Abraham Lincoln, the Black Dilemma and the Baltimore Sun
By B.W. Durham
When an essay titled “The Black Dilemma” was reportedly published by The Baltimore Sun, thousands of readers cried foul because the article, attributed to Sun reporter Ian Duncan, was clearly racist. A few days later the Sun — a liberal daily newspaper — published a disclaimer that “The Sun did not write, publish or have any other association with it.”
Of course, no liberal newspaper would lay claim to an essay asserting “The fundamental problem is that American black culture has evolved into an unfixable and crime ridden mess. They do not want to change their culture or society, and expect others to tolerate violence and amoral behavior.”
And, the Sun was blameless — the paper had not published the essay.
It was a ruse fostered by a person or group that had circulated the essay on the Internet, claiming it originally appeared in the Sun. The essay gripped both conservatives and liberals, generating a torrent of social media comment — from liberal angst to conservative agreement with much of what the author had said.
Internet sleuths deduced that “The Black Dilemma” was penned by Anthony Bryan, a contributor to American Renaissance, an online journal that focuses on racial issues which some consider bigoted.
Apparently, the original title of the essay (assuming Bryan is truly the author) was “Ten Percent is Not Enough,” a reference to what he called the ten percent of black Americans who have become successful entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors and scientists.
But, he continued, that ten percent “has to be followed by a critical mass of (black) people who can hold middle-class jobs and promote social stability. That is what is missing. Through the years, too many black people continue to show an inability to function and prosper in a culture unsuited to them.”
What does this have to do with Abraham Lincoln? Two things:
One…Rampant on the World Wide Web today is this published quote attributed to Lincoln: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” (Humor.)
And, two… Lincoln “The Great Emancipator” did not make a moral decision to free the slaves during the Civil War. (Human.)
It is true that his proclamation issued on January 1, 1863, declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the Confederate states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” But that’s not the entire story.
Lincoln the Segregationist
At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the president’s Gettysburg address is inscribed with its opening statement, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Also inscribed at the memorial is Lincoln’s second inaugural address, with its historic line “…with malice towards none; charity for all.”
But — as chronicled by academic researchers and historians — Lincoln was a segregationist, as he noted in 1852 in a eulogy for the late statesman Henry Clay. Lincoln believed that one solution to the “race problem” confronting the U.S. more than 160 years ago was to export willing blacks to Africa, Panama, South America and Haiti where they could establish their own colonies.
The truth: The Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863, by commander in chief Lincoln was a military strategy designed to defeat the Confederacy. Honorability had little to do with it, and here’s why:
Until the Battle of Antietam in September1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his army were crushing Union forces in every major battle. The North was losing the war.
With nearly 23,000 casualties as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Antietam was the Union’s first significant victory. With that victory confirmed, Lincoln and his staff crafted the Emancipation Proclamation.
“President Lincoln justified the Emancipation Proclamation as a war measure intended to cripple the Confederacy,” according to www.civilwar.org, published by the nonprofit Civil War Trust. “Lincoln applied the Emancipation Proclamation only to the Southern states in rebellion.”
For Lincoln and his army, it was a smart move. Slaves were not allowed to enlist in any war — only free men could do so. But slaves were crucial for the Confederacy: They grew food for Lee’s armies, worked in ordinance factories, dug trenches, and served as teamsters.
Moreover, until Antietam, the nations of Great Britain and France were poised to support the Confederacy with financing and military assistance.
Lincoln called emancipation “a military necessity, absolutely essential to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued. The slaves were undeniably an element of strength to those who had their service, and we must decide whether that element should be with us or against us.”
According to The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, “Emancipation had the effect of transferring labor from South to North, increasing the fighting potential of Union armies while decreasing that of the Confederate armies… The manpower boon to the Union was substantial. Some 180,000 black soldiers served in the Union army. They constituted 120 infantry regiments, 12 regiments of heavy artillery, 10 batteries of light artillery, and seven cavalry regiments.”
Lincoln the Colonizer
“The Great Emancipator” did truly abhor the institution of slavery. But, although he may have said differently during his presidency, Lincoln did not favor equal rights for blacks.
During the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, the future president asserted, “…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.”
He went on to say: “Our republican system was meant for a homogeneous people. As long as blacks continue to live with the whites they constitute a threat to the national life. Family life may also collapse and the increase of mixed breed bastards may someday challenge the supremacy of the white man.”
As President in August 1862, Lincoln invited a group of free black ministers to the White House for a meeting. He said to the group, “You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.
“Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffers from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.”
The concept of exporting willing American blacks to other nations where they could form colonies had existed at least since 1816 when The American Colonization Society (ACS) — also known as The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America — was established.
