Lincoln tried to stop a great evil

I read with amazement the letter supporting Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln in Monday’s paper. Whatever else Lincoln did, he stopped the brutal enslavement of human beings by other human beings – an activity that had been permitted in this country until the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.

However, the defenders of "free and independent states" so eulogized in Monday’s letter quickly wrote new laws allowing the legal, forcible abduction of (almost exclusively) black men to work as slaves in the mills and mines and at other hard labor for no pay, often shackled together. The men would be arrested for a variety of newly created offenses and then sold out of the jail into hard labor in abhorrent conditions. This was done in coal mines near my home in Montevallo, and the general practice continued up until the time of World War II.

All of this is superbly researched and documented, including cases within five miles of downtown Birmingham, in Douglas Blackmon’s new book "Slavery by Another Name" (Doubleday, 2008).

Lincoln had faults; everyone does. But he tried to stop a great evil the powers in the South refused to let go of for several more generations.

Michael F. Patton Jr.