Letters from Readers – December 2008 American History

Strange Bedfellows
I am sorely disappointed that a magazine with a reputation for accurate information about America’s history, would condescend to compare Barack Obama with Abraham Lincoln (Publick Occurrences, October 2008). What were you thinking? Lincoln was a Republican, Obama, a Democrat. Lincoln wanted to preserve the Union from forces bent on destroying it. Obama wants to shake hands with them. And the greatest difference: Lincoln was known as Honest Abe. Such accolades cannot be bestowed on Obama. I expected more from your publication than political pandering during an election season.

Karen Longmore
Oren, Utah

Florida Imports
I enjoy reading your magazine and always find something of special interest. This time it was Tony Horwitz’s story on the real first Thanksgiving, in St. Augustine, Fla. (“The Real First Pilgrims,” August 2008). What was the date of that event? I was also curious about the mention of the “first African slaves imported to a North American colony.” I’ve always been interested in the arrival of African slaves in this country ever since I discovered that the Dutch left some in Virginia but also carried a good number to New York, where they had much to do with building the city.

Ray Schreiner
Richmond, Va.

The editors reply: Pedro Menéndez founded St. Augustine on Sept. 8, 1565, and a thanksgiving Mass and celebratory meal took place that day. Menéndez was given a mandate by King Philip II of Spain to import hundreds of slaves to help build the new colony. Slavery in British North America dates to 1619, when a Dutch ship brought 20 African slaves to Jamestown, Va.

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