today.

Yachira said...

The Obamasburg Address
Washington DC
February 12, 2009

Three weeks and two days ago our community organizers and voter fraud operatives brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Socialism, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created to be subservient to their government.

Now we are engaged in a great class war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave up their individual liberty that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The gullible voters, living and dead, who were bamboozled here, have consecrated it, far above the diminished power of the people to detract.

The media will little note, nor long remember what we are actually doing here, nor will it ever admit what they did here. It is for us the powerful centralized government, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so fraudulently advanced.

It is rather for us, the ones we have been waiting for, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these uneducated, unskilled masses we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these useful idiots shall not have voted, however many times, in vain — that this nation, under Me, shall have a new birth of HopenchangeTM — and that government of the lobbyists, by the politically-connected, for the career politicians, shall not perish from the earth.”

Horace said...

Oh, come on! Don't you get it? Althouse is just baiting us. She doesn't really think Lincoln was the greatest President. She's too smart for that.

Jeffrey said...

Psychedelic George: It was strange, to put it no more strongly, in the aftermath of 9/11 to hear the Battle Hymn of the Republic trotted out in rallying support for the Global War on Terror, considering that it was written to celebrate the original, all-American, homegrown suicide terrorist, John Brown. Most hymnals give the tune name as "Battle Hymn," but its original name was "John Brown's Body."

You're right, Emerson compared John Brown to Christ, while Hawthorne wrote "No man was ever more justly hanged." Imagine if blog commenting had been possible during the John Brown trial!

Quasimodo said...

The civil war was fought for two reasons:
1) Shifting demographic patterns were eroding the political power of the South which had to expand or loose their slave based way of life.

2) the preservation of the value of a free man's labor which required the South not be allowed to expand slave territories.

Irresistible force meets immovable object.

But my question is by what constitutional authority did Lincoln act? The United States were a voluntary union of independent states. I believe that if they had known that they would be compelled by force to remain in the union, the 13 colonies would not have signed.

Oh, by the way, Washington was the greatest because of the way he approached and carried out the office. He was a successful revolutionary because Great Britain's supply lines were so long and the war was not really popular at home.

"Ironically, he'd be considered a fascist and racist by today's standards." yep!

"What garbage. Slavery had been accepted as the natural order of things by all civilizations since the dawn of time. It was only recognized as an "offense" and stamped out by the Anglo-American civilization that is now blamed for it." I'd change that to "Christian" rather than "Anglo-American"

Anton said...

No serious historian would, or does suggest that freeing the slaves was the central (or even moderately important) goal of the North.

Though it is necessarily a more complex issue than can be stated in a few words in a blog comment, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in an attempt to isolate the South, to the greatest extent possible, from European governments who might be considering supporting the Confederate cause. And yes, Emancipation trumped King Cotton.

Windbag said...

Mr. Polk looks thin in that picture.

I'm A Feline said...

"The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart."

William said...

By way of comparison look at the days and works of his contemporaries: Bismarck, Napoleon III, Gladstone/Disraeli, and Alexander II. There is no comparison. Lincoln did something great and important. His words still move us. Like the King James Bible whose cadences and vocabulary he used, Lincoln found words that gave significance and beauty to the carnage and loss that surrounded his days. Lincoln not only enunciated and moved forward the great goals of America; he personified them.... Look at the other leaders who strutted and fretted and left their cynical comments for Bartlett, and then consider Lincoln. It's like comparing St Francis to some Medici Pope.

Ron said...

Didn't Prince star in a movie about Lincoln, Purple Abe? Yeah, that's about right...

ricpic said...

Quayle, you're a complete schmuck. It isn't my job or your job or anyone's job to "make blacks rich." It is their job. Each one. Individually. The field has not only been levelled, it has been tilted in their favor for two generations. Trillions have been extracted from us, the evil oppressors, to make it happen. If it hasn't happened yet it's time to THINK about why. Your lefty guilt trip won't fly anymore.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But my question is by what constitutional authority did Lincoln act? The United States were a voluntary union of independent states. I believe that if they had known that they would be compelled by force to remain in the union, the 13 colonies would not have signed.

I’m not a legal expert by far but I’ll argue that when a Federal military base (Sumter) was attacked, that was all Lincoln needed to quell the secession by force of arms. At that point it was an insurrection rather than secession. A fine line but close enough for government work.

Henry said...

By way of comparison look at the days and works of his contemporaries: Bismarck, Napoleon III, Gladstone/Disraeli, and Alexander II.

What? You don't think "Property is theft" (Proudhon) is for the ages?

Napoleon III did give us the Salon des Refuses.

traditionalguy said...

When Lincoln's commander of the Army of the West took the heart of the south and turned his men loose on the Houses, property, women and children's food supply from 8/30/1864 to 2/20/1865 no one said to give it all back to the States he had traveled thru. In fact the prison camp they found at Andersonville, Ga. was close to liberation sights seen at German Death camps 80 years later.After that Lincoln did not give they conquered States back there territory, and those States had forever ceased to govern themselves apart from the US Congressional majority, and they had no admission to Congress until they ratified the 13 and 14 amendments. Constitutional Law was remade by Sherman's victories both in practice and in theory, forever. That's what I call a good victory won by a smalltown trial lawyer eveyone had called a monkey.

Pogo said...

I have always liked this quote:

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."


Would that such a mind now manned the helm.

Quayle said...

Quayle, you're a complete schmuck. It isn't my job or your job or anyone's job to "make blacks rich." .... Your lefty guilt trip won't fly anymore.

Holy cow! I'm being called a lefty!

LOL

bearbee said...

I have always liked this quote:

So,....who was his speechwriter?

Revenant said...

I'm sorry but Grant and Sherman tore through the South to keep the Union intact, not to free the slaves. Emanicpation was simply a by-product of the war, not the cause or ultimate goal.

The Confederate states left the Union because they wanted to keep the institution of slavery intact.

Had the Union been concerned solely with keeping the Union intact, it could have avoided both secession and the Civil War by simply conceding to the slave states' wish that slavery be forever enshrined in the law.

The fact that they opted to fight a war instead proves that ending slavery was very, very important to the Union. Emancipation wasn't just a by-product -- it was the fate that the slave states had left the Union to avoid.

Geoff Matthews said...

Just a couple of points:

The song "John Brown's Body", from which "Battle Hymn of the Republic" draws its tune, was not about the abolitionist John Brown, but a different John Brown.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_hymn_of_the_republic#History

That John Brown died in the Civil War, his body never recovered.

Regarding Quayle's bit on not making blacks rich, well, American government did plenty to keep them poor. I am dead set against slavery reperations, but I'd have a hard time criticizing a movement demanding reperations for Jim Crow laws. Codified segregation laws kept blacks poor, as did may labor laws. And Quayle is right in pointing out that welfare, however intended, has devestated the black family.

rdkraus said...

Lincoln on the slaves:

Lincoln, oddly enough, apparently shared some of these views. In his 1860 inaugural address, he said: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Two years later, President Lincoln wrote: "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 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 (Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862)." And in 1858 Lincoln had written: "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. 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. 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."


From Cato.org

I'm not the expert, but he wasn't that great. For those of you who think Bush and Cheney were "war criminals," do some research on what Lincoln did during the Civil War. Makes Bush look good.

And Lincoln was what, back then, was called a mercantilist, ie. he was in favor of gov't giving sweetheart deals to favored business interests.

Henry said...

Rev, one additional point -- the South insisted that slavery be spread to new territories and states. They need to maintain a balance of power in the Senate.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

As a member of the Sons of the Confederacy I have to say I have to disagree. Lincoln was the worst president. He should of left good enough alone. The country would of been better. I am a distant relative of Robert E. Lee and I all I can say is shame on Abe Lincoln. Shame on Abe Lincoln.

And Darwin is a total sham. I am a member of the Intelligent Design community as well.

