They’ve Come for Lincoln

Remember when Democrats assured us that they just wanted to get rid of statues of Confederate generals, plus Jefferson Davis? That was the issue in Charlottesville. But of course it didn’t stop there. Liberals don’t hate the Confederacy, they hate America. So inevitably, the Great Emancipator is now in their sights.

Here in Minnesota, Democratic Representative Jamie Becker-Finn complains about having to see a portrait of Lincoln in the Minnesota House chamber. My colleague Bill Walsh reports:

Cancel culture has now reached President Abraham Lincoln, the man who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation declaring enslaved people “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Democrat Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn (DFL-Roseville) complained about Lincoln’s presence on the House floor this week during a debate on an education bill.

We are asked to serve, we serve in this body, we have to look at President Lincoln every day we are in this space.

The humanity! Bill surmises, no doubt correctly, that Becker-Finn’s contempt for Lincoln stems from the Great Sioux Massacre of 1862. In that uprising, the Sioux committed the worst massacre by either side in the period from 1492 to the present, slaughtering, among many others, 100 children under the age of 10:

Rep. Becker-Finn describes herself as a Leech Lake Ojibwe descendant, so we assume her objection to Lincoln is based on his role in the Dakota War of 1862. … President Lincoln personally reviewed the case files of hundreds of Sioux who were sentenced to death for their roles in the uprising. After his review, Lincoln commuted the sentences of all but 38 of them after determining they were simply soldiers fighting in battle. He reduced the list to those “guilty of individual murders and atrocious abuse of their female captives.”

Becker-Finn gives no credit to President Lincoln for his discretion in sentencing and apparently believes Lincoln should have acquitted all of the men convicted of these heinous crimes.

This is the kind of idiocy that we are used to, coming from the Left. The truth is that far more than 38 Sioux should have been hanged. But in many cases, their mass murders left no survivors to testify. In other instances, there were survivors but they were unable to identify under oath the specific Indians who committed murders and rapes. And no doubt some who should have been hanged escaped, or were killed in the encounters with actual soldiers, rather than women and children, that ended the “war.”

Years ago, Scott and I wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune debunking leftist myths about the hanging of 38 murderers and rapists in Mankato. But the myths persist. Our governor participates annually in a horseback ride that culminates in Mankato, honoring the 38 murderers and rapists. He has officially apologized for what was in fact a miscarriage of justice only to the extent that so many vicious criminals went unpunished.

In the current issue of Thinking Minnesota, John Phelan has a sober and balanced account of the 1862 massacres and ensuing “war.” This is how it started:

On the morning of Sunday, August 17, four Lower Sioux — Killing Ghost, Breaking Up, Runs against Something When Crawling, and Brown Wing — were hunting deer near Acton Township in Meeker County. Coming across the farmstead of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Jones, they found some eggs and debated whether to steal them. They goaded each other into doing rather more.

They went to Jones’ store and then followed him to the house of his son-in-law, Howard Baker. There, they challenged Jones, Baker, and another visitor, Viranus Webster, to a shooting contest, which they accepted. Jones and Baker fired but did not reload. The Sioux then turned and shot the Joneses, Baker, and Webster dead. They rode away, passing Jones’ store where his 15-year-old daughter, Clara, was watching from the doorway. She, too, was shot dead.

The next morning, Sioux led by Little Crow, who had reluctantly joined in the spree killings, attacked the Lower Agency:

Indians besiege the town of New Ulm

The Lower Agency was wiped out and Myrick was reputedly found with grass stuffed in his mouth. But some of Little Crow’s Sioux — perhaps no more than 200 out of 2,000 — pursued fleeing survivors like Dr. Philander Humphrey and his family. Mrs. Humphrey was weakened from recent childbirth, so they rested in a house. Dr. Humphrey sent his 12-year-old son for help, but before he returned the doctor was shot dead and the house set on fire, burning his wife and two children alive. When Humprey’s son returned, he witnessed Sioux cutting off his father’s head.

The killings spread. More than 50 were murdered at Milford Township. At Lake Shetek, 15 were murdered including Willie, Belle, and Francis Duley, aged 10 years, 4 years, and 6 months respectively. Elsewhere, August Schwandt, then aged 12, recalled how Sioux approached his family’s cabin, shot his father, and hacked to death his mother, two brothers, pregnant sister and her husband, and a hired hand. August himself was beaten and left for dead.

Refugees fleeing the Dakota onslaught

Many of those who fled fared no better. Helen Carrothers was among an ambushed group. She recalled how a Sioux took a baby belonging to a seriously ill woman named Henderson and “holding her by one foot, head downwards, deliberately hacked her body, limb from limb, with his tomahawk, throwing the pieces at the head of Mrs. Henderson. Some of the Indians made a big fire and when it was burning fiercely, they lifted the feather bed on which Mrs. Henderson lay, and tossed bed and woman and the mangled portions of her children into the flames.”

These are the crimes that are celebrated by Minnesota’s far-left governor, Tim Walz. It is quite remarkable that in the aftermath of these appalling massacres, the U.S. government’s response was so moderate. But that isn’t how crazed leftists like Walz and Rep. Becker-Finn see it. Watch for the portrait of Abraham Lincoln to disappear from the House chamber before long.

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