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On April 2, 1861, the New York Times reported on a speech given by Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy. The speech has gone down in history as "The Cornerstone Speech" because in it, Stephens described the "cornerstone" of the Confederacy and the key cause of the coming Civil War:

They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails.

I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

The twisted logic and faulty reasoning of Alexander Stephens are the exact same tools that the modern followers of the Confederate train of thought--be they self-described as Republicans, conservative or Tea Party--use to argue anything and everything. You could replace the issue of slavery with the rights of workers, or climate change, or Health Care reform, or budget cutting or anything else and the argument still follows the same script, rhetoric and magical thinking. Then as now, their views are always rooted in a fantasy world. And they always react with hostility to anybody who dares offers an opinion, cites a fact or presents evidence that their POV is groundless.

150 years ago the New York Times wrote about the clear madness of Stephens and the Confederacy:

It would indeed be impossible to manifest more palpably the utter impotence and suicidal character of this movement than is done by the spirit of the articles of faith with which this "model nation of history" comes before the world. In such spirit nothing was even devised, planted or built by man: Success on such terms is possible only on condition that all that makes history illustrious ina cheat, Progress a mockery, and the world without a God. The records of humanity are not without similar tragic episodes of national delirium, which assume, on the pages of History, the character of a sort of irony of the Fates.

With a few word changes the NYTs could almost write the same paragraph about today's modern fantasy based conservative movement.

The more things change, the more that some things remain the same.

Cheers  

Reposted from Balloon Juice

Originally posted to dengre on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:13 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (149+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ord avg guy, JekyllnHyde, McMeier, majcmb1, kat68, Pluto, cosette, sceptical observer, Mary Mike, quinn, Ekaterin, amk for obama, Ebby, MTmofo, trashablanca, badger, jan4insight, kevinpdx, Road Dog, thomask, ontheleftcoast, humphrey, psnyder, millwood, Lefty Coaster, change the Be, Mets102, angry hopeful liberal, kalmoth, Meteor Blades, ZedMont, James Allen, sardonyx, Matt Z, Betty Pinson, sailmaker, Jersey Joe, kdub, nancat357, KenBee, markdd, DWG, nickrud, Mother Mags, walkshills, fumie, Trix, eeff, tiggers thotful spot, JanL, Th0rn, bluesheep, watershed, peraspera, ribletsonthepan, political junquie, la urracca, TXdem, markthshark, xanthippe2, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, gloriana, BarackStarObama, jnhobbs, Burned, Missys Brother, Whimsical Rapscallion, Floande, marleycat, wvmom, kestrel9000, HeartlandLiberal, raines, frisco, aoeu, litoralis, shortgirl, Nance, jeannew, some other george, missLotus, 1Nic Ven, OIL GUY, emmasnacker, darboy, dotsright, latts, kafkananda, gobears2000, pamelabrown, ornerydad, Leftcandid, jcrit, occams hatchet, tobendaro, happy camper, noladerf, TFinSF, navajo, lol chikinburd, targetdemographic, oakroyd, Involuntary Exile, panicbean, GeorgeXVIII, high uintas, LynChi, wader, camlbacker, liz dexic, leftist vegetarian patriot, Dreaming of Better Days, radmul, esquimaux, soothsayer99, fou, TexDem, ActivistGuy, bronte17, Deoliver47, Sandino, jguzman17, cotterperson, TexasLefty, Oaktown Girl, bibble, terabytes, Gustogirl, zerelda, Book of Hearts, Tommymac, Jennifer Clare, bnasley, allie123, Random User Name, MBNYC, LaFeminista, maggiejean, Karl Rover, MJ via Chicago, greengemini, melo, seeking justice, DennisMorrison, A Person, science nerd, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, Larsstephens, keikekaze

    Time to clean up DeLay's petri dish! Help CNMI guest workers find justice! Learn more at Unheard No More.

    by dengre on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:13:15 PM PDT

  •  Wow! (23+ / 0-)

    Reading the entire speech really drives home your point - how easily today's RW rhetoric mirrors the message of that speech with just a word replacements.

    Nicely Done!

    If Liberals hated America, we'd vote Republican.

    by ord avg guy on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:30:02 PM PDT

    •  It is amazing how they keep saying (39+ / 0-)

      the same thing over and over again. And it is tragic that the thing they keep saying is so firmly rooted in fantasies of white supremacy and the entitlements of the elites.

      Time to clean up DeLay's petri dish! Help CNMI guest workers find justice! Learn more at Unheard No More.

      by dengre on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:35:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Constant drip, drip makes a permanent mark. (16+ / 0-)

        Amazing how they could fool most of the people all the time.

