Politico: When People Thought The First Thanksgiving Was Too Woke

I really enjoyed reading this.

I’ve covered all the same ground here for years.


“Reflecting the sharp polarization in national politics, many Democrats and peace proponents refused to acknowledge the president’s proclamation of the new holiday, and some even denounced it as an attempt to impose a particular brand of New England fanaticism on the whole country. Lincoln’s proclamation unleashed the social resentments of many voters who resisted the growing influence of evangelical churches and the concurrent growth of social reform movements — from abolitionism and temperance to Sabbatarianism and women’s rights.

To borrow from today’s political lexicon, Lincoln’s opponents nursed an intense dislike of that era’s “wokeness.” Back then, they called it “ism” — referring to the set of religious social reform movements of the day that sought to refashion the nation’s social and political systems in line with evangelical Protestant sensibilities. These critics recoiled at the pace of social change that these movements represented and resented the suggestion that they think or pray a certain way. Conversely, many Republicans greeted the president’s proclamation as a sign that the government in Washington embraced their worldview. The controversy over the first annual national Thanksgiving is a useful reminder that Americans have long argued over religion and culture, and that topics seemingly disconnected from politics can take on unexpected meaning in moments of rancor and disunity. …

But there was more to it. For years, many Southerners and pro-slavery Northerners had pilloried the Republican Party as an organization of religious fanatics bound by a commitment to extreme and even (for the time) zany evangelical reform movements — in the words of Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, “the black republican army is an allied army, composed of Know Nothings, Abolitionists, Free Soilers, Maine Liquor Law men, woman’s rights men, Anti-renters, Anti-Masons, and all the isms that have been sloughed off from all the honest parties in the country.” While some of these movements strike the modern reader as incongruous, in the antebellum era, some of the strongest advocates of abolition and women’s rights also wanted to restrict immigration and impose sobriety on a nation of heavy drinkers. Race — the debate over slavery and abolition — was always at the center of the political debate. But it intersected with a broader array of cultural concerns.

In the same way that some Americans today lump their cultural resentments under the banner of “wokeness,” many conservatives in Lincoln’s day decried the Republican Party’s affinity for “isms” — “an abolition conglomerate of all the isms at war with the rights of the States,” “all the isms … combined in the superlative ism, which I denounce as demonism, ” as Gov. Henry Wise of Virginia stated the case. George Fitzhugh, a leading Southern polemicist before the war, echoed Douglas when he denounced the “Bloomers and Women’s Rights men,” the “I vote myself a farm men,” the “Millerites, and Spiritual Rappers, and Shakers, and Widow Wakemanites, and Agrarians, and Grahamites, and a thousand other superstitious and infidel isms.” …

It became increasingly popular for administration critics to lump the offending religious reform movements under the moniker of “Puritanism,” given the central role that New England played in organized abolitionism. It made little difference that Puritanism bore nothing in common with evangelical Christianity, either intellectually or theologically. By 1863, the term had become a political descriptor, devoid of its original meaning. The Republican Party, as one Confederate political cartoonist portrayed it, was built on the foundation of “PURITANISM,” supported by pillars that included “WITCH BURNING,” “SOCIALISM,” “FREE LOVE,” “SPIRIT RAPPING,” “RATIONALISM” and “NEGRO WORSHIP.”

As Americans sit down to their holiday meal this Thursday, we remain steeped in a debate over “isms“ — “wokeness” — “political correctness.” Just as it was with “Puritanism” in 1863, in today’s political landscape, the actual meaning of terms like “critical race theory” is less important than what such terms symbolize to many people who are unnerved by the pace of social change in American society, and, conversely, to those who welcome it. …”

The Union was dissolved at this time.

Let us all pray that our people come to their senses and it happens again and this time we cut all these fanatics loose and it is permanent. Keep in mind that this was before these people created and embraced all the -isms and -phobias of the 20th century – above all antiracism – as their new Gospel.

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Author: Hunter Wallace

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