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23 November 2012


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FB Ali

".......a legitimate act of war....."

But hadn't the war ended six days earlier with Lee's surrender?


FB Ali

No. Lee surrendered only his own army, the Army of Northern Virginia. He did not have the authority to surrender other forces. There were other confederate forces still in the field and the Confederate government had not surrendered. CS forces slowly gave up over the next several months. In any event the operation had been planned and attempted over the previous months. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Very interesting and I had no idea about the Roman Catholic dimension.

I looked at this issue back when I was an undergrad at UVA and studying US diplomatic history about 1968-ish. I became curious about the British and French policies and actions during the CW/WBS era. So it has been quite a while but as I recall:

The Palladium Lodge in Charleston, SC founded 1801 and the associated Scottish Rite/Southern Jurisdiction of Albert Pike etal. The Charleston lodge had a French connection also owing to the French and/or continental background of several founders.

The B'Nai Brith of New York City founded in the 1840s.

Booth was reportedly close to both these circles and is said to have had lunch or drinks or whatever with the Washington rep of the B'Nai Brith, named Simon Wolf or some such, a couple hours prior to his shooting Lincoln. I think Wolf or his associates later went on to create the Anti-Defamation League in the early 1900s.

It is logical and typical to use secret societies for political and intelligence work so there may be something to all this and thus link to the UK and France in certain ways.

The role of the UK in the war created a strong anti-British sentiment in the North. This continued down to the World War I era.

The British had to do a lot of work on Northern elites and public opinion to bring them on board from the 1870s. Anglo-German naval rivalry was one significant factor foreshadowing a Euopean War. The resignation of Bismarck was another omen. Thus London sought to improve relations with Washington. One psychological aspect of this campaign was the promotion of the ideology of "Anglo-Saxonism" and the idea that this "race" (???-and not to mention Protestantism) should dominate the world for the betterment of mankind.

By WWI, there was sufficient penetration of the American elites that bringing the US on side was not all that difficult as Sir Claude Dansey and Sir William Wiseman well knew. The eternally stupid and naive Americans it would seem to some:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_Dansey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_William_Wiseman,_10th_Baronet

Brent Wiggans

I would like to recommend a remarkable book detailing the development of Lincoln's beliefs and positions on slavery through the course of his life and his development as a politician. We see the culmination of both in the film but understanding the process by which he got there is perhaps even more useful in our individual struggles with the issues of our own time. The book is The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner. The book is neither biography nor hagiography but rather a concentrated study of how the complex interactions of belief, experience and need shaped the historical trajectories of the issue of slavery in America and the career of this singular politician who could not finally avoid their convergence. The book is extremely well written and it is a great read.


I am just a dumb outsider and my knowledge is zilch to nothing compared to esteemed people here who have spent time researching the subject and seen how the system works up close and personal.

This is a great article about an absolutely brilliant movie . I could only get a ticket for late night show and it was past midnight when i came back home but it was worth it!

After reading this article, i tried to reason myself into separating Lincoln's legacy from the whole slavery issue but my faculties for reason and logic fail me. I find myself utterly incapable of doing so. Yes he had a dictatorial streak. Yes he did "work" the system for the passage of 13th amendment. He comes across as nepotistic for not putting his son in harms way.

But then i can't explain to myself why this "egotistical dictator" was not vindictive when the time came to issue amnesty to a defeated south? He vetoed more aggressive reconstruction measures that were being pushed by radical Republicans. Maybe he "worked" the system, not for his own personal gain but due to his belief that 13th amendment was in the national interest for a fairer system of government that would free millions. Was he really that much of a selfish nepotist if threats to his life were real (and if he knew about them as indicated by messrs Clifford)?If his govt authorized assassination of Davis and others in Confederacy i am sure he would have known the consequences for himself and his family with real prospects of retribution. We all know how real they were and he found out too.

As deeply flawed as he seems to me(fallible human after all), maybe he was also ahead of his times and couldn't kick the can down for others to pick. Maybe he was a hedgehog who knew one big thing that must be accomplished at any cost, preservation of union. As little as i know about him, he doesn't particularly strike me as someone who would have changed his mind about this whole business even if he knew he would be assassinated in the end.

My apologies for incoherence and ignorance in these matters :)



You are making assumptions about what Lincoln might have done if he had been alive when the war ended but he was not. He did not "offer amnesty to the defeated South." He was dead before the South was defeated and offered no amnesty to anyone. The idea that he would have been a great friend of the defeated South is sentimentality based on the oppression wrought upon the region by the radical republicans and an imagined difference in what Lincoln might have done. During the war he used martial law and raw presidential power to imprison and/or execute thousands of civilians on his authority alone. Your view of Lincoln is informed by your 21st century embrace of the end of slavery. This is profoundly anachronistic. In fact his 2nd inaugural address does not justify your view nor does his unwillingness to accept anything short of total victory as a war aim. "...if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."" 2nd inaugural address. pl

Farrah Hassen

This is a thoughtful and intriguing review and by making linkages to the way that Obama has justified has policies, Mr. Wanduragala provides us with an additional lens to scrutinize political trends in the 21st Century. Spielberg, or really Daniel Day-Lewis (brilliant, as such), show us that Lincoln had to draw a very clear line in the battlefield regarding what he perceived as "evil," regardless of the unsettling consequences. You could blink and miss--or momentarily choke while sipping overpriced movie theater Coke--the passing reference to Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War. Although facing radically different circumstances, George W. Bush justified the use of military tribunals and the indefinite detention of alleged September 11th plotters and loosely defined "terrorists" in the same vein: to fight "evil." Drawing his own line in the sand, Obama sees no moral qualms (or at least doesn't reveal them) about widening the war in Afghanistan, especially with the continued use of drones there and in Pakistan and Yemen, because his end goal is to disrupt, dismantle and decimate "evil." Where does that leave the rest of us, deeply alarmed by policies that may seek to thwart "evil" but in reality challenge the notion of the U.S. being a government of laws, and not of men? By way of "Lincoln," Obama should take note of Mr. Wanduragala's advice as he contemplates the hits and misses of his first term along with the trajectory of his next four years in office: "Needed instead is a realistic appraisal of the price we paid, even if we conclude it was worth paying."


I don’t disagree, but Lincoln’s proposed Ten Percent Plan of 1863 and his pocket veto of Wade-Davis do suggest that he would at least have been a countervailing force against the radicals. He had also established reconstruction governments in states under Union control like Lousiana and Tennessee. Waving the bloody shirt in speeches to keep the war fires burning is one thing, but it does seem as if Lincoln’s views to postwar arrangements were inclined toward the conciliatory -- but, as you note, only after the war had been won and the Confederacy beaten into total submission.

@ Brent Wiggans: You might also want to try “Colonization After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement,” which takes a view contrary to Foner’s in suggesting that Lincoln possibly continued to nurse the idea that the freedmen might self-deport, so to speak, long after many have supposed that he abandoned such thoughts. Lincoln's flirtations with colonization go unmentioned in "Lincoln" and not by accident, I'm sure.


"Where does that leave the rest of us, deeply alarmed by policies that may seek to thwart "evil" but in reality challenge the notion of the U.S. being a government of laws, and not of men?"

As potential targets.

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