        One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists.
        A No-Drama Obama Site

        by amk for obama on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:44:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Here's a Pic of Alexander H. Stephens (19+ / 0-)

          ... and his house during the Civil War from the Library of Congress archives.


          Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the
          Confederacy
          , Source: Library of Congress

          ... and his house in Richmond, Virginia.


          Richmond, Va. Residence of Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President,
          C.S.A.
          , Source: Library of Congress

        •  If one lets it :-) n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ebby

          Inhabit Harmony.

          by Maori on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:50:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's surreal how seemingly intelligent men... (5+ / 0-)

          could rationalize and twist the true, perverted meaning of this statement into anything close to morality.

          Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

          An even sadder truth is, apparently, a new generation of perverts is bound and determined to pick up where they left off.

          The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception -- Carl Bernstein

          by markthshark on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 02:29:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That some people could be owned as (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cedwyn, panicbean, ActivistGuy

            property was incorporated in the Constitution.  Men "acquiring wives" was not inconsistent.  Even today, the law considers children to be the property of their parents until their emancipation at age 18.  There's a reason why the U.S. has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Property rights have always trumped human rights.  Had to.  Otherwise, the ownership of persons who had been sold and bought would not have been legal.
            The rule of law lets men do shamelessly what they might be ashamed to do in the sight of God.

            http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

            by hannah on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:13:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  lincoln believed blacks were inferior (0+ / 0-)

            only he took it a step further than stephens and the confederacy, saying it wasn't even possible for white and black to co-exist.

            http://www.ihr.org/...

            I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is 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 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; 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.

            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.

            not only did he agree with stephens, but he wanted to ship them all off to liberia.

            Judging from picturebooks, apparently Heaven is a partly cloudy place. - Rilo Kiley

            by Cedwyn on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:41:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Lincoln was better, I think, than you give him (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tommymac, greengemini, virginwoolf

              credit for. All the Lincoln-Douglas debates are worth reading in their entirety. You quoted one small piece of the 4th debate. I'll quote a couple extracts from the 6th that expand on that theme:

              It was in our first meeting, at Ottawa-and I will say a word about where it was, and the atmosphere it was in, after awhile-but at our first meeting, at Ottawa, 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. That extract from my old speech, the reporters, by some sort of accident, passed over, and it was not reported. I lay no blame upon any body. I suppose they thought that I would hand it over to them, and dropped reporting while I was reading it, but afterward went away without getting it from me. At the end of that quotation from my old speech, which I read at Ottawa, I made the comments which were reported at that time, and which I will now read, and ask you to notice how very nearly they are the same as Judge Douglas says were delivered by me, down in Egypt. After reading I added these words: “Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any great length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery or the black race, and this is the whole of it; any thing that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastical arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so. I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together on 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 have never said any thing to the contrary, but I hold that notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence-the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas that he is not my equal in many respects, certainly not in color-perhaps not in intellectual and moral endowments; but in the right to eat the bread without the leave of any body else which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every other man.”

              He went on to talk about how slavery was a moral evil. This in a political speech meant to win over some extremely racist voters, who Douglas had been at considerable pains to convince that Lincoln was the most ardent advocate of racial equality imaginable.

              I have no doubt that Lincoln shared at least some of the prejudice that was virtually universal among whites in his day. The evidence suggests that he lost some of it as his Presidency progressed. But in these speeches he was arguing against slavery and attempting to keep Douglas from successfully conflating anti-slavery with pro-equality in the public mind. Had Stephen Douglas been successful in that, not just Illinois but the entire nation reading these debates in the papers would have been more indifferent to the expansion of slavery than they in fact were.

              My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
              --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

              by leftist vegetarian patriot on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:32:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I'm amazed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        esquimaux, Tommymac

        How they get away with saying the Civil War was all about States Rights & had nothing to do with slavery when the text of this speech is there to prove them wrong.

        Wall Street: Too big to fail and too big to jail.

        by dotsright on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 06:19:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  read the whole speech (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotsright

          he talks about a lot besides slavery.

          equality of whites and blacks, the question of slavery....those are points of morality...ideas.  has any war even been fought over anything but power and money?  no.

          whatever the circumstantial flashpoints may be, war is always, always, always about power and money.  not ideas.

          Judging from picturebooks, apparently Heaven is a partly cloudy place. - Rilo Kiley

          by Cedwyn on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:43:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Nice job, as always Dengre! thanks. n/t (16+ / 0-)

    draw a window on the wall to remind you of the silkrain that makes things grow - Yoko Ono

    by quinn on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:40:27 PM PDT

  •  Powerful diary (19+ / 0-)

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    The phrase "national delirium" is quite descriptive of things we've seen over the past several years. It's way past time for Americans to come to their senses.

