Our American Cousin by Steve Payne, Stan
Brin, Eric Lipps & Eric Oppen
says: what if Abraham Lincoln survived the Good Friday assasination
attempt with his life, but not his reputation? Please note that the opinions
expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
In 1865, at 10.30pm on Good
Friday, a southern sympathiser by the name of John Wilkes Booth sneaked into
the presidential box at Ford's theatre in Washington. Although Booth had a
clear shot, he tripped up and missed his target Abraham Lincoln who took a
bullet in the shoulder. The wound was attended to in a lodging house across
the street. However, his devoted wife Mary was killed and playgoers
witnessed the well-built, but small assassin being lifted up and thrown onto
the stage real hard to be arrested.
The Good Friday assassination attempt marked a sharp reversal in Lincoln's
fortunes. Indeed, historians would speculate whether his reputation might
not have been improved had Booth been successful. Because just six months
before, General Carl Schurz had made "a prophecy which may perhaps sound
strange at this moment. In fifty years, perhaps much sooner, Lincoln's
name will stand written upon the honor roll of the American Republic next
to that of Washington, and there it will remain for all time. The children
of those who now disparage him will bless him".
"I believe I have no lawful right to [abolish
slavery], and I have no inclination to do so"
Just five days after
the conclusion of the Civil War, Lincoln had reached a high water mark in
popularity, even if it wasn't recognised at the time. His challenge now
was to come up with a plan that would resolve the unanswered questions
from the Emancipation Proclamation. And it was a problem that was simply
beyond his ability to solve.
"Send them to Liberia, to their own native land"
Which isn't to say that the President didnt devise a plan, or attempt
to implement it. Lincoln persisted with his plan of repatriating former
slavers to Liberia in West Africa. It was a brutal proposal that would
fatally undermine his claim to be the "great emancipator".
"I have no purpose to introduce political and
social equality between the white and the black races"One man would
rise up in leadership to challenge the chilling indifference of this
proposal; the radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens of Pennyslvania, the
individual who would ultimately steal Lincoln's credit for "freeing the
slaves". Because along with Charles Sumner of Massachussets, the pair
would drive Reconstruction Legislation through Congress that would force
the South into line.
"I cannot make it better known than it already
is, that I favor colonization"After his death in 1868, Stevens'
coffin lay in state inside the Capitol Rotunda, flanked by a Black Honor
Guard from Massachusetts. Twenty thousand people, one-half of whom were
African-American, attended his funeral in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He
chose to be buried in the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery because it was the
only cemetery that would accept people without regard to race. Stevens
wrote the inscription on his head stone that reads: "I repose in this
quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but
finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have
chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I
advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator".
Ironically, the comedy that Lincoln was watching that Good Friday was
called "Our American Cousin", a fateful reference to the African Americans
he had sought to expel from the United States.
says original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's
genius © Steve Wiegand, US History for Dummies (2001)
Other Civil War Variants
Steve Payne, Stan Brin, Eric Lipps & Eric Oppen
Editor and Guest Historians of
Today in Alternate History, a Daily
Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.
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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items
explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist
superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy
Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting