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Location: Iowa City, Iowa, United States

Born in Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, Va. (now W.Va.), April 1, 1781. Served in the U.S. Army during the War of 1812; member of Ohio state house of representatives, 1808-09, 1831-32; member of Ohio state senate, 1814-22, 1824-30; Governor of Ohio, 1832-36; defeated, 1830; Governor of Iowa Territory, 1838-41; candidate for U.S. Representative from Ohio, 1842; delegate to Iowa state constitutional convention from Johnson County, 1844. Methodist. Member, Freemasons. Died February 7, 1853. Interment at Oakland Cemetery, Iowa City, Iowa. Lucas counties in Iowa and Ohio are named for me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Lincoln's Priorities

Cherie Nelson had this to say in the Waterloo Courier:

Then there were the infamous quotes by Leon Mosley, one of Black Hawk County's Board of Supervisors.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's Abraham Lincoln (speaking of President George W. Bush). Abraham Lincoln freed the blacks, and he's freeing the Iraqis and Afghan people."

I made it a point to seek clarification from Mosley.

We disagreed.

He supports his quote to credit Lincoln with freeing the slaves; however, he does acknowledge that Lincoln only did so to regain control of the Union.

I exhaled in relief.

There was a time when all students were taught Lincoln was the "Great Emancipator" who freed the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation, they also learned, was a critical important step in achieving that goal.

But I reminded Mosley that I was from the Land of Lincoln --- the state of Illinois--- and my senior year of high school we learned to believe Lincoln was not motivated by a commitment to end slavery.

The proof is in his famous letter to Horace Greeley in which he quotes " ... my paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. And if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."

Once my contemporary American history senior class was made aware of this quote, from a president we had been taught to love and respect, we learned to question other significant events in our history.

While Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation came after my time, I would have supported such a thing. Remember, I left the Democrats over slavery and joined the Whigs just before my death. And as we all know the Whigs essentially morphed into the Republican party.

But Miss Nelson bastardizes Lincoln and trivializes history by citing that letter to Horace Greeley in her modern, historically-inept way of trying to insinuate that Lincoln was a racist. Miss Nelson is full of more crap than a constipated bull.

Lincoln swore to uphold the Union - not free the slaves, but the Emancipation Proclamation was an excellent multi-purpose document:

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."

Despite this expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally transformed the character of the war. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

From the first days of the Civil War, slaves had acted to secure their own liberty. The Emancipation Proclamation confirmed their insistence that the war for the Union must become a war for freedom. It added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to slavery's final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom.
It seems shameful that a black woman like Miss Nelson would want to trivialize Abraham Lincoln's accomplishments. Going to war to unite a country while liberating an entire race is not easy work, but he Lincoln accomplished it and paid for it with his life. She should be grateful, even if she is an outrageous partisan of the Democrat variety.

Yes, Lincoln was no militant abolitionist, but he was never in favor of slavery - and publicly opposed it as far back as 1837 when he was an elected member of the lower House in the Illinois Legislature. He even tried to get it outlawed in the District Of Columbia as far back as 1849. As President, DC was the first place Lincoln abolished slavery - in 1862.

Only a dimwitted idiot would try to put today's political hegemony and spin on issues from 153 years ago, and I believe Miss Cherie Nelson certainly qualifies as one.