Elizabeth Grantham and Addison Oliphant Musings on “What if Lincoln had not been assasinated?”

Elizabeth Grantham 

Lincoln’s plan for restoration was to give the blacks a right to vote, open public schools for blacks, and let blacks hold political offices. Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson, who was running against him in the president election, as his VP. Lincoln had very different views from Johnson, so when Lincoln died Johnson did the opposite of Lincoln leading to the Jim Crow Laws and the KKK.

In discussion today, the big question Addison and I were wrestling with, is if Lincoln wasn’t assassinated would there have been peace during reconstruction, or would there have been more chaos and revolt from the white citizens but the violence would only last a short time?

I have come to the conclusion that if Lincoln was still alive there still would have been violence. There absolutely would have still been discrimination and anger towards the blacks because people still saw them as lower than the whites. Lots of poor whites were competing for the same jobs that blacks were trying to get.

Economically there would have been a struggle. If you are a poor white and slavery has been around for 300 years and all of a sudden blacks are able to vote, are able to hold political office, and are also competing for the same job that you need to provide for your family, whites would be threatened and angry towards the perceived black competition.

I believe that hatred, violence, and racism would have still have existed whether or not Lincoln was assassinated. I think this violence might have lasted around 30 years instead 100 years, but the transition from slavery to immediate integration might have created an extreme revolt that ended in the massive killings of blacks. I also think racism might not be as wide-spread in our culture if Andrew Jackson had not legalized segregation through the Jim Crow Laws.

When Lincoln was assassinated the North and the South were very angry. The South may not have had the same views as Lincoln, but they saw him as a very influential leader with principles that not many people had. I think Lincoln had a level of influence that was greatly missed in his absence. But perhaps Lincoln’s assassination contributed to the outrage and rise of many new leaders in reconciliation that may not have stepped forward.

The truth is none of us know what it would look like if Lincoln had not been assassinated. I am thankful for Lincoln’s leadership and what he stood for, but he can’t change hearts–which is where racism begins.

Addison Oliphant’s opinion of the question, what if Abraham Lincoln hadn’t been assassinated and what would America look like today?

After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had a reconstruction plan for the nation. This plan was going to bind up the wounds from the war and provide voting rights, job security, and education for the freed slaves. However, on April 14, 1865 Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. This meant not only the end of the life of Abraham Lincoln but it also meant the end to the restoration plan. In consequence to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson became president. He did not have the gentleness and grace that Lincoln had for the nation. He did not give the freed slaves the rights that had been intended for them by Lincoln. Instead of the north and south coming together to heal, they had no way of getting rid of the infection that is the impression of African-Americans.

If Lincoln had not been assassinated the country most likely would look a lot different today. If Lincoln had continued with his plans for the reconstruction of America, and put into place the rights for African-Americans, things would definitely look different today.
It is my personal opinion that when the laws were made to give voting rights, education and jobs to now freed slaves, the immediate reaction of the people would have been catastrophic. I believe with no transition into this huge cultural change, violence would have been extreme. The death toll and slaughter of the African-Americans would be so high that there might be fewer in America today. However, I also believe that instead of 100 years for equality, it would probably had taken around 30 years.

Who’s to say what would have really happened. The problem is we have to work with the world we live in today.

The truth of the matter is that racism would have not gone away. You can change laws overnight but it takes time, healing and work to change hearts. I would have had faith in Abraham Lincoln, it is where my faith in humanity would fail.

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