Getting Right With Lincoln: Mike Pence

Less than twenty-four hours after Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted her party’s presidential nomination, Abraham Lincoln entered the contest. Or at least Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president, wanted to weigh in on a recent controversy by citing Lincoln.

Pence attempted to explain the comments of Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump concerning whether Russia had gained access to the e-mails of then-Secretary of State Clinton by invoking the words of the first Republican president (at least as he remembered them):

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump wasn’t trying to encourage Russia to hack Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails earlier this week, Trump’s vice presidential pick Mike Pence said ― he was just trying to be like Abraham Lincoln.

Pence, the governor of Indiana, invoked the Civil War-era president on Friday while defending Trump’s statement that he hoped Russian hackers have Clinton’s emails.

“He’s just simply saying, ‘gosh, if they’re out there somewhere, I would like to see them.’ … You know, Abraham Lincoln said, give the people the facts, and the republic will be saved,” Pence told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “I mean, I think that’s the point that [Trump is] making. He’s not encouraging some foreign power to compromise the security of this country.”

Pence is fond of invoking this quote, and he’s used it before to advise a president as to what to do:

“Is this the tapes thing?” Bush asked, referring to two ABC News reports that included excerpts of recordings Saddam Hussein made of meetings with his war cabinet in the years before the U.S. invasion. Bush had not seen the newscasts but had been briefed on them.

Pence framed his response as a question, quoting Abraham Lincoln: “One of your Republican predecessors said, ‘Give the people the facts and the Republic will be saved.’ There are 3,000 hours of Saddam tapes and millions of pages of other documents that we captured after the war. When will the American public get to see this information?”

Apparently that did not happen.

It’s a commonplace observation that everyone running for office wants to have Abraham Lincoln on their side, and it must be nice when that’s the case. So we can now expect someone to ask a historian what Lincoln really said, and we’ll await that series of reports.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to point out to the Republican standard bearers that once you bring Lincoln into a presidential campaign as an authority, you leave yourself open to having other people quote Lincoln as well. And so I’d like to leave them with a Lincoln quote from 1855:

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.

Well, we know someone who likes Russia.

44 thoughts on “Getting Right With Lincoln: Mike Pence

  1. tmheaney July 29, 2016 / 11:15 am

    Don’t forget Trump’s own discussion of the “something” that Lincoln did:

    “Well, I think Lincoln succeeded for numerous reasons. He was a man who was of great intelligence, which most presidents would be. But he was a man of great intelligence, but he was also a man who did something that was a very vital thing to do at that time. Ten years before or 20 years before, what he was doing would never have even been thought possible. So he did something that was a very important thing to do, and especially at that time.”

  2. The Other Mark July 29, 2016 / 1:34 pm

    This is the same Russia about which President Obama told its Prime Minister he’d have more flexibility in dealing with after his reelection in 2012?

    The same Russia about which President Obama mocked Romney for his statement that it was an enemy?

    Looks like President Obama needs to get right with Lincoln.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 29, 2016 / 1:42 pm

      I don’t think the incumbent has asked the Russians to become involved in the current election. That’s a no-no.

      • The Other Mark July 29, 2016 / 2:05 pm

        That’s true. She just settled for making her emails available to them.
        By the way, I am not voting for either of the major party candidates.

        • John Foskett July 31, 2016 / 7:33 am

          The incumbent is Barack, not Michelle. And I guess it’s no wonder that Mitt has publicly savaged the fear-mongering race-baiting demagogue who his party reluctantly nominated.

      • Lyle Smith July 29, 2016 / 7:32 pm

        The incumbent need not have invited the Russians to become involved in the current election, because with the incumbent in charge the Russians do whatever the hell they please.

        • rorywashburne July 29, 2016 / 10:48 pm

          Doesn’t it tell you something that Russia wants Trump to win? If Obama lets them do whatever they want then wouldn’t they be hacking Trump and the GOP’s emails? Anyway enough about politics. I wanna read more about this Fredericton Douglass character.

        • Derek July 30, 2016 / 2:18 am

          Only one has a campaign manager that is a buddy with Putin and a national security advisor that was paid by Russia Today. Trump has made millions with his friends of Putin and the documentation is massive. Tell us why in the first time since I have been alive, the party of Lincoln has removed any concern about Russia from its plank? Or any mention about the Russian occupation of Crimea?

          • John Foskett July 31, 2016 / 11:02 am

            According to The Donald, the Crimea has nothing to do with the Ukraine. He must make his own maps, as well.

    • John Foskett July 31, 2016 / 11:00 am

      As of today it’s the same Russia which, according to our Reality TV star, has no designs on the Ukraine. Even for a guy who admits to getting his knowledge of foreign affairs from “watching tv”, this is a bit disconcerting. Of course, maybe the tv he’s watching is Duck Dynasty.

  3. Michael Bradley July 29, 2016 / 2:09 pm

    As I recall, Thomas Jefferson posed the question “Who ever knew the truth to come out second best in a free and open debate.” I wonder if Gov. Pence has the wrong president?

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 31, 2016 / 2:39 pm

      Of course, when the truth concerned Jefferson, he wasn’t so thrilled.

