Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lincoln and the Black Man

During the 2008 presidential election a lot was said about the similarities between Barrack Obama and Abraham Lincoln. Most of them are pretty silly. They did both serve in the Illinois State House of Representatives before they were members of the US congress, but Obama ascended to the US Senate while Lincoln was a member of the US House of Representatives. Both of them only served one term before they became President. Their rapid rise to the presidency can probably be attributed their oratory skills. That is probably where the similarities end. For Obama's sake, I hope he gets to spend his latter years as an ex-President and does so for a very long time (something that Lincoln never got to do).

A lot has been said about Obama being the first black president, but Lincoln has a few firsts as well. Lincoln was the first and only president that had no declared religion. He occasionally attended church and referred to God and the Bible often in speeches, but had no declared religion. Like many of the Founding Fathers before him, he was a deist. God for him was a distant faceless entity that had no affect on mankind's daily affairs. He probably wouldn't get elected today for this reason alone.

He was also the first president to have free black men meet with him as President. He met with Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas as equals. Prior to that point, the only blacks that had ever been in the White House were slaves. One of Lincoln's pet project was trying to help freed slaves relocate to Panama. He had secured land in a section of Panama called Chiriquí, but it fell through because the slaves didn't want it. They were Americans and wanted to stay.

Lincoln didn't support the full citizenship of black men. He later changed his mind during the Civil War when he saw how hard some of the black soldiers were working and how affective they were as soldiers. He was inspire so he changed his mind and believed that black soldiers and educated blacks should be accepted as citizens and be allowed to vote. You really have to wonder how different the Reconstruction would have been if Lincoln would have survived.

No comments: