Fortnight For Freedom Day Five: Why Celebrate the Fourth?

 

 

 

 

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Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.

 

Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.

 

The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.

 

We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the fifth of these blog posts.

Why do we observe Independence Day on the Fourth of July each year?  Is it merely a historical commemoration, or is it because the lightning words of the Declaration of Independence still have meaning and relevance today?  This is not a new issue.  In the debate over slavery which embroiled this nation a century and a half ago, the phrase “all men are created equal” from the Declaration was argued and fought over.  On June 26, 1857, Abraham Lincoln, in response to the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford, contended in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, that the phrase “all men are created equal” applied to blacks as well as whites:

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad enough to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards, actually place all white people on an equality with one or another. And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator, for doing this obvious violence to the plain unmistakable language of the Declaration. I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men created equal—equal in “certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This they said, and this meant. They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion that “all men are created equal” was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in the Declaration, nor for that, but for future use. Its authors meant it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.

I have now briefly expressed my view of the meaning and objects of that part of the Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal.”

Now let us hear Judge Douglas’ view of the same subject, as I find it in the printed report of his late speech. Here it is:

“No man can vindicate the character, motives and conduct of the signers of the Declaration of Independence except upon the hypothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to the African, when they declared all men to have been created equal—that they were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain—that they were entitled to the same inalienable rights, and among them were enumerated life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.”

My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure hour, and ponder well upon it—see what a mere wreck—mangled ruin—it makes of our once glorious Declaration.

“They were speaking of British subjects on this continent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great Britain!” Why, according to this, not only negroes but white people outside of Great Britain and America are not spoken of in that instrument. The English, Irish and Scotch, along with white Americans, were included to be sure, but the French, Germans and other white people of the world are all gone to pot along with the Judge’s inferior races. I had thought the Declaration promised something better than the condition of British subjects; but no, it only meant that we should be equal to them in their own oppressed and unequal condition. According to that, it gave no promise that having kicked off the King and Lords of Great Britain, we should not at once be saddled with a King and Lords of our own.

I had thought the Declaration contemplated the progressive improvement in the condition of all men everywhere; but no, it merely “was adopted for the purpose of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother country.” Why, that object having been effected some eighty years ago, the Declaration is of no practical use now—mere rubbish—old wadding left to rot on the battle-field after the victory is won.

I understand you are preparing to celebrate the “Fourth,” tomorrow week. What for? The doings of that day had no reference to the present; and quite half of you are not even descendants of those who were referred to at that day. But I suppose you will celebrate; and will even go so far as to read the Declaration. Suppose after you read it once in the old fashioned way, you read it once more with Judge Douglas’ version. It will then run thus: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all British subjects who were on this continent eighty-one years ago, were created equal to all British subjects born and then residing in Great Britain.”

And now I appeal to all—to Democrats as well as others,—are you really willing that the Declaration shall be thus frittered away?—thus left no more at most, than an interesting memorial of the dead past? thus shorn of its vitality, and practical value; and left without the germ or even the suggestion of the individual rights of man in it?

We do not merely remember a historical event on the Fourth.  We celebrate the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth, because the truths that it expounds, that inalienable rights come from God, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and that people have a right to revolt when a government becomes destructive of those  God-given rights, are as relevant, and as radical, today, as they were on July 4, 1776.

17 Responses to Fortnight For Freedom Day Five: Why Celebrate the Fourth?

  • “And now I appeal to all—to Democrats as well as others,—are you really willing that the Declaration shall be thus frittered away?”

    Democrats are the same today, except in dehumanizing the black man, they dehumanize the human baby. Other than that, nothing has changed since 1857.

  • Previously, I had not seen the connection.

    Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (GA) likely is “America’s definitive speech.”

    Mr. Prothero cites Garry Wills’ 1992 book, Lincoln at Gettysburg.

    Lincoln, ” . . . performed one of the most daring acts of open-air sleight of hand ever witnessed by the unsuspecting.” Wills contends that in the GA, Lincoln “traced” America’s birth not to the “godless” Constitution but to the Declaration and its God-bestowed, unalienable rights. Apparently, Wills’ and Prothero think that changed America.

    Seems Obama et al are re-bestowing America’s essence to the “godless” Constitution. And, tons of liberals calling themselves Catholics are blindly aiding and abetting.

    See Stephen Prothero in the June 23, 2012 Wall Street Journal, page C10.

  • Just saying.

    I think the most important aspect of the Gettysburg Address is Lincoln “said it all” in 272 words.

  • One of Lincoln’s cleverest ways of attempting to fudge the Constitution’s explicit and no-nonsense restrictions on his power was to appeal to the Declaration, as if it had some kind of legal, philosophical, or moral weight beyond its immediate purpose.