    •  Agreed. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, walkshills, Ekaterin, latts, tobendaro

      Its as if many Americans truly believe history to be dead, that they are no longer part of a centuries old struggle against antidemocratic forces.

      Do most Americans just not get it? That democracy is not a historically human condition; that only through the will of ordinary people to fight until their death have we been able to even strive for equality?

      Democracy is a fading candle in a room of darkness. Fragile and beleaguered.

      •  Remember when "secular humanism" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tobendaro, esquimaux

        was a dirty phrase?  We don't hear it much anymore, but the elevation of the rights of humans over property rights has not been achieved.  You'll recall that Dubya proclaimed us an "ownership society."  He wasn't just talking about homes.

        The ownership of things as property has always served as a sop to disguise that property rights trump human rights.

        Property is, of course, easier to strip from a person without the same risk of being avenged as a life.

        http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

        by hannah on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:18:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This should be shocking to read now, yet the (18+ / 0-)

    sentiments live on...less and less undercover as the media makes way for ever stronger views, without even a smidgen of oral comment. We have no Edward R. Murrow. We don't have the weakest gatekeeper. That is sad for me to admit as a former journalist.

    I'm so happy to have a child because this is the only way I feel I can make a difference now. My kid just learned the word black at 7 and only because she heard it. Before we talked about--her description--people being tanner than others or having pretty braids. Now her class is doing a biography unit and she and her partner were asigned Harriet Tubman. It's beem both wrenching and gratifying to teach my daughter about this wonderful woman. Wrenching because it means telling her how ugly people can be when she has never known this and gratifying because now that she knows, she understands she can make a difference.

    Thank you for posting this here. The fact that our media excuses such talk 150 years later is cause for great shame.

    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

    by kat68 on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:47:12 PM PDT

  •  As they say, the GOP wants to repeal (15+ / 0-)

    the last 150 years, and that would take us right back to the Civil War ...

    Good diary. T&R

    "If we work in unity, we will achieve our goal." ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

    by jan4insight on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 10:48:51 PM PDT

    •  And repeal the laws of science.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, JanL, Cedwyn

      Those do not serve the GOP needs either.

      "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

      by oregonj on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:34:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yet those corporations (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, TexDem

        want to copyright and own all new inventions and processes. Surely this is a lie for a cause, their cause, as usual.

        The truth is we are tortured by the truth.

        by walkshills on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 12:23:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Corporations are artificial (man-made) bodies-- (0+ / 0-)

          ipso facto superior to the natural person and, indeed, all of nature.  Nature, in all its manifestations, including the natural person, exists to be exploited, expropriated, exhausted and executed.  Mother Nature is man's waste repository.  The suggestion that nature and animals have rights is anathema to people who have yet to recognize human rights.
          The right to life exists merely to provide man with an opportunity to decide whether it is worth maintaining or deserves to be terminated.

          http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

          by hannah on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:24:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wait, I thought (8+ / 0-)

    the Civil War was about States Rights and preservation of Southern Culture and protecting Southern farmers from Northern aggression and...

  •  Fanaticism in all its different forms (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancat357, JanL

    is an evil which needs to be fought against.  The words - understanding and compassion are not a part of fanaticism.  When things get hard and people are struggling for the basics of food, shelter, and clothing fanatics loose their power.  The good nature of mankind comes through.  That is what ultimately gives me optimism!!

    Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently ... and for the same reason

    by Road Dog on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:01:44 PM PDT

  •  great diary, same could be said of Obama/Lincoln (19+ / 0-)

    some are angry that he's not the next "lincoln".

    But Lincoln didn't free the slaves. He was the figurehead of a movement that often did its heaviest fighting without him. I posted this comment recently, and the next day an article called "how slavery really ended in america" popped up on my screen at nytimes. com

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    great stuff there, if you like history check it out.  goes well with this diary, and points out some of the same things, i.e . how the abolitionists, like some of us one the left, are far far ahead of the politics of the time.

    the abolitionists often had to do the heavy lifting before Lincoln took the ball and ran with it. His purpose was to use his wisdom, deft political skills, and rhetorical magic to make a strong case for progressives when the moment came.

    He was often TO THE RIGHT of the progressives of his day on slavery, from the beginning of his career all the way to the emancipation proclamation. Of his own accord, lincoln proposed very progressive Reconstruction policies for the south, which sadly did not come to fruition due to his death.

    source: "team of rivals" by doris kearns godwin (easily one of the best books I've read in my life)

    in 1850, if you believed that slavery should end, you were very much a minority in the american population. only progressives at that time period were clamoring for a change to the status quo.

    witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

    by change the Be on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:08:40 PM PDT

    •  In this light... (17+ / 0-)

      ...it ought to be mentioned that Frederick Douglass said some things during Lincoln's first two years of office that go waaaaaaaaay beyond any criticisms made of Obama in his first two years. Ultimately, because Lincoln changed, and because Douglass was able to change the President's mind about recruiting and deploying soldiers, he came to respect the man greatly. This was so even though, contrary to Stephens's claim that Northerners saw African Americans as equals, Lincoln did not. He made an exception in the case of Douglass.

