November 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm #14968
Recently Thomas DiLorenzo has been doing a lot of writing in response to the new Lincoln movie. I am familiar with his arguments concerning Lincoln as a destroyer of the Constitution, but one of the things that I find interesting is his comments that Lincoln actually opposed the passage of the 13th Amendment (or at the very least did not work tirelessly to get it passed as portrayed in the movie).
However, it is difficult to find much evidence supporting this on a quick Google search. He did mention that historian David Donald also made this argument, but I haven’t been able to find any quote from him (or anyone else) making this straightforward argument.
Can anyone provide some insight or sources?November 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm #14969
Try looking at Lerone Bennett’s Forced into Glory. I just got it from my library, but haven’t gotten to the 13th Amendment just yet.November 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm #14970
I had emailed Thomas DiLorenzo this same question and he pointed me to a passage in David Donald’s biography, “Lincoln” on page 554 (the page is available to preview on amazon:
After reading the page in context I don’t see much evidence in that to support DiLorenzo’s claim that Donald believed that Congress “forced” Lincoln into supporting the amendment. In fact the passages on page 554 actually explicitly quotes Lincoln saying positive things about the amendment and encouraging Democrats to support it.
Am I missing something here or is DiLorenzo off base on this?November 30, 2012 at 9:39 pm #14971
koop21, Donald seems to be unclear on that page. In one paragraph, he states, “Lincoln used his personal authority and considerable charm to influence Democratic and border-state congressman who’s votes were in doubt.” In another, he says, “conclusions about the President’s role rested on gossip”.
Here’s a direct link to the page: http://books.google.com/books?id=lTQSlhUUEOQC&lpg=PA1&dq=lincoln%20david%20donald&pg=PA554#v=onepage&q=lincoln%20david%20donald&f=falseDecember 2, 2012 at 1:43 am #14972
That’s my point. DiLorenzo has been repeatedly been citing “page 554” as evidence, but doesn’t quote it or say what on that page is supposed to be this conclusive evidence that Lincoln either 1.) was not influential in passing the 13th amendment, or 2.) actually opposed its passage.
I agree with his portrayal of Lincoln as a racist who was not on a mission to end slavery, but I am not finding this argument that Lincoln somehow opposed the 13th amendment to be convincing.December 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm #14973
If you check out the latest LRC podcast, Lew and historian John V. Denson talk about Lincoln (starts at 44:20). Denson mentions that during the Hampton Roads Peace Conference, Lincoln did not make the South accept the abolition of slavery as a condition for peace. In fact, he said that if the South rejoined the Union, the South would have enough votes to strike down the 13th amendment (this point is made at about 48:00).
Here’s an article from Denson about this conference. Denson summarizes the conversation at the conference, which seems to clearly show that Lincoln wanted the re-unite the Union, slavery or no slavery.December 13, 2012 at 11:10 pm #14974RedsPwnAllMember
As far as I know David Donald Herbert wrote:
“In the spirit of conciliation Lincoln reached out for the support of Democrats as well as Republicans. His annual message contained an earnest plea to political opponents to support the proposed constitutional amendment abolishing slavery throughout the United States. In the previous session of Congress his measure had failed to secure the required two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives, because all but four of the Democratic members voted against it. At Lincoln’s urging, the National Union convention had made the amendment a central plank in the platform on which he and a heavy Republican majority in the next Congress were elected. He now asked the lame-duck session of the Thirty-eighth congress to reconsider the amendment.”
“Without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition,” the President urged the Democrats to rethink their position. “Of course,” he admitted, “the abstract question is not changed: but an intervening election shows, almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass the measure if this does not.” Since adoption was simply a matter of time, he asked, “may we not agree that the sooner the better?” Arguing that “some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, simply because it is the will of the majority, ” he appealed for support of the amendment now.
Not content with rhetorical exhortation, Lincoln used his personal authority and considerable charm to influence Democratic and border-state congressmen whose votes were in doubt. Not since 1862, when he tried hard to persuade border-state congressmen to support his gradual emancipation plan, had the President been so deeply involved in the legislative process. He worked closely with James M. Ashley of Ohio, the principal sponsor of the amendment in the House, to identify members who might be persuaded to support the amendment and invited them to the Executive Mansion. For instance, he had a long talk with Representative James S. Rollins of Missouri, who had voted against the amendment in June, and entreated him as an old Whig and follower of “that great statesman, Henry Clay,” to join him now in supporting the measure. When Rollins said that he was ready to vote for the amendment, Lincoln pressed him to use his influence with the other congressmen from his state. “The passage of this amendment will clinch the whole subject,” the President assured him: “it will bring the war, I have no doubt, rapidly to a close.”
If Lincoln used other means of persuading congressmen to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment, his actions were not recorded. Conclusions about the President’s role rested on gossip and later recollections like those of Thaddeus Stevens, who remarked, “The greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.” Lincoln was told that he might win some support from New Jersey Democrats if he could persuade Charles Sumner to drop a bill to regulate the Camden & Amboy Railroad, but he declined to intervene, not on grounds of priciple but because, he said, “I can do nothing with Mr. Sumner in these matters.” One New Jersey Democrat, well known as a lobbyist for the Camden & Amboy, who had voted against the amendment in July, did abstain in the final vote, but it cannot be proved that Lincoln influenced his change.
Whatever the President’s role, in the final ballotting more than two-thirds of the House members voted for the Thirteenth Amendment and submitted it to the states for ratification. Celebrating, the House adjourned after inadvertently sending the resolution to the President, who happily signed it on February 1. He was untroubled when senators pointed out that, according to a Supreme Court decision of 1798, presidential approval was not required for constitutional amendments. He was convinced that, with or without his signature, the Thirteenth Amendment would root out “the original disturbing cause” of the rebellion and would fully settle all questions about the legal validity of the Emancipation Proclamation. Finally the country had “a King’s cure for all the evils.”
Source: David Herbert Donald, Lincoln, pp. 553 – 554
Seems as clear as daylight to me. 😮
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