namesakes

Abraham and Lot separating, by  	Wenceslaus Hollar

go ahead, take whatever land you want

A Richmond newspaper can’t believe that free blacks would name their sons after Abraham Lincoln. It would make a lot more sense to name the children after the biblical Abraham. Unlike the “Washington Abraham” the biblical patriarch was a gentleman, a slaveholder, who fought his own battles; when he and his relative had to separate, Abraham told Lot to go ahead and take whatever land he wanted.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch January 3 1865:

The two Abrahams.

It appears, from Yankee correspondents, that “Abraham” is the popular name for the picaninnies in the contraband camps. The negro mothers delight in bestowing that name upon their “fine little boys,” and Yankee scribes delight in recording such a compliment.

It is unfortunate enough to be a free negro, but to be christened Abraham Lincoln is adding insult to injury. There have been two Abrahams, however, in the history of the world, and though it was not intended to honor the first by the application of the name to the little darkies aforesaid, we must be permitted to believe that he was a good deal more worthy the compliment than his name-sake at Washington. No two men ever lived as little like each other in character and conduct as these two Abrahams.–Let us see.

The Abraham at Washington is confessed by his own countrymen to be a vulgar buffoon and joker, destitute of the dignity, the courtesy, and every other quality of a gentleman. The patriarch Abraham was a model of all these qualities. His reception of the strangers who visited his tent has been justly characterized as a “specimen of a genuine gentleman; courtesy of external deportment; courtesy of polite language; courtesy of substantial hospitality; and all this the offspring of a truly benevolent heart.”

The Abraham at Washington is as careful of his own life as he is extravagant with the lives of other men. He has caused a loss of half a million of lives to his own countrymen, but has never smelt gunpowder himself. He stole into Washington on a freight car; and whilst the land has been reeling ever since beneath the shock of war, he has remained snugly ensconced in the capital. The patriarch Abraham did not get other men to do his fighting for him. When he heard that war was made upon his brother, and that he was taken prisoner and his goods captured, the patriarch armed his own servants, and himself went after the enemy, fought them gallantly like the fine old hero that he was, routed them completely, and rescued his brother and his goods. When did Abraham at Washington ever imitate his namesake in that?

The Union is my home ... By C. H. Readel. Philad'a, January 1, 1865 (LOC: http://www.loc.gov/item/amss002595/)

his excellency Abraham Lincoln???

The Washington Abraham is an Abolitionist. He considers slavery a great sin, and slaveholders children of the devil. The patriarch Abraham, on the contrary, was himself a slaveholder. The Scriptures inform us that he had slaves, bought with his own money and born in his own house. Others he received as presents from the King of Egypt. His whole encampment was made up of slaves. We may judge of the number when he could arm “three hundred and eighteen trained servants, born in his house,” for the purposes of war. We doubt whether there is now a slaveholder in the South whose slave possessions are large enough to furnish him with three hundred and eighteen servants, born in his own house, for military purposes. –Abolitionists regard house-born slaves as “the most revolting particular in the whole system.” Such is the language of an English writer in commenting on this very passage. He adds: “We can understand that a man might perfect his personal liberty by crime or misfortune — but that his children and his children’s children,–etc., etc. Yet Abraham owned this as well as every other kind of slave property; and in the very next chapter of the Bible that records the fact, God prescribes regulations, in what He himself describes as an “everlasting covenant,” for their religions training; blesses the patriarch and bestows upon him the name of Abraham, “for a father of many nations have I made thee” blesses Sarah, his wife, and says she shall be the mother of kings and, upon Abraham’s intercession, blesses even Ishmael !

Such was the favor with which the Almighty regarded this great slaveholder, the only man in the whole Scripture who is honored with this sublime title: “The Friend of God.”

Thomas Lincoln, born 1779, died 1851 (Published in: Lincoln, his life in photographs / Stefan Lorant. New York : Duell, Sloan and Pearce, [1941], p. 15.; c1934 Sept. 19; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-19418)

Thomas Lincoln – got his boy’s name wrong

We have only room to point to one more, and that a very striking point of difference between the two Abrahams.–When the Southern Lot proposed to separate peacefully from the Northern Abraham, the answer was fire and sword; enormous armies let loose upon our territory; our soil deluged with the blood of our people, and the midnight sky reddened with the flame of our burning dwellings. What was the conduct of the patriarch Abraham in a like case? “And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear the that they might live together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together, And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle; and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled there in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.”

It is clear that the two Abrahams are very different men. The father of the Washington Abraham should have named him — Pharaoh.

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