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I happened upon a glowing review of Spielberg's Lincoln, but, instead of the film, it led me to read up on the real events on Wikipedia: the genesis of the Emancipation Proclamation, and earlier the origins of the Civil War.

What surprised me was just how hypocritical and distortive the modern Southern myth of Lincoln's dublicity is. (A myth I encountered argued frequently on web forums and believed to be at least partly true.) I mean:

  • there is all the emphasis on states' rights, whereas all the seceding states explicitly or implicitly argued for states' rights with slavery as the only or main right to defend;
  • there is the economic narrative of the industrial North pursuing tariffs which strangle the agrarian economy of the South, but this conflict went both ways (Southern majorities forced rate reductions that hurt Northern industries) and the tariff issue barely appeared in actual secessionist rhetoric;
  • slavery was actually a strategic advantage for the South prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, because the bulk of the workforce running the export economy wasn't drafted into the army and continued work at full capacity;
  • there is the claim that Lincoln wasn't a principled opponent of slavery. I found this originates in a mis-interpretation of a letter in which he makes a distinction between his Presidential objectives and private opinion and which was actually part of a political maneuvering intended to get grudging support for emancipation from Northern war supporters only interested in national unity;
  • many a web warrior is outraged at Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus to persecute political opponents, but apparently forget that the Confederates did the same (not to mention lack of PoW treatment for blacks among captured Union soldiers).


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 03:48:29 PM EST
Also a huge railroad connection with Lincoln. He supported the transcontinental railroad as part of his engagement with the moneyed railroad interests to provide political funding in exchange for monopolistic control of transportation and shipping.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo53.html

by asdf on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 04:21:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was aware of Lincoln's connections to railroad baron circles from his time as lawyer first and that's what gave me pause when reading the anti-Lincoln ranting years ago. But now I wonder whether this picture, too, needs some revision (your libertarian link also reminds me of Ayn Rand's take on the railroad barons).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 05:20:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well indeed. The financial disaster that was the end of the internal improvements programme of Illinois looks like the life lesson that inspired the federal land grants for railroads, with the stratospheric level of corruption as unintended consequence.

I also found this essay on Lincoln's railroad cases, written by a law and history professor. It also includes this part:

It is important to keep Lincoln's representation of railroads in perspective. In fact, Lincoln also regularly brought suit against railroads on behalf of individual clients. He instituted actions against carriers for nonpayment of supplies and for assessment of damages when land was taken by eminent domain.

...after several examples, this sections ends with the conclusion:

By the same token, it is an exaggeration to conclude, as historian Edward Pessen has done, that Lincoln was an "attorney for banks, insurance companies, gas companies, large mercantile firms, and manufacturers." It is at best only partially accurate to present Lincoln as a corporate attorney. Although he represented railroads and businesses, he also sued them. As another historian has pointed out, Lincoln "still took business as it came, and opposed the corporate interests as often as he represented them." This leads to the question of whether Lincoln was in fact a hired gun. Perhaps the last word on this point should go to Lincoln's longtime legal partner, Herndon, who accurately declared that Lincoln was "purely and entirely a case lawyer."


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 06:45:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough, even though railroads are substantially reduced in importance here compared to earlier in the century, much of the legal infrastructure remains in place. A buddy of mine is working with his local community to fight a proposal by a shortline railroad (length 15 miles) to put in a propane storage station right next to a residential area. The local people can't make legal headway because the federal railroad exemption puts strict limits on what can be done to constrain railroad activities...

http://www.telegram.com/article/20130121/NEWS/101219962/-1/NEWS04

by asdf on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 10:04:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas DiLorenzo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Southern Poverty Law Center considers DiLorenzo one of the most important intellectuals "who form the core of the modern neo-Confederate movement." They believe DiLorenzo's depiction of president Abraham Lincoln paints Lincoln as a "paragon of wickedness, a man secretly intent on destroying states' rights and building a massive federal government."[11]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 05:21:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The southerners are sore because one of the big factors in the war was that the northern railroads had standardized on standard gauge, while the south still had a mix of incompatible local standards. Being a railroad guy is just another mark against Lincoln in their viewpoint...
by asdf on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 06:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So a bunch of racist right wing sickbags are revealed to be hypocrites and liars with a casual attitude towards history.

And you are surprised in what way ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Jan 25th, 2013 at 05:11:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, yeah. The amount of distortion from the pro-confederate side has struck me also as noticable. Not that others don't hold their favourite versions of events but it is usually things more open to interpretation.

When it comes to Lincoln I think it is pretty clear that he was an opponent of slavery that ran as a moderate (ie without intent to do much about it) that got the opportunity to abolish slavery by the actions of the Confederacy.

Speaking of the Confederacy and slavery. Years ago I read (in what I remmeber as a credible book) that at the end of the war the Davis administration had a plan to bolster the army by giving freedom to slaves that fought for the Confederacy. Far as I remember it did not amount to any troops on the ground, but when I tried to check the details of it I just ran into lots and lots of pro-Confederate pages without substance. So does this ring a bell for anyone here?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jan 26th, 2013 at 07:13:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I understand a confederate general proposed to free slaves willing to fight in the confederate army. Time-frame: somewhere after the emancipation declaration, when deserting slaves became a bigger problem for the south.

But he was put down because the war wuold then have lost it's purpose.

Two or three months before the end of the war Jefferson Davies and his cabinet then relented and introduced this possibility, but there was sparse practical application.

by IM on Sat Jan 26th, 2013 at 11:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I came across that yesterday on Wikipedia:

Slavery in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In spite of the South's shortage of manpower, until 1865, most Southern leaders opposed arming slaves as soldiers. However, a few Confederates discussed arming slaves, and some free blacks had offered to fight for the South. Finally in early 1865 General Robert E. Lee said black soldiers were essential, and legislation was passed. The first black units were in training when the war ended in April.[102]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jan 26th, 2013 at 02:33:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks. Think I looked at that article, but overlooked the paragraph. Bruce C. Levine, Confederate Emancipation, googling gave a number of reviews one of which leads back to the topic at hand.

Alterdestiny: Book Review: Bruce Levine, Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War

Levine also usefully discusses the origins of the Lost Cause myth. He shows that it started immediately after the war. Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens denied that slavery had anything to do with the war. As early as 1867, ex-slaveholders started invoking the myth that they got along beautifully with blacks before the war and that race relations would have processed dandily had the North not interfered. That continued for a century, promoted by Confederate sympathizers in the decades after the war. By the 1890s, the new historical profession, led by people who fully imbibed in the pro-Confederate ideas of the time, placed these ideas in their books, creating the historical narrative for race relations and the Civil War until the 1960s


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Jan 26th, 2013 at 02:54:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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