According to historic ACS documents, its founders were slave owners who wanted to strengthen the institution of slavery in the American south by enabling free blacks to live outside the U.S. Free blacks were considered a “perpetual excitement” and a “bad influence” on enslaved populations in the South. Other accounts claim the ACS was comprised of mostly evangelicals and Quakers who supported abolition, and believed that free blacks could lead better lives outside the U.S.
In 1821, the ACS help found the nation of Liberia in West Africa. Between 1822 and the American Civil War, more than 15,000 freed and free-born black Americans relocated to the Liberian settlement, according to the knowledge website http://www.history.com.
The historian Eric Foner writes in his book “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery” that, by 1862, Lincoln and various members of Congress considered colonization a solution for race policy.
The Confiscation Act
The Confiscation Act of 1961 passed by Congress and signed by Lincoln that year authorized confiscation of any Confederate property by Union forces, including slaves. In 1862, Congress allocated $600,000 for overseas transport of American blacks. Potential destinations included Brazil, Colombia, Haiti, Panama and the island of St. Croix.
According to The Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, on December 31, 1862, Lincoln agreed to a contract with an entrepreneur named Bernard Kock to use federal funds to move five thousand black men, women and children from the U.S. to an island that Kock owned off the coast of Haiti. Lincoln approved that contract the very day before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed 3.1 million of the nation’s four million slaves when it took effect on January 1.
Lincoln had first publicly asserted his support for the idea of colonization for American blacks in 1852 in his eulogy for Henry Clay. Ten years later, the President was taking steps to make it happen. Soon after he signed the Emancipation proclamation, 500 blacks — not the originally projected 5,000 — — were shipped to Vache Island near Haiti. Soon after, many of those colonists died of disease.
So Congress canceled that colonization effort and, in March 1864, about 350 sick, raggedly colonists arrived via steamship in Washington, D.C. Union agents immediately recruited many of them into the army.
By then, General Robert E. Lee’s historic loss at Gettysburg in July 1863 had sealed the South’s fate. On April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered his troops to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox courthouse in Virginia. Six days later on April 15, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Black colonization plans endorsed by Lincoln and others had all failed, with one exception. Liberia — which in Latin means “Land of the Free” — had declared its independence from the American Colonization Society in 1847 and exists today as an independent nation with a population of about 2.5 million people.
After the Civil War the Reconstruction Era was distinguished by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and national resistance to Congressional passage of the 13th Amendment that ended slavery; the 14th Amendment that gave American blacks citizenship; and the 15th Amendment that gave American black males the right to vote.
The Great Experiment
One hundred years after Lincoln’s assassination, the Civil Rights movement in the United States had taken hold. Yet the 1960s were marked by widespread racial segregation, disenfranchisement and exploitation of blacks largely in the South, and also north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Mob violence against blacks, beatings, incidents of lynching and police actions erupted often.
When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination based on “race, color, sex or national origin,” black leaders claimed a victory. That year, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of the civil rights cause.
But when King was assassinated in April 1968, followed by the assassination in June of Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who had fought hard for the rights of black Americans, the Civil Rights Movement that had taken shape in the 1950s began to change with the times, supporting new black leaders and pursuing new priorities — one of which resulted in the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black President.
Anthony Bryan’s essay “Ten Percent is Not Enough,” in some ways lays blame for lack of success by most American blacks to assimilate into America’s middle class on what he calls “the white elite.” He writes “For almost 150 years the United States has been conducting an interesting experiment. The subject of the experiment: Black people…The hypothesis to be tested: Can a people taken from the jungles of Africa and forced into slavery be fully integrated as citizens in a majority white population?”
Mr. Bryan’s conclusion seems to be a resounding no.
He writes “Decade after decade problems persisted but the experiments never gave up. They insisted that if they could find the right formula the experiment would work, and concocted program after program to get the result they wanted. They created Freedmans Bureau, passed civil rights laws, tried to build The Great Society, declared War on Poverty, ordered race preferences, and tried midnight basketball…They called in National Guard troops to enforce school integration….(yet) the majority of black cities all over America are beset by degeneracy and violence. And blacks never take responsibility for their failures. Instead they lash out in anger and resentment…”
In other words, the elite “social experiment” that Mr. Bryan describes has been, and is, a failure. Violent incidents, rioting and looting like occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, inspiring other, similar incidents across the nation, support that argument.
Where does that leave us?
I’d be interested to know what Abraham Lincoln might say about this current state of affairs. If you are out there on the Internet, Abe, please check in. To read Mr. Bryan’s essay, follow this link: http://www.amren.com/news/2014/09/ten-percent-is-not-enough/.