Land of Lincoln (They Say)

January 1, 2013

They say that Illinois is the land of Lincoln
And that Springfield is the heart of that land.

They say that Lincoln was ugly, morose and awkward
And that despite his character flaws he should be honored
For keeping the country together
For freeing Africans from chattel slavery.

They say, they say, they say
Until I can’t help being sickened.

Yes, Lincoln signed his name on a document
That nominally ended the American version of slavery
Once and for all

But he took a long and winding road to get there
And part of that road included a path off the beaten trail
Called the american colonization society
A society that didn’t want to participate any longer
In sucking the blood from Africans
A society that just wanted us to recross the Middle Passage
And take our black asses on home.

Lincoln found out that wasn’t feasible
the day he took office
and southern state after southern state
seceded from the union.

See, president after president
from the first to the fifteenth
consistently passed the buck on the question of slavery.
None of them had the werewithal
to disrupt the economy of the country
by dismantling slavery.

Northern mills manufactured the cotton
Produced from Africans enslaved on the plantations.
Coffee drinkers had their coffee sweetened
With the sugar produced from Africans enslaved
On the plantations.
No president could conceive the building of this country
Shouldn’t have to rely on the whip, the dogs, the blood soaked earth
The all-encompassing misery of African people
To make this country’s destiny manifest.

But they say that Lincoln had the courage of his convictions
And they say his convictions were inherent in the words
Of the declaration of independence.
They say he was The Great Emancipator

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Couldn’t stop Northern whites from rioting
Because they had to go to war
To free Africans.

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Couldn’t stop the South from beating the North
In battle after battle.

Lincoln signing his name on a piece of paper
Was a strategic move
To break the South economically.
If the South didn’t have the revenue produced by Africans
They wouldn’t be able to keep up with the cost of war.
That was the real reason behind Sherman’s march to the sea.

So on this day
When they have closed downtown Springfield
For the grand opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
When they say that Illinois is the Land of Lincoln
And Springfield is the heart of that land
After I get up from praying to the porcelain god
And rinse my mouth out
I take up my pen
And try to give you the real deal.


Excerpted from my book, In the Whirlwind


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