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Old December 23rd, 2017, 12:36 PM   #31

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I am saying he was not a friend to black people at all.
Okay. His actions, policies, and feelings were more friendly to black people than the great majority of his white contemporaries. And black people at the time—and many since—seem to have disagreed with you, but what would they know?

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For communities of freedpeople across the South, grief washed through like a tidal wave. From Norfolk and Portsmouth, Beaufort and Charleston came the most "heartfelt sorrow," "troubled countenances," and "very great grief. Everywhere, children cried audibly and grown-ups wept bitterly. Some cried all night, others just felt numb. One woman described herself as "nearly deranged" with grief. Black soldiers were utterly bereft. Edgar Dinsmore of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts felt "a loss irreparable." One man compared the circumstances to a horrific scene he had witnessed as a slave: a mother whipped forty lashes for weeping when white people took away her children. The violence had traumatized him, "but not half so much as the death of President Lincoln," he confessed. . . .

African Americans claimed for themselves a special place in the outpouring of sorrow, and the prayers and sermons of Easter Sunday magnified Lincoln's role as the Great Emancipator. A New Orleans minister asserted that his people felt "deeper sorrow for the friend of the colored man," and black clergymen in the North allowed that their people felt the loss "more keenly" and "more than all others." Journalists singled out the "dusky-skinned men of our own race" as the "chief—the truest mourners," and black soldiers maintained that "as a people none could deplore his loss more than we." Frederick Douglass, speaking extemporaneously in Rochester on Saturday, told the overflowing crowd that he felt the loss "as a personal as well as national calamity" because of "the race to which I belong." Even the most stricken white mourners conceded the point. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles thought the "colored people" to be the "truer mourners." In the words of one minister, "We who are white know little of the emotions which thrill the black man's heart to-day," and as another told his congregation, "intense as is our grief," no white person could "fathom the sorrow" of black people.

p.98 - 99

——————

[M]ourning freedpeople made the same claim for themselves, calling Lincoln "the best friend ever I had" and their "best earthly friend." Bostonian George Ruffin, addressing his people in Richmond, called the slain leader the "Great Emancipator" and "our best friend." North and south, journalists chimed in. "Brothers mourn! sisters weep!" exclaimed the New York Anglo-African, "for our best friend has passed away." The New Orleans Black Republican called Lincoln the "greatest earthly friend of the colored race."

p. 140

——————

Whoever else mourned for Abraham Linocoln, Frederick Douglass concluded in December 1865, "to the colored people of the country, his death is an unspeakable calamity." Decades later, former slaves thought back to the assassination. "Abraham Lincoln!" exclaimed eighty-five-year-old Octavia George in Oklahoma City. "I wouldn't miss a morning getting my black arm band and placing it on in remembrance of Abraham, who was the best friend the Negroes ever had." In Tarrant County, Texas, Ann Edwards called up that time too. "I can't describe the emotions of the people," she said, except that it felt "as if everyone suddenly experienced the death of their most beloved child." . . .

Louis Meadows believed that "things was hurt by Mr. Lincoln getting killed." John Matheus, in Ohio, thought that if Lincoln had remained president, "he would have done lots of good for the colored people." William Irving, about fifteen years old when the war ended, likewise felt sure that his people would have had an easier time of it with Lincoln as president. George Conrad of Oklahoma City said simply, "I don't think his work was finished." In Arkansas, near one hundred years old, Rosa Ingram was sure that Lincoln had been murdered for freeing the slaves.

p.273 - 274

—Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press, 2015)
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Originally Posted by bugulgad View Post
He was not a hardened racist like Johnson but most of America at that time still thought in racist terms, so much so that "racist" was not even a term. The ONLY introspection at the time revolved around the inhumanity of slavery. So once that was abolished it was "mission complete".
Except that Lincoln clearly didn't think it could be left at mere emancipation, hence his wanting to enfranchise some literate black men and all black men who had served in the U.S. Army. Why bother saying that, or setting up a Freedmen's Bureau at all, if "mission complete" was achieved with emancipation?

Regarding Lincoln's views on and handling of the question of race, here is an excellent piece by James McPherson from The New York Review of Books about James Oakes'sbook, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Anti-Slavery Politics: What Did He Really Think About Race? | by James M. McPherson | The New York Review of Books

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The black vote question was just a political contest, much like the squatter/cracker votes were to Jackson
And what has led you to this conclusion?

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Old December 23rd, 2017, 12:52 PM   #32

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Everyone didn't see it the way you do, as insurrection. It isn't certain Lincoln would have. Southerners viewed the state governments elected by white men who took loyalty oaths as legitimate.
I'm well aware of how the people who launched these attacks, and their sympathizers, viewed these events. It makes them not a jot less insurrectionary.

