Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 373

Did the 2012 "lincoln" film get it right, or what? Here's Lincoln as wheeler-and-dealer.

‘Lincoln knew that to abolish slavery once and for all, more worldly means than prayer would be required. Congressman James S. Rollins, one of the largest slave owners in Missouri and an adamant opponent of the Emancipation Proclamation, was sitting at his desk on the floor of the House when he received an invitation from Lincoln, written in pencil. “Rollins,” he said, “I have been wanting to talk to you for some time about the 13th Amendment.” When Rollins arrived at the White House, Lincoln waxed nostalgic about old political times before beginning his pitch for the amendment. Rollins replied that he had decided to vote for it immediately after the election result. Lincoln wasted no time, running down a list of undecided congressmen from Missouri and assigning Rollins the task of persuading them to join their side. “Tell them of my anxiety,” he said. To provide an incentive, Lincoln kept vacant a federal judgeship in Missouri, whose appointment would be influenced by one of those voting in favor of the amendment.
‘The list of political favors paid out didn’t end there. Congressman Alexander Coffroth, a Pennsylvania Democrat, had won reelection so narrowly that Republicans were challenging the outcome. But opposition to Coffroth taking his seat miraculously disappeared as soon as he voted in favor of the amendment. Shortly after Democratic Congressman Moses Odell of New York came out in favor of the amendment, Lincoln named him the new naval agent for his home state. Congressman George Yeaman of Kentucky, who had introduced a resolution denouncing the Emancipation Proclamation as “an assumption of power dangerous to the rights of citizens,” announced his support for the amendment and was soon appointed minister to Denmark.’
- Sydney Blumenthal

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