Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Lincoln" and Founding Myths


The myth of the founding fathers – that they were broadly defenders of freedom and that American history is centered in their biographies - dominates the New York Times and much of its commentary. There was an officially weighty and stunningly foolish review of such biographies on the front page of the Sunday Book Review two weeks ago by Jill Abramson, the Times executive editor. Purportedly reviewing Jon Meacham’s new book on Jefferson, The Art of Power, it actually suggested which books consumers might want on their coffee tables, perhaps to read, because they invoke Presidencies on behalf of currently salient political problems.

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Meacham’s book stresses that Jefferson dealt with political conflict in Congress and surmounted impasses (or as Janet Maslin says, in yet another Times review, a bit more acidly on Wednesday that he was not just a generic “philosopher” but a politician). And that is taken by Abramson to be relevant to – and hopeful for - gridlock in Congress today which “voters” putatively worry about. This is a misguided way of putting it since Romney wanted to “defeat gridlock” after his party sabotaged any agreement with Obama by destroying what is decent here.

Most people are worried about substance...

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And some of us worry about the Republican party being the party of authoritarian and imperial racism – sneering at the electorate that wonderfully reelected Obama in Mitt Romney’s airheaded and bullying last statement to his donors about how public decency is really “gifts” and “freedom” represents imposing the maximum suffering on and stealing every last dime from poor folks. Romney is the guy who has his minions rifle the pockets of a homeless man…

And even under Obama and the new electorate and determined effort which elected him against the odds – a drumbeat of corporate media publicity from the .0001% (we even know names of some of these shadowy fortunes like Sheldon Adelson and David and Charles Koch), the Democrats often collapses to the Right. They will raise taxes slightly on the rich but now Harry Reid announces that stealing some social security from old people – when social security is not in trouble – might just be a “compromise” (we had better get together, democratically, and press the Obama coalition from below).

Would the “electorate” or even Jill Abramson then cheer?...

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During the election, Obama, to his great credit, did not budge on bombing (or allowing Israel to bomb) Iran. But Obama still operates in what I have named the right-wing two step of American politics, that the Republicans can always attack from the right, funded and publicized by a trillion dollar war complex, and the Democrats, similarly though to a lesser extent funded by the rich, often acquiesce. Obama’s statement on Gaza and the predation of Israel - that Israel “defended itself” against Hamas missiles – Israel occupied the territories and initiated the most recent episode by murdering a teenager - is obscene.

In addition, Obama fires drones regularly into Pakistan in his worst act of criminality as an American President. Do Pakistanis then have the right to defend themselves against the United States? (Of course, the occupied Gazans, imprisoned by Israel, are in a stronger position morally to fight back even than the Pakistanis, though the missiles, mainly ineffective but murdering five innocent Israelis, are counterproductive and unwise).

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Hillary Clinton did, however, help broker a cease-fire through Prime Minister Mohammed Morsi in Egypt on Wednesday.

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America also desperately needs to deal with climate change. Here the ravaging of New York and New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the increasing reality of global warming. Obama and Christie working efficiently on aid helped reelect Obama since it underlined governmental sanity and decency. It is for what purposes one overcomes "gridlock" that is important.

Mayor Bloomberg then rightly named global warming – the best outside intervention in this election, comparable to Colin Powell’s memorable comment mourning the Afghan-American who at 20 gave his life fighting in Afghanistan and the importance of inclusiveness in 2008 – but the kept media did not, even in the face of this Hurricane, otherwise mention it.

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Obama looks to be able in a second term to grant freedom and recognition to some eleven million immigrants on whom America has preyed (cf. the defeat of Romney on “self-deportation” and the sudden “Republican” hope to neutralize intense resistance among many Latino voters).

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The greatness distant from and required of America – to stop the obscene torture of the Palestinians, to free blacks and chicanos and poor whites in the prison system (see Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow) and retreat from being the largest police state - 25% of all prisoners - in the world (the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington gives Obama here a chance to strike a blow at the prison system if he has the courage to take it) and global warming – as a species, we really are not going to be here for more than a century unless protest from below forces the corporate press and American politicians to shift on this - are all difficult but possible.

