Emancipation Proclamation

First Reading Emancipation Proclamation
Francis B. Carpenter Painting

Tolstoy calls Lincoln the Greatest of Heroes

First appeared in the February 7, 1909, issue of the New York World

There may be no stronger evidence that Lincoln’s fame had spread worldwide than the interview with the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) that appeared in the New York World shortly before the Lincoln centennial. The headline introducing the piece declared “Great Russian Tells of Reverence for Lincoln Even Among Barbarians,” and the story that followed offered an irresistible tribute, recounting how a tribal chief in the Caucasus had offered Tolstoy a prize horse if only he would relate the inspirational tale of the “greatest ruler of the world.” A similar claim for Lincoln’s universality was made in Edward William Thomson’s poem “We Talked of Lincoln,” published that same year: “We talked of Abraham Lincoln in the night, / Ten fur-coat men on North Saskatchewan’s plain— / Pure zero cold and all the prairie white— / Englishman, Scotchman, Scandinavian, Dane, / Two Irish, four Canadians . . .”

Tolstoi Holds Lincoln World’s Greatest Hero

by Count S. Stakelberg

(Written Especially for The World.)

Visiting Leo Tolstoi in Yasnaya with the intention of getting him to write an article on Lincoln, I unfortunately found him not well enough to yield to my request. However, he was willing to give me his opinion of the great American statesman, and this is what he told me:

“Of all the great national heroes and statesmen of history Lincoln is the only real giant. Alexander, Frederick the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, Gladstone and even Washington stand in greatness of character, in depth of feeling and in a certain moral power far behind Lincoln. Lincoln n was a man of whom a nation has a right to be proud; he was a Christ in miniature, a saint of humanity, whose name will live thousands of years in the legends of future generations. We are still too near to his greatness, and so can hardly appreciate his divine power; but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.

“If one would know the greatness of Lincoln one should listen to the stories which are told about him in other parts of the world. I have been in wild places, where one hears the name of America uttered with such mystery as if it were some heaven or hell. I have heard various tribes of barbarians discussing the New World, but I heard this only in connection with the name of Lincoln. Lincoln as the wonderful hero of America is known by the most primitive nations of Asia. This may be illustrated through the following incident:

“Once while travelling in the Caucasus I happened to be the guest of a Caucasian chief of the Circassians, who, living far away from civilized life in the mountains, had but a fragmentary and childish comprehension of the world and its history. The fingers of civilization had never reached him nor his tribe, and all life beyond his native valleys was a dark mystery. Being a Mussulman he was naturally opposed to all ideas of progress and education.

“I was received with the usual Oriental hospitality and after our meal was asked by my host to tell him something of my life. Yielding to his request I began to tell him of my profession, of the development of our industries and inventions and of the schools. He listened to everything with indifference, but when I began to tell about the great statesmen and the great generals of the world he seemed at once to become very much interested.

“‘Wait a moment,’ he interrupted, after I had talked a few minutes. ‘I want all my neighbors and my sons to listen to you. I will call them immediately.’

“He soon returned with a score of wild looking riders and asked me politely to continue. It was indeed a solemn moment when those sons of the wilderness sat around me on the floor and gazed at me as if hungering for knowledge. I spoke at first of our Czars and of their victories; then I spoke of the foreign rulers and of some of the greatest military leaders. My talk seemed to impress them deeply. The story of Napoleon was so interesting to them that I had to tell them every detail, as, for instance, how his hands looked, how tall he was, who made his guns and pistols and the color of his horse. It was very difficult to satisfy them and to meet their point of view, but I did my best. When I declared that I had finished my talk, my host, a graybearded, tall rider, rose, lifted his hand and said very gravely:

“‘But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.’

“‘Tell us, please, and we will present you with the best horse of our stock,’ shouted the others.

“I looked at them and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend. I told them of Lincoln and his wisdom, of his home life and youth. They asked me ten questions to one which I was able to answer. They wanted to know all about his habits, his influence upon the people and his physical strength. But they were very astonished to hear that Lincoln made a sorry figure on a horse and that he lived such a simple life.

