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Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
10-31-2013, 07:46 PM
Post: #1
Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
BBC documentary




‘I’ve danced at Abraham Lincoln’s birthday bash... I’ve peaked.’
Leigh Boswell - The Open Doorway.
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10-31-2013, 09:04 PM
Post: #2
RE: Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
In general, this isn't a bad documentary, but there are things which are wrong and which are overemphasized. From a nit-picking point of view, it made it appear that the election of 1858 was a direct election instead of a process that was performed by the legislature. I have to say that I could have done without Lerone Bennett, but with the emphasis that the filmmakers had, Bennett had to appear.

What saved the film was the appearances of David Blight, Eric Foner and Ira Berlin. The part with the Sons of Confederate Veterans was also ridiculous. I love how the man they interviewed talked about how northerners were there to "steal their goods." Those goods were human beings. And to use the term genocide...well, luckily they are a minority.

Also, use of the term deportation is wrong. As Foner pointed out, colonization was voluntary. Also, to call Lincoln a white supremacist is to put a 21st century pejorative term onto a 19th century person. The ideas behind it were prevalent in both the north and the south. There were even abolitionists who did not believe in equality.

Trotting out the Charleston debate comments is always done by those who dislike Lincoln, but what they fail to add is the comment Lincoln made after saying I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

Lincoln goes on to say

I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.

I think the best point came from Blight, when he said that we want our historical characters to be perfect. They aren't. There are things to our modern ears that sound terrible. We would be embarrassed to say them out loud. But I always go back to what Frederick Douglass, who certainly could be critical of Lincoln, said.

Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
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11-01-2013, 01:29 AM (This post was last modified: 11-01-2013 04:31 PM by My Name Is Kate.)
Post: #3
RE: Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
Was the UK in the 1860s any less guilty of the same racial prejudices that this documentary so emphasizes in Lincoln? The British Empire had abolished slavery, but what was their position on racial equality? Did they abolish slavery primarily because their economy was not as dependent on it, as part of America's economy was? What proportion of the UK's population was nonwhite in the 1860s?

The UK was still the world superpower at the time of the American Civil War, but after the war, America was in many ways, a more unified and stronger country, which helped it to usurp that role. Perhaps the UK would have preferred America to splinter into two or more nations. At least that wouldn't have disrupted the cotton trade between the two continents.

Nevertheless, it is true that Lincoln was not as ahead of his time as far as racial prejudices, as the American public may have been led to believe.
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11-01-2013, 07:31 AM
Post: #4
RE: Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
People of African origin have been part of English history since Roman times. In the last quarter of the 18th century England was home to a black population of between 10-15,000 people – mostly in major ports but also in market towns and villages across the country. Many worked as domestic servants both paid and unpaid – and it was often unclear whether they were free or not. The habit of giving slaves Roman names accounts for the large number of Scipios, Plinys and Caesars buried in churchyards across the country. Anglicised names are rare and African names rarer still. Notices for runaway slaves were a common feature of local newspapers during this period. Not all were slaves or servants. Black people worked as sailors, tradespeople of all kinds and in some cases as businessmen or musicians. Black writers played a role in the anti-slavery movement in England and famous activists like Olaudah Equiano and Ottobah Cugoano were pivotal to the movement in speaking and writing from their personal experience of the horrors of the trade.

No, I don't think the UK was any less guilty of prejudice - show me a country that isn't. But the workers of the cotton trade in the UK, bearing in mind that their whole livelihood depended on this product, were the ones who were most vehemently against slavery at any cost, even to themselves. On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery.

‘I’ve danced at Abraham Lincoln’s birthday bash... I’ve peaked.’
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http://earthkandi.blogspot.co.uk/
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11-01-2013, 02:53 PM (This post was last modified: 11-01-2013 02:54 PM by My Name Is Kate.)
Post: #5
RE: Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
(11-01-2013 07:31 AM)MaddieM Wrote:  No, I don't think the UK was any less guilty of prejudice - show me a country that isn't.

That was my point. Practically everybody at that time was prejudiced.

By December 31, 1862, it was beginning to look like the Union might win the war. It would have been foolish of the English cotton workers not to support it. That is just an observation, and not intended as proof that there was no altruism in the hearts of at least some of the workers.

http://sarahparkerremond.wordpress.com/2...blockades/

On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:

… the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain and the United States in close and enduring regards.

—Public Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester
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12-12-2013, 10:15 AM
Post: #6
RE: Lincoln, Saint or Sinner
(10-31-2013 09:04 PM)Rob Wick Wrote:  In general, this isn't a bad documentary, but there are things which are wrong and which are overemphasized. From a nit-picking point of view, it made it appear that the election of 1858 was a direct election instead of a process that was performed by the legislature. I have to say that I could have done without Lerone Bennett, but with the emphasis that the filmmakers had, Bennett had to appear.

What saved the film was the appearances of David Blight, Eric Foner and Ira Berlin. The part with the Sons of Confederate Veterans was also ridiculous. I love how the man they interviewed talked about how northerners were there to "steal their goods." Those goods were human beings. And to use the term genocide...well, luckily they are a minority.

Also, use of the term deportation is wrong. As Foner pointed out, colonization was voluntary. Also, to call Lincoln a white supremacist is to put a 21st century pejorative term onto a 19th century person. The ideas behind it were prevalent in both the north and the south. There were even abolitionists who did not believe in equality.

Trotting out the Charleston debate comments is always done by those who dislike Lincoln, but what they fail to add is the comment Lincoln made after saying I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

Lincoln goes on to say

I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.

I think the best point came from Blight, when he said that we want our historical characters to be perfect. They aren't. There are things to our modern ears that sound terrible. We would be embarrassed to say them out loud. But I always go back to what Frederick Douglass, who certainly could be critical of Lincoln, said.

Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.

Best
Rob

Rob:
I missed this reply when you posted it. I really want to shout "amen" to what you said. I admit it does get tiresome at times to address the same issue over and over again with those that want to take Lincoln's words out of context- or apply 21st century standards to Lincoln's era- but then again- that is part of our job as "Lincoln- nerds." Smile

Bill Nash
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