A Dust-Up Over Lincoln and Colonization

For some time most Lincoln scholars have taken for granted the notion that the sixteenth president abandoned his notions about colonization with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. One Lincoln scholar, Mark Neely, took great pains to dismiss an account by Benjamin F. Butler that detailed Lincoln’s continuing interest in colonization as late as April 1865.

Philip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page have asserted that Lincoln continued to press for colonization after he issued the proclamation. Magness went so far as to challenge Neely’s treatment of Butler’s account, leaving the door open to the possibility that Lincoln did meet with Butler in a conversation where the subject of colonization might have come up. Magness also pursued the issue of James Mitchell’s role in Lincoln’s post-proclamation activities.

I found Magness’s work to be provocative, and I invited him to speak at the 2013 Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium of the Abraham Lincoln Association. At about the same time, Allen Guelzo offered a review of Magness and Page’s book to which Magness has taken exception. Basically, Guelzo dismisses a good deal of the book’s argument, while Magness suggests that certain documents whose existence are questioned by Guelzo do indeed exist.

As Magness has charged Guelzo with “professional misconduct” in offering a “willfully mendacious portrayal” of Magness and Page’s findings, this disagreement does not promise to fade away quickly. One hopes that those fireworks do not distract from the more important implication of Magness and Page’s work: that while Lincoln may have gone silent in public about colonization, he remained committed to it as an option (if no longer the only one) behind the scenes.

Another Yankee Plot?

Details continue to come out concerning last weekend’s incident at the University of Mississippi concerning the treatment of a statue commemorating James Meredith’s entry into that institution back in 1962. It might first be a good idea to remind people of the event that statue commemorates:

This blog simply reported the event and the reaction of the folks at Old Miss, without speculating as to who might have placed a noose around the neck of the Meredith statue or who covered it with an old Georgia state flag that features the Confederate Battle Flag.

Other people, however, displayed no such restraint.

old Miss Roden 01


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Nor was such speculation limited to one particular source.


Old Miss Roden 3


Well, we now know that University of Mississippi authorities have sought to meet with three first year Old Miss students from Georgia who are members of the same fraternity, and that the students have been less than fully cooperative to date and have sought legal representation. The students in question are white. The university also suspended the fraternity: the president of the national chapter of that fraternity denounced the incident at the statue. The students in question are white.

Several weeks ago an incident at Arizona State also received national attention, with university officials taking action against the fraternity in question (no word yet on what might happen to the students). This blog deplored that incident as well. Now, how did the people above respond?

Chastain ASU 0Chastain ASU 1chastain asu TwoHmmm. I don’t see anything here about some anti-Confederate heritage plot. Oh, no: the university had a race problem, and the instructors there are part of the problem.

I think we do see something about the true hypocritical nature of one Connie Chastain, the spokesperson and webmaster for the Virginia Flaggers. Then again, folks know she has a racism issue (as well as a homophobia issue, and an interest in defending someone who wishes a woman with whom he disagrees should be a rape victim …. and so on … but that’s the Flaggers for you).

Not all of Connie’s loyal readers agreed:

Backsass ASU 2So we know that these folks don’t think that racist behavior is wrong. It’s just “kids having fun” … just like Matthew Heimbach is “a good guy,” right?

Mind you, there will be a flagging at Old Miss in a few days. As organizer Lani Burnette Rinkel (see above … the name should be familiar) puts it: “We will continue to desensitize the residents of Oxford and hopefully by the time of the Memorial Event, we’ll have them so used to seeing the flag, it’ll be like breathing and completely natural.”

This ought to be interesting.

In the meantime, the investigation into the incident at Old Miss will continue, and we await word on its progress and findings.