Assuming the worst: Clinton on Lincoln and Reconstruction

At last night's Dem forum, when asked who her favorite President was, Hillary Clinton picked Abraham Lincoln and said:

You know, he was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly.

But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.

Ta Nahisi Coates thinks Clinton was adopting the Dunning School view of Reconstruction:

Clinton, whether she knows it or not, is retelling a racist—though popular—version of American history which held sway in this country until relatively recently. Sometimes going under the handle of “The Dunning School,” and other times going under the “Lost Cause” label, the basic idea is that Reconstruction was a mistake brought about by vengeful Northern radicals. The result was a savage and corrupt government which in turn left former Confederates, as Clinton puts, it “discouraged and defiant.”

I completely disagree. First, Clinton was stating, imo, that she thinks Reconstruction would have gone better and differently if Lincoln had survived and not ended in "segregation and Jim Crow.This is not Dunning School, this is Great Man Theory.

Now the Great Man Theory is equally absurd. And Matt Yglesias is right that Eric Foner's seminal book on Reconstruction describes the process correctly:

The now-dominant view, closely associated with Eric Foner's book Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution1, is much more straightforward. The Republican Party was formed by people who didn't like slavery. The Civil War was initiated by Southerners who really liked slavery. Lincoln acted to end slavery. And after the war the Radical Republicans attempted, rather nobly, to impose legal equality between the races.

Reconstruction, in this view, failed because the white South fought so hard against it, and because it turned out that while most white Northerners didn't like slavery, they also didn't like racial equality, and certainly didn't like racial equality enough to invest the money and manpower that would be needed to enforce it.

I agree with Foner and do not believe even a "Great Man" like Lincoln would have held back these forces for a long period of time. The backlash was inevitable.

But this is not a Dunning School mistake. It is a Great Man Theory mistake. In my view, Coates and Yglesias have completely misunderstood what Clinton was saying in that short statement last night. She was not saying Reconstruction was bad - after all, she decried that segregation and Jim Crowism resulted in the backlash. She was saying Lincoln would have found a way to avoid the backlash because, you know, Lincoln was great. And she is wrong on that. The forces were beyond Lincoln imo.

In any event, maybe they should ask her.

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    While I respect the work (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:45:18 PM EST
    of Mr. Coates, I, at first, found his criticism to be unclear, and, secondly, unfounded.  Moreover, it seems that his appraisal of Mrs. Clinton's purpose was overblown.  She was answering the question raised by the student on great presidents; the answer was intended to show the multiple tasks demanded of a president, politician, commander-in-chief, war time president, and visionary.  

    Of course, what might have happened if President Lincoln was not killed is speculative on everyone's parts. But, it is irresponsible not to speculate, apparently.  Ta Nahsi Coates bumped into Sander's supporters with his critique of his position on reparations. Maybe, he is taking turns in his criticisms.

    (Sigh!) Thank you. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:57:02 PM EST
    If there is one thing that I wish could effect on behalf of liberal and progressives in this country, it would be to curtail our mutual propensity to first form circular firing squads and then site each other in our own crosshairs, particularly in the face of very real opponents who've clearly proved themselves to be no friends of civil and labor rights.



    Her response to the student (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by christinep on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 07:17:37 PM EST
    was not meant to be a scholarly treatise.  That she mentioned anything other than answering "who is the greatest" of Presidents is good in and of itself.  Usually, when a candidate is asked about favorite books, most admired people, etc., the answer is brief--name or two plus a sentence of two--because most audiences are there to get a sense of the candidate, not to review a thesis.  

    In the context of a limited & televised "town hall" covering a number of subjects, her immediate explication of the "why" as to President Lincoln makes sense.  Maybe it is because I believe--in general--that our polarized society, our angry components, would grow in a positive way from a growing emphasis in society on forgiveness & expansion of tolerance ... maybe the sore need for what Hillary Clinton outlined as a path to unity really is about our path to unity.  That is what it sounded like to me.


    Exactly (none / 0) (#11)
    by FlJoe on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 07:31:25 PM EST
    Cotes want to make this into a scholarly debate on a issue that would take volumes of history to even try to explain. Hillary was asked to sing a paean to an almost mythical person,  maybe did she go a bit overboard on the "great man theory" but come on artistic license and all that.

