Tuesday night. May 3, 2016.
In 1855, Abraham Lincoln was saddened and frustrated as he watched his old party, the Whigs, come apart and its remains reassemble themselves as the Know-Nothings. How heartsick must his ghost be as the party that once boasted it was his party goes the same horrible way:
Speed had asked Lincoln where he stood, and Lincoln said he didn’t know, that he still considered himself a Whig, although he understood that the Whig party was dying. He did not believe that his opposition to the extension of slavery placed him outside the the Whig mainstream. He continued, “I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We know practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, ‘all men created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty---to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocracy.”
------from Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled HIs Greatness by Joshua Wolf Shenk.