"I could not afford to hang men for votes." - - A. Lincoln.
Here from a reprint of an article:
"Five myths about Abraham Lincoln"
ONE of those particular "myths" being, according to a historian and "expert":
"4. Lincoln was too compassionate . . . This is untrue - Lincoln not only approved the execution of deserters, but 38 alleged Indian raiders were hanged by his order in Mankato, Minn. on Dec. 26, 1862, still the largest mass execution on U.S. soil."
The context in this case is the Great Sioux Uprising of 1862. American Indians waging war against the white settlers of Minnesota, the eastern Lakota tribes having grievances apparently justified, AND also taking advantage of the federal government pre-occupation with the American Civil War.
"The Dakota War of 1862 . . . was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Dakota people (Sioux). It began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota. It ended with a mass execution of 38 Dakota men on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota."
"The Dakota became increasingly discontented over their losses: land, non-payment of annuities, past broken treaties, plus food shortages and famine following crop failure"
38 Sioux warriors put to death in the aftermath of the war, hung in what is now and will probably always be the largest mass execution in American history.
Executions reviewed and approved by Lincoln. THIS, however, is not the full story.
"303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death . . . Abraham Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the U.S., versus those who had committed crimes of rape and murder against civilians"
The military authorities, the white civilian settlers of Minnesota were most desirous to see over three hundred Sioux executed, Lincoln being told that this much greater number was more politically acceptable. Revenge, retribution, just plain anger was the "watchword".
Lincoln, rather, personally taking the time to review the convictions of each and every Sioux warrior, only allowing the executions of those having perpetrated crimes against civilians, murder, rape, torture, dismemberment, etc.
Those Sioux warriors having fought against the U.S. military ONLY spared death, sentenced rather to prison terms.
Given the context, given the tenor and prevailing attitudes of the times, it would seem that this action of Lincoln seems to prove that the MAN WAS INDEED COMPASSIONATE not given over to knee-jerk reactions of a draconian nature!
This alleged "untruth" regarding Lincoln only PROVES Mr. Lincoln is who the history says he was? Whoa boy - - now you have the full and complete story and are so much the better for it.