        • Brooks D. Simpson July 31, 2016 / 5:27 pm

          Perhaps you should answer your own question. But clearly that gets Lincoln off the hook set by many of his critics.

          • Michael Bradley August 1, 2016 / 9:41 am

            My answer to my own question is that none of us is happy when confronted with the truth about ourselves. I do not think any of us have a true vision of who we are, only of who we think we are.
            Instead of letting anyone off the hook this “sets the hook” in all of us.

            Perhaps Robert Burns provides an apt quotation:
            Would that God the giftie gie us
            To see ourselves as others see us.

          • Brooks D. Simpson August 1, 2016 / 10:45 am

            Well, thanks for the philosophical diversion from the original post.

  4. Pat Young July 29, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    That is one of my favorite Lincoln quotes.

    Thanks for posting it.

  5. Michael Rogers July 29, 2016 / 4:08 pm

    Oh Dr. Simpson. I don’t think our empty suit air headed governor is worth much of your time. He probably learned that Lincoln quote (or paraphrase) in high school. My wife who generally leans Republican placed a Fire Mike Pence sign in our yard months ago. If folks think Dan Quayle was an idiot, be very afraid if Pence becomes VP

  6. terry6400 July 30, 2016 / 11:08 am

    Abraham Lincoln Quote

    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

    by: Abraham Lincoln
    (1809-1865) 16th US President

    Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858
    (The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume III, pp. 145-146.)

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 30, 2016 / 10:06 pm

      I’m sure you think you have a point. Unfortunately for you, this quote has been discussed in this blog. Apparently you aren’t a careful reader.

      Your behavior reminds me of the accuracy of Frederick Douglass’s assessment of the relationship between Lincoln’s prejudices and his hatred of slavery. It appears you find that hard to grasp.

      Why are you so predictable? But thanks for proving my point about such matters. I can always depend on you in such circumstances.

  7. TFSmith July 30, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Given Mr. Trump’s recent remarks regarding Capt. Khan and Mr. and Mrs. Khan, perhaps this is the Lincoln quote Mr. Pence should have brought to his running mate’s attention:

    I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

    I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

    Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

    But perhaps not.

    What pissant excuses for men Trump and Pence are…

    • bob carey August 1, 2016 / 7:05 am

      After all the negative reactions to his statements and tweets about the Khans you would think that Trump would know enough to shut-up, but he isn’t. The man is a egomaniac piece of crap no better than the jerks from the Westboro Baptist Church.

      • John Foskett August 1, 2016 / 11:59 am

        Of all of his innumerable offensive actions, the worst may have been his response that he’s made “sacrifices”. Like what – giving up a full round at one his resorts to go file a Chapter 7? What a truly revolting excuse for a man. As bad as I’ve always thought he is, this process demonstrates that he’s even worse. I’ve compared his campaign to George Wallace’s. Shockingly I may have been unfair to Wallace.

        • TF Smith August 1, 2016 / 10:58 pm

          Wallace was a mean POS who consciously chose to turn his cracker constituents’ racism into a political tool, but you know what? He volunteered for hazardous duty, saw combat, and, in fact, suffered pretty significant damage to his health because of his service.

          The current nominee of the party of Lincoln, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, McKinley, TR, and Eisenhower is a five-time draft dodger, including his obviously faked “health” deferment, plus (of course) four years of college deferments.

          And none of his three wives and four children, as far as I can tell, are worth as much to this country as Capt. Khan and his family.

          • John Foskett August 2, 2016 / 6:11 am

            And he isn’t even a bleeping “business man”. He’s a self-promoting narcissist who has gamed the bankruptcy system to rip off creditors. He was playing in Gotham with his slum lord Daddy’s money while the guy he has publicly mocked was being tortured in a North Vietnamese prison. He really is just a very very bad guy.

          • bob carey August 2, 2016 / 8:33 am

            I must disagree with your statement about Trump’s health deferment. I think it was legit based on him being deemed mentally unstable. He proves it all the time.

          • Kristoffer August 2, 2016 / 8:35 am

            It’s fuzzy, but I’d err on the side of caution and wouldn’t rule Trump a draft dodger, considering he first had student deferments, then was ruled medically disqualified except in time of national emergency, which was in fact plausible due to his substantial athletics activity, then was completely disqualified due to an administrative change of draft classifications:
            “Many politicians followed the same path through the 60s – Dick Cheney, for example, had student draft deferments in the early 60s pre-Vietnam War years, so did Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders. Student deferments only seem to matter when we’re talking about Republicans, though.

            [in comments]However, there are any number of conditions that can exclude people from military service that would not necessarily keep them from being athletic. The difference is that the military needs you to be ready from the start on their terms and isn’t inclined to give you a free pass during times that you aren’t performing at 100%.
            Bone spurs, observed decreased range of motion in certain joints, mental disorders diagnosed or implied, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, any organ which presents as abnormal in size, asymptomatic heart or lung abnormalities, abnormal lab values that imply underlying genetic abnormalities with the potential to impact military service etc etc can all disqualify a person.
            While there are written guidelines for conditions that preclude military service, reenlistment, aviation, diving etc., many conditions are waiverable and granting of waivers is extremely variable, but if the person doesn’t want to pursue a waiver, it won’t happen on its own.

