Since I am in the land of Lincoln, Presidents Day around here is focused more on Abe, especially on the 200th anniversary of his birth this year. I'm a history buff and the Civil War period is a special interest. I've been learning a lot more about that tall Illinoisan lately and it is fascinating.
In this age of knowledge and change, I think it's a good thing to dispel myths and untruths and teach the kids about the whole man and we adults may need to relearn some old lessons.
Abe Lincoln had always been held up as a saviour to the Black race. In school, I was taught Lincoln was a moralist who went against the South's slavers to free my people.
However, a closer more honest study shows the noble statesman we learned about in school to be a flawed man with many of the attitudes consistent with his times. Many claim Lincoln to be racist and a white supremest. This is debatable. But, I know he was no abolitionist. I believe that he freed the slaves to keep the Union together. That he was not for equal rights and wanted the freed slaves deported to Liberia or anywhere.
I also know there is evidence that he thought slavery to be morally wrong. And, I'm sure he knew that white America could not handle free and equal Blacks. I know that being a proponent of equal civil rights, couldn't get elected dog catcher. Lincoln being a master politician, knew that too.
Abe Lincoln grew and changed tremendously during his presidency. The Civil War, the bloodiest war in our nation's history, the fear of splitting the Union, and suffering and conflicts of slavery caused him to change.
I often wonder, if Lincoln had lived, how America would be different. He had begun to speak of equal rights. His speech suggesting equal voting rights may have been a catalyst to his assassination shortly after.
For me, the makings of a great leader is one who can learn and grow and do the right thing at crucial times. I am still learning about this American and I appreciate knowing him as a real person with conflicts rather than an icon on a pedestal.
How does the good, the bad and the ugly about Lincoln effect your feelings toward the 16th president and his historical legacy?