      An excellent book on their five-year pas de deux is Paul and Stephen Kendrick's Douglass and Lincoln: How a Revolutionary Black Leader & a Reluctant Liberator Struggled to End Slavery & Save the Union.

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:33:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  that reminds me of some of the bits in (13+ / 0-)

        team of rivals , where my feeble memory recalls maybe two descriptions of douglas-lincoln meeting in the book ?

        you are right about lincoln. He originally agreed with the notion that blacks should go back to africa.

        douglass was one who helped defeat that bad idea, arguing how blacks were born here just like whites and americans too .

        in fact, I think doris kearns described how douglass couldn't even get past the doorman when he showed up for lincoln's party/ball on year!

        but I don't want to look stupid so I googled that to see if it's true....and lo and behold, enough of my brain cells survived the solar hits inflicted upon them weekly.  it did , in fact, happen that way.  kearns made various great observations on the relationship between the two men.

        Douglass himself:

           In the evening of the day of the inauguration, another new experience awaited me. The usual reception was given at the Executive Mansion, and though no colored persons had ever ventured to present themselves on such occasions, it seemed now that freedom had become the law of the Republic, now that colored men were on the battlefield mingling their blood with that of white men in one common effort to save the country, it was not too great an assumption for a colored man to offer his congratulations to the president with those of other citizens. I decided to go, and sought in vain for someone of my own color to accompany me. It is never an agreeable experience to go where there can be any doubt of welcome, and my colored friends had too often realized discomfiture from this cause to be willing to subject themselves to such unhappiness; they wished me to go, as my New England colored friends in the long ago liked very well to have me take passage on the first-class cars, and be hauled out and pounded by rough-handed brakemen, to make way for them. It was plain, then, that someone must lead the way, and that if the colored man would have his rights, he must take them; and now, though it was plainly quite the thing for me to attend President Lincoln’s reception, ‘they all with one accord began to make excuse.’ It was finally arranged that Mrs. Dorsey should bear me company, so together we joined in the grand procession of citizens from all parts of the country, and moved slowly towards the executive mansion.
            I had for some time looked upon myself as a man, but now in this multitude of the elite of the land, I felt myself a man among men. I regret to be obliged to say, however, that this comfortable assurance was not of long duration, for on reaching the door, two policemen stationed there took me rudely by the arm and ordered me to stand back, for their directions were to admit no persons of my color. The reader need not be told that this was a disagreeable setback. But once in the battle, I did not think it well to submit to repulse. I told the officers I was...sure there must be some mistake, for no such order could have emanated from President Lincoln; and if he knew I was at the door he would desire my admission. They then – to put an end to the parley, as I suppose, for we were obstructing the doorway and were not easily pushed aside – assumed an air of politeness, and offered to conduct me in. We followed their lead, and soon found ourselves walking some planks out of a window, which had been arranged as a temporary passage for the exit of visitors. We halted so soon as we saw the trick, and I said to the officers: “You have deceived me. I shall not go out of this building till I see President Lincoln.” At this moment a gentleman who was passing in, recognized me, and I said to him: ‘Be so kind as to say to Mr. Lincoln that Frederick Douglass is detained by officers at the door.”
            It was not long before Mrs. Dorsey and I walked into the spacious East Room, amid a scene of elegance such as in this country I had never witnessed before. Like a mountain pine high above all others, Mr. Lincoln stood, in his grand simplicity, and homelike beauty. Recognizing me, even before I reached him, he exclaimed, so that all around could hear him, ‘Here comes my friend Douglass.’ Taking me by the hand, he said, “I am glad to see you. I saw you in the crowd today, listening to my inaugural address; how did you like it?” I said, “Mr. Lincoln, I must not detain you with my poor opinion, when there are thousands waiting to shake hands with you.” “No, no,” he said, “you must stop a little, Douglass; there is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours. I want to know what you think of it.” I replied, “Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.” “I am glad you liked it!” he said, and I passed on, feeling that any man, however distinguished, might well regard himself honored by such expressions, from such a man.”
            It came out that the officers at the White House had received no orders from Mr. Lincoln, or from anyone else. They were simply complying with an old custom, the outgrowth of slavery, as dogs will sometimes rub their necks, long after their collars are removed, thinking they are still there. My colored friends were well pleased with what had seemed to them a doubtful experiment, and I believe were encouraged by its success to follow my example. I have found in my experience that the way to break down an unreasonable custom is to contradict it in practice. To be sure in pursuing this course I have had to contend not merely with the white race, but with the black. The one has condemned me for my presumption in daring to associate with them, and the other for pushing myself where they take it for granted I am not wanted. I am pained to think that the latter objection springs largely from a consciousness of inferiority, for as colors alone can have nothing against each other, and the conditions of human association are founded upon character rather than color, and character depends upon mind and morals, there can be nothing blameworthy in people thus equal in meeting each other on the plain of civil or social rights.”

