Assassination of Lincoln’s character was inaccurate

Published 8:33 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Dear Editor:

Roger Broxton’s letter in which he made disparaging and incorrect statements regarding Abraham Lincoln is a shameful example of how extremists are allowed to get away with misrepresenting historical fact. Even more shameful and embarrassing is that the letter has been picked up elsewhere and plastered all over the Internet, yet another defeat for Southern dignity.

President Lincoln, unlike Mr. Broxton, was private about his religious beliefs and respected those of others. He often referenced God and quoted the Bible. Even though he never officially joined a church, he was not an infidel. Mary Todd Lincoln did invite mediums to the White House, but so did Nancy Reagan. At her urging, following the death of their son, President Lincoln attended a séance. His presence at the side of his distraught wife was not an indication that he prescribed to a belief in communicating with the spirit world.

A Sioux uprising in Minnesota led to 39 of 303 condemned Indians being hanged. The Sioux had been forced to cede most of their land and were starving to death. Even though they had every reason to exact revenge, their actions were intolerable. Men’s heads were split open, children were clubbed to death, wives and daughters were raped, corpses were mutilated, anything that could be taken was looted and the remainder was burned. The people of Minnesota called for the execution of all 303, but Lincoln demanded to review all the cases and showed mercy for all but the 39 who were guilty of crimes outside of battle.

Lincoln did not deport hundreds of free blacks to Haiti. In April of 1862, Congress enacted a bill to pay District of Columbia slave owners up to $300 for each slave they freed and to provide a $100,000 to support voluntary colonization of freed people in Haiti and Liberia. In 1863, the government tried unsuccessfully to settle 453 blacks at Ile a Vache on an island near Haiti. In 1864, The U.S. Navy returned 368 survivors to the United States.

By radically urging secessionism in the South, pro-slavery politicians materially contributed to the outbreak of war. They actively encouraged an attack on Fort Sumter and helped to start the Confederate States of America and the Civil War. Lincoln is hardly to be blamed for the “unnecessary” deaths of 600,000 Americans when his greatest hope from the beginning was that the Union be preserved. He did suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the wake of armed rebellion. Many were arrested and, in most cases, deserved it.

Yes, Lincoln did emancipate the slaves of the South, but since the Confederacy did not acknowledge his presidency, it had no real effect. In reality, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave. The inability of the South to hold out against stronger Northern forces caused the demise of slavery. If military genius and misplaced honor could have won the war, the South would have been victorious. Even if we had won militarily, our beloved South would have imploded in financial ruin.

Based on the published letters of Mr. Broxton, I have concluded he would support the reinstitution of slavery in the United States. I can imagine that he envisions himself as a master of many, living large in a big white plantation mansion. A more realistic scenario is that of a low country yeoman, plowing at the rear of a mule.

Mira Walker