Abbott and Costello, Charles Laughton and the Gettysburg Address

Monday, November 23, AD 2015

 

Last Thursday, the same day of the week that Lincoln originally gave the speech, marked the 152nd anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  On April 6, 1952, comedy titans Abbott and Costello were hosting the Colgate Comedy Hour.  They had as their guest star Charles Laughton, one of the greatest English actors of the first half of the last century.  Amazingly enough the comedy duo and Laughton were co-starring at the time in the forgettable Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd.

This was back in the days of live television, and the sheer spontaneity made this brief period of television magic.  As was the case when Laughton, who had given a stunning rendition of the Gettysburg Address in the movie Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), recites the Address before a visibly moved Abbott and Costello.  Both Abbott and Costello were patriots.  Too old, Abbott was 44 at the time of Pearl Harbor, and sick, heart problems and epilepsy afflicted Costello, for military service in World War II, they threw themselves into war bond drives and sold more bonds than any other entertainers.  In one heartbreaking incident they performed at a bond drive immediately after the death of Costello’s infant son, the shattered Costello giving the huge audience no hint of the tragedy that had just befallen him and his wife.   They had done their bit to ensure “that government of the people, by the people and for the people would not perish from the Earth” and for them the Address was no mere artifact from long ago but a magnificent expression of what this country means. 

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3 Responses to Abbott and Costello, Charles Laughton and the Gettysburg Address

  • Thanks for that video, Mac! I want to stand up and cheer.

  • The June 19, 2015 version:

    (Dr. Guy McClung addressed the San Antonio City Council during the Citizens to Be Heard session on June 17th, 2015.)

    Council Members and (newly elected) Mayor Taylor, thank you for the courtesies you have shown me when I have spoken to you in the past and thank you for this opportunity to speak to you this evening. Mayor Taylor, the pro-life voters of San Antonio have elected you out of hope. This is why the pastors and priests of San Antonio, the Texas Leadership Coalition, the San Antonio Family Association and others endorsed (and supported) you, in hope that you will remain the voice of families in San Antonio and that you will become a strong effective voice for all the children of San Antonio, including San Antonio’s unborn children.

    It is the pro-life vote that handed you this victory. Your opponent’s hypocrisy in calling herself a Roman Catholic and then by her official actions and words subverting the teaching of her own Church were clear to the pro-life voters. Her key support of Wendy Davis did not go unnoticed; nor did the clear applicability to her of Jesus’ own words “hypocrite.”

    The 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision held that Dred Scott, his wife, and their unborn child were not human beings, but were property to be bought and sold. Ironically Chief Justice Roger Taney, a Democrat, born on a tobacco slave plantation, former slave owner, who handed down the Dred Scott decision, was also a Roman Catholic. Abraham Lincoln and the US Congress not only defied Taney and the Supreme Court, they refused to obey the decision. And then we had a Civil War over this. In the summer of 1863 in the costliest of battles in terms of loss of life, over 50,000 soldiers from both sides died at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. If we continue in San Antonio, the number of dead children here will exceed the number of dead at Gettysburg. In the Fall of 1863 President Lincoln went to dedicate a cemetery to the dead soldiers. The words he spoke there have become known as the “Gettysburg Address.” Here is The San Antonio Address:
    The San Antonio Address

    (In Honor of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)

    Almost a dozen score years ago our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men, women, and children are created equal, and founded on the principle that they are all endowed by their Creator with the inalienable right to life.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil conflict, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met at great battlefields of that conflict, in San Antonio, the city with the new killing chambers of Planned Parenthood, with the final solutions of Whole Women’s Health Services, and the death dealers of Alamo Women’s Reproductive Center. We have come to dedicate a portion of this city as the final resting place of thousands of innocent children; to dedicate their unmarked graves, the dumpsters, the toilets, the biological waste incinerators, and the garbage cans that receive their remains. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate , we cannot hallow the ground here in San Antonio where they have died and where more will die. The dead children, who struggle, suffer, cry out with silent screams, and die here have consecrated it and will consecrate it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

    The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget that they have been and will continue to be killed here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which the children who die here have thus far so nobly advanced, the work they have begun in their small way, dying with their tiny voices unheard. But we will hear them.

    It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead children we take increased devotion to that cause for which they give the last full measure of devotion, that we here insure that no more children’s lives are taken in this city of St. Anthony, St. Anthony who was gifted to hold the infant Jesus in his arms . That we here highly resolve that these dead children, and all the dead children of America shall not die in vain in this American Holocaust– that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, including all the people, even the smallest people now warm and happy within their mothers’ wombs, that this nation, these people, and these children shall not perish from the earth.