    Further, I am confused (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Towanda on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:07:08 AM EST
    by Coates' reference to Reconstruction as the work of Radical Republicans.

    Perhaps he forgets that Lincoln was buried by the time that Congress tackled Reconstruction, under a Southern Democrat as president -- and Lincoln's (moderate, really, not Radical Republican) plan was not won, other than the Freedmen's Bureau and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (which Andrew Johnson vetoed, but Congress overrode him on those two parts of Lincoln's plan).

    Andrew Johnson's plan -- which he tellingly called restoration, not reconstruction -- won, with pardoning and restoring of voting rights to Confederate leaders and the like.

    Radical Republicans' plan was harsh, and they did win the Constitutional amendments that Southern states had to accept to reenter the Union -- but the president aka the Southern Democrat and others in Congress ensured weak, if any, enforcement.

    And there is more to the story, but -- again, the current consensus, if there is one (if ever there is one among historians), seems to me to not support the statement that Reconstruction was Radical Republicans' plan.  It was a muddle that we can understand today can result from a Congress and a president in battle, on a different battlefield, in a continuing war.  


    Last sentence (none / 0) (#7)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:48:29 PM EST
    Exactly my reaction.

    Well, a "Great Man Theory" question (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Towanda on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 08:21:19 PM EST
    . . .was asked, so she gave a "Great Man Theory" answer.

    Plus, as I noted in another thread, she was raised in the Land of Lincoln.  And the Land of Lincoln is not bound by state borders, and Iowa is just across the river.  In the Midwest, saying "Lincoln!" wins votes, every time.

    But back to the question:  In her previous presidential campaign, when asked a differently worded question, about whom she most admires as a role model in history -- a question not bound by gender, by default -- she had a different answer.  I recall it well, as I share the admiration.  Anyone else recall it?

    Eleanor Roosevelt (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by jbindc on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 08:26:20 PM EST
    Yep. (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Towanda on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 12:51:58 AM EST
    I also recall that she got CDS grief for it, with skewing what she said flipped to say that she talked to a ghost. Or saw a ghost.  Or something that CDS sorts heard in their heads. . . .

    Even if so, talking to those gone before us is no deal for me.  Heck, I talk to the dead, too -- sometimes I even yell at the dead for not leaving behind letters and the like to explain stuff that just stymies me, based on lack of sources.

    Now, if someone says that they hear the dead talking to them, well . . . but Clinton didn't say that.  Not that what she actually says ever is heard or read correctly through the CDS filter.  


    That's what she gets for trying to give (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by ruffian on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 10:06:27 PM EST
    a real answer instead of dodging it with a silly joke and picking Bill Clinton.

    In these days of (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 02:42:09 PM EST
    instant analysis and feedback, when everyone has an outlet for opining, historians probably feel obligated to respond when they see something they feel is stated incorrectly. 30 years ago they would have let it go unless they were directly asked to opine, or had an article coming out in a journal.

    It seems like overkill on a remark like this of Clinton's in the context it was given, but I can see Coates thinking he would be criticized by his peers if he did not say something about it.

    It did lead to an interesting discussion. I guess Clinton should be flattered she is being held to the same standards as a historian specialist in the era.

    Coates is a jounalist, not an historian. (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 04:57:24 PM EST
    Thank you. To be fair . . . (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by Towanda on Thu Jan 28, 2016 at 12:49:53 PM EST
    . . . anyone can "be a historian," writing about history, going on tv about history, etc.

    And as for his dropping out of college, lots of folks "do history" who have college degrees.  But did they do a History major, to be trained in how to do history? Is their work peer-reviewed by historians? Do they use the disciplinary conventions (footnotes, etc.) that make the work a contribution to building the body of knowledge?  (Others then can check their sources to test their evidence, interpretations, etc.)  

    So, we would say that he is not a trained historian.

    And that his work -- whether in media or books -- has not been subjected to peer review before publication . . . which puts us through quite a wringer that can provide a far better result, for a contribution to building the body of knowledge.


    Thank you both (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by ruffian on Fri Jan 29, 2016 at 06:12:10 AM EST
    I did not realize that - he writes so much about history, I thought that was hid background.

    It seemed obvious to me (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Jan 29, 2016 at 04:15:00 PM EST
    What her meaning was. And if I had never been transplanted into the deep South I would have thought she was correct.

