Author Topic: Abraham Lincoln  (Read 473 times)


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Re: Abraham Lincoln
« on: November 25, 2021, 08:43:37 pm »

When People Thought the First Thanksgiving Was Too Woke

Thanksgiving might seem like a fairly uncontroversial national holiday. That wasn't the case in Abraham Lincoln's day.
As non-controversial as Thanksgiving is today, you might imagine the proclamation met with universal acceptance. It did not.

Reflecting the sharp polarization in national politics, many Democrats and peace proponents refused to acknowledge the president’s proclamation of the new holiday, and some even denounced it as an attempt to impose a particular brand of New England fanaticism on the whole country. Lincoln’s proclamation unleashed the social resentments of many voters who resisted the growing influence of evangelical churches and the concurrent growth of social reform movements — from abolitionism and temperance to Sabbatarianism and women’s rights.

To borrow from today’s political lexicon, Lincoln’s opponents nursed an intense dislike of that era’s “wokeness.” Back then, they called it “ism” — referring to the set of religious social reform movements of the day that sought to refashion the nation’s social and political systems in line with evangelical Protestant sensibilities. These critics recoiled at the pace of social change that these movements represented and resented the suggestion that they think or pray a certain way. Conversely, many Republicans greeted the president’s proclamation as a sign that the government in Washington embraced their worldview.
But there was more to it. For years, many Southerners and pro-slavery Northerners had pilloried the Republican Party as an organization of religious fanatics bound by a commitment to extreme and even (for the time) zany evangelical reform movements — in the words of Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, “the black republican army is an allied army, composed of Know Nothings, Abolitionists, Free Soilers, Maine Liquor Law men, woman’s rights men, Anti-renters, Anti-Masons, and all the isms that have been sloughed off from all the honest parties in the country.”
In the same way that some Americans today lump their cultural resentments under the banner of “wokeness,” many conservatives in Lincoln’s day decried the Republican Party’s affinity for “isms” — “an abolition conglomerate of all the isms at war with the rights of the States,” “all the isms … combined in the superlative ism, which I denounce as demonism, ” as Gov. Henry Wise of Virginia stated the case. George Fitzhugh, a leading Southern polemicist before the war, echoed Douglas when he denounced the “Bloomers and Women’s Rights men,” the “I vote myself a farm men,” the “Millerites, and Spiritual Rappers, and Shakers, and Widow Wakemanites, and Agrarians, and Grahamites, and a thousand other superstitious and infidel isms."

While most Americans in Lincoln’s time identified as evangelical Christians, and while the ranks of War Democrats included many evangelicals, the churches were closely associated with many of the reform movements — including abolitionism — that Democrats so sharply opposed. Particularly in the Midwest, many Democrats resented the increasingly partisan tone that “political priests” assumed in their Sunday sermons and, as one newspaper editor wrote, the “fanatics [who] have assumed the cloak of religion to carry out schemes entirely at variance with the Almighty’s commandments.”

The war between the Old Testament and the New Testament is still ongoing:

Back to the main article:

It became increasingly popular for administration critics to lump the offending religious reform movements under the moniker of “Puritanism,” given the central role that New England played in organized abolitionism. It made little difference that Puritanism bore nothing in common with evangelical Christianity, either intellectually or theologically. By 1863, the term had become a political descriptor, devoid of its original meaning. The Republican Party, as one Confederate political cartoonist portrayed it, was built on the foundation of “PURITANISM,” supported by pillars that included “WITCH BURNING,” “SOCIALISM,” “FREE LOVE,” “SPIRIT RAPPING,” “RATIONALISM” and “NEGRO WORSHIP.”
As Americans sit down to their holiday meal this Thursday, we remain steeped in a debate over “isms“ — “wokeness” — “political correctness.” Just as it was with “Puritanism” in 1863, in today’s political landscape, the actual meaning of terms like “critical race theory” is less important than what such terms symbolize to many people who are unnerved by the pace of social change in American society, and, conversely, to those who welcome it.