Noel Ignatiev's Blog

The Modern Lincoln

I read the other day that a columnist in Ha’aretz (the soft-zionist Israeli newspaper) said, “Obama murdered bin Laden for a fistful of votes.”

It started me thinking, and so I went back and read a little history and discovered the following, from Wikipedia, on the Dakota War:

In early December [1862, in the aftermath of the War], 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death…. Pres. Abraham Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records…

Henry Whipple, the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and a reformer of U.S. policies toward Native Americans, urged Lincoln to proceed with leniency. On the other hand, General Pope and Minnesota Senator Morton S. Wilkinson told him that leniency would not be received well by the white population. In the end, Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners…

Republicans did not fare as well in Minnesota in the 1864 election as they had before…. The President reportedly replied, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.”

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