    After living in the deep South I know, backlash was inevitable and at that time it would have required a deep investment in demanding equality.

    And we remain somewhat frozen in that spot, awaiting leadership or a wave of immigration that will finally make that investment.

    I realize that a lot of "other" people are moving into the South right now. And I know that can also make a difference. I'm tired though. 12 yrs being a Liberal in the deep South is enough.

    Thanks for elucidating (none / 0) (#1)
    by Coral on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:13:12 PM EST
    As a avid Clinton supporter, I found her comment on Reconstruction somewhat confusing. I did agree with her on the railroads and land grant colleges, which helped fuel a post-Civil War boom.

    Haven't read Foner, although his book and lecture series is on my to-do list.

    Great book (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:16:17 PM EST
    Updated edition, Kindle Edition, (none / 0) (#18)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 10:40:41 PM EST

    Foner is a must (none / 0) (#13)
    by Towanda on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 08:13:30 PM EST
    . . . although, of course, we have our quibbles.  

    Because:  We differ; therefore, we are . . . historians.


    Have you read ... (none / 0) (#16)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 09:18:36 PM EST
    ... "Empire of Cotton: A Global History" by Sven Beckert? He takes a global perspective, and rightly notes that cotton was the commodity that launched the Industrial Revolution in the west.

    Beckert argues that cotton's entire premise as a commodity rested upon the ready availability of cheap land and a plentiful supply of cheap / free labor, all of which was underscored by the threat or actual use of violence in order to secure it.

    Thus, as soon as the profit potential of cotton became clear in the latter decades of the 18th century, the transport of slaves across the Atlantic from Africa rapidly increased many fold, as did the forced removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands in what's now Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi in the first half of the 19th century. Beckert even tells how the bond issues that were used by our country to fund the 1803 Louisiana Purchase were brokered by Thomas Baring of Great Britain, who was one of the world's leading cotton merchants.

    It's a fascinating book that offers an economic argument to the wealth of views and analyses regarding our country's path to civil war and its aftermath.



    i.e. Follow the Money (none / 0) (#28)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 09:15:41 AM EST
    Indeed (none / 0) (#2)
    by Kmkmiller on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:16:07 PM EST
    What I've gleaned from this is that new liberal thinkers are reacting to what they feel is a revisionist account that leaves out things like well Andrew Johnson was a white supremacist ... While he supported Lincoln the idea of AAs in government remained abhorrent to Johnson.

    So yeah we should never forget that

    But you don't have to twist and misinterpret a politicians words in order to remember things like that.  Slandering a politician like that is only going to create a defensive reaction among people who are more than open to Coates's perspective.

    Also wanted to say that while The Great Man theory may be debunked, I do believe, however incrementally, we, as a nation, would have been better off if Lincoln lived.

    The backlash to Reconstruction ... (none / 0) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:42:58 PM EST
    ... culminated in 1896 -- twenty years after U.S. military occupation of the former Confederacy ended -- with Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of segregation and reinforced the misguided legal concept of "separate but equal."

    It's now been 150 years since the end of the U.S. Civil War, and it's pretty apparent that on the subject of civil rights and racial / ethnic equality, our country is still very much a work in progress.

    In our own lifetimes, we've experienced a significant blowback to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, with the recent adverse SCOTUS ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, and another potentially adverse ruling pending in Fischer v. University of Texas.

    We just have to keep pressing our way forward, one step at a time and with our eyes fixed squarely upon the prize. And we need to train the next couple of generations who follow us to do the same, because as history has shown us, this struggle will transcend individual lifetimes and generations.

    Mahalo for posting this, BTD. Aloha.

    Thanks for this post (none / 0) (#5)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:45:15 PM EST
    Skimming the news as I often do this didn't make a lot of sense to me.  Better now.

    Probably depends on how one defines (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 05:50:07 PM EST
    "a long period of time."*

    Lee deemed the terms of surrenter of his army generous--all he could have wished for. The remaining Confederacy armed forces subsequently surrendered based on the same terms.


    I agree with Foner and do not believe even a "Great Man" like Lincoln would have held back these forces for a long period of time.

    Statement of clarification from HRC (none / 0) (#12)
    by NJDem on Tue Jan 26, 2016 at 07:38:08 PM EST
    Clinton's senior spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said "Clinton talks frequently about today's injustices, including attempts to suppress voting rights that "go back to racist efforts against Reconstruction."

