Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

From Honest Abe:

"No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."


"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway 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 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. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything." The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, "Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois" (September 18, 1858), pp. 145-146.

Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects. (Herodotus)

You see, reading Lincoln today one would call him the most vile of racists, but he is the one we honor as the great emancipator. What has happened here is that 150 years have passed since he said that. He lived in a different time.

Some contend that Abe was gay because there is evidence that he sometimes slept with other men while travelling. Nice try, but people on the road often shared beds with other people in his day.

We can't apply our norms and values on past generations.

Abe's as great now as he ever was.

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