  • Two HUGE sentiments of thanks go out two Guy and Donald.
    The clip stirred my heart. Excellent delivery.
    The San Antonio Address as well is a poignant reminder of the continuation of a civil war.
    Guy. You are blessed and have blessed us with your Faith.
    Thanks and a many Happy Thanksgiving to your loved ones. For the unborn, a prayer at your gatherings. For the living, a prayer of gratitude.

2 Responses to Abe Lincoln v. Madison Avenue

I Am Shocked! Shocked!: Obama Omits Under God

Wednesday, November 20, AD 2013

Obama reads a version of the Gettysburg Address that omits God?  Say it isn’t true!

 

President Obama irked some conservatives with his recitation of the Gettysburg Address, which he read aloud as part of a project celebrating the 150th anniversary of famous Lincoln speech.

For the project, spearheaded by documentarian Ken Burns, a number of politicians and other high-profile people recorded themselves reading the Gettysburg Address.

Some conservatives took offense to the president’s reading.

 “Lincoln added ‘Under God’ as he was looking out over battlefield. why would Obama remove?” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Twitter.

Conservative Christian leader Bryan Fischer added “Obama’s omission of ‘under God’ is more evidence of his anti-Christian bigotry. He honors Islam but disrespects Christianity.”

 White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday gave a simple explanation for the reading.

 “He read the version of the address that Ken Burns provided,” he said, noting that Burns is a “noted Civil War scholar.”

 Specifically, Carney said that Burns gave Mr. Obama the “Nicolay copy” of the Gettysburg Address — the first draft of the speech, named after John Nicolay, the White House staffer who preserved it.

 

Ken Burns is such a silly liberal squish that I can imagine him wanting to chase God out of the occasion.  However, in regard to Obama he either thought getting God out was a grand idea, or he was too unfamiliar with the Gettysburg address to realize the omission.  Here is the background story on the inclusion of the phrase under God in the original speech:

We have five drafts of the Gettysburg address that Lincoln wrote:  three have the phrase “under God” and two do not.  That Lincoln  spoke the phrase during the Gettysburg address we can be certain of, because three reporters were present when he gave the speech, and all three have “under God” in their accounts of Lincoln’s speech.

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11 Responses to I Am Shocked! Shocked!: Obama Omits Under God

Get Thee Behind Abe, Editors!

Tuesday, November 19, AD 2013

Gettysburg-handwirting-experts-copy-490x600_jpg_pagespeed_ic_N1OjjilpoW

Hattip to Steven Hayward at Powerline.   Decades ago I recall watching a commercial, see the video below, where Abraham Lincoln is turned down for an executive position because he lacked a college degree.   I have often thought that Lincoln would not have been Lincoln without the arduous process of self education that he continued throughout his life.  (During his election campaign in 1860 he was pained to see that his campaign claimed that he had read Plutarch’s Lives.  He hadn’t, but he took time  out to do so before he was elected.)  Of course in his day it was not unusual for a self taught man to rise high politically.  In our day it is almost unthinkable, Harry Truman being the last president who did not attend college.  This is a great pity.  Self taught men and women can sometimes end up as town cranks or bores at bars, but sometimes they bring vitality and fresh insights that cannot be taught at any institution of higher learning, and their intellects are sharpened by their lonely quest for knowledge.  Lincoln regretted his lack of almost any formal education, but in his case I suspect his genius would have been lessened by it.

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4 Responses to Get Thee Behind Abe, Editors!

  • Thomas Jefferson had the right idea about college. Go when you will, study what you will and leave when you will.
    ” Lincoln regretted his lack of almost any formal education, but in his case I suspect his genius would have been lessened by it.” Absolutely.

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  • As someone who has not earned a degree but is surrounded in the work environment by people with multiple human services degrees I agree with you. It seems that I am the only person at work who is still seeking knowledge through the written word. None of the college graduates are ever ready anything, it even the NY Times . Which I thought was their noble.I on the other hand am I too willing to delve into esoteric subject matters such as; Interwar French military political relationships, papal encyclicals, the Angevin empire etc. Often times they make me feel like such a bore because they are incapable of conversing about anything except what is in front of them. I blame are high schools and colleges for producing educated people are are not educated at all and incapable of creative thought.

  • Whoever edited this no doubt writes advertising copy for a living. It is wrong on most counts, not least the last point which claims “for” as a conjunction when it is clearly a preposition. Three-fold repetition of similar ideas is a rhetorical device used in Latin; “we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow” is echoed in the Roman Canon – “haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata” and “hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam”, now happily restored in the new translation.