Beth said...

Thank you, Revenant; excellent reasoning, well-summarized. I'll cut and paste that somewhere to keep it handy. You'd be surprised how often this topic comes up deep down South. New Orleans doesn't really feel Southern in some ways, but drive 30 miles out of town and the Confederacy lives on.

It's fairly easy to do a small amount of research and see that prominent figures in the South at the time were using the issue of slavery to rouse sentiments for waging war. They certainly saw the maintenance of the slavery system as critical to their economy and way of life.

I noticed in another AP story today that as part of this anniversary, ancestry.com is putting up a lot of newly released documents, including millions of Civil War veterans' records, and records of thousands of slaves shipped to New Orleans from 1810 to 1860, including manifests of the boats carrying them from other states to the market in New Orleans.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

In my heart of hearts I am proud to say The South Will Rise Up again someday. This war isn't over by a long shot.

Pogo said...

"American government did plenty to keep [blacks] poor."

FDR was instrumental in exacerbating their poverty, to be sure.

jcr said...

Every encroachment on our liberty since the Lincoln administration has been rationalized on the grounds that Lincoln did it first. Whether it was attacking the freedom of the press, issuing unconstitutional fiat money, spying on citizens without a warrant, or even incarcerating people without charges, Lincoln led the way.

Every other country abandoned slavery without killing half a million people in the process. All of the northern states ended slavery without bloodshed. Why are we supposed to believe that the war was the only way the south would ever have followed suit?

Crediting Lincoln with ending slavery is an insult to the real heroes of the Abolition movement; people like John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and all of the brave men and women who operated the Underground Railway.

-jcr

BJM said...

Quayle
But even since that time, we, the richest country the world has ever known, have pretty much ignored the economic plight of the blacks.


No, that's not exactly true. Since 1964 we spent $6.98 trillion trying to eliminate poverty and equalize economic opportunities for the poor and minorities.

Unfortunately, Washington spent it stupidly, larding on pork, adding Byzantine government bureaucracies and failing to correct fraud/waste.
Just as we are about to do with the $1.+ trillion stimulus.

Expect the same result.

jcr said...

Revenant,

The north made exactly that offer to the south, even during the war. They were told that they could keep slavery forever, if they would cease fire and pay the tariffs.

It's very informative to read Lincoln's first inaugural address, where he threatens to invade the south over the tariff, and also the confederate constitution, which explicitly forbids "protective" tariffs.

-jcr

jcr said...

American government did plenty to keep [blacks] poor.

The worst of it today would have to be the War on Drugs. Vast numbers of young black men and women get their lives ruined by being tossed in jail over something that's nobody's business but their own.

-jcr

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

I read somewhere that Lincoln was a fag too. Disgusting.

Beth said...

I'm obviously no expert on law, but Henry's comment at 1:41 rings true. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 made the North complicit in slavery by meaning any person perceived as black could be grabbed and taken into slavery. Law enforcement officials had to take a claimant's word if they declared someone else a runaway slave, and take that accused into custody. And since an accused escaped slave had no right to a trial, free blacks could be taken into slavery.

The idea that because other nations and the U.S. north ended slavery, we should have just been patient and assumed the South would follow suit, is not held up by the reality of the day. The South wanted to keep, and to extend, slavery.

Jeffrey said...

Geoff Matthews's comment at 1:40 about the referent of "John Brown" in John Brown's body points up the danger of ever using a Wikipedia article as a source, since his claim that the "John Brown" of the song was not the abolitionist John Brown is directly contradicted by the Wikipedia articles "John Brown (abolitionist)" and "John Brown's Body."

traditionalguy said...

Lincoln did not end slavery so much as he ended the voting power in Congress of all of the former states, (now conquered territory) which had voluntarily removed themselves from the Union, Then the crafty Pennsylvania lawyers voted in Amendments 13 and 14 to the constitution and made re-admission to the union of the former states conditioned upon their ratification of 13 and 14. Go read those amendments. Everything the Supreme Court has done to change state laws at will since then comes out of 14. So you are correct that Thaddeus Stevens and friends ended slavery.

Glen said...

Blogger ricpic said:
Quayle, you're a complete schmuck. It isn't my job or your job or anyone's job to "make blacks rich." It is their job. Each one. Individually. The field has not only been levelled, it has been tilted in their favor for two generations. Trillions have been extracted from us, the evil oppressors, to make it happen. If it hasn't happened yet it's time to THINK about why. Your lefty guilt trip won't fly anymore.

Except his lefty guilt trip is in complete charge of this country now. I for one hope that Obama is nothing like Lincoln. God help us all if he is.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

I read that Mary Todd went crazy because she couldn't handle "Honest Abe" being a fag. Can't blame poor Mary Todd.

Pogo said...

Lincoln needs accolades from Titus like a hole in the head.

Henry said...

Lede from the New York Times, Hagiography section (between Politics and Lifestyle):

Barack Obama has taken the identification with Lincoln to a new level.

I hope he grows a beard.

Revenant said...

But my question is by what constitutional authority did Lincoln act? The United States were a voluntary union of independent states.

There are three possibilities.

Possibility one: The states did not have a right to secede. So the United States had a right to quell the insurrection.

Possibility two: The states had a right to secede, but went about it the wrong way and the secession was therefore illegitimate. See #1, above, regarding "quelling insurrection".

Possibility three: The states had a right to secede and did so legitimately. In this case the Confederacy was a foreign nation. It is entirely Constitutional for the United States to invade and conquer foreign nations for any reason Congress feels like. Congress authorized the war against the Confederacy, so there's no problem there.

So regardless of whether or not the secession was legit, the US invasion of the Confederate states was Constitutional.

chickenlittle said...

I hope he grows a beard

bearbee said...

Beard could make him look Malcolm X-ish

Hoosier Daddy said...

The fact that they opted to fight a war instead proves that ending slavery was very, very important to the Union. Emancipation wasn't just a by-product -- it was the fate that the slave states had left the Union to avoid.

I respectfully disagree. Emancipation was a political ploy to galvanize Northern support for the war, which at that point, was not going well for the Union. Also keep in mind that as I stated previously, it wasn't a carte blanche order. Border states and DE and MD which were pro-union were notably exempt.

Revenant said...

They were told that they could keep slavery forever, if they would cease fire and pay the tariffs.

JCR, I am not going to engage you on this "secession was about tariffs" nonsense. That argument ranks with Holocaust denial in terms of historical legitimacy.

So feel free to make the argument, but don't bother making it to me.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'll concede that the Southern states were fighting more to preserve slavery than the Union was fighting to abolish it.

Again, the simple fact that Emancipation exempted several states certainly gives pause to how far Lincoln was willing to go to ensure he didn't provide further fodder to the Confederacy.

Zyta Xylander Abayomi said...

Psychedelic George said:

It's hard to imagine how frenzied and crazed people were immediately before the Civil War began.

John Brown and his gang hijacked a train, went to a small town in Maryland, occupied a federal armory there, took hostages, and killed people in cold blood, because they thought it would cause a gigantic slave uprising, a race war.

(He had previously dragged some pro-slavery men out of their Kansas homes in the middle of the night and hacked them to death.)

Today we'd call him a terrorist or even a Manson-type maniac.



jcr said:

Crediting Lincoln with ending slavery is an insult to the real heroes of the Abolition movement; people like John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and all of the brave men and women who operated the Underground Railway.


Michael Scheuer said:

I tried to explain…the paradox that Frederick Douglass caught in his 1860 observation about John Brown. “Men consented to his death,” Douglass said, “and then went home and taught their children to honor his memory.” The bad man/good cause summation is the historical consensus on Brown, and I had this fact in my mind as I began trying to write a study to explain bin Laden to Americans. Although the dissimilarities between Brown and bin Laden as individuals are greater than their similarities—the latter is, by far, the better man [sic]—the two men share a passionate, uncompromising devotion to ridding their nations, the United Status and the Muslim community of believers, or the ummah, of what they perceived to be a dominating evil.

