Historical Misconceptions About Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy
Uploaded by trillianmcmillan on Jul 30, 2002
All Presidents have faced the challenge of keeping people united in times of conflict and turmoil; this specifically applied to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. They were faced with solving delicate situations involving segregation and the civil rights of American citizens in two different centuries. While there has been the enduring impression that both presidents held high ideals with regard to the African American population, a closer examination of history could lead one to believe that Lincoln was the false freer of the enslaved and Kennedy was the false figurehead for the Civil Rights movement.
Abraham Lincoln entered his first term as president following the leaders Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. Pierce was known as “an outspoken critic of federal involvement in state and locale issues” (http://www.npr.org). His veto of a bill which would have provided services and support for the mentally handicapped “established the rationale behind government uninvolvement in public health issues into the twentieth century” (http://www.npr.org). This climate of governmental uninvolvement persisted into the term of James Buchanan, a time well-known for the Dred Scott decision, which stated that “congress had no constitutional power to deprive persons of their property rights in slaves in the territories” (http://www.whitehouse.gov). Later, Buchanan “reverted to a policy of inactivity that continued until he left office” (http://www.whitehouse.gov). Therefore, upon entering office, Lincoln found the stage set for an uphill climb with a sharply divided country and a government unused to active leadership by a president whose main agenda was to unite the country, even if this meant an involvement in previously “untouchable” states rights. The issue of slavery was at the center of the controversies, and decisions in the previous two administrations only compounded the difficulties encountered in any actions that Lincoln might make.
The issue of segregation continued even up to one hundred years later when Kennedy became president following Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. However, unlike Pierce and Buchanan, the decisions and actions of both of these presidents should have made any stand that Kennedy would take for the civil rights movement easier. After World War Two had ended, Truman proposed twenty-one main policy points for the betterment of America in an attempt to calm the unrest among the American workers, as this was a time of many labor strikes and problems involving citizens who were unsatisfied with the economy. These twenty-one points included innovations such as minimum wage,...