    His use of it to defend the unconstitutional interference with a legal, constitutional practice in the states was extremely adroit, but as with so much of what he did as President, set an awful precedent for his successors, who would not necessarily find the same benign meaning in “equality” as Lincoln did.

    Once you depart from the Constitution, even if by appealing to the Declaration, you depart from the rule of law.

  • The Constitution governs the courts Tom. The Declaration is the foundation of the American experiment in self-government. Lincoln’s pro-slavery foes were absolutely wrong in attempting to justify their ongoing subjugation of fellow human beings by claiming that the words of Mr. Jefferson did not apply to blacks as well as whites. That Mr. Jefferson clearly intended this is established beyond question by the following section of his original draft of the Declaration:

    “[H]e [the king of Britain] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

    Lincoln was right and his pro-slavery opponents were deeply, tragically wrong in their attempt to read slaves out of the Declaration. Contrary to your statement, Lincoln did not appeal to the Declaration as a grant of authority to abolish slavery, but he did appeal to the Declaration as evidence of what a crime slavery was against the inalienable rights of man, and that is what his pro-slavery opponents could not tolerate.

  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). Political Debates Between Lincoln and Douglas. 1897. Fourth Joint Debate at Charleston Mr. Lincoln’s Speech (September 18, 1858):

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: It will be very difficult for an audience so large as this to hear distinctly what a speaker says, and consequently it is important that as profound silence be preserved as possible.
    While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes and white people. While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me, I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it.
    I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.

  • Yep, Joe because the Democrat Stephen Douglas was using race baiting against Lincoln, just as Democrats use race baiting today. Douglas knew, as Lincoln knew, that due to the virulent racism of the day, that most white voters were repelled at the idea of negro equality, and that is why Douglas used such charges against Lincoln, and why Lincoln sought to repel them. However Lincoln never wavered as to the fundamental crime of slavery:

    “He [Senator Stephen A. Douglas] finds Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes all men, black as well as white…he boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend it does, do so only because they want to vote, eat, and sleep, and marry with negroes! Now I protest against that counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either, I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands with asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.”

    Here is what black abolitionist Frederick A. Douglass had to say in summing up Abraham Lincoln:

    “I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen. Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless. Had he put the abolition of slavery before the salvation of the Union, he would have inevitably driven from him a powerful class of the American people and rendered resistance to rebellion impossible. Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined.

    Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery. The man who could say, “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war shall soon pass away, yet if God wills it continue till all the wealth piled by two hundred years of bondage shall have been wasted, and each drop of blood drawn by the lash shall have been paid for by one drawn by the sword, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether,” gives all needed proof of his feeling on the subject of slavery. He was willing, while the South was loyal, that it should have its pound of flesh, because he thought that it was so nominated in the bond; but farther than this no earthly power could make him go.”

  • Don, parse it any way you want but can you imagine Abe defending those comments on Meet the Press? Or any modern candidate for political office trying to walk that back or weasel himself out of it? It doesn’t matter what Douglass said or anyone else. It’s Lincoln words, forever carved in history, that testify to his core white supremacist views notwithstanding other comments that sought to soften them.

  • Joe you accuse Lincoln by the standards of our time. In his time he was attacked as an advocate of racial equality, and considering that he came out for negroes having the vote before his death, perhaps justly attacked. Lincoln was able to call a well-established institution of his day, slavery, a crime, something that most of his contemporaries failed to ever do. Of course, considering your sympathies for the Confederacy, and the historically illiterate scribblings of neo-Confederate crank Dilorenzo, I find your attacking Lincoln as a racist completely risible.

  • “Standards of our time.” I believe the laws of God, Nature and the Constitution are immutable and are to be used for all times. I have no “sympathies” for the Confederacy per se, only what I believe is a greater understanding and appreciation for the root causes of the Civil War, which have been all too simplified by some historians.

    I am a “Yankee” at heart and also do not rely on DiLorenzo or anyone else to do my thinking. His “Hamilton’s Curse” was a tough read and, unlike his Lincoln books, less persuasive in its thesis.

    I think it’s important, although we disagree on Lincoln’s place in history, to examine whether Presidents including Obama are shredding the Constitution as I think Lincoln did.

    As long as you a quoting a black man, this is from African-American historian and scholar Lerone Bennett, Jr., and his book, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.” –

    “Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in [him] and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him.”

  • His use of it to defend the unconstitutional interference with a legal, constitutional practice in the states was extremely adroit, but as with so much of what he did as President, set an awful precedent for his successors, who would not necessarily find the same benign meaning in “equality” as Lincoln did.