In his exacting biography of the abolitionist editor William Lloyd Garrison,
All On Fire, the late Henry Mayer wrote that Brown’s actions, and especially his raid on Harper’s Ferry in October 1859, “shocked the entire country and produced an emotional fervor without precedent in the nation’s experience.” Then, when Brown was hanged, the fervor intensified. “In the free states church bells tolled morning, noon, and night from Cape Cod to Kansas,” Mayer noted, and even the eminent American Ralph Waldo Emerson saw Brown as “the new Saint…whose martyrdom if it shall be perfected, will make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Most important, Mayer argues, Brown’s raid “irrevocable moved the slave controversy from the sphere of constitutional and moral abstraction to the visceral realm of feelings intensified beyond measure and reason.”

Bin Laden’s al Qaeda, movement, it seems to me, is traveling a path parallel to Brown’s, a path that led America to a civil war that yielded a harvest of more than 600,000 dead.



Bernardine Dohrn:

John Brown – live like him.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

Lincoln was also known to be a honest but bossy bottom.

Revenant said...

I respectfully disagree. Emancipation was a political ploy to galvanize Northern support for the war, which at that point, was not going well for the Union.

How could emancipation galvanize support for the war if your claim that the Union didn't really care about emancipation was true?

You're using a rhetorical trick commonly used by critics of Lincoln and/or defenders of the Confederacy, which is to act like "the Union" was some sort of tyranny rather than a representative democracy. It is certainly true that many of the individual people in positions of authority in the US government, circa 1960-1965, cared more about keeping the union intact than about freeing the slaves.

But you're ignoring the fact that the voting public's priorities were reversed. They cared much less about keeping, say, Alabama in the Union than they did about ending the evil institution of slavery. That's one reason why the post-war campaign to readmit the Confederate states met with such strong public opposition.

Also keep in mind that as I stated previously, it wasn't a carte blanche order. Border states and DE and MD which were pro-union were notably exempt.

The fact that the United States opted not to make the perfect the enemy of the good proves nothing. Opposition to tyranny was a major motivating factor for American public support for the war in Europe. We allied with Stalin anyway, because we figured we couldn't win the war without him.

Yes, the United States opted to NOT drive two friendly states over to the enemy side at a point where it was losing a war. This shows that Lincoln was at least moderately intelligent, not that the North wasn't worried about slavery.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

Lincoln was also known to have low hanging balls-but they weren't purple.

John K. said...

Maybe "greatest" by the same standards that determine Time's Man of the Year, which has included the Ayatullah Khomeini, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Now if on the other hand by "greatest" we're going by the standard of which president has done the least harm then Lincoln is among the worst, and the least great.

TitusJustHadAGreatPump said...

Mary Todd was famous for wanting to teabag Lincoln's low hanging balls but he declined and preferred the touch of another man-allegedly.

Also Lincoln was the first president to do a complete brazillan on his bush.

traditionalguy said...

Titus... Like all trial lawyers, Lincoln's ball were Iron and Brass, disguised by a humble demeanor and plain black and white clothing. The only color he cared about was Green, but clients don't hire you again if you lose once.

chickenlittle said...

Pinkin' Lincoln

chickenlittle said...

What next?

Cedarford said...

Henry Buck said...
Washington was the greatest President.


Agree. He was the indispensable man in the Revolution then he was the one that defined what the office would be. And for the Presidency, his greatest contribution was saying that even he, still the indispensible man in the eyes of America after the War was long-ended, was in fact dispensible and should voluntarily
relinquish power. This astonished European and Asian leaders the most about Washington..that America was to be governed so differently than them. (We kept lifetime power for Federal judges, but that too looks like a big mistake, the negative impact of senility or bad judges, or judges that are completely out of step with The People's Will far outweighing "judicial independence")

**************
Lincoln was great for the Union, and showed how the Constitution could not be permitted to cripple the nation in a time of emergency the Founders & Drafters of the "Sacred Parchment" helped create.
But as other posters noted, it came at a price of 660,000 men killed and another 1.1 million impaired, some gravely by sickness and war wounds associated with the War. And multiply that by a scale of 10 to see what the impact would be - on top of the tremndous destruction of physical assets in 1/3rd of the country.
And the worse, most perverse thing is it all may have been unecessary. That slavery ended everywhere but in America and Haiti without War by 1888 - through the influence of Great Britain, Christians, and because the slavery model was no longer economical. That fatal flaws in the US Constitution had set America on a fatal path of brother against brother over foolhardy "rights" the "Sacred Parchment" had allowed persist over slavery, States Rights, and a general tariff that rewarded some states but savaged the economies of other states.

**************
Clyde - Interesting mention of how etymology changed. The United States "are" to the United States "is".
You are wrong about the holidays. Washington and Lincoln's birthday ended as official holidays for "President's Day" when I guess fans of Jimmy Carter and John Quincy can also celebrate.
The only American now so honored is the deeply flawed plagarist, adulturist, women beater, and drug and booze-soaked man we have been Mau Mau's into saying was our Greatest Ever, Saint MLK himself.

****************
Lincoln and Darwin. One is taught globally as one of the most important thinkers ever, who changed humanity and it's vision of itself forever. The other is taught mainly to Americans as a "great leader.".
Edge to Darwin.
Curiously, the only place where both Lincoln and Darwin are truly hated as liars and evil men is in certain sections of the white Fundie South.

Kansas City said...

Great photo. Interesting thread. Fascinating question about whether Lincoln was a great president.

Pogo cite of Lincoln's beautiful "mystic chords of memory" words illustrates how little words matter. He was trying to avoid civil war with those words in his 1861 inagural address. Four years later, 650,000Americans were dead and the country in tatters, although the union in tact.

I used to think that Lincoln bungled the Civil War so badly that he was not a good president. Over the years, I have softened, concluding he must be given credit for being dealt an awful hand and, through his efforts, preserving the Union.

Like many assessments of political and miliary figures, you don't know what the alternative to Lincoln's approach would have produced. What would have been the history of a divided union with the USA and the CSA living side by side? Lincoln preserved the union through brute force and unimaginable suffering. Is that greatness?

Finally, I was taught that slavery was not the cause of the civil war; that it was state's rights and economic issues. Then, one day, I read some of the secession declarations from southern states and they leave no doubt that slavery was the reason for secession. Lincoln's 1965 inaugural address also stated that slavery was the reason for the war.

Kylos said...

Hoosier Daddy, I think you're missing something in this argument,

Correct. The Emancipation Proclomation was a political tool to give the Union war effort some moral emphasis. Needless to say it only freed those slaves in the states which were not under Union control (it ignored the border states as well as those states which allowed slavery but fought for the Union). It's no surprise that little detail is rarely, if ever mentioned in school.
Probably because it takes away some of the glow out of Lincoln's halo.


I've seen this argument before, but if I'm not mistaken, Lincoln wouldn't have had a legal leg to stand on if he thought he could simply proclaim freedom for slaves in northern and border states (btw, in the case of Virginia, the Emancipation Proclamation was effected on a county-by-county basis, hence, West Virginia). The Emancipation Proclamation could only be considered legal as an executive order since it only applied to regions in rebellion, over which the President could claim sole authority as Commander in Chief. If he had tried to emancipate northern and border state slaves by edict, Congress would have had something to say about it. It's an interesting fact, but it really serves no purpose in lessening Lincoln's "glow".

Pogo said...

Big McCain smackdown of Obama's Lincoln pretensions:

"Mr. President, I served with Abe Lincoln. I knew Abe Lincoln. Abe Lincoln was a friend of mine. Obama, you're no Abe Lincoln."

That's tellin' him.

traditionalguy said...