    Full quote from Clinton's senior spokeswoman, Karen Finney in this HuffPost article on the topic

    Overton Window (none / 0) (#21)
    by Kmkmiller on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:59:14 AM EST
    i'm kinda wondering... if you are a steadfast advocate of overton window politics... wouldn't you argue Lincoln was a crappy president cause he didn't end racism?

    this question came to mind after a couple conversations i had with people on twitter.

    Is there some way that one president can (none / 0) (#46)
    by ruffian on Fri Jan 29, 2016 at 06:15:08 AM EST
    end racism? How is that even possible? That would surely be Exhibit A for the Great Man theory of history.

    Pascal vs Kovalev Rematch Live Stream (none / 0) (#22)
    by assparade on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 04:53:47 AM EST
    Clinton's senior spokeswoman, Karen Finney, said "Clinton talks frequently about today's injustices, including attempts to suppress voting rights that "go back to racist efforts against Reconstruction."

    Pascal vs Kovalev Rematch Live Stream

    Site violator (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 05:52:04 AM EST
    They are not mutually exclusive (none / 0) (#24)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 07:38:21 AM EST
    You can disagree with both and still find Hillary more lacking, as I do. She should have her rap on this sort of topic so honed it rocks the house. She doesn't. It's on her. Ask her? To do what? Serve up the rap she should've already had down. Uh, okay...

    We should not be doing anything but leading HER to her positions, TELLING Hillary clearly what to do and how to do it, countenancing zero bullsh*t from her, because her record certainly indicates she needs lessons in genuinely liberal leadership. But, I have to assume, like every other establishment Dem she would flee screaming from the term the instant someone suggested pinning it one her, even if partially. The right wing won that word battle long ago, and we let them keep it.

    [BIAS ALERT: I will admit, maybe it's because I have blood siblings and relatives who are black, but "Hard working Americans, White Americans" echoes in my head on race with her anytime she gets on the race track, along with her recent dickish (I don't use bitch, find it an oddly accepted and obvious anti-female slur) and condescending and utterly lacking in self-awareness handling of admittedly difficult blacklivesmatter activists in the hallways at one of her appearances. And, hey, since she reminds of of my own mother, and I got mommy issues up the yang, one could argue that's a bias, too. Anyone else wanna step up and confess any prejudices?]

    I think (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 07:48:39 AM EST
    No white politician is going to address this issue to the full satisfaction of the African American community.  They will be accused of "not really getting it" because they "haven't really lived it" (which is probably true, but is also true for every male politician speaking to women), or they will be looked at as pandering (which will also probably be true).  Terms like "white privilege" will get thrown around and it's not really going to be productive until people actually want to listen to each other.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't try to have the conversations, but there will always be those who say, "You can't really talk about this," instead of, "I see where you're coming from and this is a first step into a real dialogue."


    "Full satisfaction?" Never asked for it (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 08:03:36 AM EST
    That's like asking for perfection. But I have no doubt there are TONS of imaginative, caring, intelligent blancos who would do a fine job. Problem is, those folks can't run because of money. And that is all. Think about it. Our entire political system excludes the most imaginative and probably politically effective people because of an inanimate object of no intrinsic value. Money matters more than people. It always gets back to that in Casino America. So pitiful. We need full public financing and a greatly time-restricted campaign season. But we'll get neither.

    And in reality, there isn't a "black community" anymore than there is a "white community." If there were, how easy it would be.


    And to be clear, neither Sanders nor Clinton... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Dadler on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 07:49:42 AM EST
    ...is doing a good job on race. Both are basically stumbling, awkward honkies. But I still take Sanders on the issue if I have to pick one (while voting for the 94 crime bill, a mark against him, he spoke eloquently and very presciently about what he thought the results of our current direction would be). And on policy, as you can imagine, he gets my vote. Of course I would vote Hillary in a general against a Repub. But I wouldn't do so with ANY optimism at all. No more than did for Obama after his Joe Lieberman mentoring and reading THE AUDACITY OF A DOPE, er, OF HOPE (committed activists are the problem!)

    Cause (1.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Kmkmiller on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 11:24:39 AM EST
    Taking a dump on Obama is the best thing for the AA community too, of course.

