From Russia with Love

by John J. Miller on February 24, 2011 · 1 comment

in Blog Posts

  • SumoMe

Moscow is currently hosting an exhibit called “The Tsar & The President, Alexander II & Abraham Lincoln: Liberator & Emancipator.” It features the pen that Lincoln used to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Abe and Alex are sometimes said to have led parallel lives because both were champions of freedom who died violent deaths. Lincoln freed the slaves and was murdered by a gunman; Alexander freed the serfs and was killed by a bomber.

In 1855, Lincoln used Russian serfdom to make a point about American slavery:

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equals, 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, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

The president and the czar never met, but in 1863 a London newspaper printed a cartoon that imagined the scene:

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