Before I explain my argument, I’d like to address a few broad assumptions I’m making. First, postmodern discourse believes there is no fact, only perspective. People are incapable of retelling history objectively because we either consciously or unconsciously add our opinion. I’m not sure I’m cynical enough to believe that, but I’ll accept it as true for the time being. Second, any major event that happens in American history, we attribute blame or credit to whoever was President. (Thanks, Obama). Third, we’re taught that history is polarized. Good guys and bad guys. Black and white. No gray.
Lincoln is the GOAT. He’s an American hero. He’s on our money. We name towns and businesses after him. We’ve given him a god-like memorial. He deserves it, right? He abolished slavery. He guided the national through the most trying time in our history. He preserved a torn country through the Civil War. He was morally sound, politically fair and a model citizen. We call him Honest Abe. This is what we are taught to believe.
We’re taught the best version of American history in school. Americans are always the good guys. Our country was the underdog who rose to power and now rules the world. Each individual in this country can do the same. Everyone here wants something more. E Pluribus Unum. We are one from many. That’s what it says on the tail of a penny. Lincoln is the head. He kept us as one.
Lincoln made the right political decision with his support of the 13th Amendment, because he’s now on the right side of history. He believed slavery was morally, economically and politically wrong but he admitted he didn’t know what to do about it in the current political state because he was not an abolitionist. In fact, early on, he said the easiest way to get rid of problem could be colonization, or to just have the black people leave. He believed the Founding Father’s sentiment that “all men are created equal” and he believed that applied to black and white people alike, however, he didn’t believe that meant they deserved the same rights. Liberal theory believes there are two approaches to equality: sameness or recognition of difference. Lincoln would have been a proponent of difference in equality. While blacks should be able to improve their position in society; that does not mean they should be treated the same as whites.
Lincoln is a victim to his time period. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a big deal that a President at that time outwardly said slavery is wrong, we should get rid of it and then he actually did something about it. But he wasn’t a radical. He was a politician who made a decision when he was pressured politically. His action makes him a hero. But his politics were not perfect. We know that now if we choose to recognize it. Most people don’t. We need our hero.