        http://www.abrahamlincolnsclassroom.org/...

        man there's some good stuff here. another blurb:

        Frederick Douglass recalled of his interactions with President Lincoln: “The simple approached him with ease, and the learned approached him with deference.” 52 Douglass wrote: “In all my interviews with Mr. Lincoln I was impressed with his entire freedom from popular prejudice against the colored race. He was the first great man that I talked with in the United States freely, who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color, and I thought that all the more remarkable cause he came from a State where there were black laws. I account partially for his kindness to me because of the similarity with which I had fought my way up, we both starting at the lowest rung of the ladder.”53

        nothing like reading great writers of the past speak in their own words. time to geek out and read a bunch more off that page........

        witness the GOPranos...rethugs....Paul Wolfowitz: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

        by change the Be on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:52:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          virginwoolf

          Nice to see some non-revisionist history regarding Lincoln amid all this other nonsense about him being anti-progressive or even racist.  

          "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

          by Subterranean on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:49:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There is evidence that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftist vegetarian patriot

          Lincoln may have identified with black slaves given how harshly he was treated growing up with an abusive father, someone who made or tried to make young Abe into his own little slave in the various often hard chores he assigned him to perform around the house, occasionally physically abusing him for no good reason.

          And while he wasn't a saint or perfect on racial equality matters, some of his rhetoric and stances had to do with countering the charge from people like the racist Douglass who were very aggressive at trying to portray Lincoln as so sympathetic to blacks that he wanted an "amalgamation of the races," a serious charge to level then, one which Lincoln became defensive about.

          On once calling for the re-migration of blacks to a foreign country, this arose in large part because he felt at times that even by introducing laws to permit more equality for blacks, the social situation had been so poisoned by centuries of slavery, the bitterness so deep among blacks, the feeling of superiority so well ingrained among whites, that such laws would be futile and doomed to failure.

          Context matters a lot with Lincoln and his racial attitudes.  And on the whole he was far more enlightened and sympathetic to their plight than most whites of his time.

          •  I'm confused by your wording. Are you... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            virginwoolf, aoeu

            ...calling Douglass a racist?

            Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 11:24:17 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm positive it was the common mistake (0+ / 0-)

              of spelling Stephen Douglas' surname with the extra "s", so it resembled Frederick Douglass. I've seen that happen more than once, a very easy error to fall into given the fact that the two of them are so proximate to Lincoln in history and share such similar names.

              My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
              --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

              by leftist vegetarian patriot on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 11:12:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  The progression of Lincoln (6+ / 0-)

      on the issue of slavery is the subject of Eric Foner's most recent book, The Fiery Trial. I just picked it up and it's next on my list.

      The comparisons of Lincoln to Obama on progressive issues is spot on.

      Cheers

      Time to clean up DeLay's petri dish! Help CNMI guest workers find justice! Learn more at Unheard No More.

      by dengre on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 04:34:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lincoln was no progressive (2+ / 0-)

      He was a radical.

      It's inaccurate to say he was "to the right" of progressives of his day.  He shared with abolitionists a belief that slavery was evil, where they differed is that Lincoln wanted to end slavery within the legal framework of the constitution, while abolitionists generally viewed the constitution as an evil codification of slavery.  Most abolitionists were simply outside the political spectrum, unwilling to participate in politics, and unelectable.  

      Of the electable politicians who opposed slavery, Lincoln was among the few with the resolve to go to war over the question of slavery.  Many antislavery politicians urged compromise with the South, some urged to let them go, either course would have strengthened the institution of slavery.  As president elect, Lincoln instructed the party to hold firm on the issue of slavery, like "a chain of steel".  And it was what would be Lincoln's last speech that finally triggered Booth to assassinate him, when Lincoln called for the limited enfranchisement of blacks.  To the end, Lincoln sought radical ends by conservatively adhering to legal, constitutional means.  

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 08:23:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terrific Diary (9+ / 0-)

    Tipped and Rec'd.  Amazing how they really have not changed their lines in the last 150 years.

  •  Great work... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, JanL

    Tipped and Rec'd.

