To the Editor:
In Mr. Daley’s fine letter summarizing why the Republican party is not racist [Mid Rivers Newsmagazine, April 20], he includes as an example, “Lincoln and the Union army ending horrendous slavery.” Taken alone that example implies revisionist history. Ending slavery was not their intent.
The Emancipation Proclamation came two years into the war, and freed no slaves at the time. It had five war effort purposes. Ending slavery was not one of them. Its purpose was to weaken the enemy’s ability to continue the fight.
If the South had sought only to preserve slavery, they would not have seceded from Lincoln’s Union. Slavery was state law, not federal law. Lincoln offered to keep his hands off slavery. The Republican-dominated Congress passed the Corwin Amendment to make slavery perpetual. There had never been a bill presented in Congress to end slavery. By his own words, Lincoln sought to keep the slave-based economy because it was supplying three-fourths of the revenue to the federal budget.
Slavery ended and citizenship was granted to freedmen seven months after the war ended and after Lincoln’s death. It was a war that Lincoln anticipated would last only a few weeks – or else he probably would not have begun that worst chapter in American history. It resulted in destroying the very thing he sought to keep – the South’s economy. When slavery did end, it was for Republican political greed and votes. It did not end for humane reasons.
As for the Union army, that was the first instance of government-enforced racial segregation in this country. Black units were reportedly used as cannon fodder to determine the enemy’s gun positions and were not paid equally with whites. The Republican administration then imposed social racial segregation in the former Confederate states, where it remained in effect for the next century and through many administrations of both parties.
Lincoln’s Whig/Republican party and the Democratic party of the mid-19th century have somehow reversed themselves in political theory over the decades. Republicans should not be bragging about being “the party of Lincoln” because by today’s standards he’d be a socialist Democrat. Given false credit for ending slavery by his surviving radical cabinet – the winning side’s attempt to justify an unjust war by providing a [false] morale cause – my guess is that Lincoln was rolling over in his casket even before his funeral train reached Springfield. Rolling over perhaps to the tune of “Dixie,” his favorite song.