    Um (none / 0) (#47)
    by jbindc on Fri Jan 29, 2016 at 11:57:21 AM EST
    But I still take Sanders on the issue if I have to pick one (while voting for the 94 crime bill, a mark against him, he spoke eloquently and very presciently about what he thought the results of our current direction would be.

    (A bill the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus supported at the time as well).

    Isn't that EXACTLY the argument you and other Sanders supporters refuse to buy with regards to the AUMF vote?  Why does Sanders get a pass from you on his vote, just because he gave a pretty speech?


    You are not allowed (none / 0) (#30)
    by me only on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 11:53:36 AM EST
    to disagree with The Nasty Coates.  He won't stand for it.

    Lincoln didn't intend to let all black men have the right to vote immediately.  W/o that, southern states wouldn't have had majority black legislatures.  Things would have been different.

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is no more ... (none / 0) (#31)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:23:10 PM EST
    ... the definitive and final word on the subject of Abraham Lincoln and slavery in the antebellum South, than I am or anybody else is. The best that each of us can really do is contribute our own unique (and hopefully informed) perspective to the ongoing historical discussion.

    Hillary Clinton was asked a "Great Man Theory"-type question by the town hall moderator, and she responded both accordingly and from the heart. That her answer didn't rise to Mr. Coates' lofty academic standards is irrelevant because this was simply a town hall meeting, and not a graduate seminar in late 19th century U.S. history at the University of Iowa.

    For Mr. Coates to insist that Mrs. Clinton is somehow wrong, that she simply doesn't get it or worse still, that she is guilty of latent racism by recounting what she had learned about President Lincoln in school, I find that to be the ultimate in intellectual hubris and chutzpah.

    From my own perspective, Coates appears to be more interested in publicly flaunting his own self-perceived moral superiority at Clinton's expense, much as he did earlier at Bernie Sanders' expense, than in actually sparking or facilitating an honest public discussion about racism's historical legacy in this country. I find that dismaying, and he's disappointed me with this exercise in intellectual bomb-throwing.

    (And for the record, I support Hillary Clinton's candidacy, and I freely admit that my own bias in that regard may well be coloring that aforementioned perspective. Further, I should probably plead guilty for having done the same thing on occasion. If we do know more than others about this subject, we ought to be better able to present our arguments in such a manner as to educate others, rather than dismiss them.)

    I was a history major myself, and hold a master's degree in the subject of U.S. history. As an undergraduate, I once had a leftist professor, a self-avowed socialist who responded that my perspective was that of a capitalist apologist and moron when I asked him a question in class. I was first mortified, and then angered.

    Since it was the beginning of the quarter, I promptly dropped his class the very next day. When he saw me the following week in the hall and asked why, I told him bluntly that he had no business insulting my intelligence when all I had done was ask an honest question, and that I had neither the time nor any use for those people who do.



    Well said (none / 0) (#32)
    by Kmkmiller on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:52:03 PM EST
    Just repeating myself I guess ... Coates had an opportunity to educate instead he chose to smear. I know I know.... Coates would say you gotta shake people up (with a smear) before they can hear you, but look....

    You dropped the class.... You stopped hearing THAT voice. Your right.  Well done.


    That's funny, Donald, sort of (none / 0) (#33)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:53:56 PM EST
    I'm pretty sure that nowadays you'd fire back with both barrels and stay in the class just for the sheer entertainment of engaging.

    It's hard to be young.  I was in the same boat, more or less.


    Don't know that this is true (none / 0) (#36)
    by vicndabx on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 02:35:33 PM EST
    From my own perspective, Coates appears to be more interested in publicly flaunting his own self-perceived moral superiority at Clinton's expense, much as he did earlier at Bernie Sanders' expense

    Not begrudging you your perspective, but I don't believe it's calculated around bomb throwing on either side.  I believe his concern is more around

    I have spent the past two years somewhat concerned about the effects of national amnesia, largely because I believe that a problem can not be effectively treated without being effectively diagnosed

    Specifically as it relates to improving the lot of black people in America - and understanding its root cause.  It's not just slavery in other words.

    That is the vein that is similar to both the question posed to Sanders and Coates' response (albeit off base, IMO) to Clinton's answer.