Titus... The Darwin's Theory came it's closest ever to any real evidence to prove it from Abe Lincoln's appearance which was said, by his own "friends", to closely resemble a Monkey. I see a different evidence in a study of Abe's life story, and the theory of evolution from a fungus doesn't come anywhere close to explaining his intelligent design, anymore than it explains your genius with words.

Simon said...

Few Presidents have been asked to do more to uphold their oath of office, and Lincoln rose to the occasion. Washington probably pips him to the post, but as Crimso pointed out, Washington's stature is more a product of his entire life and services to the nation in toto rather than what he did as President.


Anton said...
"No serious historian would, or does suggest that freeing the slaves was the central (or even moderately important) goal of the North."

Perhaps. But I think it is hard for one familiar with Lincoln's career and views on the slavery question to avoid the conclusion that freeing the slaves was a significant goal of Lincoln. Yes, he said otherwise, but he said otherwise at a time when saying so was highly expedient and despite the mismatch of those statements to what had been said by him before.


Hoosier Daddy said...
"I’m not a legal expert by far but I’ll argue that when a Federal military base (Sumter) was attacked, that was all Lincoln needed to quell the secession by force of arms. At that point it was an insurrection rather than secession. A fine line but close enough for government work."

Even if you buy the south's theory that they had a right to seccede and in fact had exercised it, Lincoln still had authority. The shelling of Fort Sumter was an act of war and the President's authority to fight a war is as obvious as that to suppress an insurrection.


jcr said...
"Every other country abandoned slavery without killing half a million people in the process. All of the northern states ended slavery without bloodshed. Why are we supposed to believe that the war was the only way the south would ever have followed suit?"

Because they never did, of their own volition, and even after it was abolished by blood and iron over their objections, the south still resisted to the greatest extent they could for almost a century. The character of that resistance was shaped by the Civil War and Brown, but the resistance continued, as Prof. Graglia has pointed out, until Congress finally used the one threat that can whip any state to heel in the post-FDR age: they threatened, in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to terminate federal grants for programs states administered if a state continued to resist.

Simon said...

John K. said...
"[If] by 'greatest' we're going by the standard of which president has done the least harm then Lincoln is among the worst, and the least great."

How can you justify that statement?

JAL said...

QUayle: If we pulled together, we could have made the blacks literally rich and fully educated many times over. Instead we heartlessly shoved them to the side and gave them only enough to keep them from burning our cities down.

I think we have John Wilkes Booth to thank for some of this ...

Joe said...

Joseph Smith's proposal was to buy the slaves and then ship them all back to Africa. This wasn't visionary at all, but merely a repetition of what many had proposed. Even Lincoln believed in a form of this.

* * *

The United States are/is thing is myth. This had to do with a linguistic shift that persists to this day regarding how Americans refer to organizations. For example, the British will say "IBM are a company..." while Americans say "IBM is a company..."

There is pretty good evidence that this shift was already well under way before the US Civil War if not already complete by then.

Lem said...

Did it really take the color purple for honest Abe to get 100 comments?

Sign of the times.

TitusLoavesSmellLikeFlowers said...

Creationism Now!! Creationism forever!!!

Genius writing? Wow, what a compliment. I would like to thank my rare clumbers and my nice cut hog for all they have given me in life. As well my amazing parents who have been nothing but supportive, loving and wonderful. The best parents a mo could ever ask form.

Liberty said...

Never posted here before. I admire Lincoln, but wonder if he'd be considered "our greatest president" if he'd done everything the same way (including the result of 600,000 dead) but the South had fought the Union to a deadlock and forced a negotiated secession?

TitusLoavesSmellLikeFlowers said...

If you have never posted here before Liberty the first thing you need to know is that I am the mayor and in order to post you have to explain in detail what it is like when you pinch a loaf.

We are waiting....

We expect color, graphic images (floaters, sinkers), texture, smell and how many flushes your loaves take.

You may now begin.

Smilin' Jack said...

If Lincoln fought to "free the slaves," he did it with a conscripted army. That seems to me a rather dubious enterprise, morally speaking.

Simon said...

Joe said...
"The United States are/is thing is myth. This had to do with a linguistic shift that persists to this day regarding how Americans refer to organizations."

Even if that's true, it's still a good metaphor to illustrate the shift in the sense of the nation that took place between 1850 and 1950.

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

Joseph Smith's proposal was to buy the slaves and then ship them all back to Africa. This wasn't visionary at all, but merely a repetition of what many had proposed.

"But if [Emerson] the retired scholar was in advance of his time when he advocated this disposition of the public property in 1855, what shall I say of the political and religious leader [Smith] who had committed himself, in print, as well as in conversation, to the same course in 1844?" Quincy, Figures of the Past, 397-98.

Quayle, you're a complete schmuck....Your lefty guilt trip won't fly anymore....

Interesting. Do you feel guilty when you read what I said? And why repress that feeling? If you are like most of our fellow citizens today, you probably give in to every other feeling you have.

Except his lefty guilt trip is in complete charge of this country now.

About which I am also concerned. When I say sharing, I'm not talking about taking and redistributing property using the violence of the full force of the government. I am talking about bottom-up free will acts of individuals.

Regarding the government violence of taking private property, I wonder at this early stage whether this Obama era may turn out to be the greatest sustained, perhaps permanent contraction of individual freedom in US history.

With this emergency bill, the "leaders" in DC seem to be on that initial trajectory.

Simon said...

Liberty said...
"I admire Lincoln, but wonder if he'd be considered 'our greatest president' if he'd done everything the same way (including the result of 600,000 dead) but the South had fought the Union to a deadlock and forced a negotiated secession?"

Well, of course not - isn't that a very strange question to ask? Lincoln's claim to primacy is having preserved the union at the time it came closest to flying apart, and his entire Presidency was consumed with the undertaking. If he hadn't preserved the union, he would simply be the President on whose watch the union was sundered. What he did to achieve that result is forgiven because of the result, so without the result, we would only be able to credit him with the costliest college try in American history. We rarely name things after generals who fail.

Methadras said...

Quayle said...

I just saw the movie Not Easily Broken last night. I’ll refer you to the New York Times’ review which pretty much nails it, IMHO.

But I’ve been thinking since them.

In 1844, Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, advocated selling public lands and purchasing all the slaves, a plan that would have freed the bondsmen yet also respected property rights. (Boston Mayor Josiah Quincy, account of visit to Nauvoo Illinois published in the winter of 1881.)

In 1855, Ralph Waldo Emerson made the same proposal. Id.

Lincoln had to redeem the slaves with blood because the country would not listen to its visionaries and redeem them with money.

But even since that time, we, the richest country the world has ever known, have pretty much ignored the economic plight of the blacks.

If we pulled together, we could have made the blacks literally rich and fully educated many times over. Instead we heartlessly shoved them to the side and gave them only enough to keep them from burning our cities down.

And even the little we gave (e.g. in the 1960s) was done in such a way that further destroyed the black families previously disrupted by slave-trade. The result has been generations of black children to growing up too little love, too little nurturing, and too little wealth.

Lincoln was a great man, but it didn't have to go the way it went. Smith and Emerson had it right. We’ve always had enough means to solve the problem but we’ve never wanted to share.


Quayle, as I read your meanderings one idea kept popping up to me in a response to what you are saying and that is, that even doing the right thing may not be the best thing to do. Smith and Emerson may have had the greatest of intentions and they may be have actually been correct in the methods by which to try and end slavery, but why didn't it work out that way? You would think that even in those times someone, somewhere, Lincoln himself would have seen the 'rightness' of what they were doing and pursued this course of action, no? Again, the right thing to do isn't always the best thing to do.

As to the mental vomit you bleat out in this ill conceived pile of cow dung, to wit:

"If we pulled together, we could have made the blacks literally rich and fully educated many times over. Instead we heartlessly shoved them to the side and gave them only enough to keep them from burning our cities down."

