Religious right broadcaster Kevin Swanson agreed with one of his guests that Abraham Lincoln imposed socialism on the United States during the “war against the South” – more commonly known as the Civil War.
Swanson hosted neo-Confederate author Walter Kennedy last month on his radio program, reported Right Wing Watch, where the pair argued the Republican Party had been founded by “radical socialists and communists.”
“The Democrats, both Northern and Southerners, believed in limited government, and the Marxists hated that concept,” Kennedy said. “They wanted to do away with states’ rights and limited government so that they’d have one big all-powerful indivisible government that could force its will upon the American people.”
The broadcaster – who has argued the Disney hit movie “Frozen” was a satanic tool for indoctrinating girls to become lesbians — agreed with his guest, saying Lincoln and Mark Twain helped ruin the U.S. by replacing Southern slavery with socialist slavery.…
The author told Swanson that Lincoln had given a “big boost” to communism by winning the Civil War and then created a federal government that began an “incessant attack on religious values in America.”
“What Marxist dictator could ask for less?” Kennedy said. “All of these communists that have wormed their way into power, into powerful positions, they began to influence other people to pursue this objective of a big, indivisible government, and government supplants God as being sovereign.”
Tag Archives: Lincoln in Memory
You hate to generalize about people, but modern apologists for the Confederacy tend to be really, really bad at using primary sources. As Andy Hall once said while discussing a particularly hilarious example, “Forget interpretation. Forget analysis. Forget trying to understand the document within the context of the time and place it was written; these people don’t even seem capable of reading the documents they cite.”
Now Brooks Simpson has drawn our attention to the latest instance of a neo-Confederate trying to make sense of a document and failing spectacularly. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a doozy.
Over at Cold Southern Steel, a diligent researcher and defender of Southron Heritage presented what he believed to be evidence that Lincoln had a slave. This supposed evidence had been hiding in plain sight in the 1860 U.S. census, but had apparently gone unnoticed for lo these 150 years.
Here’s a close-up of the census list which was posted to Cold Southern Steel. As you can see, it indeed names one Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, IL, occupation “Lawyer,” along with the members of his household.
Included in the list is “M. Johnson,” an eighteen-year-old female. Her occupation?
So right there it is, proof that Abraham Lincoln had a “servant” in 1860. Ergo Lincoln was a slaveowner. Right?
Well, no. “M. Johnson” was not a slave. She was Mary Johnson, a free white girl employed by the Lincolns.
In this context, “servant” doesn’t mean an enslaved person. It’s a job description. In the nineteenth century, many middle-class families employed young women and girls as house servants, often on a live-in basis. A lot of these women were immigrants from Ireland or Germany. In Springfield, about one-fourth of the homes had hired help of this kind around the time Lincoln lived there.
As a prospering family headed by a respectable lawyer, the Lincolns employed several women over the years, some of them as live-in servants. For example, eighteen-year-old Catharine Gordon was working and living with the Lincolns in 1850, and appears in the census for that year. In 1860, the same year that Mary Johnson turned up in the census, Mary Todd Lincoln employed a Portuguese teenager named Charlotte Rodruiguis as a seamstress. A woman named Margaret Ryan claimed that she witnessed some of Mary Todd Lincoln’s worst behavior during her employment in the house, although the chronology behind her claims is iffy. (Richard Lawrence Miller discusses the Ryan evidence in the third volume of Lincoln and His World.) These women and girls were not slaves bound to work for life. They were not the property of the people in whose homes they worked.
Now, here’s the really funny part. The proof that Mary Johnson was a free woman is right there in the 1860 census, the very source being offered as evidence that she was a slave. In other words, the problem here is that the blogger in question simply doesn’t know how to read the document.
Here’s the page in question.
See the very top, where it says “SCHEDULE 1.—Free Inhabitants”?
That’s sort of an indicator that all the folks in that list were, you know, free inhabitants of Springfield. The 1860 census counted slaves separately. You’re not going to find any slaves officially listed in a census list of free inhabitants.