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Perhaps nature will continue to wage a war - with help from British Petroleum and Fukushima and drought in the West and Hurricane Sandy...Perhaps Obama could take Lincolnesque leadership on this…

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Meacham is a creature of the establishment, a former editor of Newsweek and unintentionally hilariously, according to Abramson, "a supporter of the social status quo." (Abramson edits the "reporting" pages of the Times which have been often ridiculously pro-"Republican"...).

Meacham offers no original thoughts about Jefferson - she praises him for being "up to date" on scholarship. The idea that a new 700 page book would satisfy academic expectations by repeating what is already known from others is foolish. But he does, she tells us, have some fresh anecdotes...

Abramson apparently thinks such remarks a recommendation, though tucked in this uncomfortable ballad to unoriginality and the status quo is the thought that it is all "not conceptually bold"*:

"Books in this mode [the "Flawed Giant" cliche to which she dutifully does obeisance] usually present their subjects as figures of heroic grandeur despite all-too-human shortcomings — and so, again, speak directly to the current moment, with its diminished faith in government and in the nation’s elected leaders."

"Few are better suited to this uplifting task than Meacham. A former editor of Newsweek, he has spent his career in the bosom of the Washington political and New York media establishments. His highly readable biographies are well researched, drawing on new anecdotal material and up-to-date historiographical interpretations (thereby satisfying both journalistic and scholarly expectation). At the same time his rendering of people and events reflects and reifies Establishment values and ideals. His new book lacks the conceptual boldness of those by Ellis and Gordon-Reed but lies close to his own preoccupations — as gleaned from the many glittering names in his acknowledgments, from Robert Caro to Mika Brzezinski, that exhibit an impressively well-tuned appreciation for the social status quo." (Jill Abramson, "Grand Bargainer ‘Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power,’ by Jon Meacham," New York Times Sunday Book Review, November 2, 2012, p. 1 here)

What his book may ornament is some cocktail party conversation about gridlock.

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In an interview with Salon, Meacham insists that he has not let Jefferson “off the hook” about slavery.

"[interviewer]: I really want to talk about the way Jefferson dealt with slavery. You write that “he knew slavery was a moral wrong and believed it would ultimately be abolished. He could not, however, bring himself to work for emancipation.” You make a point of saying in the book that he needs to be judged in the context of his times. But there were politicians of that era who did work for emancipation. And you’ve just praised his ability to compromise, to settle for half a loaf. But isn’t this a moral issue where he should not be let off the hook so easily?"

"{Jon Meacham] Totally. The greatest failing of his life, and he is very much on the hook for this, is that he did not apply his essentially optimistic nature informed by a pragmatic skill set to slavery. And do you know why he didn’t do it? There are two reasons. One is: He tried as a young man and he lost. He tried as a lawyer, he tried a couple of bills in the House of Burgesses, he tried anti-slavery sections in the Declaration of Independence [sic - he blamed King George for stirring "domestic insurrections," that is slave revolts which the colonists sought to crush - the Declaration is, in fact, the opposite of an abolitionist document - and in draft sentences removed in the final document, blamed the British for the slave trade], and he prohibited — in 1784, this is very important, in 1784 he wrote a draft of the ordinance for new territories that would have prohibited slavery and it lost by a single vote. It’s a very important thing."

"It failed by a single vote, and he has this marvelous line about — I think a representative from New Jersey wasn’t there, it’s always about New Jersey — and he wrote in his autobiography, `For the want of a single vote, God was silent in that awful moment.'"

"So, here’s what happened: I think he decided to give up because he didn’t want to be defeated decisively and in public. The damnable thing about this is that if anybody was clever enough, as you just said, or skilled enough to have tried at least to have pressed ahead with more progressive legislation, it was him. And the fact that he didn’t is a thing for which he will be ever condemned by history, I think. And rightfully so."

Now Jefferson, as politician, expanded the territory of slaveholding with the Louisiana Purchase and the Missouri Compromise, even though he knew, early on, that slavery is evil. Jefferson knew the evil he was committing even though as Meacham says in a single good line "he could not envision a biracial society while creating it [with Sally Hemmings]."

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In yet another review in the Times (November 21, 2012) here, Janet Maslin names what is silly about the book up-front:

"The word “self-evident” has different relevance to Jon Meacham’s new biography, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.” “The Art of Power” takes less note of how self-evidently Jefferson’s personal life as a slaveholder violated his principled talk of liberty. But that is another recurring theme in this temperate, only modestly ambitious biography."

