Written by Derrick Mcmeans
Vice-President Mike Pence is someone whom I admire. This admiration does not derive from an agreement with all of his policies, but from his willingness to vote for what he feels is right or vote against what his conscience deems as wrong.
As a staunch fiscal conservative, when he was a U.S. Congressman “he opposed President George W. Bush‘s No Child Left Behind policy in 2001.” He also opposed the federal bailout 2008. As Governor of Indiana, “he took federal funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion but attached a host of socially conservative requirements for those hoping to benefit from the program.” This came at a time when some of his proponent governors (namely Gov. Robert Bentley) would not take any money from Obamacare (which is really called Affordable Care).
Getting to the point, I admire him as a person and agreed to the sentiment that he would balance President Trump seemingly nationalist policies by incorporating morality. You can imagine my surprise when I saw this tweet: “As
#BlackHistoryMonth begins, we remember when Pres. Lincoln submitted the 13th Amendment, ending slavery, to the states #NationalFreedomDay.” My first thought was, African-American History did not start with the end of slavery. There were those blacks, who despite facing the overwhelming adversities of hatred and oppression, thrived in the mist of it all. There were those like Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and many others who fought for their individual freedom and sought passages to liberty for others who were enslaved.
Yet, VP Pence chose Abraham Lincoln as a person to be honored during black history month. Since we are talking about the 13th Amendment and Lincoln, I will give you a brief rundown on Lincoln’s view of slavery and the proposed 13th amendment.
Lincoln’s view of slavery can be summed up in two words: “political tool.” The reason Lincoln won “The Whig Party’s” nomination was because of his indifference towards slavery. The Party wanted to win the Presidency so they could regain control of “The Union” (while keeping it in tact). They needed a candidate who could reach across the aisle to the democrats (primarily southerner democrat) of the time. Lincoln said this about his politics:
My Politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of national banks,…internal improvement system, and high protective tariffs…
Lincoln would later go on to say that he is not against slavery. This was backed by his support of the Corwin amendment (aka the 13th amendment before the 13th amendment). This amendment basically allowed slavery to become an institution. The federal government could not end slavery in slave holding states. There are many layers to this, so research it for yourself.
What I want you to understand is that Lincoln was not pro-slavery, nor was he anti-slavery initially. It was not until the southern states seceded from the union that he was anti-slavery. His only objective was the preservation of the union (through taxation of the southern states he wanted to continue to build America).
There are two things I want to say to VP Pence and those who support his statement. First, Black History Month is not just about Slavery and Civil Rights; it is also about the celebration of African-Americans’ contributions to America through economics, inventions, architecture, academics, political policies, art, music, literature, and other fields. America would not be the country she is today if it were not for her people working together to contribute to her culture.
Lastly, considering the fact that Abraham Lincoln used slavery as a “political tool” to push his presidential agenda, it may be best not to use him as a symbol of freedom for African-Americans.
Know your City! Know your Country!
Seek Truth! Show Love!