Do you think Lincoln would have been as unmoved as Johnson by U.S. troops, U.S. government officials, and Republican political rallies being attacked by ex-Confederate paramilitaries? The guy who was willing to send troops into New York to put down rioters is going to just shrug it off when this sort of thing happens in a military zone? When the targets are U.S. soldiers and those loyal to the U.S. government?

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It is true that voters in the north reacted negatively to these events, and elected mostly radical Republicans. However, the lopsided majority that almost led the Johnson's removal resulted from the southern delegations not being seated.
As has been mentioned, Lincoln would have been unable to seat those delegations, even if he had wanted to. Only Congress had the authority to restore states to the Union and seat their delegations.

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Old December 23rd, 2017, 02:05 PM   #33
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I'm well aware of how the people who launched these attacks, and their sympathizers, viewed these events. It makes them not a jot less insurrectionary.

Do you think Lincoln would have been as unmoved as Johnson by U.S. troops, U.S. government officials, and Republican political rallies being attacked by ex-Confederate paramilitaries? The guy who was willing to send troops into New York to put down rioters is going to just shrug it off when this sort of thing happens in a military zone? When the targets are U.S. soldiers and those loyal to the U.S. government?
There wasn't any question that Lincoln would send troops to quell the draft riots. The police couldn't handle the situation, and the rioters effectively controlled the city. Lincoln took many more controversial action against Confederate sympathizers during the war.

I am not sure what Lincoln would have done. However, he was too skilled a politician and statesman to have taken sides either way to the extent that Johnson did.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 02:14 PM   #34

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There wasn't any question that Lincoln would send troops to quell the draft riots. The police couldn't handle the situation, and the rioters effectively controlled the city. Lincoln took many more controversial action against Confederate sympathizers during the war.
Exactly. But, unlike the riots in New York, the police were among those attacking U.S. soldiers in Memphis; in Louisiana, Governor Wells declared martial law in New Orleans (which had not happened in New York) on August 3, and Federal troops were called in to restore order to the city.

Why would Lincoln suddenly drop such forcible means (especially in already-militarized zones) as were available to him when attempts at reconciliation, even at their Johnsonite extreme, only reaped more U.S. casualties and terror campaigns by ex-Confederate paramilitaries?

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I am not sure what Lincoln would have done. However, he was too skilled a politician and statesman to have taken sides either way to the extent that Johnson did.
Lincoln's record as president consistently shows him taking a rather formidably strong line against whichever side was attacking the U.S. government or its soldiery, be it mobs at the North or rebels at the South.

Last edited by Wolfpaw; December 23rd, 2017 at 03:52 PM.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 04:29 PM   #35

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The Democratic slogan in the 1868 Presidential election was "White man's country, white men rule".
... That's precisely my point.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 05:40 PM   #36
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I understand the point about how racism is viewed today. However, the southern states elected governments. Some northerners and blacks didn't like the legislation they passed, so they wanted to change the rules so that blacks could vote.

So at the time, both points of view appeared to have merits. It is hard to know how Lincoln, Hamlin, or Butler would have handled the situation. I agree that Johnson handled it poorly from a political standpoint.

I agree that Lincoln probably would have cracked down on violence against the Freedmans Bureau and so on. He probably would have taken a course between what Johnson did and siding with the radicals.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 07:01 PM   #37
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Was Andrew Johnson such a bad President, or was that he followed a nearly Godlike man like Abraham Lincoln, that no act could possibly follow?
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 07:07 PM   #38

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Was Andrew Johnson such a bad President, or was that he followed a nearly Godlike man like Abraham Lincoln, that no act could possibly follow?
Johnson was genuinely fundamentally unsuited to the office. Just on a personal level and not even talking about policy, he was petty, vindictive, cruel, short-sighted, arrogant, and deceptive, traits noted even by those who were more sympathetic to his political ends.
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Old December 23rd, 2017, 07:20 PM   #39

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Was Andrew Johnson such a bad President, or was that he followed a nearly Godlike man like Abraham Lincoln, that no act could possibly follow?
You're right that anybody would have had trouble filling Lincoln's shoes (not that everybody cared for Lincoln, by any means), but Johnson was very much the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Old December 24th, 2017, 05:49 AM   #40

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You're right that anybody would have had trouble filling Lincoln's shoes (not that everybody cared for Lincoln, by any means), but Johnson was very much the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As you say, it is worth remembering that even men like Lincoln, Washington, the Roosevelts, etc, were far from universally loved in their own time. Even in the North, Lincoln had many critics, and even from among those who shared his basic ideology and goals. A large part of this, of course, is that it is simply impossible to please everyone.
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