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 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.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (They Were All About Slavery)


The series of seven debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A Douglas is held up as a standard of American democracy. Every school child was taught about how great and important they were, mostly without ever knowing what they debated about. The single topic that mattered was slavery and related themes like the recent Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court which said that slaves had no rights whatsoever.

The format was different than the debates we’re accustomed to. One speaker would go first, speaking an hour. The second would speak for an hour and a half, then the first speaker would have a half-hour to respond. Douglas and Lincoln alternated going first at each location. In some ways, the debates were highly recognizable, the first speaker making representations about his opponent, the other calling him a liar.

Douglas tried to paint Lincoln as an abolitionist. Lincoln did his best to let people know that while he was a Republican, he had no love for slaves and didn’t mince words saying so. I’ve critiqued current day Republicans who call themselves, “The Party of Lincoln,” but maybe they’re right after all. I encourage everyone to read the full text of the seven debates. If Lincoln had his way… I’ll let him speak for himself.

THE FIRST DEBATE — OTTAWA, ILLINOIS

“What next? Free them, and make them politically and socially our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and if mine would, we well know that those of the great mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole question, if, indeed, it is any part of it. A universal feeling, whether well or ill-founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We cannot, then, make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.”

“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.”

“I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.”

SECOND DEBATE — FREEPORT, ILLINOIS

“ I do not now, or ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union.

“ I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.”

“ I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave-trade between the different States.”

“ I have never hesitated to say, and I do not now hesitate to say, that I think, under the Constitution of the United States, the people of the Southern States are entitled to a Congressional Fugitive Slave law.”

THIRD DEBATE — JONESBORO, ILLINOIS

“ Let me ask you why many of us who are opposed to slavery upon principle, give our acquiescence to a Fugitive Slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it.”

FOURTH DEBATE — Charleston, ILLINOIS

“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. 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 every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. 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.”

FIFTH DEBATE — GALESBURG, ILLINOIS

“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.”

SIXTH DEBATE — QUINCY, ILLINOIS

“I read an extract from an old speech of mine, made nearly four years ago, not merely to show my sentiments, but to show that my sentiments were long entertained and openly expressed; in which extract I expressly declared that my own feelings would not admit a social and political equality between the white and black races, and that even if my own feelings would admit of it, I still knew that the public sentiment of the country would not and that such a thing was an utter impossibility, or substantially that.”

SEVENTH DEBATE — ALTON, ILLINOIS

“I never have complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it held that a negro could not be a citizen, and the Judge is always wrong when he says I ever did so complain of it. I have the speech here, and I will thank him or any of his friends to show where I said that a negro should be a citizen, and complained especially of the Dred Scott decision because it declared he could not be one. I have done no such thing, and Judge Douglas so persistently insisting that I have done so, has strongly impressed me with the belief of a predetermination on his part to misrepresent me. He could not get his foundation for insisting that I was in favor of this negro equality any where else as well he could by assuming that untrue proposition. Let me tell this audience what is true in regard to that matter; and the means by which they may correct me if I do not tell them truly is by a recurrence to the speech itself. I spoke of the Dred Scott decision in my Springfield speech, and I was then endeavoring to prove that the Dred Scott decision was a portion of a system or scheme to make slavery national in this country. I pointed out what things had been decided by the court. I mentioned as a fact that they had decided that a negro could not be a citizen-that they had done so, as I supposed, to deprive the negro, under all circumstances, of the remotest possibility of ever becoming a citizen and claiming the rights of a citizen of the United States under a certain clause of the Constitution. I stated that, without making any complaint of it at all. I then went on and stated the other points decided in the case, namely: that the bringing of a negro into the State of Illinois and holding him in slavery for two years here was a matter in regard to which they would not decide whether it would make him free or not; that they decided the further point that taking him into a United States Territory where slavery was prohibited by act of Congress, did not make him free, because that act of Congress, as they held, was unconstitutional.”

Please keep in mind that throughout these debates, Lincoln was the most favorable towards the elimination of slavery. I have no reason to doubt his claim he was personally opposed to the institution. However, he makes quite clear he was willing to accept its existence in the places it already existed. He agreed the Fugitive Slave Law was constitutional, he acknowledged the Constitutionality of the Dred Scott decision. He thought the slave morally and intellectually inferior and has at various times advocated they might all be sent to Liberia (but for the notion they’d be unable to survive there and would all die) or sent to colonize Central America.

Lincoln did eventually present The Emancipation Proclamation, not out of any conviction it was the right thing to do but to hurt the economy of the South and keep the recently enlightened France and Britain from forming an alliance with the South. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were very informative but have been misrepresented as to their greatness. It was as if George Wallace debated Strom Thurmond on what to do with the Negro. Read Lincoln’s words and let me know how much of a hero he was. It’s probably worth noting that Lincoln lost that Senate race.