One has to wonder what the mere motivation you have for even saying it. Either you actually believe this sack of ideological bullshit or you are so woefully ignorant of human nature as it relates to race relations vs economic policies in this country as to render the history of the last 60 years moot.

We as a country did pull together to try and get blacks out of their collectively induced cultural misery. It was called the great society and we've spent trillions in trying to rehabilitate blacks to get away from their generally gutter, low-brow, low-minded, culture and thinking. It's failed and all it's done is exacerbate the problem. Once again, someone like LBJ thought he could will government and it's largess into thinking that if you expended enough of your countrys riches into one endeavor that there isn't anything that it couldn't accomplish. Well, just like you and LBJ you seem to neglect that government is nor was ever intended to be proactive (aside from the military), but rather reactive and even in that reaction they fail miserably. When are you and idiotic thinkers like you going to fully realize and understand once and for all that government fails at nearly everything it does and touches. Why don't you understand that? Government tries to be your friend. It fails. It tries to be your mother and father. It fails. It tries to be all things to all people. It fails. Why would trying to bring blacks into the fold be any different? And instead of letting their societal evolution dictate how they interact with the rest of society on their own, government steps in and fucks it all up by trying to pass laws that piss everyone else off, while throwing large sums of money from other peoples pockets into another groups pockets that didn't do anything to deserve it, but more importantly squandered it to the point of uselessness. And now we as as a society have to deal with a welfare class that has no incentive, no impetus, no motivation to do any better to bring itself out of it's government fueled self-induced poverty and instead chooses to remain mired in 70% illiteracy, over 50% high-school drop out, turns to gangs, is the largest socio-economic populace in prison, has on of the highest illegitimacy rates in the nation, accepts and reacts to fatherless homes, multi-parental homes, thinks it's more profitable to deal drugs than get and hold onto a real job, and the list goes on and on. And all you can do is cry and whimper like a pussy at why we can't collectively get together and save them from their own trap? To call you an idiot would be a waste of time.

rhhardin said...

When is Polk's birthday?

I'm A Feline said...

James Knox Polk: November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849

jdeeripper said...

Henry said...Lede from the New York Times, Hagiography section (between Politics and Lifestyle):

Barack Obama has taken the identification with Lincoln to a new level.

I hope he grows a beard.

bearbee said...Beard could make him look Malcolm X-ish


Lincoln, Malcolm X, JFK. Everybody this guy is compared to was murdered by gun shot.

Ever notice how few blacks are named Lincoln? The guy from The Mod Squad is one I can think of but the actual actor's name was Clarence.

Maybe that's because most blacks have always lived in the South and they knew that being black and being named Lincoln was really overdoing it.

I think blacks were a high percentage of Lincoln Continental owners at one time.

Lincoln was a really tall guy with a very short wife. I remember those kinds of guys from high school, the tall guy with the little runty girlfriend always holding hands.

The worst thing about the Civil War era besides the deaths was all that religio-political bullshit that America loves.

Saints and sinners, God's Judgment, Bible prophecy, Holy mission. The kind of ugly rhetoric found in the Civil Right movement. Dana Carvey's Church Lady mentality applied to politics.

What I love about the Darwinian revolution is that it helped to rip up some of that way of thinking.

Darwinism is like Joe Friday/Mr Spock type thinking. Facts, logic, evidence.

That's what I like about General Sherman and General Grant. They had no time for any Holy Roller, moralistic nonsense.

jdeeripper said...

A purple Lincoln and a pink Lincoln?

OK, Ann we got it. And we know he liked the theater. He was obsessed with interior decorating. A house divided..blah, blah blah.

But I doubt it. James Buchanan on the other hand was the Maxine Weiss of his day.

Hoosier Daddy said...

How could emancipation galvanize support for the war if your claim that the Union didn't really care about emancipation was true?

I never said the Union didn't care. I said ending slavery wasn't the goal or the driving cause of the Union effort in the war. Emancipation simply gave the war a moral impetus on top of the patriotic one.

You're using a rhetorical trick commonly used by critics of Lincoln and/or defenders of the Confederacy, which is to act like "the Union" was some sort of tyranny rather than a representative democracy.

I beg your pardon but please don't assume that I think anything of the kind. I'm hardly a defender of the Confederacy. I fail to see anywhere I commented that even suggests that the Union was anything but a democracy and honestly, I resent the implication.

Windbag said...

In McCullough's bio on Truman, he tells the story that Truman's mom visited the White House. They put her up in the Lincoln bedroom (free, mind you), and she slept on the floor in defiance of that Republican.

David said...

Anton said...

"No serious historian would, or does suggest that freeing the slaves was the central (or even moderately important) goal of the North."

"The North" was not a person and did not have a goal. The people and politicians of the North had a variety of objectives. For some, the eradication of slavery was paramount--indeed the sole motive for the struggle. For others preservation of the union was crucial. For many there were no political or moral goals; they either saw the war as a chance to prosper, or as a malevolent force to be avoided to the extent possible.

There are, of course, many serious historians who recognize that the desire to eradicate slavery was the crucial force in bringing and sustaining the war. That does not mean that abolitionism was a consensus or even a majority view. But the abolitionists, because of their moral fervor and knack for politics and promotion, were of tremendous influence.

Lincoln abhorred slavery and believed that the survival of the union depended on its eventual eradication. (Read the House Divided speech.) He did not start to make the war the means to eliminate slavery, but when emancipation became an important way to achieve war aims, he was most pleased to move ahead towards the total eradication of slavery.

Greater than Washington? It's almost impossible to compare because of the difference in the times and challenges. In my opinion, each of them--knowing of the other and being asked the question--would undoubtedly say that the other was the greatest President.

David said...

The Lincoln that Titus likes is, of course, "Hot Rod Lincoln."

Simon said...

David, good catch ("'The North' was not a person and did not have a goal. The people and politicians of the North had a variety of objectives"). Judge Easterbrook would remind us that "intent is elusive for a natural person, fictive for a collective body."

Revenant said...

"Lincoln is among the worst, and the least great."

How can you justify that statement?

Probably with a quote from Lysander Spooner.

Walt said...

"If you read Lincoln's first inaugural-address with any care at all, you'll see that it was simply a declaration of war against the South. It was also filled with lies and specious reasoning. In 1861, the official government-charter for the U.S. was the U.S. Constitution. In writing it, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (some of the most-canny politicians in the country) had pointedly omitted from it the "perpetual union" clause which had been a main feature of the unworkable Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union--the U.S.-government charter which had preceded the Constitution."

"Under the Articles, no state could secede lawfully unless all states seceded simultaneously. But the Constitution--which Lincoln had just taken an oath to uphold--did not contain that clause (or any other like it); so any state could secede lawfully at any time. And the Southern states did secede lawfully. Honest Abe flat-out lied when he said that was not so in his inaugural address; and he subsequently used his blatant lie to slaughter 623,000 Americans and Confederates--primarily in order to perpetuate himself in political office". HOW AND WHY.
Strange as it may seem, General Ulysses S. Grant had slaves, while General Robert E Lee, and General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson were emancipationist.

Kansas City said...

I assume Washington would have modestly resisted "greatest president" status, but he wins over Lincoln and everyone else, and I don't think he would have been a fan of how Lincoln prosecuted the Civil War.

I think presidents are great only if there was a great positive consequencs of their presidency, so I would say:

Washington (birth of the country)

Jefferson (expansion of the country)

Polk (expansion of the country)

Lincoln (saving of the union)

FDR (winning WWII)

Kennedy (managing to avoid the nuclear war that he almost stubled into)

Reagan (winning the cold war)

Bush I (stopping the march of Sadaam to take control of the middle east)

Bush II (MAYBE, Iraq and Afghanistan - to be determined)

Not very many. I know Jackson and TDR get a lot of praise, but I have never grasped what great consequence there was to their presidency.

