Saturday, November 17, 2012

Exaggerations about Lincoln

Abraham Lincolon (Library of Congress)
[Editor's Note - This is the first in a series of excerpts from
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BEFORE R, E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, AT RICHMOND, VA., ON OCTOBER 29TH, 1909, BY HON. GEORGE L. CHRISTIAN.” which is in response to Steven Spielberg's movie,  "Lincoln," which is a  very one sided view, and historically very debatable, presentation.]
Col. Donn Piatt (Library of
            In all our reading, we know of no man whose merits have been so exaggerated and whose demerits have been so minimized as have those of Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, this course has been so insistently and persistently pursued by some Northern writers that it amounts to a patent perversion of the truth, and a positive fraud on the public. General Don Piatt, an officer in the Federal Army, a man of character and culture, says: "With us, when a leader dies, all good men go to lying about him. * * * Abraham Lincoln has almost disappeared from human knowledge. I hear of him, and I read of him in eulogies and biographies, but I fail to recognize the man I knew in life." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 36-7 ; Men Who Saved the Union, p. 28.)

William Herdon
(Library of Congress)
          William H. Herndon, Mr. Lincoln's close friend and law partner for twenty years, who, we are informed, wrote a biography of him in 1866, which is said to have been bought up and suppressed, simply because it told the unvarnished truth, said : "I deplore the many publications pretending to be biographies of Lincoln, which teemed from the press so long as there was hope for gain. Out of the mass of these works, of only one (Holland's) is it possible to speak with any degree of respect." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 37; Lamon's Preface, iii.)

Ward H. Lamon
(Library of Congress)
         And Ward Hill Lamon, who was Mr. Lincoln's close friend and at one time his law partner, who was especially selected by Mr. Lincoln to accompany him on his midnight journey to the capitalwhen he was to be inaugurated, who was appointed by him marshal of the District of Columbia, who was probably his closest and most confidential friend and adviser during his whole official life, says immediately after his assassination, "there was the fiercest rivalry as to who should canonize him in the most solemn words, who should compare him to the most sacred character in all history. He was prophet, priest and king. He was Washington. He was Moses. He was likened to Christ the Redeemer. He was likened to God." (Facts and Falsehoods, p. 9; Lamon, 312.)
           Again says Lamon: "Lincoln's apotheosis was not only planned but executed by men who were unfriendly to him while he lived, and that the deification took place with showy magnificence some time after the great man's lips were sealed in death. Men who had exhausted the resources of their skill and ingenuity in venomous detraction of the living Lincoln, especially during the last
years of his life, were the first when the assassin's bullet had closed the career of the great-hearted statesman to undertake the self-imposed task of guarding his memory not as a human being endowed with mighty intellect and extraordinary virtues, but as a god" (Lamon's Recollections of Lincoln, p.
            And again he says : For days and nights after his assassination "it was considered treason to be seen in public with a smile on the face. Men who spoke evil of the fallen chief, or ventured a doubt
concerning the ineffable purity and saintliness of his life, were pursued by mobs, were beaten to death with paving stones, or strung up by the neck to lamp posts." (Lamon, 312.) We shall attempt to show you that this whole apotheosis business not only took place, as Lamon says, after Mr. Lincoln's assassination, and because of the manner of his death, but why it was begun then, and has continued until this day.
           We have already said that Mr. Lincoln was the first President of the Republican party. He was the official head of that party through the most terrible and trying conflict recorded in history. The leaders of that party were, and are still, in need of a real hero. They knew that they and their conduct would be judged by the character and conduct of their official head. The country was stunned and dazed by the assassination of this leader the first assassination of the kind in its history. The South was prostrate and helpless at the feet of the North, and its leaders charged with complicity in that awful crime. That time, of all others, afforded the leaders of the Republican party always quick and bold in action the opportunity to deify this its first President ; and those leaders, with a stroke of audacity and genius never surpassed, seized upon that opportunity and manufactured a false glamour with which they have surrounded the name and fame of their chosen head calculated to deceive the "very elect"; and they have so persisted in their efforts in this direction, from that day to this,
that the lapse of nearly half a century has failed to dispel the delusions manufactured at that time and amid these surroundings by these people. Mr. Lincoln is credited with the saying: "You can fool some of the people all the time; you can fool all the people some of the time, but it is impossible to fool all the people all the time."
           We believe the time is coming, if it is not already here, when the scales will fall from the eyes of a great many in regard to the true history and character of this chosen hero of the North.

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