And she adds acidly:

"When it comes to the force that he wielded as a slaveholder, Mr. Meacham finds ways to suggest that thoughts of abolition would have been premature; that it was not uncommon for white heads of households to be waited on by slaves who bore family resemblances to their masters; and that since Jefferson treated slavery as a blind spot, the book can too."

But as my Black Patriots and Loyalists (May 2012) shows, the issue of emancipation was central, on both sides, in the American Revolution and thus, hardly "premature" or "anachronistic." Those phrases are the dodge of conventional and in this respect dramatically misleading biographers like Meacham, some well-known historians like Gordon Wood, and the just-opened Museum of the American Revolution. See here. It takes effort not to look at slaves and poor whites as agents, to maintain the myth

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As reviewer and editor, Jill Abramson celebrates the remaking of Presidents for current use, to take color from and give color to immediate settings. Meacham’s book serves as a pretext and is not, in the long review, much explored.

Perhaps Abramson really did not like the book more than Maslin but decided to cast it up favorably among the general recountings of the Myth of the Founding Fathers and the Presidents, and the Times (and reviewers') unwillingness very much to come to grips with rank and file protest, black and white, and the racism which has profoundly damaged American history. See here.

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The movie "Lincoln" is thus a much more advanced example of this genre, and one which deals with perhaps the most significant moral passage in the history of American Presidencies: the 13th Amendment. This Amendment, a result of Civil War, of carnage sweeping away some 600,000 dead and of huge mass movements from below like those led by John Brown which at Harper's Ferry, triggered the War, outlaws slavery and indentured servitude in America at home and abroad (foreseeing perhaps some colonies).

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Difficult to pass, hanging by a thread in the House, probably doomed if the surrender occurred before its passage, the Amendment contains the miserable clause “except for those duly convicted of crimes.” The Ku Klux Klan-“Democratic” Party South, which won a bloody victory through lynchings of decent people in 1876, used this clause to make a crime of being black and send large numbers of people to work and die as slaves for big corporations like US Steel, as Douglas Blackmon retells in his fine Slavery by Another Name. Blackmon worked as the Atlanta Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, and his book, revealing an important passage in social history, has broken through to some mainstream publicity – see the good review in 2008 by Janet Maslin, "What Emancipation Didn’t Stop After All" here.

My colleague Arthur Gilbert teaches Black Patriots and Loyalists, Slavery by Another Name and Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow to underline the depths of American racism, still explosive today (racism about Obama was at the heart of much of the "birther" "Republican" Presidential campaign from Trump to Romney; the prison-industrial complex; the murder of Trayvon Martin...).

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But the 13th Amendment grandly removes the blot of slavery in the American constitution. See here and Staughton Lynd’s edited collection on Class Conflict, Slavery and the US Constitution (Bobbs-Merrill, 1968, reprinted Cambridge, 2009).

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"Our" founding “fathers” were often slave-owners. That is, from the standpoint of human freedom, at least as important a fact about them as that they led the first new nation to independence.

For 52 of the first 72 years of the Republic(from 1788 to 1860, the election of Lincoln), the Presidents owned slaves. The only ones elected twice whipped and sold and raped - or their male relatives raped - human beings...

Thus, their conception of democratic freedom, equal basic liberties, was often peculiar at best – restricted to white men. What they created, John Laurens, now not much discussed as a central figure until Black Patriots and Loyalists, Tom Paine, and Benjamin Franklin, among others, excepted, was not a free regime and one which has paid an unspeakable price in blood and corruption for the racism of its founding.

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In addition, pace Abramson, Lincoln was no tepid creature of the establishment, frequently a sign, since it is celebrated merely for its social significance, of personal dullness, but rather a self-taught lawyer from Illinois and the first successful Presidential candidate of a new party. And of course, the American Revolution was also a revolution, bringing to power those often not before prominent in colonial circles.

Correspondingly, outsider aspirations and writing might cast up some novel insights into American politics beyond the recycling of biographies of the Founding Fathers...

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But despite its real merits, “Lincoln” is not quite accurate even about Lincoln. In the course of the Civil war, Lincoln did issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He did so late, two years in. There is a history to how he came to lead so strikingly for justice, shown in the film in his relation to Thaddeus Stevens, an at last abolitionist politician to an abolitionist truth-teller (Tommie Lee Jones as Stevens is as startling as Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln).