    In the intro to "Reconstruction," Foner (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 03:44:34 PM EST
    Tells an anecdote about himself. He disagreed w/a teacher at n class. She sd., then you have each the class tomorrow. He did (with some prep assistance from his history professor father). At the end of Fonner's presentation, the asked the class to vote. Which argument persuaded you? VFoner only got the vote of his buddy. He says "Reconstruction" is his revenge.

    Coates has no academic standards (none / 0) (#42)
    by me only on Thu Jan 28, 2016 at 07:19:41 AM EST
    he was thrown out of high school and quit college.

    I was making fun of disagreeing with Coates.  When he allowed comments, he had a history of banning anyone who didn't "Amen" everything he said.

    Coates is trying to earn a living as a social commentator.  He is stirring up stuff as an opinion writer in order to pursue a career in his intellectual field, comic books.


    You apparently have not (none / 0) (#35)
    by Towanda on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 02:13:37 PM EST
    read Lincoln's last address, nor his correspondence on black (male) suffrage, years before then.

    Apparently you don't understand it (none / 0) (#41)
    by me only on Thu Jan 28, 2016 at 07:11:19 AM EST
    I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.

    That is not universal suffrage for black men.


    There does not exist a single position (none / 0) (#34)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 01:57:01 PM EST
    she could take which would not be enthusiastically criticized by someone.

    Thanks for this Post, BTD (none / 0) (#40)
    by BackFromOhio on Wed Jan 27, 2016 at 10:46:03 PM EST
    So hard to have a meaningful conversation on the topic.  

    No moral compass (none / 0) (#43)
    by chezmadame on Thu Jan 28, 2016 at 10:59:46 AM EST
    Ta Nahisi Coates? Isn't he the social critic who shape-shifts his opinion to conform to the standard narrative?


    Reconstruction fail was Northern intolerance? (none / 0) (#49)
    by parse on Fri Jan 29, 2016 at 07:07:33 PM EST
    Clinton said that Reconstruction under Lincoln might have been better because it might have been "it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant."

    If you don't believe (as I don't) that the failure of Reconstruction was due to a failure in tolerance, but instead failed because it wasn't vigorous enough in rooting out the persistent power relations in the South, there's nothing respectable in Clinton's assessment.

    To expect to root out deep-seated racism (none / 0) (#51)
    by Towanda on Sat Jan 30, 2016 at 12:27:46 AM EST
    in power relations, persistent for centuries, in only a decade -- Reconstruction ended with the 1876 election, with the deal made to tip the election to the loser of the popular vote, or we would remember President Tilden -- is a tad much to expect, no?

    Yes, that is a bit much to expect (none / 0) (#53)
    by parse on Sat Jan 30, 2016 at 10:45:50 AM EST
    But I'm not sure what that has to do with Clinton's observation. Do you agree with her implication that the failure of Reconstruction was due to a lack of forgiveness or tolerance? Would a kinder, gentler Reconstruction have spared us the Hayes/Tilden deal and allowed the process continue until genuine racial equality was achieved, regardless of how long that took?

    Seeing how things turned out (none / 0) (#50)
    by NYShooter on Sat Jan 30, 2016 at 12:09:41 AM EST
    150 years later, the North should just have let them go; Think how much blood wouldn't have been spent, and, how much better off the civilized States would be today.

    The south (none / 0) (#52)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Jan 30, 2016 at 07:30:52 AM EST
    would probably have aligned with Hitler during WW2.

    Let them go? (none / 0) (#54)
    by parse on Sat Jan 30, 2016 at 10:47:11 AM EST
    You do understand that were black people in the South who might not have wanted to "go," right? Didn't the nation owe them anything?

    Legally, no they didn't owe them... (none / 0) (#55)
    by unitron on Wed Feb 03, 2016 at 01:41:14 AM EST
    ...morally is a whole different thing, but at the time most blacks in the South weren't US citizens, they were, as far as legal status was concerned, a quasi-human form of livestock.

    At the time, most blacks in the South would have continued to be slaves whether the South left the Union or stayed in it, so even in the hypothetical of much of anyone caring how they felt about secession, they probably wouldn't have thought it would make much difference in their lives one way or the other.

    I understand the impulse to say that the nation should do the moral thing rather than the legal thing, but care must be taken when doing violence to our legal framework and rule of law lest we wind up without it altogether.

    If the North really cared about the blacks they could have tried to ram through legislation and Constitutional amendments emancipating them before the South could get organized enough to start secession proceedings