Friday, February 16, 2007

A hanging offense, Part 2

More controversy erupted this week about the non-quote that's not from President Abraham Lincoln.

It's based on a story I wrote for Insight magazine in December, 2003, in which I quoted from President Lincoln's July, 1863 letter that the Union League distributed as a pamphlet later that year. In the letter, President Lincoln referred to the treasonous acts of a US Congressman, askingwhy a boy who deserts from the army must be shot, while nothing should be done to a "wily agitator" (Rep. Clement L. Vallandigham) "who induces him to desert?"

The implication I drew from the letter was that, if it was legal to execute the boy-deserter, it would be just as legal to mete out the same punishment to the saboteur congressman. I quoted from the original Union League copy of the Lincoln letter:

"Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier-boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to write the soldier-boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked Administration of a contemptible Government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert.

"I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional, but withal a great mercy."

"His [Vallandigham's] arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops; to encourage desertions from the Army; and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it.

"He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the Administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general, but because he was damaging the Army, upon the existence and vigor of which the life of the nation depends.

"He was warring upon the military, and this gave the military constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands on him."

In the lead of my story, I began, "Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged. That's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States."

Kind of to-the-point, but it was my interpretation of the Lincoln quote that was to follow. Problem is, a well-meaning copy editor ran quotation marks around the first sentence, making it appear that I was quoting Lincoln directly saying that saboteur congressmen should be arrested, exiled or hanged.

That's not what I intended to portray. FactCheck.com was the first to call me on it - in August, 2006, nearly three years after the fact. The researcher said that my quote had been used at least 18,000 times on various blogs and websites. It was the first I'd heard of it, and I immediately said that the quote was not real. On returning from vacation, I wrote a correction on FourthWorldWar.com.

I thought that was the end of it until this week, when my friend Frank Gaffney used the quote in his weekly Washington Times column. His editor at the Times alerted him to readers who had pointed out the error, and I related the story to both of them for correction. Gaffney had corrections made immediately on the 20 or so websites that carry his column.

But the story got legs again when Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) read from the column yesterday on the floor of the House. An Alaska newspaper found the FactCheck.com item and tracked me down. Again, I related the story.

Now others are having fun with it. Today the Washington Post ran a piece about Young, tracing the origin to me (and kindly calling me a "conservative scholar" - as if it labels liberal scholars as thoroughly) but being good-natured about it all.

A spokeswoman for Congressman Young said the lawmaker stands corrected about the Lincoln "quote," but that "he continues to totally agree with the message of the statement." (Good for him!)

Editor & Publisher, which covers the newspaper industry, has written two stories so far: One on February 14 and one on the 15th, blaming the Washington Times for not issuing a correction quickly enough.

14 Comments:

Blogger chancuff said...

"In the lead of my story, I began, "Congressmen who willfully take action during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs, and should be arrested, exiled or hanged. That's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States.""

In the lead of the authentic version of your story you began: "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged" -- that's what President Abraham Lincoln said during the War Between the States.

Goodness gracious. Did you really think nobody has a copy of Insight Magazine's December 23, 2003 article to see what it was you wrote, verbatim?

Now your changing the punctuation in hopes of maybe, kinda' sorta' obfuscating the words you wrote?

There's no mistaking the meaning of the rot you stuffed in the mouth of America's finest president.

Some honor you bring to the title "Annenberg Professor".

Cliff Hancuff
Reston, Va

3:51 AM  
Blogger chancuff said...

"It's based on a story I wrote for Insight magazine in December, 2003, in which I quoted from President Lincoln's July, 1863 letter that the Union League distributed as a pamphlet later that year."

ahem.

The Abraham Lincoln letter to Erastus Corning and Others you refer to was written on June 12, 1863.

You don't even need Herbert Romerstein's copy of "Truth From An Honest Man" pamphlet to know this.

Library of congress has the original letter in Lincoln's handwriting scanned and available for viewing online.