For Lincoln would, for a long time, have kept the Union with slavery rather than fought a war against the Secessionist South to abolish it.

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Lincoln's greatness was driven by black soldiers who fight in the beginning of the film against white Confederates and kill them (as the Confederates murdered black soldiers) and are there in the scene of the surrender. Black people, including perhaps a silent and unnamed but outside the movie, marvelously eloquent Frederick Douglas, appear upstairs in Congress at the final vote.

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But they are mainly glimpsed in the surroundings, as are the black men and women who attend to Lincoln and Stevens (Stevens’ housekeeper turns out charmingly to be his love). There are conversations at the beginning, the black soldier speaking with Lincoln of being paid $3 less an hour, and the poignant words of Lincoln and a black woman whose son has died fighting for American liberty and emancipation. She speaks as his proud mother and though a servant, as an avatar of the spirit of democratic liberty.

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To put it in broader perspective, 184,000 black soldiers - as Frederick Douglas said, you respected our freedom only when we died for the Union - won the Civil War for the North and were, centrally, the real patriots.

The film only implies this. But as the first scene suggests, the experience of what emancipation meant in life inspired Lincoln's determination to write these words forever into the Constitution...

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But this movie is also primarily about Lincoln as a President, a white man surrounded by white men and women (notably Mary Todd Lincoln), black soldiers and servants as background, determined to fight for freedom.

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Steven Spielburg once gave us "Amistad," where the uprising of blacks on the slave ship is the central issue along with American and to some extent British justice.

Even there, former President John Quincy Adams (played by Anthony Hopkins), the dedicated and eloquent fighter for freedom, was a central figure, along with Djamon Huntsou as Amistad.

"Amistad" is a different film, one also connected to the surprising decency of a former President, though focused in a trial - a secure, judicial setting - and yet this time with the revolt at sea as its name.

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But blacks and poor white abolitionists fought from below (not just in Congress as Thaddeus Stevens does in the movie) and discussed and shaped politics - John Brown who initiated the Civil War or Harriet Tubman** or Douglass. To reveal them would shift away from the "establishment" stories of the great men, the Presidents or Kings and Queens and actually get to democracy. See my Black Patriots and Loyalists, out this past May, for a pointed contrast during the American Revolution here.

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What is the significance of "Lincoln" in the genre? Unlike the standard air-headedness about Presidents which is ingredient to the American celebration and the Times as a Fourth of July reviewer/perpetuator/keeper of the flame, and unlike accounts of past Presidents imprisoned by current issues even when important (“All the news that’s fit to print") trimmed to the present-day and thus not dealing deeply with problems and the movements which gave them life, this film makes Lincoln's determination to defeat slavery vivid.

Bondage is the American issue, what has made America the monstrosity as well as the engine of freedom and democracy, which it is (genocide toward native americans and the seizure of a large part of Mexico and exploitation of chicanos also figure centrally).

The reelection of Obama, again a determined multiracial effort, is another important blow - still very limited in relation to the mass imprisonment and unemployment of young people - to make at last "a more perfect union."

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But don’t hold your breath in this era of non-Keynsianism - the denial of the central scientific insight in modern economics, that in a depression, the government needs to hire the poor to engage in public works or cut their taxes and thus, put new demand into the economy, even in "economics" departments and more importantly, public policy accompanied by the stealing money from the poor and the old – for a film about FDR and the fight of the Unemployed Councils and unions in the 1930s for unemployment insurance, social security and the right to unionize.

All of these would barely be mentioned in a Hollywood or New York Times biography version of Roosevelt, the negotiations for the Wagner Act in Congress, in a hypothetical or fantasy parallel, would be all important.

Oh yes, FDR and Eleanor and the English King and Queen - War against the Nazis - does make the big screen...

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Don’t hold your breath for the scenes of anti-racist organizing from below or the tale of the Scottsboro boys or Angelo Herndon on trial for his life…

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But “Lincoln” commendably shows the President’s determination to use the war to consolidate emancipation. It underlines the political difficulties of it, the fragility of the sudden triumph. It shows why Thaddeus Stevens, like Frederick Douglass, was abruptly and with difficulty swept along because Lincoln fought for and gave his life for making the American democracy a serious and lasting experiment in freedom, despite Civil War, and in spite of all.

