“In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country.” Robert E. Lee 1856
Could General Lee’s sentiments deter the “tear down those monuments” crowd? Probably not.
Given their current success in removing monuments to Confederate generals, ignorant politicians and those whose hobby is going through life seeking to be offended, will soon run out of things to be offended by. Why not broaden the list of “offensive” symbols to include slaveowners Washington and Jefferson and a host of other founders? Here in Texas you could add slave owning Texas heroes such as Houston, Bowie and Travis.
Should we banish from public view all monuments to past historical figures who supported white supremacy, advocated secession, or made racist comments?
Consider Abraham Lincoln. In addition to the Lincoln monument in the nation’s capital, there’s probably not a major city in the country without a school, street, or park named after Lincoln. What do Lincoln’s own words tell us about “Honest Abe”, “the Great Emancipator”?
During one of the famous 1858 debates with Senator Stephen Douglas, Lincoln explained to the crowd: “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 now nor have ever been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people . . . there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races from living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be a 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.”
Lincoln’s prejudices weren’t limited to blacks. During another debate with Douglas, Lincoln opined: “I understand that the people of Mexico are most decidedly a race of mongrels . . . there’s not one person there out of eight who is pure white”.
In Lincoln’s 1861 inaugural address, he endorsed a constitutional amendment, known as the Corwin Amendment which would forever protect slavery where it existed, telling the audience: “I have no objection to its [Corwin Amendment] being made express and irrevocable”. Lincoln’s goal was to save the Union, writing to abolitionist Horace Greeley: “If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it”.
Virtually all white men of that time were white supremacists. Lincoln was no exception, and his comments above belie his reputation.
Was Lincoln opposed to secession? Consider his remarks he made in Congress on January 12, 1848: “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one which suits them better. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much territory as they inhabit.” This is exactly what the seceding states did in 1861.
Another discomforting fact for today’s advocates of political correctness: In 2011 I sponsored a commemorative license plate for Buffalo soldiers, iconic black U.S. Cavalrymen who served on the frontier. Couldn’t today’s Native Americans claim Buffalo soldiers participated in a genocidal war against an entire race of people – the American Plains Indians – enslaving them on reservations?
If we’re going to measure Confederates of 150 years ago by today’s standards, shouldn’t we do the same with Lincoln?
Today it’s Confederates. Who’s next? Buffalo soldiers? Our nation’s founders? Our Texas heroes? The possibilities are limitless.
Jerry Patterson is a former Texas state senator, former Texas Land Commissioner, and retired Marine Vietnam veteran. He resides in Austin, Texas.
Paul Bogle says
Lincoln wasn’t a hater, Nathan Bedford Forrest was.
This article is of a piece with the Democrat reaction to Ben Sasse’s “Born Alive” bill. If it passes where will it stop?
If we can’t agree Nathan Bedford Forrest was an evil man who deserves derision, not a place of honor because “where will it stop? Lincoln?”
This is a silly silly argument unfitting of a lifelong public servant.
Bill Daniels says
We need to push back on anyone who wants to tear down any monument. People who are upset and ‘outraged’ are never going to be placated, and if you give in, you just encourage them to act out even more. Look at the Confederate plaque that just got removed. Are any leftists happy. Are they satisfied, they finally achieved whatever it is they think they got? NO. They just move on to the next feigned outrage. No thanks, not even detente.
Do not give in any more. There is no benefit. Make the leftists give up some stuff to make up for the stuff they’ve gotten torn down already. It’s OUR turn to get something.
Jerry E Patterson says
Please share how Gen Forrest, the man who disbanded the Klan, was an evil man?
I wish to remain anonymous says
I think this is appropriate given the subject. AISD is losing 1600 students a year and their priority is changing school names. They want to rename Reagan High to Barack Obama High. We are sliding into the abyss.
Re General Forrest:
Although this account of NBF’s association with the Klan is on a blog, it is well-researched and footnoted with sources: https://deadconfederates.com/2011/12/11/nathan-bedford-forrest-joins-the-klan/ The comments section is also interesting.
howie katz says
Jerry, thanks for quoting that piece on the Lincoln-Douglas debates. I never read that. Off with Lincoln’s head!
I’ve written on BJT about my disgust with the disgraceful removal of Confederate monuments and the renaming of schools and parks. History, good and bad, is what is and it should not be rewritten because some rabble rousers among blacks, who make up only 13 percent of the population, claim that those monuments are offensive to their race. I suspect that before this brouhaha about the monuments came to light, 90 percent of blacks had absolutely no idea, with the exception of Lee, who those depicted by the statues were. To most blacks, confederate statues were just roosts for pigeons to shit on.
Bill Daniels says
Are we lumping ‘blacks’ together as some sort of monolithic block? We shouldn’t do that. Better to just call the rabble rousers what they are….SJW’s. The outrage crowd, i.e. the identity politics crowd, use this as a way to divide us. Conservatives, Trump supporters, and libertarians should be offering a way out of that insanity. Instead of joining in with their “us vs. them, wypipo bad narrative, we should be judging people on what they do, not what color they are.
Our side offers blacks and every other group the left likes to make perpetual victims, a better way.
What better way to hone that point than to stand up against money wasting school name changes and statue removals. That money would be better spent buying textbooks, paying teachers, and filling potholes.
Want to be offended? Be offended that kids cant read and be offended that your car got swallowed by a pothole. We offer a strong choice to people willing to take the red pill.
After re-reading this post to confirm his name was not included, why did Nathan Bedford Forrest’s name come up in replys?
Fat Albert says
Mr. Bogle, I’m perfectly willing to concede that Nathan Bedford Forrest was an evil man. Which fact is totally irrelevant since he was never mentioned in the original post.
So, what statues would you tear down? Absent your (silly, silly) straw man argument, where would YOU draw the line?