How the Party of Lincoln Became the Party of Trump?


For those that don’t know, the Republican Party truly has a history of which it can be proud. Its formation came from opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which would have allowed local determination on slavery as opposed to the previous balance of free and slave states struck under the Missouri Compromise of 1850. You might wonder why it mattered to Democrats whether new territories/states embraced slavery or not? I’ll get to that, but it’s important to know that a lot of profits would be made with the expansion of slavery.

After the Civil War, Republicans became known as, “The Party of Lincoln,” responsible for freeing the slaves. Lincoln was personally against slavery and was President when the slaves were freed. But he would have been quite content to allow slavery to continue in the Southern states and in the territories like Missouri where it existed if it would have prevented war. He would have been equally content to send the slaves back to Africa and once had a plan for them to colonize Central America, never once desiring to see slaves reach social equality with white men.

“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,”

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863, not because of his great desire to free the slaves. In fact, the Proclamation did not free slaves in border states Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky. It only applied to those states that seceded from the Union. Even then it was a strategy to keep France and England from forming an alliance with the South who had more to offer in trade (Cotton) and was more financially sound. By abolishing slavery, the North was more in tune with the countries that had recently banned slavery themselves.

Back to the profitability of slavery. The Founders in Article 1; Section 9 of the Constitution, forbade the outlawing the importation of slaves before the year 1808.

“ The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.”

Congress indeed outlawed the International Slave Trade immediately after it was allowed by the Constitution, but not from any abhorrence to slavery. They would have abolished slavery altogether if that were the case. Their action was one of protectionism to ensure higher prices for Domestic slaves. America was now able to produce enough slaves on its own due to the practice of breeding slaves much like cattle on farms in Virginia, Maryland, and a few other states. There came a point where the “crop” of slavery produced more revenue in Virginia than tobacco.

View at Medium.com

When the Civil War ended, the Republicans were firmly in power and the role of Democrats was severely diminished. Many of the freed slaves, despite the one-time promise of receiving 40 acres and a mule. Watched almost all land in the South returned to the former owners. Many slaves were forced into agreements to work on their former plantations in arrangements not so different than slavery. Some though, with the protection of the Federal Troops remaining in the South, became politically active, ran for office, opened businesses and purchased land. This was the era called Reconstruction during which the freed slaves were making advances towards equality. As long as the troops were there to protect them.

In 1876, there was a contested Presidential Election which it appeared the Democrats had won. They won the popular vote and were one short of the Electoral votes needed to claim victory with the votes of three states contested, Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Ultimately, in the Compromise of 1877. It was agreed that the Electoral votes would be awarded to Republican, Rutherford B. Hayes on the condition that Federal troops would be removed from the South. Once the troops were gone, Democrats and the Klan (often one and the same) erased all the gains of the freed slaves, ended Reconstruction, and implemented Jim Crow which was as close to reinstituting slavery as they could manage. It was the beginning of the Republican decline towards where they are now, as they sold out the former slaves they once championed and began to look away.

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times there are not forgotten

Look away

Look away

Look away

Dixieland

Not enough to simply refuse to address the violence and retribution being carried out in the South. In 1878, now President Rutherford B. Hayes gave us the Posse Comitatus Act, ensuring that never again would Federal troops be stationed in the South to protect the black men and women they once purported to champion. You could make a good case that the Republican Party stopped being what they called, “The Party of Lincoln, in 1878.

After the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women gained the right to vote (including black women) but a concentrated effort including violence ensured that votes of black men and women, especially in the South, barely mattered. Republicans did what they were accustomed to doing, they looked away. They still called themselves the Party of Lincoln, taking credit for acts long ago, that the current Party wouldn’t dream of.

It was the Democrats that helped turn the Republicans into what they are today. With the passage of Civil and Voting Rights Acts in the 1960s. There was a steady flow of “Dixiecrats” from the Democrat to the Republican Party. Dixiecrats included the Klan and the White Councils and the various organizations of White Knights. To be sure, some stayed behind in the Democrat Party, but the majority left and became Republicans. They were embraced with open arms. Democrat President Lyndon Johnson was alleged to have said.

“We have lost the South for a generation!”

It didn’t happen immediately, Democrats did quite well for some time in the South, helping elect two Southern Democrats to the Presidency, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. It took the election of the first black President, Barack H Obama, to remind the South of who they really were. Trump carried the South. Capitalizing on the Southern Strategy popularized by Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips, improved by Lee Atwater for George H. W. Bush. improved by George W Bush, and absorbed by Steve Bannon and Donald J Trump.

