Lincoln and the Confederate Flag

Here is a nice piece by Lincoln biographer (and friend) Michael Burlingame on what Lincoln might say about taking down the Confederate flag. It is, I think, more or less in agreement with what I said here. Here is Michael:

The war had been fought to preserve the nation’s unity, and that rebel battle flag symbolized a violent attempt to destroy it. Lincoln called the United States “the last, best hope of earth” and “a nation worth fighting for” because it represented a hopeful experiment in democracy. As he told a White House secretary shortly after the outbreak of hostilities, “I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us, of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.”

And this:

Lincoln might well today declare: “Let us discard all this quibbling about oppressors and victims, let us not ruin ourselves by wallowing in a sense of victimhood, let us improve ourselves every way we can, and unite with our fellow citizens in declaring our allegiance to that form and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”



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