Fake News & Abraham Lincoln

Republicans are talking a lot about Fake News these days and it is interesting to note that the founder of the Republican Party, President Abraham Lincoln, also had to deal with it during his campaign for president, as Doris Kearns Goodwin writes in her great book, Team of Rivals:

“Although increasingly infuriated by Southern misrepresentation of his positions, Lincoln confined expression of his anger to private letters. Upon hearing from the New York Time’s Henry Raymond that one of his correspondents, a wealthy Mississippi gentleman named William Smedes, had justified the state’s “blaze of passion” for secession on the grounds that Lincoln was “pledged to the ultimate extinction of slavery, holds the black man to be the equal of the white, & stigmatizes our whole people as immoral & unchristian,” Lincoln issued a blistering reply. As evidence Smedes had cited an “infamous” speech Lincoln had purportedly given on the occasion when Chase was presented with his silver pitcher by the free blacks of Cincinnati. For such a speech, Smedes proclaimed, he would “regard death by a stroke of lightning to Mr. Lincoln as but a just punishment from an offended deity.”

“What a very mad-man your correspondent, Smedes is,” Lincoln replied, countering that he “was never in a meeting of negroes in [his] life; and never saw a pitcher presented by anybody to anybody.” Moreover, he went on. “Mr. Lincoln is not pledged to the ultimate extinction of slavery; does not hold the black man to be the equal of the white, unqualifiedly as Mr. S. states it; and never did stigmatize their white people as immoral & unchristian.” (p. 295). Doris Kearns Goodwin. (2005). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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