Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lincoln was assassinated today

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on this day in 1865, one of the most profound tragedies of the entire tragic episode of the U.S. Civil War.

It's hard to know for sure what would have happened had Lincoln lived, of course, but it's reasonable to believe that things would have been significantly better for the country.

For one thing, Lincoln was altogether a much more admirable person than Andrew Johnson. Indeed, Johnson was one of the most disagreeable people to ever occupy the White House. Johnson was completely inadequate for the challenge he faced, whereas Lincoln had already proven himself. And Lincoln would have had the legitimacy to see through his vision of the postwar rebuilding and reconciliation.

Instead the process got off to a bad start and went downhill from there. In the end it took another century before the promise of the Civil War began to be fulfilled and more than 150 years later the process is incomplete, as illustrated by the recent controversy in Virginia.

Sadly, the assassin often achieves his goal.


  1. Hi Seth.

    I think these historical postings are a good read. Short and informative. Keep them coming.

    Being from Norway, I don't know what the recent controversy in Virginaia is about. Care to enlighten me?

    Stig Morten

  2. The short version is that the Republican governor of Virginia (which contained the Confederate capital) issued a proclamation honoring Civil War History Month which was very effusive in its praise for the brave southern soldiers who defended their state from an invading army while managing to avoid any mention (it was a long proclamation, too, with many "whereas" clauses) at all of slavery.

    I think it can be hard for people in other countries to understand the persistent nature of this wound in American society. Indeed, it's not easy for me to understand it.

    Still, the Civil War, race and the related sectional issues are not the dead history they should be at this stage, a century and a half later.