Manisha Sinha: Judge Andrew Napolitano is Wrong, Wrong, Wrong about Lincoln and the Civil War [VIDEO]

Historians in the News
tags: Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, The Daily Show

David Austin Walsh is the editor of the History News Network. Follow him on Twitter @davidastinwalsh.

Andrew Napolitano, the former TV judge-turned-Fox News analyst, made waves last month when he declared on Fox News that “ I am a contrarian on Abraham Lincoln, and I bemoan the fact that he’s been mythologized. … I prefer to look at Lincoln this way. At the time he was president of the United States, slavery was dying a natural death all over the Western world. Instead of allowing it to die, or helping it to die, or even purchasing the slaves and then freeing them, which would have cost a lot less money than the Civil War cost, Lincoln set about on the most murderous war in American history.”

The Daily Show was watching. Napolitano was the featured guest on March 11, where he engaged in a spirited debate with Jon Stewart, reaffirming his earlier statements on Lincoln.

Then, something unusual happened – Stewart and Napolitano played a game. Not one of those Jimmy Fallon, we’re-desperately-trying-to-be-quirky-on-the-Tonight-Show-so-we-can-appeal-to-younger-viewers-while-not-alienating-Jay-Leno’s-target-demographic-of-graying-middle-Americans-with-Pat-Boone-ish-tastes games, but a trivia game. On Abraham Lincoln.

And Lincoln herself made an appearance:

Also appearing as judges were three distinguished historians of the Civil War: James Oaks, Eric Foner, and Manisha Sinha. None of them were especially taken by Napolitano’s arguments.

Since none of the historians got a huge amount of airtime, and since several of Napolitano’s arguments were not fully dissected due to the aforementioned dearth of airtime, I spoke with Manisha Sinha on Skype over the weekend to rectify this imbalance:

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