Reading Lincoln’s Mind

In Harold Holzer’s article “How Jefferson Davis Lost His Slaves” (July 2013), if one did not know better, one would think Lincoln’s main purpose for his Emancipation Proclamation was to free the slaves. While there is nothing that could possibly begin to justify the practice of slavery, for Holzer to write a piece like this and attempt to mislead the readers—that Lincoln was just looking out for the slaves, of which he only freed in Confederate-held territory—cannot go unaddressed. Lincoln is known to have said he would be willing to free all of the slaves or none of the slaves as long as it allowed him to preserve the Union of all the states. Just as our politicians today use humanitarian causes to garner support for unpopular military intervention around the world, Lincoln was simply using what was available to him at the time to reshape the opinion of the people of the North, who for the most part no longer desired to continue the conflict with the Southern people.

Milton J. Allemand Jr.

Hahnville La.

Kudos to Cozzens

I wish to commend Peter Cozzens on his excellent article on Elizabeth Keckley in the July issue. She was an amazing woman whose story has been neglected for far too long. While researching my master’s thesis on Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln’s interest in Spiritualism, I found that the sources of information on Keckley’s life, outside of her autobiography, are frustratingly vague. This has perpetuated the misperception that Elizabeth Keckley was the person who introduced Mary Todd Lincoln to Spiritualism. There is simply no evidence to support this claim. The only link that connects Keckley to Spiritualism is from Noah Brooks, who records that Keckley introduced Mary Lincoln to a Spiritualist medium—later discovered to be a fraud. Thanks for another thoughtful and insightful issue!

Michelle L. Hamilton

Spring Valley, Calif.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of America’s Civil War. To subscribe, click here.