Lincoln's words, signed by the blood of his death, are the deepest and most human moment in the American story.

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I, too, shed tears as he descended the White House stairs that last time.

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The movie shows Lincoln backhandedly purchasing votes of Democrats for the Amendment. It shows Lincoln going himself to speak to some of the waverers.

It shows some of them voting against the Amendment, but one suddenly realizing what freedom is, and shouting "Aye."

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The movie shows the House, a petty and preening instituton of American politics (the Senate is even worse), a people’s body to a limited extent (pretty much, all lawyers and wealthy now), actually doing something – almost despite itself - of moral grandeur.

It shows why Thaddeus Stevens (who had paid a heavy price, who had been beaten and crippled seated at his desk on the floor of the House by one of the fanatic racist Southern politiicians – Tommie Lee Jones walks with a cane but the film does not share why) - supported Lincoln: Daniel Day Lewis speaks wonderful lines about how they are both true north, but there are obstacles, which must be surmounted, on the path to getting there.

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Douglass was furious for a long time about Lincoln’s wretched efforts to secure the Union and keep slavery. But as Lincoln acted, Douglass saw and rose to and honored what Lincoln was doing.

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Lincoln was not simply for what was right. But he fought for what was right across the most formidable obstacles and brought the democracy to what is genuinely a new birth of freedom, one greater than the gradual emancipation in the Northern states during and following the American Revolution (see again Black Patriots and Loyalists).

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The 13th Amendment I had known was in 1865. But Tony Kushner’s script reveals how Lincoln fought to make the Emancipation Proclamation not an instrument of war – to be abolished when Jim Crow was restored – the principled law of the United States. Despite a future century of awful setbacks, the 13th amendment made the constitution a document of freedom.

Before that, it was but the Bill of Rights for white men and a license for bondage.

Today, even the “Republicans” who want to overturn Brown v. Board – the Supreme “Court,” echoing the infamous voter suppression by “Tea Party” secretaries of state may soon reverse the protections of the 1965 voting act - are unable to overturn the 13th Amendment and often refer - unintentionally ironically - to the moral greatness of Martin Luther King…

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This film reveals to each of us the moral grandeur of Lincoln and the sacrifice of so many from below, so many soldiers, to write decency with their blood into the Constitution.

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The movie casts up Lincoln’s use of executive power to save the union, in “Lincoln”’s words here, not just as a way of stripping habeas corpus from traitors – those who advocated for the confederacy in the North, as C. Herman Pritchett, a teacher of constitutional law at Chicago with Leo Strauss, emphasizes in his once well-known textbooks. Pritchett's courses are where Herbert Storing and all the neocon teachers of “prerogrative” or “executive power” to Cheney – Robert Goldwin in particular as well as Michael Malbin – found their “precedent”…See here.e

Instead, the movie shows more deeply that the Emancipation Proclamation which freed Southern “property” in humans for military reasons, could easily have been reversed by the foul Dred Scott court (that decision echoed Article 4 section 2 clause 3 of the then Constitution which sought to prevent blacks against from escaping to the Crown to fight for freedom and against the bizarre and sometimes aware of freedom, often deeply averse to it slave-owners who proclaimed freedom to the world while…enslaving human beings. See here.

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Executive order alone, as Lincoln saw, could not make American democracy free. The post-Civil War Courts could easily have reversed it. Only the 13th Amendment could consolidate it. It was that far-sighted transformation for freedom, making the Constitution a clean and not a slave-owner’s document and ultimately realizing (to the extent it has been realized) the promise of democracy in America which Lincoln, who was himself a lawyer, saw and politicked for.

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Having just been on a civil rights delegation with the Dorothy Cotton institute in Palestine, having lived long with the sense of my childhood friend Andy Goodman going down for freedom and equality from Walden School in New York (a progressive school, named for Theoreau and Walden Pond) to be murdered, along with James Cheney and Michael Schwerner by the sheriff and a mob in Philadelphia Mississippi in Freedom Summer, 1964, a century after the time depicted in the movie, I am keenly aware of how frail freedom is here, and the price, particularly by ordinary black, latin, indigenous, asian, arab, jewish and other white people, that has been given for it.

