Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Personal Aside: To E. A., Sorry You Were Erased Inadvertently. Now as to Lincoln’s “Uncertain” Parentage and McCain’s Blow Torch Temper


My Apologies, E. A.

E. A. a frequent commentator to this website had her comment about McCain erased. I’m sorry about that—it was inadvertently scrubbed when we removed a wholly scatological comment. But the comment was not all that stunning. Now that I had reported on Obama’s chaotic parentage, E. A. inquired about Abraham Lincoln’s rise from backwoods poverty—a truly salutary experience…but also mentioned Lincoln’s “uncertain parentage.” The only ones who allege an “uncertain parentage,” E. A., tend to be rightwing conspiratorialists who abjure the Great Emancipator’s dislocation of certain constitutional guarantees in order to save the Union. They generally are associated with an outfit called the League of the South which still insist the Railsplitter had no right to free the slaves. Some of them allege that Lincoln was illegitimate of which there is no proof whatever. Should I associate you with them, E. A. ?

Lincoln’s genealogy starts with his great-great grandfather, Samuel, who emigrated from Norfolk, England, arriving at Hingham, Massachusetts about 1637. Subsequent generations migrated to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. His paternal grandfather and namesake, Abraham Lincoln, served as a captain of the Virginia militia during the American Revolution. Hearing his friend, Daniel Boone, talk of cheap land in Kentucky, he moved in 1782 to Jefferson county, east of Louisville. Four years later while working his fields he was killed by an Indian.

His son, Thomas Lincoln (1778-1851), farmer and carpenter, was born in Rockingham county, Virginia and was reared there as well as in Kentucky. He served in the Kentucky militia, settled first in Hardin (now Larue) county, Kentucky, later in Spencer county, Indiana and Coles county, Illinois. He was illiterate, could not read or write but could sign his own name. A year after the death of his wife, Nancy Hanks (the president’s mother) he married a widow with three children, Sarah Bush Johnston. There was an estrangement of some sort with his son Abraham. When Abraham was a lawyer in Springfield, he did not attend his own father’s funeral. There is really no comparison between Lincoln’s rather unremarkable genealogical background and Barack’s chaotic one.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818) was apparently of illegitimate birth. She married Thomas Lincoln in 1806. she was illiterate, reportedly pious and close to her children. “All that I am or hope to be,” wrote Lincoln, “I owe to my angel mother.” She died at 34 of “milk sickness” in Spencer county when Abe was nine. Lincoln had one older sister to live to maturity—Mrs. Sarah Grigsby who died in childbirth at age 21.

About John McCain’s famous blow-torch temper, E. A., I have written about it many times including the famous scene where he assailed Texas Senator John Cornyn on the floor with a shouted obscenity. I have also speculated on rumors of his emotional instability. I have quoted in fact an Illinois retired general who was incarcerated in the Hanoi Hilton with McCain who told me “all of us have a tendency to be somewhat nuts” because of the long confinement. I don’t think I have pulled any punches in that regard and still regard his tendency to go overboard emotionally as a disadvantage. Hence you didn’t tell us anything new in your comment which…I am sorry to say…was inadvertently erased along with an obscenity from someone else.

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