Friday, June 10, 2011

Abraham Lincoln

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896)
From The Lincoln Anthology: Great Writers on His Life and Legacy from 1860 to Now

All month long, American libraries and educational institutions will be hosting events to commemorate the 200th birthday of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was born on June 14, 1811. Her masterpiece Uncle Tom’s Cabin is often considered the most influential work published in the nineteenth century, and one of the most famous apocryphal quotations attributed to Abraham Lincoln underscores the novel’s outsized reputation.

But what did Lincoln really say to Stowe? In an interview with The Library of America, Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Joan D. Hedrick tells us what we know—and what we don’t know—about what happened:

In 1862 Stowe traveled to Washington to meet with President Lincoln to assure herself that he was serious about proceeding with the Emancipation Proclamation. The meeting between the tall, lanky president and the literary woman who stood less than five feet gave rise to the story, told in family biographies and often quoted, that Lincoln greeted Stowe with the words, “So you’re the little lady who wrote the book that started this great war.” One would give a good deal to know the details of this meeting, but the accounts leave almost everything unsaid. Stowe wrote to her husband Calvin, “I had a real funny interview with the President . . . the particulars of which I will tell you.”
Although no account of their meeting by either Stowe or Lincoln survives, the following year the novelist did write a portrait of Lincoln for the largely Baptist readership of the Watchman and Reflector. The reception with the president must have assuaged her concerns; Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation only weeks after their meeting, and Stowe’s article paints a flattering picture of his background and unreservedly supports his reelection. Stowe did quote Lincoln at one point, and it’s very likely she was recalling their famous conversation at the White House. The sentence is also the article’s most eerily prophetic line about “this dreadful national crisis”: “‘Whichever way it ends,’ he said to the writer, ‘I have the impression that I sha’n’t last long after it’s over.’”

Note: The Wilmot Proviso, referred to on page 87, would have banned slavery in any territory acquired during the Mexican-American War.

The revolution through which the American nation is passing is not a mere local convulsion. It is a war for a principle which concerns all mankind. It is THE war for the rights of the working classes of mankind, as against the usurpation of privileged aristocracies. You can make nothing else of it. . . . If you don't see the full story below, click here (PDF) or click here (Google Docs) to read it—free!

6 comments:

Roberta said...

The U.S. does not have "classes." It has no nobles, peasants or fiefs of any kind. It has rich and poor, powerful and weak, fortunate and unfortunate, but none are relegated by law to a "class." Slavery was a "class" and this was fought in the battle led by Lincoln who was president of the U.S. at the time of the Civil War. This war eliminated any "class" structure protected by law but the U.S. was still left with many problems to solve, economic difficulties, ethnic hostilities, etc. Some of these problems are still actively being solved. The economic problem of finding workers forced to work in the oppressive heat of the southland had been solved by technologies which had been shown to southern landowners before the conflagration but who were reluctant to change traditional southern patterns and their own sense of "superiority." One famous example was the cotton gin invented before that time, which was an economic advance to the landowner and should have helped do away with "need" for slaves. But the resort of the police action (enforcement of the law banning slavery) within the nation of the U.S. was finally required according to the majority of the will of the people of the entire nation as represented in Congress.

bluedog said...

Obviously you are not a member of the LGBT subclass in this country. We are still struggling to obtain first class citizenship in this country, being only offered "civil unions" as a "separate but equal" means of being "united," in a very few minority of states. A very few other states allow us to b married. However, the other states unconstitutionally (separation of church and state, equal protection under the law, and full faith and credit clause) refuse to recognize marriage, or even the civil union status. We still pay "first class" taxes but only receive "second class" benefits, if that, especially from the Federal Government due to the illegal DOM law. Only LGBT citizens have the distinction of having their rights voted down by other citizens in this country. I obviously mistakenly thought that the Bill of Rights existed to protect the rights of the minority from the wrath of the majority. Even LGBT citizens in the military have to suffer the indignity of serving in foreign wars only to have their discharges under the illegal DADT law postponed until they get back to the States. And you say that there are no "classes" in the United States.

Anonymous said...

Yankee propaganda. Spinning was as alive and well in the 19th century as in the 21st.

Anonymous said...

The Emancipation Proclamation unfortunately did
NOT free the slaves north of the Mason Dixon
line, on Southern territories.

Anonymous said...

We totally have classes. Way to go bud, feel free to look up the definition of class. Just because it isn't recognized by law doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Ntinos999 said...
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