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This experience of fighting from below, particularly by black soldiers, gave Lincoln the determination to fight through in the House, the drama of the film, for the 13th Amendment against a premature peace which would have reconsolidated racist wretchedness in America. Lincoln saw that executive power was not enough, that there must be leadership for equal freedom, but that the people – institutionalized in the Congress – must stand up for it.

That is, surely, a great and important idea caught in this movie even though the movement from below that led to it is neglected or elided. It is not the only causal story in the Civil War but it is, for once, an important one about Presidential leadership.

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Lincoln’s greatness – his commitment to freedom and democracy – his eloquence, his humor, his family life, and his assassination are all caught in this movie with great power.

Lincoln is also merciful, pardoning a young man who could have been shot as a deserter (perhaps he sees his son, Robert), speaking at the end of the film of respecting others: “with malice toward none, with charity for all.” He and Obama (who has learned from Lincoln and Gandhi and King) are two figures in American politics who stand for defeating but not destroying opponents, for looking to the good of democracy, for trying to secure a decent peace.

But Lincoln was great, and his politicking is great because, amidst the Civil War and corruption, he fought to extend freedom (his policies toward native americans are another matter, however).

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But does this capture what ordinary people did for emancipation? Do the blacks who drove America at immense price – they produced the America of the South, the foul mansions, and they drove victory in the Civil War – are they really and fully here?

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Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independece, published after 4 years review and 16 years work by the University of Chicago Press, tells the story of fighting for freedom/emancipation from below before and during the American Revolution. See here. It makes clear that our revolution for independence was part of a great international revolt against slavery staring in twenty uprisings in the Caribbean which sailors, black and white, carried to London and Boston in the 1860s, and which was taken up in the working class taverns and revolutionary crowds, not high places.

Black Patriots and Loyalists shows how blacks came to fight on both sides for emancipation, how the Royal cause initially overshadowed the American in this regard, but how many Americans from below and in high places like the forgotten John Laurens carried through the fight for freedom. Laurens was a founding father who wanted to free slaves and lead them into battle and pressed a Congressional Resolution for this - the Laurens proposal - which triumphed in 1779, freeing and recruiting 3,000 blacks in South Carolina and 2,000 in Georgia, the zenith of serious freedom in the American Revolution. (Note: gradual emancipation in 1780 in Pennsylvania and the 1782 emancipation by the high court in Massachussetts, among others, were also great acts of freedom). The American story - a democratic story - is hardly just a tale of Presidents and Founders.

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This story the New York Times, though it often reviews Chicago books in history, has not yet covered. The Abramson review, giving the stamp of the editorial page to often empty Presidential biography writing, is a low point in recycling the myth of the Presidents and how it gets on coffee-tables.

But as the movie “Lincoln” shows, even within this limited genre, one may reach for greatness. That movie is not incidentally related to the reelection of Barack Obama, the new coalition which pushed for it, the fight from below to keep America a democracy and moving slowly toward freedom and decency against great odds…


*For a conceptual equivalent, check out David Brooks's vaporous column in the Times Friday which touts Lincoln's handling of the 13th Amendment as an emblem of all mainstream politics.

**Gwendolyn Briley-Strand does brilliant performances as "Harriet Tubman: the Chosen One" and there are films of these. I saw her perform at ASALH, the Association for the Study of Afrcan-American Life and History, and if you want the grandeur of the Americans who risked everything for freedom, her work is startling.

2 comments:

JolietTom said...

Alan, I love your work and insights. I briefly met you at the UIC Slavery and Its Aftermath and purchased your book after your remarks.
I am not an academic. I recently listened to Dr. Stephanie Kelton in her recent appearances on Harry Shearer's LeShow and Sam Seder's Majority Report. She edits and contributes to the blog site www.neweconomicperspectives.org. Inasmuch as you register your dismay with the overwhelmingly non-Keynesian times in which we now live, I wanted to enthusiastically mention her progressive economic views.

Alan Gilbert said...

Tom,

Thank you very much. I will look for Stephanie Kelton; Keynsian insights are strongly out there for instance in Paul Krugman's columns, but as he rightly mourns, there is a primarily political barricade, led by the "Republican" party, acquiesced in by many Democrats, to block measures which the unemployed desperately need.

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