first_img Published: April 14, 2015 Audio ScriptWhat if President Abraham Lincoln had lived?April 15, 2015                       Peter Wood150 years ago today President Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet and the question remains.If Lincoln had not been assassinated would he have been able to successfully reconstruct the South, reunite the country and prevent the Jim Crow laws that essentially replaced slavery in the South for another 100 years?It’s a difficult question to answer, says Peter Wood, a CU-Boulder history instructor and Civil War expert, because post-war America was a very divided and racist country and it would have been a difficult environment – even for Lincoln in which to make progress.CUT 1 “He would also have had to come to a much clearer understanding of the depth of white southern and white northern racism. (:09) We can hardly imagine how vitriolic and bitter and anti-negro the white southern die-hard planters were but also the entire Democratic Party – his main rivals – were adamant in not even supporting the 13th Amendment — that we should not have a constitutional amendment doing away with slavery.” (:32)Wood says Lincoln had the political savvy to do a much better job at reconstruction than his successor, Andrew Johnson. But, he says, to do so Lincoln would have had to convince the nation that to succeed he needed to empower the former slaves with land and defeat racism.CUT 2 “One extreme ideal possibility would be that his living out his second term would have been enough to both empower the slaves, provide them with land and property and defang the worst fascism of the old planter regime. (:22) Overcoming that, undoing all that, is tremendously hard.” (:27)Yet, Wood says, if modern day historians need one example to show that deep seated prejudicial views can transform, giving hope to the idea that maybe Lincoln could have helped shift racist beliefs in post-Civil War America, all they need to do is observe what is happening in America today.CUT 3 “Today we’re watching deep, age-old prejudices about homosexuality shift overnight in terms of public opinion. Within 10 years we’ve seen dramatic shifts. (:12) Now could you imagine that kind of rapid transition in the 10 years after the Civil War instead of the intransigence and backsliding? (:23) And then when you’re over the hump you can actually start to feel good about it. Everybody realizes it wasn’t as bad a transition as they feared it would be. “(:31)-CU- Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-maillast_img read more