November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers The Gettysburg Address

Tuesday, November 19, AD 2013

 

 

 

Presidents during their presidencies make hundreds of speeches.  Most are utterly forgotten soon after they are delivered.  Even most of the speeches by a president who is also a skilled orator, as Lincoln was, are recalled only by historians and trivia buffs.  Yet the Gettysburg address has achieved immortality.

Lincoln was invited to say a few words at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.  The featured speaker was Edward Everett, one of the most accomplished men in American public life, who gave a two hour oration.  It is a fine example of nineteenth century oratory, full of learning, argument and passion.  It may seem very odd to contemplate in our sound bite age, but audiences in America in Lincoln’s time expected these type of lengthy excursions into eloquence and felt cheated when a speaker skimped on either length or ornateness in his efforts.

Lincoln then got up and spoke for two minutes.

We are not really sure what Lincoln said.  There are two drafts of the speech in Lincoln’s hand, and they differ from each other.  It is quite likely that neither reflects precisely the words that Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address.  For the sake of simplicity, and because it is the version people usually think of when reference is made to the Gettysburg address, the text used here is the version carved on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle- field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Here was the masterpiece of Lincoln’s passion for concise, almost terse, argument.  No doubt many in the audience were amazed when Lincoln sat down, probably assuming that this was a preamble to his main speech.

“Fourscore and seven years ago”

Lincoln starts out with an attention grabber.  Rather than the prosaic eighty-seven years, he treats his listeners to a poetic line that causes them to think and follow Lincoln back in time to the founding.

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One Response to November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers The Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Address Medley

Tuesday, November 19, AD 2013

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a  new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men  are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any  nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great  battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a  final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might  live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not  hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have  consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will  little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what  they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the  unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It  is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us —  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for  which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve  that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall  have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people,  for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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2 Responses to Gettysburg Address Medley

The Prayer Before the Speeches

Monday, November 18, AD 2013

Stockton

 

Thomas H. Stockton in 1863 was pastor of the First Methodist Church in Philadelphia.  A man with many political connections, he had been chaplain of the United States House of Representatives in 1833, 1835, 1859 and 1861.  It was therefore no surprise that he was chosen to give the invocation on November 18, 1863 at the opening of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.  He was in ill health and looked older than his 55 years, but he would live another five years and he had energy enough for the task before him.  Here is his prayer:

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3 Responses to The Prayer Before the Speeches

  • Wonderful prayer- still resounding in the Heavens and still being answered.

    Since such prayers are Not Allowed at official events today, let us pray them Not Aloud.

  • “or prohibit the free exercise thereof.” What part of the First Amendment does atheism not understand? All men are created equal and are free to address “their Creator,” without permission from the state. All men are “created” equal, and not born equal as stated in the Declaration on Human Rights of the United Nations, and are not the property of the state to be redefined as human beings without an immortal soul, without the metaphysical dimension of the kingdom of God, to be herded into obedience and servitude to the state, as so much soulless individuals. That all men are created equal by God, for the kingdom of God, and born equal into the kingdom of the state with the image of God and other not enumerated rights enjoined by free will. And furthermore, human beings are men created as sovereign persons who constitute the state; as persons who cannot be owned by the nation, state or any other group or cult without first succumbing to the irrationality of an enslaved human soul, or a human being born and deprived of a rational soul by reason of government fiat. Soulless human beings cannot and do not constitute the state. A soulless human being would lack sovereignty to constitute the sovereign state. So, by dehumanizing the citizen, the state annihilates itself. The dreaded suicide of the nation.

  • By what right does atheism deprive the human soul of his acknowledgement and his free expression?

A Silly Retraction

Saturday, November 16, AD 2013

 

 

 

As faithful readers of this blog know, there are few bigger fans of Mr. Lincoln than me, and I completely concur with Sir Winston Churchill that the Gettysburg Address  is “The ultimate expression of the majesty of Shakespeare’s language.” 

That having been said I found profoundly silly a retraction which appears in the Patriot News newspaper:

We write today in reconsideration of “The Gettysburg Address,” delivered by then-President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the greatest conflict seen on American soil. Our predecessors, perhaps under the influence of partisanship, or of strong drink, as was common in the profession at the time, called President Lincoln’s words “silly remarks,” deserving “a veil of oblivion,” apparently believing it an indifferent and altogether ordinary message, unremarkable in eloquence and uninspiring in its brevity.

The retraction goes on to state:

In the editorial about President Abraham Lincoln’s speech delivered Nov. 19, 1863, in Gettysburg, the Patriot & Union failed to recognize its momentous importance, timeless eloquence, and lasting significance. The Patriot-News regrets the error.