    With the sesquicentennial of hostilities fast approaching, perhaps we could do a virtual re-enactment here.  I suppose it would kind of be live blogging the Civil War.

    Enacting our agenda requires winning elections

    by Mets102 on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:14:36 PM PDT

  •  Thanks. I've read this many times over.... (9+ / 0-)

    ...the years, but I had forgotten the date it was first delivered. It is the perfect corrective to every neo-Confederate argument about the Civil War was about states' rights and Northern aggression, etc.

    You're absolutely right about its amazing ties to today's discourse. Thanks for making that connection.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 11:24:49 PM PDT

  •  This is good work dengre! I always thought (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    walkshills, fumie, JanL, TexDem

    there must be some documentation from the confederacy on this issue. I will keep this handy for debate with right wingers.

    •  Can't easily link, as am posting from phone, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      virginwoolf, nancat357

      several of the constitutions of the states of the Confederacy were redrawn with similar language. Then there are the formal resolutions of secession, some of which make it explicit that slavery was the cause. Finally, if it HAD been about states' rights, it is striking that the constitution of the CSA didn't grant them more than they'd had previously in the areas they later claimed were of concern. It was mostly a cut and paste from the U.S. Constitution.

      My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.
      --Carl Schurz, remarks in the Senate, February 29, 1872

      by leftist vegetarian patriot on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:50:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Russell Pearce didn't get the message that (0+ / 0-)

    he's 150 years late.

    Great diary dengre.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 12:19:22 AM PDT

  •  Just as now, they name their own affliction. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wvmom, frisco, nosleep4u, keikekaze
    All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning.

    There is another guilt the southern plantation owners had that lurks behind our modern GOP:

    The white southern plantation owners, their predecessors as well, were the ones who brought African-Americans here. It was the white plantation owners who had the choice to accept democracy and shed their authoritarian racist culture. it is they who lusted for cheap labor and vast profit even if it killed hundreds of thousands of their countrymen. That is the greatest irresponsibility this nation has ever endured.

    Who has kept this black-hearted monster alive for 150 years? Who is keeping it alive today? Who?

     

    The truth is we are tortured by the truth.

    by walkshills on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 12:46:04 AM PDT

    •  When you come right down to it, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills

      few plantation owners had any skills to keep themselves or anyone else alive, regardless of how bounteous the earth appeared.  They were given land that had been wrested away from the native population and hadn't a clue how to sustain themselves.  Evidence for that can be found is that most plantations were acquired and run with borrowed money and, just as industrial enterprise today, routinely went bankrupt.  Which is why the laboring population (then considered capital) had to be sold to pay back the loans.  The blame was always placed on Europe and the fluctuating prices commodities could fetch.  But the fact is that what Europe exported to the Americas was an exploitative class of people who had few talents to sustain themselves and, what's perhaps worse, no inclination to learn.  There were not many Thomas Jeffersons.

      http://www.youtube.com/cyprespond

      by hannah on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:46:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Before people get all high and mighty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Floande, frisco, Cedwyn

    about North v South, they might want to read up on what politicians (even good ol' Honest Abe Lincoln) of the time said in certain circles, like Charleston. Chalk it up to politicking, but still. It doesn't seem to leave any doubt about what people thought of blacks back then, and what a lot of people like the Ron/Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, and George Allen crowd think of them now:

    http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/...

    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 forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much 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.
  •  Great diary, dengre. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, happy camper

    By uncovering what was truly at the root of southern secession, it serves to peel away the romantic myths of states rights, northern aggression, etc.

    However, I am not quite as willing as you are to attribute the same warped logic employed by Stephens to all of the current positions of the Tea Party and the Wingnut Right:

    The twisted logic and faulty reasoning of Alexander Stephens are the exact same tools that the modern followers of the Confederate train of thought--be they self-described as Republicans, conservative or Tea Party--use to argue anything and everything. You could replace the issue of slavery with the rights of workers, or climate change, or Health Care reform, or budget cutting or anything else and the argument still follows the same script, rhetoric and magical thinking.

    While some stem from there - certainly positions in "social" issues like immigration, gay marriage and women's reproductive rights are descendants - many others come from other, more powerful historical positions.

    Today's economic policies can be traced back to a time when it was still the Democrats of the South that were holding down the black man. Back to the presidential administration at the roots of the Great Depression. If anyone wants to find the roots of today's GOP economic policies, you should read up on Calvin Coolidge.

    Coolidge's positions and utterances served as the blueprint for Ronald Reagan's administration in the 1980s and could just as easily be quoted from anything coming out of Grover Norquist today. Here is Possibly his most (in)famous quote:

    “... it is probable that a press which maintains an intimate touch with the business currents of the nation is likely to be more reliable than it would be if it were a stranger to these influences. After all, the chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world.”

