Donald Trump’s claim that the Republican Party is the natural home of black voters because it is the party of Abraham Lincoln, is a perpetuation of the myth that Lincoln was favorable to the idea of Africans living in America.
In reality, Lincoln wanted the slaves freed—and all Africans deported out of the country, preferably to Africa.
Lincoln, best known for issuing the proclamation which formally abolished slavery in America, is known as the “Great Emancipator.”
His support for segregation and opposition to racial mixing is illustrated by the fact that he was one of the public supporters of a law in his home state of Illinois which made marriage between blacks and whites a criminal offence (Lincoln and the Negro, Benjamin Quarles, Oxford University Press, New York, 1962, pages 36–37).
Lincoln made his views known on the repatriation of blacks as early as 1862, at the height of the Civil War.
During a meeting with a black group called the “Deputation of Free Negroes” who had come to plead for full emancipation, Lincoln told the Africans that their best option was to return to Africa and start a free black colony there. Speaking to the group, he said:
You and I are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other races. Whether it be right or wrong, I need not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think.
Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated.
Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on equality with the White race.
On this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you. I cannot alter it if I would.
I need not recount to you the effects upon White men, growing out of the institution of slavery. See our present condition—the country engaged in war!—our White men cutting one another’s throats, none knowing how far it will extend; and then consider what we know to be the truth.
But for your race among us there would be no war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.
—The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Baler, Rutgers University Press, 1953, Vol. V, pages 371–375.
When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he again called for black “colonization” (the creation of a separate black state removed from America) during his speech after the signing ceremony:
I have urged the colonization of the Negroes, and shall continue. My Emancipation Proclamation was linked with this plan.
There is no room for two distinct races of white men in America, much less for two distinct races of whites and blacks.
I can conceive of no greater calamity than the assimilation of the Negro into our social and political life as our equal.
Within twenty years we can peacefully colonize the Negro and give him our language, literature, religion, and system of government under conditions in which he can rise to the full measure of manhood. This he can never do here.
We can never attain the ideal union our fathers dreamed, with millions of an alien, inferior race among us, whose assimilation is neither possible nor desirable. (Ibid.).
Lincoln ordered state department officials to investigate moving the black population to various Central American regions and also Caribbean islands such as Haiti.
Lincoln’s policy of emancipating blacks and settling them in geographical isolation from whites took practical form with General Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued in January 1865.
In terms of this measure, freed black slaves were given exclusive rights to, and use of, a number of islands and parts of the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia. This effectively created mini-black homelands within the borders of the United States as a preliminary step to their repatriation.
Lincoln’s efforts to proceed with this policy of removing all blacks from America was only interrupted by his assassination by the Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, on April 14, 1865.
His successor in the White House, President Andrew Johnson, abandoned Lincoln’s policies completely, and thus his efforts to peacefully end the racial problem of America ended.