Abe and the Internet
Imagine if Lincoln had been saddled with the blogosphere
Abe and the Internet
Dick Polman, Inquirer National Political Columnist
Today is Abe Lincoln’s birthday. At age 200, he has attained the status of secular saint; as the consensus savior of our nation, he is revered far and wide for being witty and wise and eloquent and shrewd, a veritable rock of fortitude. But that’s not how he was viewed in his own era. (All the quotations appearing below are real.) Indeed, let’s take it one step further. Imagine if he had been forced to contend with the Internet…
April 15, 1861
Alas! The ignorant bumpkin has been president for five weeks now – and he is a failure already! He should forthwith repair to his home in Illinois – better yet, he should ride a fast horse to Hades – and we shall never speak of him again. The scalawag has so debauched us that we shall never recover, unless we are to be granted the mercy of God’s caprice.
O, the promises he has broken! O, the audacity of the man! Five weeks past, in his inaugual address, he promised peace – and now we are at war at Fort Sumter. Five weeks past, he promised this: “There needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none.” And this: “There will be…no using of force against or among the people anywhere. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” Yet now, owing to his treachery, we have enemies!
Indeed, this man was a failure before he even took the oath of office on March 4! Dare we recall how he snuck into Washington, wearing a bob-tailed overcoat as a disguise, to foil assassins? What a coward. No final judgment of the man could be as eloquent as that which appears now in the Baltimore Sun: “Had we any respect for Mr. Lincoln, official or personal, as a man, or as a President Elect of the United States...the final escapade by which he reached the capital would have utterly demolished it...We do not believe the presidency can ever be more degraded by any of his successors than it has by him, even before his inauguration.”
True words! Mr. Lincoln's administration is over, forevermore!
January 5, 1863
Raise a glass of cider in the spirit of bonhomie, and laugh with us at the latest descriptives of Mr. Lincoln. Through the speed of this miracle medium, we bring you Mr. Marcus Pomeroy, an editor in Wisconsin, who informs us that the president is merely “the fungus from the corrupt womb of bigotry and fanaticism” – indeed, the “worst tyrant and more inhuman butcher than has existed since the days of Nero.” That is quite sagacious. But we proprietors at FreeTheSlaves.com much prefer the report in Harpers Magazine that Mr. Lincoln is a “despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, monster, ignoramus,” as well as “scoundrel, perjurer, swindler.”
Did you perchance happen upon the Emancipation Proclamation signing, which is now widely in visual circulation on ThouTube? A more unseemly soul one cannot conceive; it is no wonder that a New York newspaper decreed that “Barnum should buy him and exhibit him as a zoological curiousity.” It is no wonder that Senator Benjamin Wade, a staunch abolitionist, dismisses the president as “poor white trash.” It is no wonder that Frederick Douglass, the Negro abolitionist, attacks Mr. Lincoln as "a genuine representative of American prejudice and Negro hatred.”
May this president become afflicted with bilious fever! For he has not freed the slaves in his “proclamation,” as he no doubt wishes us to think. He has merely decreed that all Negroes in the Confederate states are to be considered free – but the Union does not control those states! Nor has he “freed” any of the Negroes in the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, or West Virginia! By his own words, he has “freed” only those Negroes who have escaped into the Union! No wonder he has been called “the craftiest and most dishonest politician that ever disgraced” public office!
Mr. Lincoln is no liberator of slaves, and any citizen who has the temerity to disagree with us deserves to suffer gangrene in the foot.
A citizen bulletin board! Come one, come all! Join the jubilee!
April 14, 1865
unionhater, 5:40 p.m. OK so Lincoln got re-elected and then he won the war, so what? this does not prove nothing, he is a secret African and I can prove it and he is not fit to wear my frockcoat & neither sir is anyone else who disagrees with me.
rebelhater, 5:41 p.m. unionhater, you say the same slur over and over about our president being secret African, and i keep demanding proof and you keep not giving it to me, you are a knave of low cunning again.
ihateyouboth, 5:42 p.m. go do some blacksmithing or something useful, you both are a stench upon the spring air and you make me feel poorly. indeed the tone of our world is sufficient to sicken, even with the Union saved, what with congressmen still calling Lincoln “that old fool,” and newspapers saying that he should be ranked “among the catalogue of monsters, the wholesale assassins and butchers.” enough! i shall never post another word here. goodbye until the end of Creation.
unionhater, 5:43 p.m. good riddance to ihateyouboth, his departure makes me want to joyfully dance a quadrille with a lady, which i shall do someday if i ever leave the comfort of my dear mother’s fruit cellar. but I wish to return to the matter at hand, the rumor that “the ape baboon of the prairie” (as one newspaper delightfully calls him) will be attending Ford’s Theatre on 9th Street Southeast this evening! how dare he take a moment for himself. how typical that he is so insensitive and treasonous to indulge his leisure when he should be mourning the war dead that are of his own doing.
rebelhater, 5:44 p.m. Ford’s is on 11th Street Southwest, be mindful of the facts, you ignorant cur.
ihateyouboth, 5:44:20 p.m. Ford’s is at 511 10th Street Northwest, i have the handbill right here, you satanic simpletons.
rebelhater, 5:44:40 p.m. i can no longer abide unionhater’s insults of lincoln. i challenge him to a duel. i shall bring two Colt pistols. sir, will you meet on the planks outside Ford’s, on 11th Street Southwest, at dawn on the morrow?
unionhater, 5:44:49 p.m. shall you be wearing a bonnet and hoop skirt? yes, you shall find me, waiting in the correct locale. Ford’s on 13th Street Northeast it is! Huzzah!