Revenant said...

He had previously dragged some pro-slavery men out of their Kansas homes in the middle of the night and hacked them to death.)

Today we'd call him a terrorist or even a Manson-type maniac.

My term for a person who hacks supporters of slavery to death is "overly zealous". That sort of treatment should be reserved for people who actually *keep* slaves.

People who merely support slavery should be let off with just a severe ass-kicking. :)

chickenlittle said...

I just learned that the mint is coming out with four new reverse designs for the Lincoln cent this year.
link

Revenant said...

I assume Washington would have modestly resisted "greatest president" status, but he wins over Lincoln and everyone else, and I don't think he would have been a fan of how Lincoln prosecuted the Civil War.

I would assume not, since as a slave-owning Virginian he would almost certainly have joined Robert E. Lee in fighting for the Confederacy.

Kansas City said...

This does not sound right:

"Strange as it may seem, General Ulysses S. Grant had slaves, while General Robert E Lee, and General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson were emancipationist."

Grant was a shopkeeper in Galena, Ill prior to the war, and he grew up in Ohio (?) without slaves. His wife's family had some slaves in St. Louis.

Lee had slaves up until the Civil War and a long history as a slave owner.

David said...

Simon:

"Judge Easterbrook would remind us that "intent is elusive for a natural person, fictive for a collective body.'"

Well, Judge Easterbrook put it much better than I did. Appreciate the quote.

Revenant said...

In 1861, the official government-charter for the U.S. was the U.S. Constitution. In writing it, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (some of the most-canny politicians in the country) had pointedly omitted from it the "perpetual union" clause which had been a main feature of the unworkable Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union--the U.S.-government charter which had preceded the Constitution."

The states had voluntarily signed on to a perpetual union by ratifying the Articles. The Constitution itself ignores the issue of whether the union is perpetual. It neither reaffirms the perpetuality of the union nor provides any means for states to voluntarily leave it. Since the union was perpetual before the Constitution was ratified, and since the Constitution said nothing to change that, the union remained perpetual afterwards.

Kansas City said...

Revenant,

I was thinking in terms of Washington making an objective assesment of Lincoln's bungling in the prosecution of the war, but you make a good point that Washington might well have been on the other side in the Civil War. I never thought of that and, perhaps, it is an interesting point for us who consider Washington our greatest president to consider. But is is hard to move Washington 70 years down the road and know for sure what he would have done. About 30% (I think) of the U.S. Army military officers from Virginia stayed with the Union, including at least one big one - Thomas (I think) - and Lee waivered before resigning his commission.

Also, Washington did what very few of his southern contemporaries did - he freed his slaves. It was not until his death, but still a step that Jefferson and others did not do.

Psychedelic George said...

'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh."

---

"Dear Mama

After more than a months hard march & through two pitched battles, our army arrived back in Va, the battle of Gettysburg was one of the hardest contested battles of the war, we were in it three days, the first day we drove the enemy more than two miles, killing a great many of them, at night they fortified themselves on the mountain where it was impossible to dislodge them.

I do not know how many prisoners we took but some five or six thousand, we fell back some mile or two and took our position but they would not come & fight. I have seen a Baltimore Paper & they acknowledge 30 thousand killed wounded & missing. They did not follow us on our retreate as they were so badly hurt, our loss must have been 20 thousand in all.

My company had five wounded, all will do well, but [xxx] who was wounded in the shoulder & was left in the hands of the enemy too unwell to be moved, the rest of my men were slight. I have only eight men for duty & I want to try and come home after the rest, I have just heard of the fall of Vicksburg & it is sad to think of it. I do believe it would have been better that Richomond had fallen, no telling now when theis war will stop/Have they called out the militia yet.

I do not think that we will remain here long, as I expect the enemy will try on to Richmond again, they are at Harper’s Fetty I understand & they may give us a battle at this place, but it is rather too far in the country for them to advance.

I never care about going in Maryland or Pensy again, the people were very anxious for peace in those states, but I do not see how it can be made until old Ab’s time is out, it is a beautiful country & there seems as if no war was going on, from their fine crops & things so clean. How is the home guard gettting on, all of them had better come out where to defend their homes, for they can do nothing where they are.

We lived very well while we were beyond the Potomack, when you write direct your letter to Winchester.

My love to all, your son,..."

A Captain in the Army of Northern Virginia, my great-grandfather was later wounded in battle, captured, and held as a prisoner-of-war.

Revenant said...

This does not sound right:

"Strange as it may seem, General Ulysses S. Grant had slaves, while General Robert E Lee, and General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson were emancipationist."

It is partly true. Grant owned a slave until he freed the man in 1859. His wife was pro-slavery and owned slaves up until 1865. So no, "General Grant" didn't own any slaves, although "Farmer Grant" did. :)

The notion that Lee was an emancipationist, however, is complete nonsense. Lee's slaves came to him via inheritance, with the will stating that they were to be freed within no more than five years. Lee waited the entire five years to free those slaves, and in the meantime used them to work his plantation for his own benefit. It is true that he took a dimmer view of slavery than many in the South. But to call him an emancipationist when he voluntarily delayed freeing 200 slaves because it wasn't in HIS interests to do so is positively Orwellian.

People often quote Lee as saying "slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil". They ignore the fact that he also explained, in the same letter, that "the painful discipline [slaves] are undergoing is necessary for their instruction as a race".

He thought slavery was evil, but that it was an evil WHITE people had to suffer for the good of BLACK people. Weird, eh?

Liberty said...

Never posted here before. I admire Lincoln, but wonder if he'd be considered "our greatest president" if he'd done everything the same way (including the result of 600,000 dead) but the South had fought the Union to a deadlock and forced a negotiated secession?

Simon said...

Walt said...
"Under the Articles, no state could secede lawfully unless all states seceded simultaneously. But the Constitution ... did not contain that clause (or any other like it); so any state could secede lawfully at any time."

The only colorable theory that supports that theory, I suppose, is a kind of Tenth Amendment ploy where you argue that since the Constitution says nothing about secession, that must be a power retained by the states. Thin gruel, but I suppose you work with what you have.

Revenant said...
"[How can John you justify that statement?] Probably with a quote from Lysander Spooner."

LOL. (And I laugh with affection, John.)

Kansas City, I would include Jefferson in the list for a different reason; the federalists of that era - nationalists by today's standards - had held sway for the first decade, but Jefferson - a federalist by today's understanding of the term - took power and effectively counterbalanced the upward tug on power begun during the federalist era. It was important for establishing the dynamics of the country that the federalist period to be followed by a period of federalism, just as it was important when General Jackson took power for the Presidency to reassert itself after an era of Congressional dominance. The vertical and horizontal separation of powers were served by the dynamics of the time, even if those particular men were not great Presidents by their particular actions.

Simon said...

Liberty said...
"Never posted here before. I admire Lincoln, but wonder if he'd be considered "our greatest president" if he'd done everything the same way (including the result of 600,000 dead) but the South had fought the Union to a deadlock and forced a negotiated secession? [7:44 PM]"

You posted here before - saying exactly the same thing - at 5:02 PM.

Revenant said...

I was thinking in terms of Washington making an objective assesment of Lincoln's bungling in the prosecution of the war

Well, quite possibly. But of course Washington himself bungled quite a bit during the Revolutionary War.

Walt said...

The U.S. Constitution is the law of land, or was until that despot Lincoln suspended it. As a native American. I understand how easy it was for you to slaughter my people, but to kill 620,000 of your fellow men women and children in the name of politics? This is madness, and to add to your shame, you did not free the black man until 1964!

traditionalguy said...