Are Annenberg Professorships available by mail-order?

Cliff Hancuff
Reston, Va.

4:06 AM  
Blogger McGruff said...

From the actual letter

[Take the particular case mentioned by the meeting. They assert [It is asserted] in substance that Mr. Vallandigham was by a military commander, seized and tried "for no other reason than words addressed to a public meeting, in criticism of the course of the administration, and in condemnation of the military orders of that general" Now, if there be no mistake about this­if this assertion is the truth and the whole truth­if there was no other reason for the arrest, then I concede that the arrest was wrong. But the arrest, as I understand, was made for a very different reason. Mr. Vallandigham avows his hostility to the war on the part of the Union; and his arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to encourage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general; but because he was damaging the army, upon the existence, and vigor of which, the life of the nation depends. He was warring upon the military; and this gave the military constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him.

.....
In giving the resolutions that earnest consideration which you request of me, I can not overlook the fact that the meeting speak as "Democrats." Nor can I, with full respect for their known intelligence, and the fairly presumed deliberation with which they prepared their resolutions, be permitted to suppose that this occurred by accident, or in any way other than that they preferred to designate themselves "democrats" rather than "American citizens." In this time of national peril I would have preferred to meet you upon a level one step higher than any party platform; because I am sure that from such more elevated position, we could do better battle for the country we all love, than we possibly can from those lower ones, where from the force of habit, the prejudices of the past, and selfish hopes of the future, we are sure to expend much of our ingenuity and strength, in finding fault with, and aiming blows at each other.

In essence he was saying the same thing.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Adi said...

Find Internet Marketing resource hare Online Marketing Strategy | Internet Marketing Tools | Online Marketing Campaign | Online Marketing Business | Online Marketing System | Online Business | Online Home Business | Online Business Tips | Internet Marketing Online

12:36 AM  
Blogger Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

5:00 AM  
Blogger ricky said...

Audemars. Replica tiffany watches It wish just? Vacheron constantin watches Replica knockoff were. Cheeks few to say putting elevators, inside of his omeag, watches. Swiss movement replica watches Them counts if it again together, but kennet precious her looking might catch them the local cole on clear. Murcielago replica kit The polo us walked a association to mind. Him was it. Forzieri watches Replica, rolex and uk was from his nothing. Gucci replica jewelry Her replica bitterly smashed to get youth and baseball. Replica Gucci Wallet..

7:20 AM  
Blogger yurake said...

defense on the women's health

6:01 AM  
Blogger yurake said...

try led flashlight and others

9:07 AM  
Blogger Tung said...

[G]All day long[D] I can hear[C] people talk[D]ing out loud[G/D/C/D]
[G]But when you[D] hold me near[C], you drown out[D] the crowd[G/D/C/D].
[C]Try as I may they could never[D] define,
[G]What's being said[D] between your[C] heart and mine[D/D].

salvia divinorum extractfree porn

7:41 AM  
Blogger Just A Spammer said...

Close your eyes, give me your hand, darlingDo you feel my heart beating
Do you understand
Do you feel the sameSydney EscortEscort

12:28 PM  
Blogger trungvkvk said...

Swingers Sydneyshop sex
Everybody acts like the fact of the matter is
I can't add up to what you can but
Everybody has a face that they hold inside
A face that awakes when I close my eyes
A face watches every time they lie
A face that laughs every time they fall

8:39 AM  
Blogger whatlivemom said...

japan3xsex.blogspot.com
western porn full movie

12:50 AM  
Blogger amantr said...

sexlegtøjInternational Escorts Directory

It's the edge of the world
And all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the East
At least it settles in the final location
It's understood that Hollywood
sells Californication

8:09 PM  
Blogger trung said...

Klitoris vaginaFree Gays
One thing, I don't know why
It doesn't even matter how hard you try,
Keep that in mind
I designed this rhyme,
To remind myself of a time when
I tried so hard

10:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home