The Civil War: Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis lived parallel lives

The author of a book on the two men says they each worked tirelessly to avoid the civil war up to the last minute before secession and each man was considered a martyr to his respective cause. Photo: President Lincoln visiting his generals at Antietam

VIENNA, Va., May 9, 2012  — Author Augustin Stucker has put together an interesting new book entitled “Lincoln & Davis: A Dual Biography of America’s Civil War Presidents,” a 548 page paperback volume published by AuthorHouse, with ISBN 9781456794194.

He compares and contrasts the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, who were born close to the same time and roughly 100 miles apart, Lincoln in Hodgenville, Ky. and Davis at Fairview, Ky.  While Lincoln became President of the United States, Davis was elected President of the Confederate States of America at the start of the Civil War.

Stucker says that both men worked tirelessly to avoid civil war up to the last minute before secession and each man was considered a martyr to his respective cause.

Stucker describes himself as a “life-long amateur historian with strong family ties to the South,” who has always “been intrigued by why Davis ever achieved the same notoriety as other major Civil War figures.”

Bringing it to contemporary times, he compares the political beliefs and practices of Jefferson Davis to the modern Tea Party movement, and likens President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq to Pres. James K. Polk’s invasion of Mexico.

CNN asked Stucker recently to submit an op ed piece on the subject of what Lincoln would think of today’s politics.

Confederate President Jefferson Davis

The piece he wrote for them was well received and as he said, “It got people talking, and that’s what we need to make people aware of history’s reality!”

“Lincoln would not recognize today’s Republican Party,” he said, adding that the Democratic Party would be equally as hard to recognize.  “Both have switched places, switched ideas in 150 years. The Republicans started out then as liberals and now with the emergence of the Tea Party, they  are in favor of smaller central government.”  

He stated, “Lincoln was the first president to really start with a larger central government to provide for people’s needs – now you have it reversed.”

He further felt that Lincoln “would be appalled at the so-called ‘war on women,’ and all the various legislations aimed at specific groups.”  Whether it is on the state level as in Wisconsin, “equal pay for equal work, etc.”  or the anti-gay legislation being promoted in various areas,  “Lincoln would not be in favor of any attempt to treat any U.S. citizen or group of citizens as second class. In that regard, he was anti-racist early on – he saw all people as equals in the words of Thomas Jefferson.”

Again speaking of Lincoln (he really spoke very little about Jefferson Davis), the author recounted how the President matured and grew to manhood in Illinois with all of its “black laws” on the books there.

Many people are unaware of this, he said, but these specific laws “forbid free blacks from moving to and settling in the state – they could come and stay briefly, but then they would have to move along.” 

He acknowledged that Lincoln knew very little about blacks until he became President, and “was the first to invite black leaders into the White House. “ One of those was Frederick Douglass, who said of Lincoln, “This is the first white individual I’ve ever met in whom I do not detect any tinge of racism.”

Stucker said that inn 1860, just before the Civil War, the Democratic party was so split due to the Southern Democrats, “who wanted to push through a 13th amendment to permit nationwide slavery that it split the party, allowing Lincoln to win the election.”

Lincoln may not have won the election had it not been for that split and were not effective as a national party for another 20 years, he said. “People need to know their own history,” he added, “and those who do not know it are doomed to repeat it.

Finally, he advised the Republicans should start working with each other instead of engaging in endless bickering, as well as returning to the negotiating table with the Democrats. Lincoln knew successful American politics has always involved compromise, as Stucker said, “starting with the Founding Fathers creating the Constitution. And certainly Lincoln would testify if he could successfully negotiate and compromise in the midst of the greatest internal crisis our country has ever faced, so can and should the leaders of today’s Republican Party,” he concluded.

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Martha M. Boltz

Martha Boltz is a frequent contributor  to the long running Civil War features in The Washington Times America At War feature in the print and online editions. She has been a regular contributor to the original Civil War Page and its successor page since 1994, and is a civil war buff, historian, and writer. "Someone said that if we don't learn about the past, we are condemned to repeat it," she said, "and there are lessons of all sorts inherent in this bloody four-year period of our country's history."  She is a member of several heritage and lineage groups, as well as the Montgomery County Civil War Round Table. Her standing invitation is, "come on down - check the blog - send me your comments and let's have fun with its history and maybe learn something at the same time."


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