WALTERS: Is It Time For Lincoln To Go? My Answer To Otis Pickett

By Ryan Walters | May 28th, 2017 at 6:22 am

BY: Ryan Walters / Mississippi PEP Contributor

Ryan Walters is a life-long Mississippian from Jones County. He is a professor of history holding a bachelor and master’s degree in American history from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is the author of "The Last Jeffersonian: Grover Cleveland and the Path to Restoring the Republic." Find more of his writing at MississippiConservativeDaily.com

Filed Under: Civil Rights, Contributor, Feature Stories, Federal Government, History, Liberty, Mississippi, Mississippi PEP, Opinion, Progressivism, Race, Ryan Walters, Social Justice, State Flag

“Lincoln did not use the war to end slavery, as leftist historians contend, he used slavery to end the war.”


Southern history is under assault by Radical Leftists, a group to include Southerners who claim to revere our past. Succumbing to emotionalism, rather than logic and reason, or facts, they seek to “correct” our “mistakes” by erasing them, as if they never happened. That way, they say, we can move forward as a people and a country by removing those things that offend a minority of people in our communities. Hurt feelings must end, they say.

But how can we achieve this so-called harmony when actions like those that are taking place in New Orleans are angering a large portion of Southerners? Living in a free society is about inclusiveness, not the liberal version of inclusiveness, but true inclusiveness, which means accepting those things that one may not like or approve of. Erasing history and banning symbols are actions that take place in totalitarian countries, not free ones.

In Mississippi, arguably the most Southern of states, there are those calling for the removal of Confederate history, most notably the state flag. In a recent piece for the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi College history professor Otis Pickett called for a change.

Pickett wrote that the “Confederate cause was strongly affiliated with preserving the institution of slavery,” an institution that viewed blacks not as human beings but as property, meaning that all black folks today would be enslaved if the Confederacy had succeeded, he says. Mississippi’s secession, he further instructs us, was tied to “the belief that the African was inferior ‘by nature’ to the white man.”

So Pickett says it is time for the Mississippi state flag, with its Confederate emblem, to go because the flag represents the perpetuation of slavery and white supremacy.

But as I am about to reveal, the same formula can be applied to Abraham Lincoln. So, using Mr. Pickett’s logic, is it time for Mr. Lincoln to go as well?

How can I ask such a question, you might say? Easy. Lincoln was not nor was he ever an abolitionist. In fact, the abolitionists did not like him. William Lloyd Garrison, the most famous of all, called him “that slave hound from Illinois.” Why? Well to turn the tables on Mr. Pickett, had Lincoln’s view prevailed, blacks today would still be enslaved or, at the very least, colonized in Africa.

By today’s standards, Abraham Lincoln the “Great Emancipator” with a massive temple monument in Washington with Lincoln sitting atop a throne, was a racist, far removed from the image that academic historians have painted of him.

As Thomas DiLorenzo has pointed out, Lincoln, in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1861, gave the most pro-slavery address of any US President when he threw his support behind the Corwin Amendment, which, ironically, would have been the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Corwin Amendment stated: “No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”

So as you can see, if the Corwin Amendment had been enacted, slavery would have survived in the South and forever shielded from abolition by constitutional amendment. No American President had ever said as much. Furthermore, Lincoln instructed William H. Seward, his Secretary of State, and a former Senator, to see to it that the amendment passed both houses of Congress. And it did.

Despite Steven Spielberg’s attempt to whitewash history, facts reveal that Lincoln worked harder to enact this original Thirteenth Amendment than he did for the one that was eventually ratified in 1865 that abolished slavery.

But abolishing slavery was never Lincoln’s overriding concern. As he wrote in his famous public letter to Horace Greeley in the New York Tribune in 1862: “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.”

But even if emancipation and abolition were achieved, Lincoln did not believe that blacks and whites could live together in peace, which is why he remained committed to colonization his entire life. In his 1862 annual message to Congress, he put forward a plan for gradual compensated emancipation, which would have ended slavery not immediately but by the year 1900, then colonize those freed slaves in Africa or Central America. Right up to the day he died, Lincoln was working on colonization plans.

As for the famed Emancipation Proclamation, it freed not a single slave, nor was it intended to. It was simply a war measure designed to keep the British out and, in the view of Jefferson Davis and many Confederates, to incite a slave rebellion. So in reality, Lincoln did not use the war to end slavery, as leftist historians contend, he used slavery to end the war.

But in the years before he became President, Mr. Lincoln had no real love for black people or in abolishing slavery. In fact, he vehemently opposed the inclusion of blacks into federal territories in the West.

Of course, like so much else, we’ve been fed a pack of lies about the origins of the Republican Party, that its sole goal was preventing the spread of slavery into the federal territories. In reality, the idea was always to keep black people, free or slave, out of the West. The evidence for this is overwhelming. Lincoln’s Illinois colleague, Lyman Trumball, admitted the real focus of the party was white supremacy. “We, the Republican Party, are the white man’s party. We are for the free white man.”

One major fear on the part of Northerners was racial amalgamation or, in other words, racial mixing, which is why they were so aggressive on preventing the western migration of blacks. In 1857, four years before he became President, Lincoln, spoke against the amalgamation of the white and black races. Discussing the Kansas territory, then the hot national topic, Lincoln stated that a “separation of the races is the only perfect preventative of amalgamation but as an immediate separation is impossible the next best thing is to keep them apart where they are not already together. If white and black people never get together in Kansas, they will never mix blood in Kansas.”

In Springfield, Illinois on June 26, 1857, he said, answering a charge of his greatest political antagonist, Stephen Douglas. “But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the thought of the mixing blood by the white and black races: agreed for once — a thousand times agreed… On this point we fully agree… and when he shall show that his policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation than ours we shall drop ours, and adopt his.”

It is also very clear that Lincoln did not believe that the two races were equal. In other words, he believed in white supremacy.

In one of the most oft-used quotes, in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858, Lincoln remarked:

“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, 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 for ever 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.”

But there are many others. Consider these gems:

June 26, 1857:I think the authors of that notable document [Declaration of Independence]…did not intend to declare all men were created equal in all respects.”

July 17, 1858: “My declarations upon this subject of negro slavery may be misrepresented, but can not be misunderstood. I have said that I do not understand the Declaration to mean that all men were created equal in all respects.”

October 16, 1854: “Free them [blacks], and make them politically and socially, our equals? My own feelings will not admit of this… We can not then make them equals…”

(Same speech): “Let it not be said I am contending for the establishment of political and social equality between the whites and blacks. I have already said the contrary.”

July 17, 1858: “What I would most desire would be the separation of the white and black races.”

September 18, 1858:I will, to the very last, stand by the law of this State, which forbids the marrying of white people with negroes.”

(Same speech): “I am not in favor of negro citizenship.”

September 16, 1859: “I did not at any time say I was in favor of negro suffrage; but the absolute proof that twice – once substantially and once expressly – I declared against it.”

After his election as President in November 1860, Lincoln read a news article that claimed he favored racial equality. So he wrote to the editor of the New York Times, Henry Raymond to correct the record. “What a very mad-man your correspondent is. I am not pledged to the ultimate extinction of slavery and I do not hold the black man to be the equal of the white.”

And even while President, in the midst of war, Lincoln met with a delegation of black men, led by Frederick Douglass on August 14, 1862 and said to them: “But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race,” he said. “See our present condition — the country engaged in war! — our white men cutting one another’s throats, none knowing how far it will extend; and then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other.”

So given these hard facts, I ask Professor Pickett: Is it time for Lincoln to go too?