The Mississippi county 120 miles due west of my native Wayne County is Lincoln County. I'm not sure why it just recently dawned on me, but Lincoln County, Mississippi is named for the tyrant, liar, and war criminal, the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. (With quite a bit of irony, the county situated two counties east of Lincoln County, is more appropriately named in honor of a truly honorable Southern gentleman, Jefferson Davis.)
Lincoln County was established by an act of the Mississippi legislature on April 7, 1870. I was dumbfounded as to how and why this legislative body voted to name this 586 square miles after the man who was responsible for the war of invasion, occupation, and subjugation which caused so much death, destruction, and economic misery in the South in general, and in Mississippi in particular, only five to nine years prior to this. Of course, the economic misery continued for decades.
Was the Mississippi legislature overcome by Stockholm Syndrome? Possibly, but perhaps the best answer lies in the numbers comprising the legislature. In the 1870 legislature there were 110 Republicans, 35 of whom were black. 'Reconstruction' was in full swing at the time, and pro-Union forces took their vengeance on the Confederates for daring to rebel against the Yankee Empire, for daring to establish their own new country.
Five years after atomic bombs killed an estimated 140,000 residents of Hiroshima, and an estimated 74,000 residents of Nagasaki, did the Japanese name any town or community in honor of Harry S. Truman? Following the illegal invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq, from 2003-2011, were any communities or townships in Iraq named in honor of the war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld or Blair?
Yet, here we are in Mississippi in 2023 – stuck with Lincoln County, named after the man who despised the South, and who delighted in the destruction of its land, farms and homes, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its inhabitants. With few exceptions (notably Senator Chris McDaniel), modern-day Mississippi Republicans are as worthless as their 1870 counterparts. On June 28, 2020, they forever turned their backs on their brave Confederate ancestors, and voted to replace the Mississippi flag which had been in place for over 100 years, in spite of the fact that the issue should have been settled once and for all, in a voter referendum in 2001. In that referendum, 60% of those casting a vote, voted to keep the 1894 flag. So, the attitude of the legislature in June, 2020, was 'voters be damned, we're going to pacify the SEC, the NCAA, the Clarion-Ledger, the Washington Post, and the New York Times!'
Eternal shame on the Mississippi legislature of 1870 and 2020. The party of Lincoln may have prevailed, but I, for one, refuse to participate in the worship and deification of its namesake.
Anthony Powell is an unreconstructed Southerner, a married, home-schooling father of seven, four of whom are still at home. He and his wife own a screen-printing business. He is a life-long resident of rural Wayne County, Mississippi, who has lived on the same 20 acres his entire life. In his spare time, he hunts, fishes, enjoys Scrabble with his children, and plays bluegrass music.