“‘Tell us why he was killed,’ one of them said.

“I had to tell everything. After all my knowledge of Lincoln was exhausted they seemed to be satisfied. I can hardly forget the great enthusiasm which they expressed in their wild thanks and desire to get a picture of the great American hero. I said that I probably could secure one from my friend in the nearest town, and this seemed to give them great pleasure.

“The next morning when I left the chief a wonderful Arabian horse was brought me as a present for my marvelous story, and our farewell was very impressive.

“One of the riders agreed to accompany me to the town and get the promised picture, which I was now bound to secure at any price. I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend, and I handed it to the man with my greetings to his associates. It was interesting to witness the gravity of his face and the trembling of his hands when he received my present. He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in a reverent prayer; his eyes filled with tears. He was deeply touched and I asked him why he became so sad. After pondering my question for a few moments he replied:

“‘I am sad because I feel sorry that he had to die by the hand of a villain. Don’t you find, judging from his picture, that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?’“Like all Orientals, he spoke in a poetical way and left me with many deep bows.

“This little incident proves how largely the name of Lincoln is worshiped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become.“Now, why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skillful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character. He had come through many hardships and much experience to the realization that the greatest human achievement is love. He was what Beethoven was in music, Dante in poetry, Raphael in painting, and Christ in the philosophy of life. He aspired to be divine—and he was.

“It is natural that before he reached his goal he had to walk the highway of mistakes. But we find him, nevertheless, in every tendency true to one main motive, and that was to benefit mankind. He was one who wanted to be great through his smallness.

If he had failed to become President he would be, no doubt, just as great as he is now, but only God could appreciate it. The judgment of the world is usually wrong in the beginning, and it takes centuries to correct it. But in the case of Lincoln the world was right from the start. Sooner or later Lincoln would have been seen to be a great man, even though he had never been an American President. But it would have taken a great generation to place him where he belongs.

“Lincoln died prematurely by the hand of the assassin, and naturally we condemn the criminal from our viewpoint of justice. But the question is, was his death not predestined by a divine wisdom, and was it not better for the nation and for his greatness that he died just in that way and at that particular moment? We know so little about that divine law which we call fate that no one can answer. Christ had a presentiment of His death, and there are indications that also Lincoln had strange dreams and presentiments of something tragic. If that was really the fact, can we conceive that human will could have prevented the outcome of the universal or divine will? I doubt it. I doubt also that Lincoln could have done more to prove his greatness than he did. I am convinced we are but instruments in the hands of an unknown power and that we have to follow its bidding to the end. We have a certain apparent independence, according to our moral character, wherein we may benefit our fellows, but in all eternal and universal questions we follow blindly a divine predestination. According to that eternal law the greatest of national heroes had to die, but an immortal glory still shines on his deeds.

“However, the highest heroism is that which is based on humanity, truth, justice and pity; all other forms are doomed to forgetfulness. The greatness of Aristotle or Kant is insignificant compared with the greatness of Buddha, Moses and Christ. The greatness of Napoleon, Caesar or Washington is only moonlight by the sun of Lincoln. His example is universal and will last thousands of years. Washington was a typical American, Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country -- bigger than all the Presidents together. Why? Because he loved his enemies as himself and because he was a universal individualist who wanted to see himself in the world -- not the world in himself. He was great through his simplicity and was noble through his charity.

“Lincoln is a strong type of those who make for truth and justice, for brotherhood and freedom. Love is the foundation of his life. That is what makes him immortal and that is the quality of a giant. I hope that his centenary birth day will create an impulse toward righteousness among the nations. Lincoln lived and died a hero, and as a great character he will live as long as the world lives. May his life long bless humanity!”

February 7, 1909

Why was Lincoln hated so much?