    Lincoln may have appealed to the Declaration rhetorically from time to time, but he relied on the Constitution to justify his actions as president. By the way time, what “unconstitutional interference” with a “legal, constitutional, practice” did Lincoln perpetrate? Lincoln, at no time before the outbreak of hostilities, ever inferred that the federal government could interfere with slavery within the states. It was only after the outbreak of the civil war (and 18 months after hostilities commenced) that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a completely legitimate wartime measure.

    So it’s time for you to get specific. What unconstitutional action did Lincoln take as president? No generalities, please.

    . It’s Lincoln words, forever carved in history, that testify to his core white supremacist views notwithstanding other comments that sought to soften them.

    Later on I am going to post my review of David Barton’s book on Thomas Jefferson. One of the things that Barton does that is so infuriating is to quote a line here or there without examining the broader context of Jefferson’s political thought. This is the same thing that you’re doing here. It’s a pretty shabby form of historical research.

    Edited to add: Actually, the historical revisionism with regards to Jefferson and Lincoln run in opposite directions. With respect to Jefferson, his defenders point to the occasional line here or there and ignore the rather voluminous amount of his writing that was repugnantly racist even for his day. As for Lincoln, his detractors like to point to this passage here or there to paint Lincoln as an unrepentant bigot, while ignoring the vast literature that shows he had much more progressive views on race matters.

  • “Lincoln is theology, not historiology. He is a faith, he is a church, he is a religion, and he has his own priests and acolytes, most of whom have a vested interest in [him] and who are passionately opposed to anybody telling the truth about him.”

    Historical figures often do have acolytes who cannot see their faults. That being said, that doesn’t mean that the historical revisionism has any ounce of credibility. People like you often spout about Lincoln “shredding the constitution” without offering a shred of evidence. It’s time to do a little original research yourself, so I put the question to you that I put to Tom McKenna. Please cite specifically the unconstitutional actions that Lincoln engaged in. And don’t cite some miserable pseudo-historian like DiLorenzo.

  • As long as you a quoting a black man, this is from African-American historian and scholar Lerone Bennett, Jr., and his book, “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream.”

    As a historian Bennett made Dilorenzo look scholarly. From a review of his tome by James McPherson:

    “But Bennett gets more wrong than he gets right. The book suffers from crucial flaws. Least important are the factual errors, for there are not many. But those that do occur make Lincoln look worse than he was. While a congressman from 1847 to 1849, Bennett asserts, Lincoln claimed to have voted 40 times against the Wilmot Proviso to ban slavery from the territories acquired from Mexico. In fact, Lincoln claimed to have voted 40 times for the Proviso (an exaggeration, but he did support it on every vote).

    More significant are distortions in interpretation. After the Sioux uprising in Minnesota that killed hundreds of white settlers in 1862, Lincoln ”approved one of the largest mass executions in military history,” the hanging of 38 Indians. True enough. But the military court had sentenced 303 Sioux to death. Despite great pressure, unmentioned by Bennett, to approve these verdicts, Lincoln pardoned or commuted the sentences of 265 defendants — by far the largest act of executive clemency in American history.

    Selective quotation also produces distortion by omission. Citing a letter Lincoln wrote to the abolitionist Owen Lovejoy in 1855, Bennett maintains that Lincoln ”did not openly oppose the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party,” because in his district, as Lincoln explained, ”they are mostly my old political and personal friends.” Bennett fails to note that in the rest of the letter Lincoln stated that he had already broken with these former Whig associates and anticipated the ”painful necessity of my taking an open stand against them. Of their principles I think little better than I do of those of the slavery extensionists. Indeed I do not perceive how any one professing to be sensitive to the wrongs of the negroes, can join in a league to degrade a class of white men.”

    Bennett never acknowledges that Lincoln was ”sensitive to the wrongs of the Negroes.” Abundant evidence of such sensitivity is conspicuously missing from the book. Also missing is any appreciation of Lincoln’s stand against the expansion of slavery. Because the Constitution prohibited interference with slavery in states where it existed, Lincoln and other Republicans focused on the question of slavery in the territories, where they insisted that Congress had the constitutional power to ban it. In his famous House Divided speech of 1858, Lincoln said that Republicans intended to ”arrest the further spread” of slavery and thus place the institution ”in course of ultimate extinction.”

    No reader who accepts Bennett’s ”unimpeachable fact” that ”Lincoln supported the enslavement of the four million slaves” will be able to understand why seven slave states seceded in response to Lincoln’s election. Bennett quotes from a letter that Lincoln wrote in December 1860 to Alexander Stephens (who later became vice president of the Confederacy), whom Lincoln had known when they both served in Congress a dozen years earlier. ”Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves?” Lincoln asked Stephens. ”There is no cause for such fears.” So why did the South secede? Readers might have gotten part of the answer, and a different understanding of Lincoln, from a portion of this letter that Bennett did not quote: ”I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub.”

