Sunday, March 6, 2011
"McLEAN, Va. – Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address has inspired Americans for generations, but consider his jarring remarks in 1862 to a White House audience of free blacks, urging them to leave the U.S. and settle in Central America.
"For the sake of your race, you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people," Lincoln said, promoting his idea of colonization: resettling blacks in foreign countries on the belief that whites and blacks could not coexist in the same nation.
Lincoln went on to say that free blacks who envisioned a permanent life in the United States were being "selfish" and he promoted Central America as an ideal location "especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land — thus being suited to your physical condition."
As the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's first inauguration Friday, a new book by a researcher at George Mason University in Fairfax makes the case that Lincoln was even more committed to colonizing blacks than previously known. The book, "Colonization After Emancipation," is based in part on newly uncovered documents that authors Philip Magness and Sebastian Page found at the British National Archives outside London and in the U.S. National Archives.
In an interview, Magness said he thinks the documents he uncovered reveal Lincoln's complexity.
More on this at Field Negro