Friday, April 11, 2008

Bad Lincoln "History"


Bad history is all around us, as documented in the book "Lies Across America" by James W. Loewen. Examples include a small town in Texas which claims that it's the site of the true first flight, never mind what we've read about the Wright Brothers in Kittyhawk, North Carolina. Another example is the Christopher Columbus statue in the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus which perpetuates the myth that until Columbus sailed, everyone thought the Earth was flat.

But now I've seen everything. Tomorrow, April 12, 2008 marks the opening in North Carolina of something called "The Bostic Lincoln Center Museum" which continues the unproven claim that Abraham Lincoln was actually born near the little town of Bostic in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Various people have tried to make the case for over 100 years now that Lincoln was born there, the illegitimate son of Nancy Hanks. Never mind that this claim is based on hearsay, oral traditions, and local lore without a single shred of evidence. The website for the "museum" in Bostic provides various links to other websites attempting to prove that Lincoln was really a North Carolinian.

A while back, I posted on this blog about the recent book "Lincoln Legends, Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated With Our Greatest President," authored by Dr. Edward Steers, Jr., one of the leading Lincoln scholars. Chapter 2 of this book, simply titled "Lincoln's Father" describes in great detail this long-time claim about Lincoln, his parentage, and his place of birth. He includes research about Thomas Lincoln, Nancy Hanks, a man named Abraham Enloe (supposedly Lincoln's real father), wedding licenses, and so on. It's very interesting and enlightening.

Steers' conclusion? "While there may have been a woman named Nancy Hanks who lived in western North Carolina in the early years of the 19th century, and while she may have given birth to a baby boy fathered by a man named Abraham Enloe, neither the mother nor the baby had any relationship to Nancy Hanks Lincoln and her son, Abraham Lincoln." In his opinion, people who claim otherwise, that Lincoln was born illegitimately in North Carolina, do so to somehow stain Lincoln's place in history.

Sounds about right to me. I'd believe the conclusions of Dr. Steers over some "museum" in the hills of North Carolina. No one who is truly knowledgeable about Abraham Lincoln will buy this myth which persists to this day. I hesitated to even post about this "Lincoln Center Museum" for fear of partially legitimizing it, but I chose to do so to illustrate that people should not believe everything they read or everything they are told. We all need to be aware of bad history, and this "Bostic Lincoln Center" is one of the worst examples I've yet seen.

3 comments:

Hasan S. Aloul said...

Geoff,

Did you hear the Bostic Lincoln Center is now pushing for a DNA test to match Thomas and Abe?

On a side note, I just want to say what a wonderful blog. Very interesting and informative. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

Why would suggesting that Abraham Lincoln be the son of someone other than Thomas Linocln be an act of disparagement? I am not saying I agree or not with either version of history, I'm just not sure any effort to ask "what if" should be labeled as bad simply because it flies in the face of accepted dogma. History is never always right, and we should never suppress ideas that are not truly evil. Heck wasn't Lincoln's mom an illegitmate child? That doesn't make her a bad person does it?
All that said, your blog and your website is excellent!

Geoff Elliott said...

It's bad history because there is no *proof* of the claims that this so-called "museum" makes.

No, it would not disparage Lincoln one iota if it could be proven that he was illegitimate. Nothing could take away from his accomplishments in life.

I can build a "museum" which states that the moon is made of green cheese and offer "evidence" which supports my claims. But, that doesn't make my claim *true*.

That is my problem with this so-called museum in North Carolina. It is stating something as FACT and it misleads gullible visitors.

 
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