The astonishing thing about this paper on Abraham Lincoln is that it is needed at all or is considered controversial. In my opinion, one does not have to be a scholar to ferret out obscure and suppressed facets of history to see Abraham Lincoln as he was.
My views on this subject are not unusual. They are those of the overwhelming majority of Southerners both immediately before, during and for decades after the War between the States. My views were also shared by many in the North and the West. Only the passage of time and the studious cultivation of the myth of Abraham Lincoln, coupled with his timely death (timely in the sense of being providential for his place in history) have caused Abraham Lincoln to be raised to the level of a sacred cow in American history.
Nevertheless, even contemporary events show that the place and role of Abraham Lincoln in American history are a subject which is very sensitive to the Establishment. When Professor M.E. Bradford of the University of Dallas was nominated by President Reagan to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, a storm of abuse and controversy exploded. Professor Bradford's sin was that he had the effrontery to criticize Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times launched the attack, followed by a host of other establishment liberal spokesmen and institutions and joined by so-called "neo-conservatives" such as George Will. Mr. Will excoriated Professor Bradford as "the nostalgic Confederate remnant of the Conservative movement" and made it clear that neo-conservatives have no use for any criticism of Abraham Lincoln. Obviously, Professor Bradford touched a raw and sensitive nerve when he criticized a president who has been dead for over 120 years. One wonders after the lapse of so many years why this matter is such a vital, important and sensitive one.
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