Sunday, 6 February 2011

Abraham Lincoln: Saint or sinner?

A fascinating programme here on BBC Four analysing the reputation of this renowned US President. Was he the 'Great Emancipator' who saved the Union or was he a racist and a war criminal? Or, as is normally the case, was he somebody entirely more complex? A great exercise in interpretation and a thoroughly enjoyable programme. HP recommends.


  1. what is HP's view on this topic?

  2. Very good documentary. Well worth watching.

    Lincoln was a consumate politician so it is hardly suprising he would be seeking abolition through the Emancipation Proclamation whilst simultaneously privately discussing repatriation of ex slaves to appeal to conservative whites in his coalition. To now look solely at his actions which support just one view would be to ignore the politics of the situation.

    His treatment of Native Americans appear abhorrent today but would still compare favourably with Presidents before (Jackson) or after (Grant)and to suggest he was a sufficient cause of the Civil War is ludicrous - the Confederacy could not have survived without expansion to the West and was thus always set on a collision course with the Union.

    Lincoln was not a saint, nor a sinner. Just a politician. And as with all politicians, percieved greatness is more to do with the times they live in than the men themselves.

    With this year marking the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, the remaining scars will be widely discussed over the coming months. Those A2 Politics students about to start the unit on Race should keep an eye on the debate.