Written by Martin S. Nowak Friday, 29 April 2016 19:21
Historians routinely rate Abraham Lincoln our greatest president, a secular saint who could do no wrong. But like most politicians, he did what was politically expedient. Such was the case involving the Polish insurrection of 1863 against Russia.
Lincoln, of course, was president during the American Civil War and one area of importance to him was that of foreign relations. Regarding countries that mattered, Britain and France favored the South, and Russia was considered a staunch supporter of the North. These alliances were critical, for if any one of those countries overtly supported the Confederacy with supplies and money the Union might be doomed.
In Europe at the time, Britain and France were aligned against Russia and the latter enjoyed excellent relations with the U.S., a far cry from the 1830s when Russia was excoriated by the American press and public for its treatment of the Polish insurrectionists. In the 1860s Russia was looked upon by Americans as comparable to the U.S., largely because Czar Alexander II was considered to be a liberal reformer. He had freed the Russian serfs in 1861 (but not Polish serfs) and made other progressive reforms. Both countries were also thought of as vibrant, expanding empires.