    But more importantly, here is a snippet from Coolidge's  State of the Union Address in 1923. As you'll see here and in the following quotes, here lie the seeds of "reduced government, reduced taxes and trickle-down economics" that again sprouted more than 50 years later under Reagan:

    For seven years the people have borne with uncomplaining courage the tremendous burden of national and local taxation. These must both be reduced. The taxes of the Nation must be reduced now as much as prudence will permit, and expenditures must be reduced accordingly. High taxes reach everywhere and burden everybody. They gear most heavily upon the poor. They diminish industry and commerce. They make agriculture unprofitable. They increase the rates on transportation. They are a charge on every necessary of life. Of all services which the Congress can render to the country, I have no hesitation in declaring to neglect it, to postpone it, to obstruct it by unsound proposals, is to become unworthy of public confidence and untrue to public trust. The country wants this measure to have the right of way over any others.

    From 1925:

    It is a fundamental principle of our country that the people are sovereign. While they recognize the undeniable authority of the state, they have established as its instrument a Government of limited powers. They hold inviolate in their own hands the jurisdiction over their own freedom and the ownership of their own property. Neither of these can be impaired except by due process of law. The wealth of our country is not public wealth, but private wealth. It does not belong to the Government, it belongs to the people. The Government has no justification in taking private Property except for a public purpose. It is always necessary to keep these principles in mind in the laying of taxes and in the making of appropriations. No right exists to levy on a dollar, or to order the expenditure of a dollar, of the money of the people, except for a necessary public purpose duly authorized by the Constitution. The power over the purse is the power over liberty.

    That is the legal limitation within which the Congress can act, How it will, proceed within this limitation is always a question of policy. When the country is prosperous and free from debt, when the rate of taxation is low, opportunity exists for assuming new burdens and undertaking new enterprises. Such a condition now prevails only to a limited extent. All proposals for assuming new obligations ought to be postponed, unless they are reproductive capital investments or are such as are absolutely necessary at this time.

    The purpose of reducing expenditures is to secure a reduction in taxes. That purpose is about to be realized. With commendable promptness the Ways and Means Committee of the House has undertaken in advance of the meeting of the Congress to frame a revenue act. As the bill has proceeded through the committee it has taken on a nonpartisan character, and both Republicans and Democrats have joined in a measure which embodies many sound principles of tax reform.

    The excessive surtaxes have been reduced, estate tax rates are restored to more reasonable figures, with every prospect of withdrawing from the field when the States have had the opportunity to correct the abuses in their own inheritance tax laws, the gift tax and publicity section are to be repealed many miscellaneous taxes are lowered or abandoned, and the Board of Tax Appeals and the administrative features of the law are improved and strengthened. I approve of the bill in principle. In so far as income-tax exemptions are concerned, it seems, to me the committee has gone as far as it is Safe to go and somewhat further than I should have gone. Any further extension along these lines would, in my opinion, impair the integrity of our income-tax system.

    All these economic results are being sought not to benefit the rich, but to benefit the people. They are for the purpose of encouraging industry in order that employment may be plentiful. They seek to make business good in order that wages may be good. They encourage prosperity in order that poverty may be banished from the home. They, seek to lay the foundation which, through increased production, may, give the people a more bountiful supply of the necessaries of life, afford more leisure for the improvement of the mind, the appreciation of the arts of music and literature, sculpture and painting, and the beneficial enjoyment of outdoor sports and recreation, enlarge the resources which minister to charity and by all these means attempting to strengthen the spiritual life of the Nation.

    From 1926:

    I am in favor of reducing, rather than expanding, Government bureaus which seek to regulate and control the business activities of the people. Everyone is aware that abuses exist and will exist so long as we are limited by human imperfections. Unfortunately, human nature can not be changed by an act of the legislature. When practically the sole remedy for many evils lies in the necessity of the people looking out for themselves and reforming their own abuses, they will find that they are relying on a false security if the Government assumes to hold out the promise that it is looking out for them and providing reforms for them. This principle is preeminently applicable to the National Government. It is too much assumed that because an abuse exists it is the business of the National Government to provide a remedy. The presumption should be that it is the business of local and State governments. Such national action results in encroaching upon the salutary independence of the States and by undertaking to supersede their natural authority fills the land with bureaus and departments which are undertaking to do what it is impossible for them to accomplish and brings our whole system of government into disrespect and disfavor.

    And from 1927:

    Any bill for tax reduction should be written by those who are responsible for raising, managing, and expending the finances of the Government. If special interests, too often selfish, always uninformed of the national needs as a whole, with hired agents using their proposed beneficiaries as engines of propaganda, are permitted to influence the withdrawal of their property from taxation, we shall have a law that is unbalanced and unjust, bad for business, bad for the country, probably resulting in a deficit, with disastrous financial Consequences.

