I recently got the chance to watch Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (thanks NetFlix), and even though it was a great piece of fiction, there are some historical things that bothered me.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, has become a man of legend. It makes perfect sense that he was a Vampire Hunter on the side. Seth Grahame-Smith did an awesome job of incorporated the tale of the vampire in to the history of the United States and the Civil War.
But that’s not what this post is about … this is about Abe Lincoln’s black friend.
This was the one thing in the movie that I could not suspend belief for, and here’s why…
Abraham Lincoln has gone down in the annals of history as the “freer of slaves” and the saving grace of the modern-day Republican party. PUH-LEEZE … thanks to America’s piss poor education system and the systematic misrepresentation of slavery and all other things considered “black history,” you’ve got the wrong idea about this man.
Lincoln was anti-slavery – not an abolitionist. To clear up any confusion, abolitionist thought that it was immoral for any human to be enslaved; anti-slavery meant that you didn’t want it where you lived but it was okay for it to stay in the South. One thing that both had in common is that they didn’t believe in equal rights for the races.
Go ahead and re-read that last sentence …
You probably also think that the Civil War was a war to end the institution of slavery. Nah, not at all. The Civil War was began because the Lincoln administration was pissed that the Southern states had went through with secession and were hell-bent on teaching them a lesson and getting them back. Yes, slavery was the hot button issue of the day. But the discussion was about stopping the spread of it, not stopping it completely.
But what about the Emancipation Proclamation?!?!
Truth is, it did not free the slaves. I’ll spare you all the details and focus on the important part. The document ordered that slaves in the 10 states in rebellion be treated as free men by the Union army. This was Lincoln’s command as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces – not a law passed by Congress. As a result, millions of slaves were freed by Union troops or freed themselves. Some owners freed their slaves because they simply couldn’t afford them anymore.
So how did slavery get abolished, Mimie???
Glad you asked, dear readers. Slaver was abolished on a Federal level by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was decreed in 1863.
All that being said, I find it hard to believe that Abraham Lincoln had a black friend. I doubt he felt Blacks should be treated as equals. He only wanted slavery to not exist – in Illinois.
The time has finally come … time to pick the first two books we (or I) will read exclusively for the blog.
A Mercy by Toni Morrison vs On Beauty by Zadie Smith
In the 1680s the slave trade in the Americas is still in its infancy. Jacob Vaark is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh North. Despite his distaste for dealing in “flesh,” he owns a small girl in part payment for a bed debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, who can read and write and might be useful on his farm. Rejected by her mother, Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master’s house, and later from the handsome Blacksmith, an African, never enslaved, who comes riding into their lives. A Mercy reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart, like Beloved, it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and daughter – a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise the abandonment.
Howard Belsey is a middle-class white liberal Englishman teaching abroad at Wellington, a thinly disguised version of one of the Ivies. He is a Rembrandt scholar who can’t finish his book and a recent adulterer whose marriage is now on the slippery slope to disaster. His wife, Kiki, a black Floridian, is a warm, generous, competent wife, mother, and medical worker. Their children are Jerome, disgusted by his father’s behavior, Zora, Wellington sophomore firebrand feminist and Levi, eager to be taken for a “homey,” complete with baggy pants, hoodies and the ever-present iPod. This family has no secrets–at least not for long. They talk about everything, appropriate to the occasion or not. And, there is plenty to talk about.
The other half of the story is that of the Kipps family: Monty, stiff, wealthy ultra-conservative vocal Christian and Rembrandt scholar, whose book has been published. His wife Carlene is always slightly out of focus, and that’s the way she wants it. She wafts over all proceedings, never really connecting with anyone. That seems to be endemic in the Kipps household. Son Michael is a bit of a Monty clone and daughter Victoria is not at all what Daddy thinks she is. Indeed, Forster’s advice, “Only connect,” is lost on this group.
The two academics have long been rivals, detesting each other’s politics and disagreeing about Rembrandt. They are thrown into further conflict when Jerome leaves Wellington to get away from the discovery of his father’s affair, lands on the Kipps’ doorstep, falls for Victoria and mistakes what he has going with her for love. Howard makes it worse by trying to fix it. Then, Kipps is granted a visiting professorship at Wellington and the whole family arrives in Massachusetts.