Kansas city... Andrew Jackson built on Washington's role and established the role of the President as the One Guardian responsable for all of the American people's safety and welfare, quite apart from the Congressional rulers using coalitions of regional interests to negotiate a deal in the interest of some, but not of all. We so take this for granted that no one even suspected an American President would ever see his role differently. Just watch and see if Obama sees himself as such a Guardian or as the key man in the partisan re-distribution of all American wealth and power to a small favored group.Lincoln's favorite roll model was Jackson who had faced down the South Carolina nullification laws 20 years earlier, and had always said his only regret was not hanging John Calhoun for treason.

chickenlittle said...

Walt: The identity of your "you" escapes me. If you want to talk about something that I voted for or did, have at it. Otherwise, leave your race-baiting at home.

Cedarford said...

Kansas City - I'd add TDR, LBJ, and Nixon to that list.

TDR - Helped define American morality. Fought the monopolies and Trusts successfully to avoid social upheaval that was gathering and would have been worse for his efforts. Started America on a great path to conserving our natural wonders, wildlife, "green spaces".

LBJ - Passed civil rights legislation. Cut US poverty rate in half. Instrumental is success of the space program. Positives outweigh the negatives of Vietnam and the Great Society.

Nixon - As much or more than Reagan, was the man who did the most to end the Cold War. Detente. China triangulation. Rolled back the '68 May Day Communist momentum in Europe and resolidified NATO. Drew down Vietnam and settled on US terms. Saved Israel's ass in 1973, Leftist Jews responded with typical gratitude through their media, academia, and legal organs to go full tilt to destroy him.
Volunteer Army. Started the Germ warfare and Chem warfare NPTs. Started move to make global regions nuclear weapon-free. SALT I.
Downsides: (1)Was as unlikable as Truman, a natural asshole.(2)Embraced Keneysian economics. (3) Watergate.

Of course various history buffs make their case for John Adams, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Cleveland, Arthur, Wilson, and Eisenhower as outstanding.

somefeller said...

Never posted here before. I admire Lincoln, but wonder if he'd be considered "our greatest president" if he'd done everything the same way (including the result of 600,000 dead) but the South had fought the Union to a deadlock and forced a negotiated secession?

Probably not, but in this world he won the war and freed the slaves. That's the point.

somefeller said...

Plus, I'm disappointed to see so little love given here to Calvin Coolidge. And here I thought there were decent conservatives inhabiting this comment box.

Simon said...

Walt said...
"The U.S. Constitution is the law of land, or was until that despot Lincoln suspended it."

Ah... Seeing that you cite Lew Rockwell for that point, suddenly your previous comments snap into focus. Bonsoir.

fcai said...

WTF Walt - are you fucking insane? We won, get over it.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

Walt - are you fucking insane?

He is, as Simon pointed out, a Lew Rockwell fan. There are three kinds of Lew Rockwell fans: nuts, hardcore racists, and nutty hardcore racists.

So the answer to your question is "yes, probably". :)

Methadras said...

Walt said...

The U.S. Constitution is the law of land, or was until that despot Lincoln suspended it. As a native American. I understand how easy it was for you to slaughter my people, but to kill 620,000 of your fellow men women and children in the name of politics? This is madness, and to add to your shame, you did not free the black man until 1964!


Where the hell is my violin. I can never find it when I need it most. Your people where slaughtering each other long long long before the white man showed up, not to mention that some of the 'native' American tribes also practiced cannibalism and shockingly enough, *GASP* slavery. Wow, that's a stunner right there. So please save your noble, peace loving, one-with-nature savage schtick for the ignorant do-gooders who will mule, whimper, sob, slobber in maudeline fashion and plead for your forgiveness and that of your ancestors as an act of the collective white guilt that they exhibit. You lost, so please stop living in the past and move on.

I'm sure that that the peoples that lived on the North American continents before you didn't cry like little girls about how their people got slaughtered by you invaders did they?

Walt said...

I used to compare Lincoln with Joseph Stalin, I realize this is an extreme Southern point o view. Perhaps it would be more fair to say he was more like Otto von Bismarck.
Abraham Lincoln is incorrectly remembered as a man in the Jeffersonian tradition and as the restorer of liberty, while Bismarck is generally seen as a ruthless dictator, eager to sacrifice men to his policy of deciding the future of his countrymen "by blood and iron."

Contrary to this view, both men--Abraham Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck--should be viewed as allied together in the common cause of destroying the principles of classical liberalism. Both Lincoln and Bismarck followed the course that Mises rightly named after Bismarck.

It shouldn't be surprising that the actions of two despots would closely parallel each other. The activities involved in centralizing power would necessarily involve similar means to that end--chiefly, war, dictatorship, and deception.

Both Lincoln and Bismarck began their careers laboring in their respective wildernesses in pursuit of their twin goals: the consolidation of their general federations into a centralized regime of privilege and the destruction of free trade and other classical liberal ideas. And both Lincoln and Bismarck would found their power on the slave labor of conscript armies.

Revenant said...

I used to compare Lincoln with Joseph Stalin, I realize this is an extreme Southern point o view.

It is an extreme idiot's point of view. I lived in the South for twenty years and never once heard anyone draw that parallel.

The first time I heard it was when I joined the Libertarian Party, in fact. This is one reason why I shortly thereafter LEFT the Libertarian Party and lower-cased the L in my political identity.

Walt said...

Look Methadras said. It's not easy being both Irish and the white man's burden. The hostile remarks of frightened men do not bother me. What worries me is that is see so many Americans ready to go to war. No one is content with our government. political and racial militias are forming by the left and the right. This is not good, every state seems divided. These are indeed strange times, and I've never seen such a high demand for guns, and ammunition.

Kansas City said...

Cedarford made some good points.

TDR -- I don't know enough about TDR. Can the case really be made that his fight against monopolies and trusts had great positive consequences? I don't think "started on the path" to conservatism is enough to achieve greatness.

LBJ - I thought about LBJ on civil rights, but I think with his disaster of Vietnam and the mixed results of the Great Society, he has to be below great.

Nixon - I did not consider Nixon, but too much baggage and his China move was good, but I think below great.

Truman -- I forgot about him, and he may be a great one or just below great. I think the Marshall Plan achieved great results and he generally helped to establish a stable post WWII world. I hesitate on the use of the atomic bomb, only on the question of whether the war could have been brought to a quick conclusion without the use of the bomb.

Eisenhower - He seems good, not great. No singular great accomplishments.

I don't know the arguments for Adams, Madison, Monroe, Cleveland or Arthur.

I do think Coolidge was underrated, as were Harding and Grant. None were great, but also not near as bad as many claim.

William said...

I think Lincoln can be compared to both Bismarck and Lenin. Like Bismarck he forged a nation out of disparate states, some of which did not wish to be in the union. It is worth noting that Bismarck marginalized the constitutional democrats and magnified the power of Prussian militarists. Bismarck was tactically brilliant but look what he wrought. The way you win is sometimes more important than winning. Lincoln's victory came at the expense of slave owners. Slave owners were not the movers and shakers in America after the Civil War...The proper Russian to compare Lincoln with is not Stalin but Lenin. Like Lincoln, Lenin fought and won a civil war. The civil war in Russia was a bloody affair that caused more casualties than WWI. From what I've read Lenin barely noticed much less regretted the carnage that his policies caused. Despite the rhetoric, Lenin's victory did not liberate the oppressed; it empowered the idealogues. I've tried to read some of Lenin's writings. It's humourless, inelegant, and pedantic. Marx every so often turned a phrase, but Lenin is uniformly awful....Compare the eloquence and accessibility of Lincoln's writings with that of Lenin. Lincoln's words still inspire. Lenin's collected writings inspire wonder at why so much effort went to produce so much fatuity that was admired by so many people.....I find it hard to believe that so many people who posted here have trouble accepting Lincoln's greatness. It's depressing.

Kansas City said...

Good discussion.

Lincoln save the union, but in the process killed 650,000 Americans and produced north/south hostilities that lasted 100 years.