Looking back we can see he was the only president to "start" a war on the red states. But during his own time he was known as an abolitionist, a man of low birth and questionable parentage. Reputedly, his father was a negro named Inlow or Enloe. Thus the Southern taunt, that nigger from Illinois. Lincoln's emancipation decree, along with his war against the South, devastated the southern economy. The cost of the slaves stolen by Lincoln's emancipation proclamation was in the tens of millions of dollars. Thus the red states called him, "That thieving Yankee."

The irony of a second liberal being nominated from Illinois (Lincoln was nominated in Chicago), it is hardly a surprise Obama has become a lightning rod for those who hate Lincoln (red states). Or that he is perceived as our most liberal president (except for Lincoln). One can understand the rage of the Angry White Males, the sense of victimhood by southern white males. And if true, the KKK target practice (no longer effigies of the 'mulatto' Lincoln, but now they shoot at an "Obama" target.)

Lincoln loved blacks but hated the Indians - The Great Emancipator put rifles in the hands of black volunteers, he praised their combat role as crucial to victory, he insisted (to the governor of Louisiana) that blacks should also have the right to vote. It was Lincoln who authorized the formation of the 62d and 65th Regiments, later to be dubbed Buffalo Soldiers. Lincoln wrote, "The black soldiers in the Civil war had so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battlefield where, in assisting to save the life of the republic, they have demonstrated in blood their right to the ballot." More.

On the other hand Lincoln ordered the execution of thirty-eight Dakota Indians in the town of Mankato, Minnesota for their role in the successful massacre of 490 white settlers, including women and children. The hanged Indians in that event represent the largest mass execution in US history. See Buffalo Soldiers - helping subdue the West

Jon Wiener points out that, in contrast, this president whom southerners called a nigger-lover (Lincoln was even alleged to be a mulatto himself) never ordered the executions of any Confederate officials or generals after the Civil War, even though they killed more than 400,000 Union soldiers. (See Black heroes in every war)

It is claimed that the Native Americans who took part in the Civil War overwhelmingly chose to fight for the Confederacy. The historical estimate is that 12,000 American Indians served in the army of the Confederacy, and that many southern brigades were composed entirely of Indians. Southern whites seem to have had considerable respect for the prosperous "Civilized Tribes" (Choctaw and Chickasaw) and apparently saw them as fellow slave-holding allies. Joining forces

A few Native American tribes, such as the Creek and the Choctaw, were slaveholders and found a political and economic commonality with the Confederacy. The Choctaw owned over 2,000 slaves. The Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, Catawba, and Creek tribes were the only tribes to fight on the Confederate side. However the majority of the Creek sided with the Union side. The Delaware tribe remained staunchly loyal to the Union, but the Cherokee were divided. The renegade Stand Watie, along with a few Cherokee, (defying Chief John Ross) sided with the Confederate Army. History indicates that Stand Watie (a full blood Cherokee) was the last Confederate General to surrender in the wake of Lee's defeat. (News traveled slowly). See more Stand Watie

Why the preference for the South? The asblackasus website says that most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America; but none exploited slave labor on a large scale. Indian groups frequently enslaved war captives whom they used for small-scale labor and in ritual sacrifice. Human sacrifice was widespread within pre-Columbian Aztec civilization, as well as of other Mesoamerican civilizations like the Maya and the Zapotec. It was believed that the sacrifice and flaying represented a kind of atonement for the people.

Albert S. Pike - Southern Leaders reached out to sympathetic Tribes. Early on, the CSA concluded nine treaties with Indian nations, primarily the five civilized tribes. Pike's ally in his mission was former Indian fighter Benjamin McCulloch. Pike took over equipping and training the various Indian units and led them to join the main Confederate army in Arkansas. McCulloch began organizing them as Confederate soldiers.

It was a native American (Tonawanda Seneca), General Ely S. Parker, a Union officer who (at the behest of US Grant) wrote the terms of surrender at Appomattox. Parker later related that General Robert E. Lee was momentarily taken aback on seeing a dark man in such a prominent position. Apparently initially believing Parker to be a black man, Lee finally shook hands with Parker and said, "I am glad to see one real American here." Parker replied, "We are all Americans."