    "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." – Leonard Bernstein

    by frisco on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:04:38 AM PDT

    •  And it worked out (0+ / 0-)

      so well...

      "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

      by happy camper on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:55:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not defending him in the slightest (0+ / 0-)

        but I don't think it's appropriate to try to draw lines all the way back to the secessionists of the South to find the roots of many of the current GOP and Tea Bag policies.

        "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." – Leonard Bernstein

        by frisco on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:58:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was (0+ / 0-)

          referring more to the effect of Coolidge's tax policies.

          I do agree with dengre in that I see today's baggers and Republicans subscribing to the same theory as the secessionists, that being that some people are naturally superior to others, and that trying to act otherwise, say by giving these lesser folk an opportunity to better themselves, is foolish. They see it as a waste of time and money.

          The right loves the concept of social Darwinism.

          "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

          by happy camper on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 08:18:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I think there's something more basic... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Deoliver47

            ...at work with the Tea Partiers.

            Have a look at this short note & graphic from The Economist. That underscores what is most unsettling to the race-baited Tea Partiers - that "their country" is not the same anymore; that they are in competition for jobs, wages, college education and even housing with a much-faster growing population of "teh others" or "those people". There is a sense of slipping, of losing "control" in 'white America' (and especially/predominantly in 'male white America').

            It's primarily manifest in clarion calls against immigrants (and against women and "teh gay"), but it comes out anywhere where government might actually give "those people" an equal shot at achieving success and happiness in America.

            "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." – Leonard Bernstein

            by frisco on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 08:28:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Of course, Coolidge also weighed in on immigration (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            happy camper

            Or should I say, "inveighed against immigration - just like a 21st century Tea Bagger"?

            In those days, is was the Yellow Peril of Chinese and other Asian immigrants that the GOP was looking to stop because the nation was about to become an extension of China or something, and "those people" were going to take control.

            From an address to Congress in December 1923, here's "Silent Cal" and his position on immigration:

            American institutions rest solely on good citizenship. They were created by people who had a background of self-government. New arrivals should be limited to our capacity to absorb them into the ranks of good citizenship. America must be kept American. For this purpose it is necessary to continue a policy of restricted immigration. It would be well to make such immigration of a selective nature with some inspection at the source, and based either on a prior census or upon the record of naturalization. Either method would insure the admission of those with the largest capacity and best intention of becoming citizens… Those who do not want to be partakers of the American spirit ought not to settle in America.

            "A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future." – Leonard Bernstein

            by frisco on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:16:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Every Republican faction: We are Superior (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    keikekaze

    it might be race, religion, nature, ethnicity, intrinsic worth, it doesn't matter what the rationale is, it's a frame wherein they are superior.

    Being superior is just freakin' great. First, you are exempt from basic and normal human decency. Second, you are free to indulge your worst and most base appetites, but it's okay because you are working a greater work. Third, what a rush to stomp on somebody!

    That's the entire basis for every Republican faction. The "rush" of stomping on people AND of getting away with damn near anything you want to do, there's their central motive.

    The rest of their spiel are just rationales to distract and befuddle the inattentive and gullible. And, not least, their own conscience.

    It's infantilism writ large, nothing else. Nothing else.


    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 10:53:53 AM PDT

  •  Reassessment (0+ / 0-)

    Recently read Thaddeus Russell'sA Renegade History of the United States and it really made me rethink a lot about what the Civil War meant.

    In school we were all taught that the slaves were freed and that Reconstruction bolstered their freedom. Well, Russell comes hard and fast with interview after interview of former slaves who claim life was freer and easier as a slave than it ever was a freeman. The evidence is pretty overwhelming too. And if this sounds uncomfortable to ponder, well it is because it goes against a lot of what you have come to believe.

    To make it clear, the author doesn't justify slavery, but he attacks the American slavish devotion to work - and nothing but work - as barbaric and savage.

    •  It depends on what slave (0+ / 0-)

      narrative you read.  I've read a lot of them.  And they are complex, since humans are complex.  Also, many of the interviewers during the WPA were white and that may affect what the former slaves say.

      Not having read Russell's book, I obviously can't debate it thoughtfully. I'll put it on my list, though.  

      However, considering most slaves were given no way to learn how to live except dependently and most were not only not educated at all but after the brief bloom of reconstruction were unable to live decently, it's not exactly a wonder that for some, at least having food, clothing and a modicum of protection might think, in retrospect, that slavery was better.  And also, many of those interviewed during the WPA were young children during slavery times.  

      Not that I don't disagree with the notion of the idiocy of slavish devotion to work, but it's not like slaves didn't work.  

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