Smithsonian Magazine: “Black Lives Certainly Mattered to Abraham Lincoln”
By Jonathan White
JMC fellow Jonathan White recently wrote an article for Smithsonian Magazine on Abraham Lincoln and his feelings toward slavery and racial equality:
Last month, the San Francisco Unified School District voted to rename Abraham Lincoln High School because of the former president’s policies toward Native Americans and African Americans.
As Jeremiah Jeffries, chairman of the renaming committee and a first grade teacher, argued, “Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building.”
Such a statement would have perplexed most Americans who lived through the Civil War. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared enslaved people in areas under Confederate control to be “forever free.” Two years later he used all of the political capital he could muster to push the 13th Amendment through Congress, permanently abolishing slavery in the United States…
Jonathan White is an Associate Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He is the author or editor of ten books and more than one hundred articles, essays and reviews about the Civil War. Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln was named a best book of 2014 by Civil War Monitor, was a finalist for both the Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Jefferson Davis Prize, and won the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War was named a best book of 2017 by Civil War Monitor. Additionally, Professor White serves on several historical organization boards and was chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the highest award given to faculty in the Commonwealth.
Professor White is a JMC fellow.
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