“The key thing is what he did”

Stephen Carter, a professor at Yale Law and author of the new alternate history novel The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, shared some observations on Lincoln’s restrictions of civil liberties and his racial attitudes for a recent article:

“My admiration for Lincoln is undiminished, in part because I don’t try to judge him by the standards of the 21st century,” Carter says. “He was not above telling the occasional racial joke, and he made it very clear more than once, leading up to the Civil War, that he thought black people were, as a group, inferior to white people. What’s striking about Lincoln isn’t so much that he was originally trapped in the racial attitudes of his day but, rather, that he was able to do so much to transcend those attitudes as time went on. He went on quite an intellectual and, I suppose one could say, moral journey over those years in the White House, and evolved enormously. But the key thing is what he did, not why he did it.”

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Filed under Lincoln and Memory, Lincoln as President

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