History

Was Lincoln More Racist Than Trump?

It sounds like a ridiculous question to compare the two. One freed the slaves, the other gave us a...

It sounds like a ridiculous question to compare the two. One freed the slaves, the other gave us a huge increase in mass incarceration, banned Muslims, separated immigrant children from their families at the Southern border and proudly calls Elizabeth Warren, “Pocahontas.” It shouldn’t even be a question, right? Let’s take a look at Lincoln in his own words. Those famous Lincoln-Douglas debates give us more than enough reason to look at Honest Abe in a different light. You might believe with all your heart that Trump feels white people are superior to blacks. Lincoln said it out loud, several times: “I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” Summing up, he had no plans to interfere with slavery, believed that “physical differences” must keep us apart and white people were the superior race. ANd it wasn’t just physical differences. Let’s look at what else Lincoln says: “I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.” How do you juxtapose this Lincoln with he of the Emancipation Proclamation? Simple, he never cared about freeing the slaves, he was trying to win a war. Emancipating slaves, only those slaves in states that had seceded from the Union, was about hurting the economy from those states and keeping France and Britain from an alliance with the South. Lest anyone think Lincoln is being taken out of context, during the fourth debate he made himself quite clear in a way impossible to misinterpret: “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, [applause]-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.” Black people shouldn’t vote, serve on juries, or hold political office. Black people should never achieve social and political equality and never marry outside their race. As much as any other man, he believed in the superiority of the white race. To be fair, he would not deny the black man everything and said as much: “I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.” Unfortunately in the same section of his speech he made himself clear: “I will add to this that I have never seen, to my knowledge, a man, woman or child who was in favor of producing a perfect equality, social and political, between negroes and white men.” Lincoln did free the slaves, but what were his plans for them after their manumission. On different occasions, he expressed a desire to send them all “back to Liberia,” or to have them colonize Central America. This is in keeping with his understanding that blacks were not worthy of social and political equality and that he knew of no white person that thought so. Slavery would have gone on unabated throughout his Presidency had the war not required he end it. “The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy the right of property in a slave.” Lincoln and Trump lived at different times, although one must wonder what era is speaking of when he speaks of making America great again? Perhaps Lincoln was highly enlightened for his day? There’s no suggestion that applies to Trump. Lincoln was assassinated less than two months into his second term. Who knows what direction he might have taken the country given another 46 months in office. Trump in almost 29 months in office has divided America along racial lines. He had a running start having promoted the “birther” theory in attacks on the nations first black President, Barack Obama. There’s no way to make a true comparison of the two men as to who was the most racist. Lincoln isn’t so far out of the running that it wouldn’t be a race.

Written by William Spivey
There's the writer I am and the writer I long to be. I write about race, politics, and education. I long to be a Sci/Fi/Fantasy writer, incorporating race, politics, and education, as part of an epic tale pitting good vs. evil on a vast scale. I'm shopping that book to literary agents. Putting that out in the universe. Until then, I want my voice to be heard and to make a difference. Profile

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