February 11th, 2009
06:20 PM ET

Commentary: Lincoln's remarkable tie to former slave

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/11/horton.lincoln.douglass/art.james.horton.jpg]
James Oliver Horton
Special to CNN

Few relationships in American history have been more remarkable than that between President Abraham Lincoln and black abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass.

Lincoln was born a Southerner 200 years ago, on February 12, in a rough-hewn cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky. He spent most of his adult life in the North, working a series of odd jobs before becoming a lawyer and a leading Illinois politician.


Filed under: Race in America
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. sean brizendine

    regardless of lincolns motives he freed the slaves and frankly today that is all that matters.
    "sean in santa rosa"

    February 12, 2009 at 2:22 am |
  2. Joan Love

    I would be interested in knowing President Obama's thoughts on this article.

    February 12, 2009 at 12:56 am |
  3. mary

    I thought that the Civil War was fought to keep the United States together. There had been 2 wars fought with England to have our independence from English tyranny. It is my understanding that if the north had lost to the Confederate south there would have not been any thing to stop England from trying to conquer this continent again and probably winning. The south would have won but what would they have won? A broken north and a broken south? i think Lincoln understood this very well.

    February 11, 2009 at 11:53 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    For those Republicans basking in the glory of Lincoln, Lincoln was elected in the first election after the Republican party was formed and the party did not have the same core values it has now. Its evolved quite a bit since 1860.

    February 11, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    Lincoln was a racialist. His opinions on race were clear. One might consider him a "man of his times," but the facts remain.

    It's fun to watch the back and forth between liberals and so-called "conservatives" on the subject of Lincoln, each trying to claim him as their own. The liberals extol his use of unbridled federal power in the service of what they consider a good cause, while their opponents - typically GOP neo-con types - overlook that very use of centralized power as they draw specious comparisons between today's GOP and that of a century and a half ago.

    In their own ways, they're buying into a myth.

    February 11, 2009 at 9:15 pm |
  6. Justice

    Lincoln was an honorable man and slavery deserved to be abolished. He is a great example of the republican party. We are for freedom (we tried to give it to Iraqi's so they didn't have to live under that dictator Hussein), we are for living in peace on our own land (by trying to stamp out the terrorist who come on our home turf and blow up our buildings and people) and we are for letting the people decide (we lost an election adhering to the people saying they wanted a change in how Washington was run...and now we are listening to the people say "NO" to a stimulus bill that is just more of the same rubbish as before).

    February 11, 2009 at 8:39 pm |
  7. Terry

    Please ....Lincoln would have never fired on the south... if the south hadn't fired ... the Civil War would never have happened.

    February 11, 2009 at 8:25 pm |
  8. Michelle

    I stunned to find out how much Lincoln actually talked with
    Frederick Douglas. I first came across this in a history class.
    Pretty amazing considering America at that time. Douglas
    was pretty blunt with President Lincoln.

    February 11, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  9. Larry

    Why did Lincoln not permit the southern states to secede; since there is nothing in the constitution to prevent their right to do so? We don't mind interfering in countries where partitioning of the country is the expected outcome. So over 600 thousand americans gave their lives for what; so Lincoln could allow the northern carpetbaggers to pillage the south and get re-elected?

    February 11, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  10. Julie

    Did you know that Lincoln was a republican. Yeah, I couldn't believe that a republican is the one who initiated the end of slavery. I thought for sure it would have been a democrat but it wasn't!!!!

    Also, President Washington was the one who gave Douglas the land to build a home on in Virginia. Did you know that?

    February 11, 2009 at 7:36 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    Even though Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a way to give the Civil War, which was not much supported in the North, a moral grounds to justify it and to rally support, his liberation of slaves from slavery was a tremendous step forward in his time. Lincoln by his own example showed that a man could start with the same stance on slavery as most white men but could by reason, logic, and morality be converted to acknowledging the inherent wrong in a system which espouse slavery. Lincoln was a wonderful example of how a man or woman can start out with one belief but change over time to represent the greater good. As such he will continue to remind us with his greatness that we too can be better tomorrow than what we are today.

    February 11, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  12. Larry

    If Lincoln held those views today would he be electable?

    February 11, 2009 at 6:12 pm |