    It was indeed the rub, but we wouldn’t know it from this book. The South seceded because a man who believed slavery was wrong and was pledged, in his own words, to its ”restriction” and ”ultimate extinction” had, for the first time, been elected president. The war that followed secession prompted Lincoln’s decision in 1862 to issue an Emancipation Proclamation. Yet Bennett declares that Lincoln deserves no credit for freeing the slaves. The president was, he writes, a reluctant Emancipator who was ”forced into glory” by escaping slaves, abolitionists and Congressional Republicans who passed the second Confiscation Act in July 1862, freeing the slaves of persons ”engaged in rebellion against the United States.” This was the real Emancipation proclamation, insists Bennett. Lincoln’s proclamation was a mere afterthought.

    And because Lincoln’s proclamation exempted the border slave states, as well as portions of the Confederacy already controlled by Northern troops (Tennessee and parts of Virginia and Louisiana), Lincoln freed slaves where he had no power to do so and left in bondage all those in areas where he did have power, Bennett asserts. Moreover, Lincoln’s exemptions actually re-

    enslaved a half-million blacks freed by the Confiscation Act.

    All parts of this interpretation are wrong, and the re-enslavement thesis is absurd. First of all, the Confiscation Act freed only the slaves of ”traitors” whom a federal court determined, case by case, to have engaged in rebellion. As James G. Randall, the foremost expert on Civil War constitutional issues, wrote, ”It is hard to see by what process any particular slaves could have legally established that freedom which the second Confiscation Act ‘declared.’ ”Contrary to Bennett, no slave who had achieved freedom in areas exempted from Lincoln’s proclamation was ”re-enslaved.”

    The Emancipation Proclamation, moreover, was based on the president’s war powers as commander in chief to seize enemy property (i.e. slaves) being used to wage war against the United States. Since Union-controlled exempted areas were not at war with the United States, Lincoln had no constitutional power over slavery in those areas.

    Finally, the old canard that the Emancipation Proclamation freed not a single slave, repeated by Bennett, could not be more wrong. From Jan. 1, 1863, freedom would march southward with the Union Army, which became an army of liberation. Once the war was over, the proclamation would cease to have any legal force. That is why Lincoln endorsed a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery, and won re-election on that platform in 1864.

    Bennett’s Lincoln is not only a reluctant convert to Emancipation; he is also an unwavering opponent of equal citizenship for the freed slaves, beholden as he is to his ”dream” of an all-white America. But in what turned out to be his last public speech, on April 11, 1865, Lincoln signaled that he would support the right to vote for freed slaves who were literate or had served in the Union armed forces. Bennett condemns this endorsement as an ”invidious distinction” (because white voters would not face such requirements) of a piece with Lincoln’s commitment to white supremacy. At least one listener to Lincoln’s speech did not agree. ”That means nigger citizenship,” muttered John Wilkes Booth. ”Now by God, I’ll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make.””

    http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/27/books/lincoln-the-devil.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

  • so I put the question to you that I put to Tom McKenna. Please cite specifically the unconstitutional actions that Lincoln engaged in. And don’t cite some miserable pseudo-historian like DiLorenzo.

    I believe Gottfried Dietze had a menu of complaints about Lincon’s acts in the early months of 1861 listed in America’s Political Dilemma. I have forgotten them, of course. I believe one concerned appropriations. (He was a non-miserable political theorist).

  • Once again, as usual, I am outnumbered and outgunned here by the Lincoln apologists. I don’t shrink from a fair fight, but further discussion would take us far off-topic and take up much to much preciously bandwidth, which is something Don does not like.

    Let us all realize we have different “bliks” that form the basis of our world views and beliefs. I hereby retreat gracefully without conceding a bit.

  • I will not to beat a dead horse.

    Aside from Abraham using the God and the DoI to shelve the godless US Constitution, using his example to advance religious liberty may be unhelpful.

    Point of information. John Tyler, the tenth US President, was a delegate in the conference that could not avoid the war. He was elected a Virginia Representative in the CSA Congress. He died before it convened. That makes Tyler the only US President to die on foreign soil.

  • “Aside from Abraham using the God and the DoI to shelve the godless US Constitution, using his example to advance religious liberty may be unhelpful.”

    Except of course that Lincoln used neither to shelve the Constitution, but rather preserved it and the nation for future generations.

    Tyler still has living grandkids, amazingly enough.

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