Abraham Lincoln: Forced Into Glory
Tom DiLorenzo is a well-known author for, among other things, his work regarding Abraham Lincoln. I have read and can highly recommend his two books regarding Lincoln, The Real Lincoln and Lincoln Unmasked.
This review is about neither of those fine books. The first book I read on the real Lincoln was written by Lerone Bennett, Jr., entitled Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream.
Lerone Bennett, Jr. (born 17 October 1928) is an African-American scholar, author and social historian, known for his revisionist analysis of race relations in the United States. His best-known works include Before the Mayflower and Forced into Glory.
He is most notable for his decades as executive editor for Ebony Magazine, to which he was promoted in 1958. It has served as his base for the publication of a steady stream of articles on African-American history, some of them collected into books.
Whereas DiLorenzo looks at a very broad view of Lincoln – issues regarding the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln's purpose for the war, his views toward the slaves, violations of numerous Constitutional provisions, etc. – Bennett focuses on a small subset of these issues, primarily regarding Lincoln's actions regarding the slaves. I will cover two of these: that of the Emancipation Proclamation, and that of Lincoln's dream to deport the former slaves to a colony somewhere well away from the United States.
I was a child in whitest Mississippi, reading for my life, when I discovered that everything I had been told about Abraham Lincoln was a lie….for I discovered that I lived in an Orwellian world where scholars with all the degrees the schools could give could say in all seriousness that a separatist was an integrationist and that a White supremacist was the ultimate symbol of race relations and the American Dream.
Lincoln or somebody said once that you can't fool all of the people all the time. By turning a racist who wanted to deport all Blacks into a national symbol of integration and brotherhood, the Lincoln mythmakers have managed to prove Lincoln or whoever said it wrong. This is the story of how they fooled all of the people all the time and why.
These excerpts from the preface to the original version give some idea of the passion that Bennett brings to this subject. It is not a blind passion, as he has provided footnotes and cited dozens of works as support for his positions.
The Most Famous Act in U.S. History Never Happened
This is how Bennett introduces his readers to the Emancipation Proclamation. He describes the "mythology" of this act.
The testimony of sixteen thousand books and monographs to the contrary notwithstanding, Lincoln did not emancipate the slave, greatly or otherwise…. John Hume, the Missouri anti-slavery leader…said the Proclamation "did not…whatever it may have otherwise accomplished at the time it was issued, liberate a single slave."
…Lincoln himself knew that his most famous act would not of itself free a single Negro. The second and most damaging point is that "the great emancipator" did not intend for it to free a single Negro, for he carefully, deliberately, studiously excluded all Negroes within "our military reach."
What Lincoln did – and it was so clever that we ought to stop calling him honest Abe – was to "free" slaves in Confederate-held territory where he couldn't free them and to leave them in slavery in Union-held territory where he could have freed them.
Bennett points out that the wording and intent of the proclamation was crafted to keep as many slaves as possible in slavery until he could mobilize support for his plan to ship Blacks out of the country. The Proclamation wasn't the end, but the means to an end – that of freeing the United States of the Negro.
Lincoln's proclamation did not go as far as the Second Confiscation Act, passed by Congress in July, 1862 – several months before the famous proclamation. One day before Congress's Act was to go into effect, Lincoln signed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, effectively nullifying Congress's Act.
In the spring of 1862, Lincoln sat on the District of Columbia emancipation bill for two nights, in order that his friend would have time to leave town with two of his slaves. Lincoln lamented the emancipation of District slaves, at it would deprive families of cooks and stable boys.
Such were the actions of the great emancipator.
Linconia: The Fantasy Plan for Banishing Blacks
In five major policy declarations, including two State of the Union addresses and the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the sixteenth president of the United States publicly and officially called for the deportation of Blacks….it was, in fact, the only racial solution he ever had….
Navy Secretary Gideon Welles recounts the pressure Lincoln brought from the beginning of his Administration regarding developing plans to deport the to-be-freed slaves: "Almost from the beginning of this administration the subject of deporting the colored race has been discussed."
In his first State of the Union Message, Lincoln didn't mention emancipation, but he mentioned Negro removal and urged that steps be taken for colonizing Blacks freed by Congress or acts of war "at some place, or places, in a climate congenial to them."
Bennett demonstrates where Lincoln's priorities were regarding the question of Blacks and slaves in the United States. Additionally, it should be noted that Lincoln believed Blacks had to live only in tropical climates….
Welles was pressured to enter into a coal contract to mine coal in the Panamanian Isthmus – a contract that would provide work for the Negroes Lincoln hoped to deport.
We all know of the Thirteenth Amendment, officially outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude. Bennett recounts two earlier Thirteenth amendments, both supported by Lincoln, neither of which (obviously) successfully amended the Constitution.
The first of these was passed by Congress and sent to the states – ratified by Ohio and Maryland before the process was short-circuited by the firing at Fort Sumter. This amendment would have permanently made America half slave and half free.
I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution….has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government, shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the states, including that of persons held to service…. I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.
The second Thirteenth amendment, proposed by Lincoln but never approved by Congress, was the first of three amendments Lincoln proposed for buying and deporting native-born African-Americans.
Bennett provides so much more in this book of over 600 pages – all of it focused on exploding the myth that Lincoln was the friend of the slave, the great emancipator, and the champion of equal rights. It is difficult to read Bennett's volume and not come away feeling that Bennett was successful in his task.