A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
It is President’s Day, once again, and I’m not participating … again.
I do not like the idea of celebrating all our presidents. Lord knows we have had some absolutely horrid presidents, including the current occupant of the Oval Office.
The past president I particularly abhor is … wait for it … Abraham Lincoln.
Yes, indeed, I AM a SOUTHERNER. I am the proud descendant of Confederate soldiers who fought the troops of the US government for the very rights the same federal government is depriving ALL the states of today.
Had the American Civil War been about slavery, alone, the war would not have been necessary.
Remember, of all slave-holding and slave-trafficking countries on the globe at the time, America was the ONLY one to abolish slavery through war! THE ONLY ONE!
I mentioned above that I am no admirer of Lincoln. In fact, when passing a five-dollar bill to a cashier, I will turn the bill upside down so that Lincoln’s visage might not accidentally pollute my consciousness.
There was a time, when I was a child, that I felt differently about Lincoln. But I grew up. When I became a man, I put away childish things. I also made it my business to learn all I could about the “sainted” Lincoln. THAT’S when I changed my mind about who, and what, Lincoln really was.
First, and foremost, Lincoln was a politician. That, alone, should throw up all sorts of red flags.
If you are still with me at this point, then let’s look at the REAL Lincoln and THEN you decide, for yourself, which is true … real history … or revised history.
Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible [sic] in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to 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. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
Do you detect the slightest bit of political “double talk” in Lincoln’s letter? Never forget, Lincoln was, first and foremost, a politician! If you had ANY doubt, this letter to Greeley ought to dispel it.
Some of us WILL be celebrating President’s Day here in the Southland. President Jefferson Davis was inaugurated 150 years ago, last week, in Montgomery Alabama.