‘The Party of Lincoln’ Looked the Other Way While 1 Million Black Americans Died

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That’s the conclusion of a new scholarly book entitled Sick from Freedom, by Connecticut College historian Jim Downs. Early reviews of the book tend to repeat the historically false and cartoonish notion that Lincoln “freed the slaves” by the stroke of a pen with an “executive order.” The truth, of course, is that the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to “rebel territory” where no slaves could be freed, specifically exempted all areas, including West Virginia and numerous parishes in Louisiana that were controlled by the U.S. Army, and was defined by Lincoln as a “war measure” that would end immediately if the war ended. If the war ended the day after the Proclamation was announced, then nothing at all would have been done about slavery by the Lincoln administration. Thus, it was designed to free no one and was roundly denounced by genuine abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison. It was the Thirteenth Amendment that ended slavery in 1866. Lincoln, meanwhile, was busy plotting to deport every last black person out of the U.S. up to his dying day, as documented in another Oxford University Press book, Colonization After Emancipation by Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page.

 Sick from Freedom shows that as many as 1 million of the freed slaves died from cholera or smallpox while the federal government, controlled by The Party of Lincoln for half a century after the war, did essentially nothing at all about it. Thousands of ex-slaves returned to work on the plantations where they were previously enslaved because the alternative was starvation and death from disease.

The main priority of The Party of Lincoln at that time (from 1865–1890) was its war of genocide against another colored race, the Plains Indians, in order to “make way for the railroad,” as General Sherman himself announced. The U.S. army, aided by ex slaves known as “Buffalo Soldiers,” eventually murdered some 60,000 Plains Indians, including thousands of women and children, while putting the rest of them into concentration camps known as “reservations.”

So far, the naive and historically ignorant media, such as the New York Times, have expressed shock over the notion that this book, along with several others published in recent years, seems to challenge the “established view” that in the 1860s all Northerners were angels sent by God to take up arms to murder hundreds of thousands of barbaric Southerners solely for the benefit of black strangers in places like Mississippi and Louisiana, where almost none of them had ever been. This of course has been the defining philosophy of American imperialism ever since 1861: Resisters to the American empire, from nineteenth-century Southerners, to the Plains Indians, to turn-of-the-century Filipinos, to anyone anywhere today, are supposedly legitimate targets of extinction so that the earth can be “civilized,” American style. It’s called “American exceptionalism.”

6:03 am on June 18, 2012