An anti-Lincoln pamphlet,
during the secession period

decries race mixing
What Miscegenation is! And What We are to
Expect Now That Mr. Lincoln is Re-elected
Waller & Willets, Publishers, New York (c. 1865)

Lincoln's Atheist Period
Lincoln's Atheist Period

Also see

Robert Shepherd
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Tolstoy praises the Jews

“What is the Jew?...What kind of unique creature is this whom all the rulers of all the nations of the world have disgraced and crushed and expelled and destroyed; persecuted, burned and drowned, and who, despite their anger and their fury, continues to live and to flourish. What is this Jew whom they have never succeeded in enticing with all the enticements in the world, whose oppressors and persecutors only suggested that he deny (and disown) his religion and cast aside the faithfulness of his ancestors?! The Jew - is the symbol of eternity. ... He is the one who for so long had guarded the prophetic message and transmitted it to all mankind. A people such as this can never disappear. The Jew is eternal. He is the embodiment of eternity.”

Leo Tolstoy
(What is the Jew? quoted in The Final Resolution, pg. 189, printed in Jewish World periodical, 1908)

Lincoln and the Jews

By Herb Geduld

Throughout history, Jews have had great friends and mortal enemies as rulers in the countries in which they lived. Perhaps no American president has been a greater friend of the Jewish people than Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was the first American president to become officially involved in questions of Jewish equality when he urged Congress to change the chaplaincy laws to permit rabbis to become military chaplains.

In January 1863, he revoked the only incident of official anti-Jewish discrimination when he countermanded Ulysses S. Grant's infamous Order No. 11, which expelled Jews from Northern Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. Lincoln also appointed seven Jewish generals to the Union forces.

What were the reasons for Lincoln's concern and kindly attitude toward the Jews? First and foremost was the fact that by the time of the Civil War, Jews had become a factor in American life. During the Revolutionary War and the founding of America, Jews numbered a miniscule 2,500 out of a population of approximately 4 million. By 1840, they had only grown to 15,000, but 20 years later, in 1860, the Jewish population had risen to 150,000, out of a nation of 30 million. The Jews emerged from a relatively docile and unseen element in the population to a viable minority, striving for its own rights and recognition.

With the increased Jewish population, the future president knew Jews as admirable neighbors even in the little towns where he grew up.

Louis Salzenstein was a storekeeper and livestock trader in the town of Athens, Ill., near New Salem, where Lincoln spent six years. When Lincoln was postmaster, he collected the mail from "Old Salty's" store, which served as the regional post office. He became good friends with Salzenstein, who was remembered by a town historian as "doing more than any other man toward bettering the improvements and the mode of living in this section."

Perhaps Lincoln's most valued and personal Jewish friend prior to his presidency was Abraham Jonas, an English Jew who settled in Williamston, Ky., near Lincoln's birthplace, and then moved to Quincy, Ill. Jonas and Lincoln became good friends and political allies. Jonas was among the first men to propose Lincoln as the Republican candidate for the presidency in the 1860 election.

Lincoln had many Jewish friends during his law years in Springfield, Ill. One of them was a neighbor, Julius Hammerslough, who visited Lincoln while he was in Washington and who accompanied Lincoln's funeral train on its mournful journey back to Springfield.

There was another fundamental reason for Lincoln's affinity for Jews and Judaism. That was his profound respect and depth of knowledge of the Bible. Although he was not conventionally religious, Lincoln, like many frontiersmen of his day, had spent much time in his youth reading the Hebrew Scriptures. He would often quote from books of the prophets during his speeches to legislators and had an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Book of Psalms.

His last words, according to his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were, "How I should like to visit Jerusalem sometime." Felled by John Wilkes Booth's bullet, he never got his wish.

See Lincoln and the Jews

Karl Pohlhaus.New Thought: A Perspective for
Religious Consciousness   in the 21st Century

See NEW THOUGHT - roots & branches

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