Lincoln freed the slaves, but left a system in which blacks were subjected to another 100 years of harsh discrimination.

Lincoln wrote beautifully in words that inspired others, but the words had little effect during his life and are now exploited by political hacks like Dick Durban.

Lincoln was martyred for his service to his country, but his image was no doubt inflated by the assassination.

Overall verdict: Great, but a very much mixed legacy and the nagging feeling that perhaps our country could have grown, outlawed slavery, and perhaps ultimately reconciled without the Civil War.

Revenant said...

Lincoln save the union, but in the process killed 650,000 Americans and produced north/south hostilities that lasted 100 years.

First of all, if you think Lincoln created the North/South hostility, I strongly suggest you actually read a history book sometime. The hostility predated Lincoln by decades -- in many respects it predated the nation itself.

Secondly, the Confederacy was the aggressor during the Civil War. It fired the first shots; Lincoln wasn't even President yet. The deaths are on its hands, not the Union's.

Finally, would you shitball racist loons please fuck off to some other blog? You're stinking up the place.

Michael McNeil said...

It's James Buchanan, who presided over the dismantling of the Union as the South created its own slave state of the Confederacy as well as ignoring the South's first attack on Fort Sumter, who deserves the appelation of “worst president ever” as well as the blame for those two-thirds of a million combat deaths that ultimately resulted, not Lincoln.

Michael McNeil said...

Lincoln could not constitutionally abolish slavery in the several non-rebellious states of the Union (nor could Congress), that's why the 13th Amendment was required after the war to accomplish abolition nationwide.

Moreover, the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation (other than liberating slaves) was not to rally support for the war among Northerners (indeed, it did just the opposite for many Democrats in the North), but rather cut off the considerable support that the South had enjoyed — even movement towards diplomatic and military intervention in the conflict in favor of the Confederacy — amongst various European nations such as Britain and France. As a result of the proclamation, once the war was seen in Europe as being a crusade against slavery, further substantial support for the South became politically impossible.

Hoosier Daddy said...

David, good catch ("'The North' was not a person and did not have a goal. The people and politicians of the North had a variety of objectives"). Judge Easterbrook would remind us that "intent is elusive for a natural person, fictive for a collective body."

Of course the 'North' had a variety of objectives. On the other hand, the Union effort in the course of the war was to defeat the Confederacy and preserve the Union. While that may have been merely one of many goals of the 'North', it was the sole driving goal of the Lincoln administration, hence, the goal of the Union as directed by the Chief Executive and the CinC.

Or bluebellies for our Southern readers.

Hoosier Daddy said...

As a result of the proclamation, once the war was seen in Europe as being a crusade against slavery, further substantial support for the South became politically impossible.

It is debatable whether or not Emancipation would have made any difference with respect to European intervention. Europe's interest in the South was economical, ie, cotton, however, it is a pretty well established fact that military intervention on the side of the Confederacy was a pipe dream and would never have occurred because of slavery, Emancipation notwithstanding.

Michael McNeil said...

Hoosier Daddy said:
Europe's interest in the South was economical, ie, cotton, however, it is a pretty well established fact that military intervention on the side of the Confederacy was a pipe dream and would never have occurred because of slavery, Emancipation notwithstanding.

“The British government was set to offer mediation of the war and, if this were refused by the Lincoln administration (as it would have been), forceful intervention on behalf of the Confederacy.” Warren W. Hassler, Jr. (Emeritus Professor of American History, Pennsylvania State University, University Park; author of Commanders of the Army of the Potomac and others), “United States of America: Civil War,” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica.

John K. said...

John K. said...
"[If] by 'greatest' we're going by the standard of which president has done the least harm then Lincoln is among the worst, and the least great."

Simon said: How can you justify that statement?

Revenant knows me all too well when he says I would probably have to justify it with a quote from or a cite to Lysander Spooner. There are some real Civil War scholars on this thread, with whom I am in no position to engage point by point. I'll admit that I've gotten much of my history of the Civil War, and my interpretation of its meaning and effects, from Spooner. Two big factors that weigh heavily for me in favor of his credibility as a source: he was a contemporary of the events leading up to and following the Civil War, and (unlike Lincoln himself) he was always a radical abolitionist (even participating in a failed plot to rescue John Brown after his arrest). When I get some time I'd like to read some of the new scholarship on Lincoln and the Civil War. "Mr. Lincoln Goes to War" by William Marvel looks promising.

By comparison, I might venture to say that Nixon did less harm and more good than Lincoln (and therefore could be classified under this standard as among our "greatest" presidents) in that his corruption disabused us of many of our prevalent illusions. By contrast, the myths and idolatry still surrounding Lincoln, who fundamentally changed the nature of the American States, are unhealthy.

Kirk Parker said...

Quasimodo,

"I'd change that to 'Christian' rather than 'Anglo-American' [civilization]"

I certainly wouldn't--surely Smilin' Jack used it, not to avoid saying "Christian", but to single out the subset of Christian civilization that actually went out of its way to end it. What did the French or Spanish do?

William,

Unless you're using "great" to mean "laudable" rather than the more usual "significant", I can't see that Bismarck is any lesser than Lincoln (though we no doubt agree on the relative desirability of their respective results.)

KC,

Why is Kennedy on your Greatest list? "Managing to avoid the nuclear war that he almost stubled into" sounds like it nets out to zero.

Kirk Parker said...

Walt,

"I've never seen such a high demand for guns, and ammunition."

Just let the next adminstration take office amidst credible rumors that in intends to engage in comparable "computer control" or "ipod control", and you'll see a similar run on those things, too.


Oh, and a hearty second to what Rev said regarding all the racists freaks!

Geoff Matthews said...

Jeffrey:

From that same Wikipedia article you (and I) cited:

We had a jovial Scotchman in the battalion, named John Brown. . . . and as he happened to bear the identical name of the old hero of Harper's Ferry, he became at once the butt of his comrades. If he made his appearance a few minutes late among the working squad, or was a little tardy in falling into the company line, he was sure to be greeted with such expressions as "Come, old fellow, you ought to be at it if you are going to help us free the slaves"; or, "This can't be John Brown--why, John Brown is dead." And then some wag would add, in a solemn, drawling tone, as if it were his purpose to give particular emphasis to the fact that John Brown was really, actually dead: "Yes, yes, poor old John Brown is dead; his body lies mouldering in the grave."[14] According to Kimball, these sayings became by-words among the soldiers and were eventually put to the tune of "Say, Brothers".

I stand by my assertion. John Brown the abolitionist was not the original John Brown of the song.

Kansas City said...

Kirk,

On Kennedy, avoiding a nuclear war he almost stumbled into could be considered a zero, but I'm not sure I was entirely fair in attributing the missile crisis to him. Also, even if it was his fault, he still handled a crisis that raised an actual risk of nuclear war in a manner that avoided it and otherwise achieved a satisfactory outcome. He also had to resist some foolish advice from experienced generals. So, the man had his high stakes moment, and he met the challenge. It was such high stakes, I put him in the great president category. Other than that moment, his presidency was mediocre.

Hoosier Daddy said...

“The British government was set to offer mediation of the war and, if this were refused by the Lincoln administration (as it would have been), forceful intervention on behalf of the Confederacy.” Warren W. Hassler, Jr. (Emeritus Professor of American History, Pennsylvania State University, University Park; author of Commanders of the Army of the Potomac and others), “United States of America: Civil War,” Encyclop√¶dia Britannica.

The closest we came to war with Britain was the Trent affair.

I don't have the Hassler's referece but I'm curious as to when this mediation and intervention was to occur. Britian had much more to lose with war with the North than they had to gain with the South. In fact, shortly after Antitem, Britian gave up on the idea of mediation.

Never mind that by 1863 we had the largest battle tested army on the planet.