If a nation ever needed Divine assistance it was our own America during the Civil War. Riven in two, the nation must have seemed on a path to destruction by many of those who lived through that terrible trial. Abraham Lincoln, as he led the United States through that struggle, increasingly found his mind turning to God. This Proclamation was written by Secretary of State Seward, but the sentiments are no doubt ones in which Lincoln fully joined.
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. Continue reading
Well, on Saturday I went with my family to see Lincoln. Considering that the screenplay was written by Tony Kushner and the film directed by Steven Spielberg, I wasn’t expecting much. I wouldn’t have been totally surprised to see something along the lines of “Gay Illinois Lincoln and the Confederacy of Doom!’. Instead I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It is a great film and perhaps a minor masterpiece. It is definitely one of the finest screen representations I have ever seen of Lincoln, and it is a worthy tribute to the Great Emancipator. Read below for the rest of my review, and the usual caveat regarding spoilers is in full force. Continue reading
Well this would give the ACLU fits today! On November 15, 1862 Lincoln sent out the following general order:
GENERAL ORDER RESPECTING THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH DAY
IN THE ARMY AND NAVY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 15, 1862.
The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the divine will demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.
The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperilled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High. “At this time of public distress,” adopting the words of Washington in 1776, “men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended:
“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”
A. LINCOLN. Continue reading
By November 5, 1862, Abraham Lincoln had reached the end of his patience with George B. McClellan, Commnder of the Army of the Potomac. The story of the War in the East for the Union in 1862 was largely the tragedy of Little Mac. A superb organizer and trainer of troops, and not a bad strategist, McClellan lacked all tactical ability and could not win battles. Additionally, he simply was afraid to risk the fall of the iron dice of war. McClellan had created the Army of the Potomac and made certain that the men under his command were well supplied, paid on time, and well-equipped, and as the above video indicates most of his men were fond of him. If some other general could have acted as field commander, McClellan would have made a fine chief of staff. As it was, the Army of the Potomac was not going to meet with success as long as Lincoln left him in command, and his removal was inevitable. Here is the text of the order removing McClellan and turning a page in the Union war effort: Continue reading
According to Ward Lamon, Marshal of Washington and a former law partner of Abraham Lincoln, three days before his assassination, Lincoln spoke about a strange dream that he had:
The idea of reviewing movie trailers I find somewhat humorous, but I think that Grace Randolph in the above video does a good job of attempting such a review in regard to the Lincoln movie by Spielberg being released in November. In an earlier post last week, which may be read here, I took issue with Spielberg’s historical ignorance and/or political bias regarding how, in his view, the Democrat and Republican parties have switched positions. This will not deter me from attending the film, as I attempt not to allow the politics of those involved with a film to influence my opinion of the film. Having said that, like Ms. Randolph I have concerns as to whether Daniel Day-Lewis will create the suspension of disbelief to allow us to view him as Lincoln in the film. Continue reading
Smitty at The Other McCain has a brilliant riff on The Gettysburg Address in regard to the debate last night:
Four score and five interruptions ago our zany uncle brought forth on this continent a new indignation, conceived in contempt for liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created to serve the state.
Now we are engaged in a soft civil war, testing whether that indignation, or any indignation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great debate-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a blog post for he who here gave 90 minutes of his life that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should blog this. Continue reading
As he unveiled his Lincoln biopic that is being released next month, director Steven Spielberg proclaimed that he did not want the film to be a political football and then promptly made it into one with this remark:
“Because it’s kind of confusing. The parties traded political places over the last 150 years. That in itself is a great story, how the Republican Party went from a progressive party in 1865, and how the Democrats were represented in the picture, to the way it’s just the opposite today. But that’s a whole other story.”
This would be funny if the historical ignorance were not so vast. The Republican party, from its inception, has held that the government may not discriminate on the basis of race.
From the 1856 Republican platform, the first Republican platform:
Resolved: That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence, and embodied in the Federal Constitution are essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions, and that the Federal Constitution, the rights of the States, and the union of the States, must and shall be preserved.
Resolved: That, with our Republican fathers, we hold it to be a self-evident truth, that all men are endowed with the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and that the primary object and ulterior design of our Federal Government were to secure these rights to all persons under its exclusive jurisdiction; that, as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our National Territory, ordained that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, it becomes our duty to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it for the purpose of establishing Slavery in the Territories of the United States by positive legislation, prohibiting its existence or extension therein. That we deny the authority of Congress, of a Territorial Legislation, of any individual, or association of individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States, while the present Constitution shall be maintained.
Resolved: That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign powers over the Territories of the United States for their government; and that in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the imperative duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism — Polygamy, and Slavery.
The Republican party has been true to this position throughout its history. From the Republican platform of 1932:
For seventy years the Republican Party has been the friend of the American Negro. Vindication of the rights of the Negro citizen to enjoy the full benefits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is traditional in the Republican Party, and our party stands pledged to maintain equal opportunity and rights for Negro citizens. We do not propose to depart from that tradition nor to alter the spirit or letter of that pledge.
From the 1944 Republican platform:
We pledge an immediate Congressional inquiry to ascertain the extent to which mistreatment, segregation and discrimination against Negroes who are in our armed forces are impairing morale and efficiency, and the adoption of corrective legislation.
Something for the weekend. Give us a Flag, the unofficial anthem of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, written by a private serving in the 54th Massachusetts.
Today is the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the notice by Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect on January 1, 1863, Lincoln doing so after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862. Reaction was, to say the least, mixed. In the North the abolitionists were enraptured. Most Northern opinion was favorable, although there was a substantial minority, embodied almost entirely in the Democrat party, that completely opposed this move. Opinion in the Border States was resoundingly negative. In the Confederacy the Confederate government denounced the proposed Emancipation Proclamation as a call for a race war. Today, almost all Americans view the Emancipation Proclamation as a long overdue ending of slavery. At the time it was very much a step into the unknown, and the consequences impossible to determine. Lincoln had converted the War for the Union into a War for the Union and against Slavery. It remained to be seen as to whether the War, whatever its objectives, could be won. Here is the text of Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation: Continue reading