Abraham Lincoln Died with a Confederate bill in his pocket. The president who led us through the most divisive time in our country’s history had a symbol of reconciliation with him. Lincoln had planned for a peaceful Reconstruction. He had already laid plans for rebuilding the south. Reconstruction was to be an extension of the peace that Grant made at Appomattox. A Marshal Plan for the South, if you will. Imagine our country if Lincoln had lived to see that benevolent rebuilding started. Instead, our policy was one of retribution and subjugation. The case can be made that organizations like the KKK had a virulent support because of the nature of Reconstruction. We’re still living with the consequences of that period today. Racism and resentment are part and parcel of our everyday lives.
Lincoln understood that punishing the South would only be punishing the US. There is no punishing one state without belittling the entire nation. How many times has this theme played itself out before our eyes? Even the leaders of that time had plenty of precedent showing that vengeance is no substitute for compassionate governance. What purpose does it serve to learn the lessons of history, if they are ignored? We’ve had numerous examples of that forgotten lesson in the 20th century, from Spain, Japan, Italy, and Germany. Which country even aspires to the ideal of a compassionate government? Rugged individualism has become the catch phrase for government disinterest. I don’t think that our government passes the test of compassion posed by that Confederate bill.