Republicans bristle at the suggestion that their party is racist. Certainly, not all of them are. Some of their policies bear a striking resemblance to others from years past. Voter suppression tactics are remarkably similar, the more things change, the more they stay the same. As Republicans have stood by while white supremacists have offices in the White House. They implement Muslim bans, child separation, gerrymandering, redistricting, charter schools which greater enable segregation. When you look at what the leaders and members of the Party do as Trump rolls on. It’s what they’ve done since 1878, they look away.

Republicans: From The Party Of Lincoln; To The Party Of Putin, Trump, And David Duke

a a a a a a a a a a a lincoln

Republicans like to refer to themselves as, “The Party of Lincoln.” This typically comes in response to questions about racism in an attempt to deflect any charges of discrimination today by referring to their long-ago stance. When the Republican Party formed, their first platform resisted the expansion of slavery into new states and territories. The Party’s initial founders were abolitionists, an anti-slavery faction of the Whig Party, and the Free-Soil wing of the Democrat Party. Say what you will about Republicans now, they once stood for something positive, not so much today.

Lincoln himself gets all the credit for ending slavery but given his way, he’d have allowed slavery to continue where it already existed. At his first Inauguration Address, he said, “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.” He also supported the return of slaves to Africa. The Emancipation Proclamation was less about granting freedom to the slaves than it was about hurting the South’s economy and keeping France and Britain from siding with the South whom economically they were inclined to.

Despite Lincoln’s personal ambivalence, the Republican Party was a major factor in the ending of slavery and the environment that led to Reconstruction. Unfortunately, they gave away their claim of moral superiority when in the Compromise of 1877, in trade for winning a disputed Presidential election. They agreed to remove Federal troops from the South which directly let to the end of Reconstruction and the imposition of Jim Crow. The Republican Party’s last claim to be the Party of Lincoln died in 1877.

Fast-forward to the present. The most recent Republican platform includes language changing the previous Republican position favorably to Russia. There has never been a satisfactory explanation as to who, how, and why. The Republicans who controlled oversight in Congress in the House and the Senate have looked away. Their response to a President and Administration who has had multiple secret meetings with Russians and Russian intelligence has been either muted, standing by watching, or a full-throated defense. The more information that becomes public about Trump and associates ties to Russia and private communications, the more the Party that tied itself to national security, at best looks the other way.

Republican legislators have foresworn any priorities other than getting re-elected. This means looking away as he separates children from families, shuts down the government, and destroys the economy with his trade wars and dramatic increase of the national debt. They perhaps console themselves with the tax cuts which benefit them personally and court appointments which protect the class they are part of.

Republicans rage at being portrayed as racist. They don’t mind their Party being racist in their policies but find being called racist offensive. I’m not saying all or even most Republicans are racist. I’m saying they have created an environment where racists are welcome and in fact, pander to them to ensure their continued support at the polls. To avoid the appearance of promoting racism, the Republican House leadership just stripped Rep. Steve King (IA) from his committee assignments after wondering how white nationalism and white supremacy got a bad name? They were shocked, shocked, to find out King harbored racist sentiments, though he’d been expressing them openly for decades. The President makes racist statements all the time, where is the outrage?

Whatever you think of the Republican Party, they have long ceased to be the Party of Lincoln. Depending on the need they now are meeting the needs of Vladimir Putin, Donald J Trump, and David Duke. Parties can and do change. A look at the past of the Democrat Party shows a history of racism, more violent than Republicans have engaged in. When Republicans allowed Jim Crow in 1877, Democrats instituted it. The Democrats changed dramatically in the 1960s when dissatisfaction with the Voting Rights Act and Civil Rights Act caused many (Dixiecrats) to flee to the Republican Party. The “Southern Strategy,” ensured they remained Republicans.

I’d like to believe Republicans can do better. I’m less sure they will. Mitch McConnel is racing to fill the Federal Courts with young, conservative Judges. He and other Republicans hope that they will exert control of the Judiciary for generations, long after demographics have lessened their power to legislate. Outside the Courts, Republicans are using Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression to impose the will of a minority on the rest of us. They have gotten a partisan Supreme Court to support unlimited, undisclosed financial contributions, courtesy of Citizens United. They just experienced historic losses of House seats in the 2018 elections and are facing tough sledding in the Senate in 2020 based on who is up for reelection. When they lose, it will be because they sacrificed the principals they once held as a Party. Telling us, “collusion is not a crime,” is not the cry of an ethical Party. Putin, Trump, and Duke couldn’t be more thrilled.