Forced into Glory: Lincoln a Segregationist?

Forced into Glory ritten by Lerone Bennett Jr. accuses the “Great Emancipator”, Abraham Lincoln of being an enslaver. The author accuses him of “ethnic cleansing.” According to Bennett “ If Lincoln had had his way, there would be no blacks in America.” Bennett the author will try to prove Lincoln’s real purpose, as president was not to free the slaves, but to prolong slavery until he could put a plan in place to deport all blacks to a foreign shore. The author writes: “Lincoln did everything he could to deport blacks and to make America a great white place.” To the credit of the author, Mr. Bennett, does not claim his book as history. By selecting his words carefully and placing his own interpretation on their meaning, the author is able to weave an ugly view of Abraham Lincoln’s history and attempts to envision a theory that slaves freed themselves.

The author begins his book with the notion that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave and that Lincoln deliberately exempted slaves in those areas under union control to keep slavery alive as long as possible. The author is correct in concluding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed few if any slaves. The declaration of Independence did not free any slaves, it took a war to succeed with that. The declaration established the principle that war would be fought and freedom would be won, similarly the proclamation did not end slavery, it itself established a principle under which the civil war would be fought and won.

The author writes as if Abraham Lincoln held the power to abolish slavery any time he chose. Bennett concludes that the President did what necessary to avoid slaves from being free including turning to war because he did not have the power to abolish slavery. Lincoln’s proclamation did not free slaves in certain areas because the president did not have any authority to free them. The Emancipation Proclamation justification was a military order designed to hurt the enemy according to the author.

Lincoln’s Proclamation called for black men to serve in the union army, displaying an effort of lowering the bar on the road to equality, the author would have us believe that Lincoln did this against his will because he was forced to by abolitionists who came to control Lincoln, by this he was dubbed “Forced into Glory”

The proclamation did many things for history; it bound slaves by legal protection, which allowed slave owners to retain their slaves. Only through lengthy court hearings would slaves be free. Slavery would end only through force: Political and physical. Lincoln commanded both.

The author states that whatever Lincoln believed in his heart regarding social equality, he believed slavery was morally wrong, and he said so on many occasions. “ If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.” Southern leaders knew his views, which is why they rejected his presidency. The author contends that Lincoln is a “White Supremacist” whose every effort was to prolong slavery. It is important to focus on what Abraham Lincoln did as opposed to what he said, It would do the author, Mr. Bennett and the rest of us well to heed Lincoln’s words. “History is not history unless it is the truth.”

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