Friday, June 10, 2005

Abe Lincoln: Tyrant?


History can tell us the facts of what happened at a specific time in the past, or it can use the facts to tell us about the tenor of the times, the personality of a culture, the dreams and fears of a people. Neo-Neocon is reading a book on John Wilkes Booth called American Brutus which seems to show that the time of Lincoln had eery similarities to our current era:


The Civil War was unlike anything known in modern times, and the nation came closer to collapse than most people realize today. Emancipation of slaves, confiscation of property, and the draft often led to deadly clashes between the public and civil authorities. The political storm threatened not only the federal government, but state governments as well...
In the middle stood Abraham Lincoln, blamed for the war and fired upon from all sides. It was not just the fringe element who hated the president; judges, senators, editors, and otherwise respectable citizens left no doubt of their contempt for him as well.
One senator compared Lincoln to the tyrants of history, saying "They are all buried beneath the wave of oblivion compared to what this man of yesterday, this Abraham Lincoln, that neither you nor I ever heard of four years ago, has chosen to exercise..."
To that senator and countless citizens, Abraham Lincoln was the American Caesar, out to establish a new empire from the ashes of a republic. Thus, the name of the book: American Brutus, which is how Booth saw himself. Some newspapers of the time even called for Lincoln's assassination, explicitly invoking the Brutus comparison.


Read the rest.