Polemics & Exchanges

On Honest Abe

I am an unabashed lover—not a worshipper (I reserve that for Someone Else)—of Abraham Lincoln, forever grateful for what he was and what he did for our country.  While I don’t question the patriotism of Chronicles’ editors, I believe it is supremely ironic that you publish your magazine from the “Land of Lincoln,” since you have so clearly chosen up sides with his critics, then and now.  Joe Sobran’s first Bare Bodkin (“Abe-Worship,” October 2001) is merely the latest such effort.  

Mr. Sobran’s primary thesis, amidst all his critical rhetoric, is that Lincoln “embodied a tradition of which he was actually ignorant.”  He “seldom appealed to the Founding Fathers” and “got this wrong” when he did mention them in the Gettysburg Address.  He also “got wrong” his understanding of states’ rights and the “plausibility of secession” (despite the fact that Lincoln’s views on secession were virtually indistinguishable from Andrew Jackson’s).  Mr. Sobran asserts an inability to discern anything other than “fleeting references” to the Framers in Lincoln’s writings, unlike Jefferson Davis, who was “steeped in the thinking of the founding period.” ...

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