Of course, you’re not likely to find many slaves documented in the census lists for Illinois at all, since Illinois was a free state. (Funny thing you’ll notice about slave states and free states: the slave states tended to be the ones with slaves. An interesting coincidence, that. You know how Peanut M&M’s are the ones with peanuts, whereas the plain M&M’s are the ones without them? It runs somewhat along those same lines.)
Now, check out the very bottom of the list, where all the individuals are tallied up by race and gender.
Twenty-six white males, fourteen white females. All forty people on the page present and accounted for, and each one of them white. This list does not include any African-American residents of Springfield, let alone enslaved ones. Incidentally, the Lincolns did employ a free black woman named Mariah Vance as a cook and laundress a couple of days a week for ten years.
Now, just because these women and girls were free doesn’t mean their lives were all beer and skittles. By many accounts, Mary Todd Lincoln was an absolute Gorgon as a boss, difficult to please and tight-fisted. She was particularly critical of Irish girls—the “wild Irish,” as she referred to them in a letter to a relative. According to the NPS, Mary Johnson was of Irish background herself, so she was probably on the receiving end of Mrs. Lincoln’s temper at one time or another. (For information on Mary Todd Lincoln’s domestic help, check out Jean Baker’s fine biography, pp. 105-08).
But the women and girls who worked for the Lincolns were not chattel slaves, and were not the family’s property, despite the fact that they worked in the home and sometimes lived there.
There’s a lot of neat information to unpack in that list of names. It shows us a time when middle-class Americans were very conscious of their status, when hired help was an indicator of that status, and when working in someone else’s home was the fate of many a young European-born immigrant girl. It tells us a lot about the Lincoln family’s economic and social circumstances, about how they saw themselves and wanted to be seen by others. It offers us a glimpse of a world somewhat similar to our own, but also strikingly different in terms of the way people conceived of their ranks and roles.
But it doesn’t show us evidence of slavery, and it takes a spectacularly negligent misreading to make it say otherwise. Primary sources are wonderful things, but only if you know how to make sense of them.
UPDATE: Now the guy is claiming that he never said the Lincolns had slaves, despite the fact that he titled his post “Lincoln and his slave.”
I can understand why the folks at Glenn Beck’s news outlet would get a kick out of Hillary’s Lincoln mistake. But the admonition against removing a speck from your neighbor‘s eye seems awfully appropriate here.
Hillary Clinton was speaking in Chicago yesterday, and this happened:
A senator from Illinois named Lincoln? There might’ve been, if a guy named Stephen Douglas hadn’t gotten in the way. Lincoln served a term in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate.
I never know how much to make of it when politicians trip over history like this. When it’s something said in passing, it’s hard to tell if the person just misspoke, or if it’s really a case where an eminent public figure genuinely has no idea what they’re talking about.
To me, the really interesting thing here isn’t the flub about Lincoln, but the way Clinton has assimilated the whole Team of Rivals thing into her personal history, with herself cast in Seward’s role as the frontrunner who becomes a member of the victor’s cabinet. It shows you how deeply Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book has penetrated into the way American political leaders remember and make use of history.
Word of advice, dude: Lincoln has dealt with rebel militants before. Might want to reconsider.
FLINT, MI — Dennis Lazar never thought a quick tweet would lead to anything big, but it resulted in one of the most famous U.S. presidents coming back to life — as an evil clone.
Lazar, a 27-year-old Flint native now living in Chicago, sent out a tweet as part of a Heineken-led contest in which people tweeted out their best ideas for movie plots. The winning idea would be chosen, handed over to a Hollywood crew, and turned into a 15-second movie that would be premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Here’s how this should play out: As Linclone’s reign of terror unfolds, the scientists realize that the only way to stop him is to genetically engineer an assassin using DNA from the John Wilkes Booth vertebrae at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Linclone then constructs a gigantic mecha from parts of the Enola Gay at the National Air and Space Museum. A climactic, CGI-heavy battle ensues on the National Mall. Roll credits.