The black and white Lincoln
Racism has been a problem in the United States of America for a long time, dating back to early America when the Native Americans were often attacked, relocated, and forcibly assimilated into European culture. The African slave trade also helped contribute to the environment of a racist culture in America by debasing the African races and teaching Caucasian Americans that they are better than the African races. Through the U.S. history, the meaning of the label “white” has changed over time, from a “superior race” to only a different color, but the discussion of racism has never ended. Instead, it has been discussed more and more. In addition to that, Stacy Pratt McDermott wrote a text about U.S. former president, Abraham Lincoln—known for being a man of character, a prominent activist in civil rights, and an astute politician—and its polemical racial controversies. Nevertheless, there are reasons to believe that Lincoln was not a racist, given the facts the author presents, as the historical context of race that time in general and within the politics, and Lincoln’s willingness to help black people as a lawyer, in a way that readers feel the emotion she wants to transmit.
Lincoln has never been a unanimous character in the American history context. One of the principal reasons for this is that some people consider Lincoln a racist given some historical facts. According to the author, people who judge Lincoln to be racist claim that he was too slow when it came to making the abolition of slavery a primary goal of the Civil War; they go even further claiming that he briefly supported the movement to colonize blacks in America, and many other topics regarding politics. What they do not consider is the historical context of race that time and the facts that while Lincoln was a lawyer, he defended black clients and participated in cases that benefited black people. The author’s purpose is to show the “two sides of the history of Lincoln” for people that think that he was racist. She wants to explain not only how Lincoln acted as a politician towards race, but also how Lincoln, as a lawyer, responded to it in the context of the society which he lived in that moment.
It is fair to assume that the audience has some education on its background with an understanding of the American History, something like High School at least. Furthermore, it is clear that McDermott effectively uses colloquial language in order to explain her thesis not going into specific details—because of that one can assume that the public is broad/diverse and have basic education at least. For example, when she starts to talk about the slavery status in the 19th century, she does not explain the reasons to be like that, instead, she just states the facts of that time assuming that the readers already have the knowledge of the history.
First, the author touches slavery status in America in the first half of the 19th century, when millions of blacks were enslaved and did not have the right to vote, serve on juries, or hold public office (in the North); they did not have the right to read, write and marry (in the South). She explains that race was a determinant factor to the opportunities available, in other words, whites ruled the country. Most of the white people were against racial equality, and those who were in favor even suffered danger. Given the society of that time, the author presents Lincoln, the lawyer, whom always worked hard for his clients regardless of race, with an enormous willingness to take cases that harmed free blacks and slaves. On the other hand, McDermott also presents Lincoln, the politician, who did not recognize blacks as his social or political equals, who was not an abolitionist, and so on.
The author makes use of an informative way of writing, relying on trustworthy sources and