Monday, February 15, 2016

Belief, Truth and Legend surrounding a U.S. President

On this day, honouring former U.S. Presidents Washington and Lincoln, I forgo the inducements of mass marketing and will not be buying a new mattress but instead use one act of Abraham Lincoln to illuminate the hazard of belief and how complacent acceptance of legend obscures Truth.

I can recall being an elementary school child learning about the War Between the States being fought for the abolition of slavery. Further, that it was Abraham Lincoln who sought to uphold the American ideals and who “freed the slaves” via the Emancipation Proclamation.

I can also recall from more recent times a conversation between a retired school teacher and my son while he was in elementary school. This occurred after he made a conflicting statement during the conversation between her and me. She instructed him that if he should ever be taught something in school that is contrary to what he is taught by his father to believe what his father teaches him.

That was a valid statement because I do not fear Truth. The government agencies, invested parties, and society in general are often opposed to Truth and fear the results of children attaining knowledge. Invalid authority has a long standing tradition of opposing Truth which shows no signs of waning. In the instruction of children the curriculum decision is contentious. I once sat on a board that would help determine the instructional content to students. By the time it got to my level there was little influence but opposition to Truth was still emanating from the group. Truth is simple, as it is demonstrated about Abraham Lincoln.

While it is not explicitly taught, when pressured and presented with citation, any person knowledgeable about Lincoln will admit, contrary to lore, that he was a white supremacist. In 1858 while campaigning in Charleston, Illinois Lincoln revealed his feeling about the black race to an audience by 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.”[en1]

Cleary Abraham Lincoln was a self-proclaimed white supremacist as it would be difficult to find a way to be more clear about how one derives a white supremacist position. But, at first blush, this appears to be a contradiction to his later Emancipation Proclamation that you may have been told “freed the slaves”. W.E.B. Du Bois wrote that Lincoln was one huge jumble of contradictions: “he was big enough to be inconsistent -- cruel, merciful; peace-loving, a fighter; despising Negroes and letting them fight and vote; protecting slavery and freeing slaves. He was a man—a big, inconsistent, brave man.”[en2] But his white supremacist ideology and the Emancipation Proclamation are not as odds. Two classes of people can coexist within a legal framework that grants sovereignty to each while still granting to one legal privilege over the other. It is more important to see the Emancipation Proclamation in the context of Lincoln the Northerner.

The Emancipation Proclamation begins;
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”[en3][emphasis added]

In effect it deprived the sovereign Confederate States of America from using the labour of slaves to support its defense against the invading northern forces while maintaining slavery in the United States where Lincoln who desired “having the superior position assigned to the white race” resided.

The issue of slavery only became intermingled with The War Between the States after Abraham Lincoln, the advocate of a powerful central government and dictatorial powers assigned to the President, succumbed to the reality that his Democrat Party must concede to slavery prohibition. Coupled with the realization that the French may enter the war Lincoln changed his tune on his publicly displayed white supremacist attitude.

The legend of Lincoln as a heroic liberator of enslaved black men is held onto by beliefs of people who don’t want to have to admit that they have honoured a tyrant although those clearly conflict with Truth.

Truth is actual and acceptance of Truth while shedding belief provides to one the freedom to act in a manner void of dissonance and the unhealthy side effects. The healthful individual is one who seeks and promotes Truth regardless of belief and thus reaps the benefits.

1] Fourth Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Charleston, Illinois 18 September 1858. Obtained from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, pp. 145-146.
2] Du Bois, W.E.B., The Crisis, May 1922
3] Obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration 14 February 2016.

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