            [another comment]I was in Infantry training in the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in the winter of 1972.
            I remember out in the field that winter seeing my Platoon Sergeant wrapping Zippo hand warmers against his knees with old socks before getting in his sleeping bag.
            He had bursitis in his knees so bad he needed them to be able to sleep in the cold.
            Yet he was jumping out of airplanes and humping the bush with his troops.
            Where there’s a will there’s a way ….and where there’s no will there’s no way.”

            As for Captain Khan:
            “When Republicans do it, it’s political stunt, but, when the Democrats do it, it’s a “rare opportunity”. Our buddy, Denise Williams, herself a Gold Star mother, sends this video message to Mr. Khan (you’ll need to turn the volume way up or use earphones);”

      • TF Smith August 1, 2016 / 10:50 pm

        The way he’s digging, he’ll be hitting the mantle before too long…

  8. John Foskett July 31, 2016 / 7:35 am

    Shout out to Mike Dunce: You are aware, I assume, that Abe was the first President to crash the big-spending big-government no-personal-income-tax barrier, right?

  9. rcocean July 31, 2016 / 7:52 pm

    Yes, in many ways Lincoln was a 21st century liberal. Given his atheism and love of “the other” I have no doubt he would’ve been a supporter of “diversity”, open borders, and affirmative action. Of course, there are all those nasty comments supporting white supremacy, ethnic jokes and American nationalism, so there’s that.

    • Kristoffer August 1, 2016 / 6:35 pm

      I wouldn’t call Lincoln a white supremacist. The only way you can say that is using quotes that aren’t carefully analyzed. Neither would I call Lincoln an atheist for his entire life. For a objective, not-afraid-to-critically-examine-evidence look at Lincoln’s evolving views of religion, I recommend Stephen Mansfield’s Lincoln’s Battle with God: A President’s Struggle with Faith and What it Meant for America.

      • rcocean August 1, 2016 / 8:38 pm

        look at his remarks during the Lincoln – Douglas debates. Those are white supremacist. But maybe they’re just Lincoln lying in order to be elected. You make the call!

        • Shoshana Bee August 2, 2016 / 8:49 am

          Here’s the rub with Lincoln: depending on what stance YOU take with him, NOW, you can find a quote to fit from the selected timeline. However, what bugs me, is that folks take early quotes, and use them as if nothing different was said later on. Lincoln’s opinions continually evolved over time, so that what was said in 1858 was no longer applicable to his decisions in 1862, and certainly not valid to pass final judgment on him today.

          • rcocean August 2, 2016 / 5:29 pm

            Fine, show me a Lincoln quote where he accepts Negro social equality with the Black man after 1858. In 1862 he was discussing shipping the freed border state slaves back to Africa. In 1865, he supported the right of Blacks to vote, but that was about it.

          • Shoshana Bee August 2, 2016 / 7:16 pm

            Mr. RCOCEAN,

            Here is the link to one of my favourite Lincoln quotes repositories. It includes a timeline and sources — enjoy!


          • Shoshana Bee August 2, 2016 / 7:40 pm


            Thank you for the great sources from a great blog! I enjoy Mr. Mackey’s commentaries — these are some of his best (in fact, if you ignore the Derby comments, there is even MORE information in the comments)

            Yo! Mr.RCOCEAN — add Kristoffer’s links to your reading list.

          • Kristoffer August 3, 2016 / 6:34 am

            Indeed, Roger J. Norton runs an excellent website. A reading of the link you provided is a good antidote to anyone who says Lincoln didn’t care about slavery, especially Lincoln’s letter to James N. Brown, which proves that the Corwin Amendment was what Lincoln thought was possible, not what he personally wanted. I just wish the quote of Lincoln to Greeley would include the last line, which adds a lot of context: “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”

          • John Foskett August 3, 2016 / 6:44 am

            How ’bout inviting a delegation of black leaders to the White House for a meeting? History isn’t as simple as some would like….

      • John Foskett August 2, 2016 / 6:14 am

        He was not a “white supremacist” with all that connotes, but he held racial views which were ubiquitous to his time/place/social context. His major accomplishment was being man enough to overcome that in order to do the right thing.

  10. Al Mackey August 5, 2016 / 7:48 pm

    Thanks to Kristoffer and Shoshana for their kind comments about my humble efforts.

    Mr. Ocean, in addition to his misunderstanding of Lincoln’s colonization plan, asks for a Lincoln quote post-1858 in which he accepts African-American equality with whites [I assume that’s what he meant]. January of 1864:

    “How to better the condition of the colored race has long been a study which has attracted my serious and careful attention; hence I think I am clear and decided as to what course I shall pursue in the premises, regarding it a religious duty, as the nation’s guardian of these people, who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle-field, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic, they have demonstrated in blood their right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the flag they have so fearlessly defended. The restoration of the Rebel States to the Union must rest upon the principle of civil and political equality of the both races; and it must be sealed by general amnesty.” [Abraham Lincoln to James Wadsworth, January, 1864, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 7, pp. 101-102]

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