Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looking for Lincoln [No Matter What, He Did the Right Thing]

My favorite Lincoln painting

I just watched a great documentary on Abraham Lincoln. In case you haven't heard, but today February 12th 2009 is his 200th birthday.

Looking for Lincoln - Henry Louis Gates Jr. investigates myths surrounding Abraham Lincoln. The next airing will be on PBS 2/15/09, 12am, but check what time it will air in your area.

Here are some interesting things I've learned from the documentary:
  • Lincoln suffered major depression
Abraham Lincoln immediately prior to Senate nomination, Chicago, Illnois
  • He visited a prostitute
  • He didn't believe in the equality of the races
  • Lincoln didn't really want to free slaves.
  • Lincoln wanted to compensate slave owners and ask the newly freed slaves to leave the states and go to colonies in Panama or Liberia
  • He only freed the slaves as a "game changer"; a political move to cripple the economy of the south (because they were losing the war)
Abraham Lincoln seated in a chair, full portrait
  • The emancipation proclamation only freed slaves in the confederacy. The confederacy wasn't acting under the direction of the union (Lincoln) at that time so they ignored the law (hence it did not free a single slave). The slaves in the union still had to be slaves (yeah, there were still slaves in the north, let us not forget) so I can only assume they were happy but a little pissed off at the same time. The logic is he didn't have authority to take property from law-abiding citizen's but could take property from the southerns who succeeded from the union. 
  • His second inaugural address was spoken before a integrated crowd
  • No matter how you feel about Lincoln, he did the right thing

I highly recommend this documentary, it really touches on all aspects of Lincoln's life.

Learn more about Lincoln:

Free Library of Philadelphia - Abraham Lincoln - Librarians from the Social Science and History Department presents a list of resources at the Free Library and online about the 16th President’s life and presidency.

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress - The Library of Congress holds the original papers of Abraham Lincoln and has digitized many of the 20,000 documents and made them available online. 

Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln - The Library of Congress’s webpage on the assassination that includes a timeline and an image gallery

Lincoln Bicentennial (1809-2009) - Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth with writings on his life, educational material for children, timelines, a quiz, and booklists of the best Lincoln scholarship.

1 comment:

  1. I saw the "Looking for Lincoln" and I thought it was great, but there were some things I thought it left untouched, like how for years the majority of white Americans downplayed Lincoln's role as the emancipator, while African-Americans strove to keep that memory alive.

    Also, When Lincoln became an abolitionist, he became one wholeheartedly.

    "For all his mystical, even bloody-minded, devotion to the Union’s preservation, Lincoln, the reluctant and strategic abolitionist, came to understand emancipation as his chief claim to immortality. A mental breakdown, in 1841, witnessed by his friend Joshua Speed, might have ended in suicide but for Lincoln’s realization, confided to Speed at the time, that if he were to die now he 'had done nothing to make any human being remember that he had lived.' When Speed visited the White House in 1863, Lincoln went out of his way to recall this confidence and to declare, 'with earnest emphasis,' according to his reliable friend, that the Emancipation Proclamation had fulfilled his long-ago self-willed resurrection from depression."

    I got these from a great essay in the New Yorker, linked here:


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