The civil war through slaves’ eyes: An interview with Andrew Ward

Robin Lindley in HNN:

AW: One said, “I just hated Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe and all that crowd. They didn’t do anything for me, and they never will.” The concepts of Lincoln from the [slave] interviews run from next to God, Moses and Jesus, and on the other hand, there wasn’t a Negro in the country who wasn’t cursing Lincoln that first winter after Lincoln was shot [because] they felt a sense of abandonment and betrayal.

There’s been a lot of revisionist [material] on Lincoln and slavery. The Great Emancipator was an absurd myth, but at the same time, he was an extraordinary human being in his capacity for growing so much. From a backwoods Kentucky boy surrounded by slaves. His uncle had slaves. He had the most extraordinary capacity to empathize with people and to influence others. He was a great politician. He saw the moral core of [issues] balanced out with country-boy pragmatism. With the Emancipation Proclamation, we look back and ask why didn’t he just declare that slavery was over? He was trying to win this war, and if he didn’t win, he didn't get to end slavery. His idea of how to bring us onto the path of righteousness was to win the war, and he was going to do everything in his power to do it, and try to alienate as few people as possible.

More here.