 

Go here to read the rest.  This rubs me the wrong way.  Apologizing for the actions of men long dead always strikes me as asinine.  The men who penned the original editorial cannot defend their opinion now.  If they could, they probably would note that they reflected a large body of Northern opinion that viewed the War as a tragic mistake, brought on by abolitionist fanaticism, which caused over a million homes in the North to be draped in mourning.  I view such arguments as being completely erroneous, but I leave to those who made such arguments the dignity to which they are entitled of being participants in the maelstrom of devastating events who were honestly stating their views.  To have successors a century and a half later glibly denouncing their views, even attributing such views to strong drink, insults them and insults the historical record.  It is part and parcel of a historical myopia which views the present as perfect and entitled to denounce the benighted individuals who had the misfortune to live before our enlightened times.  The simple truth is that we, just as much as those in the past we denounce, are in many ways prisoners of our times, often taking our attitudes and beliefs from those that enjoy popularity in our day.  I have absolutely no doubt that the successors of the papers which praised the Gettysburg Address one hundred and fifty years ago, might well be denouncing it today, if the War, and all our subsequent history, had turned out differently.  If one wishes to truly understand history, and the passions of the men and women who lived through it, one must be willing to understand what motivated them, why they did what they did.  This foolish retraction teaches us nothing about history, but quite a bit about how the Present usually is a bad judge of the Past, at least if we wish to understand the Past.  Here is a portion of the original editorial:

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12 Responses to A Silly Retraction

  • Too much Americanism here. It’s what I find rather silly. You sound like you have bought hook and sinker the freemasonic ideas so rampantly present. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Please, free yourself. Before 1776, Catholicity wasn’t found wanting in the rest of the world except America.

  • Good attempt James: completely off topic, free masonry gibberish, and an attack on something not raised in the post. Life is so simple when one places one’s fingers firmly in one’s ears and shouts about what one wishes to talk about!

  • I agree Don that this strikes me as modern triumphalism. Meanwhile, the very next editorial is one decrying “frontal assaults on a woman’s privacy and dignity” – in other words, lamenting state efforts to restrict abortion. Perhaps someone will come along 150 years from now to apologize for such a regrettable editorial stance.

  • The Patriot-News is apparently keeping up two traditions of the paper after all: being an organ of yellow dog Democrat sentiment, and ignoring the rights of people deemed less than human by powerful forces within their party.

  • Go here to read the rest. This rubs me the wrong way. Apologizing for the actions of men long dead always strikes me as asinine.

    In the main I would agree with you but it might behoove the legislatures of So. Carolina, Alabama and the other rebel states to repudiate their ancestors’ actions, esp. since many tried to justify their actions well into the 20th century.
    A simple acknowledgement of the truth might be nice might be nice even without an apology.

    Off-topic: I just re-read 12 Years a Slave and saw the movie. Both HIGHLY recommended.

  • I guess that your concerns wouldn’t apply to JPII’s apologies on behalf of the Church because the Church is not long-dead, but still living, Holy Spirit breathing; responsive and responsible… and the issues addressed on always ongoing and still having an effect

  • Presentism; or even better, Retroactive Continuity: “Reframing past events to serve a current plot need.”

  • Apologizing for the actions of men long dead always strikes me as asinine.

     

    I would ask any of those who agree with that statement to consider the case of New York Times reporter Walter Duranty, the Lord Haw Haw of Stalin’s pre-WWII genocide, though unlike Duranty, Lord Haw Haw never received a Pulitzer for his work, so in that sense the comparison is inapt.

     

    A sincere “never again” on that particular episode of history is long overdue.

  • And it would be a completely meaningless one HA. Those who wish to, know all about Duranty and his lies. The current powers that be at The New York Times have nothing to do with him. They have their own lies they promulgate daily, and their taking a moment out to give a completely insincere apology for Duranty’s would do nothing to impact that.

  •  

    The New York Times have nothing to do with him. They have their own lies they promulgate daily, and their taking a moment out to give a completely insincere apology for Duranty’s would do nothing to impact that.

     

    A completely insincere apology? I am not sure what that has to do with what I wrote, but perhaps you missed the word “sincere” in the last sentence of my post, making your reply somewhat beside the point. As any Catholic should know, a sincere apology involves contrition and a resolve to change one’s behavior, and to atone for it. And as for the NYT not having anything to do with Duranty, I submit that the lies they continues to peddle to this day come from the same playbook that Duranty followed, so that a sincere apology, or at least a sincere resolve to stop flakking for the brave new world Duranty championed in the NYT’s pages is something we should all welcome.

     

  • “completely insincere apology? I am not sure what that has to do with what I wrote, but perhaps you missed the word “sincere” in the last sentence of my post, making your reply somewhat beside the point.”

    Nope. An apology for wrongs done by someone else long dead is by definition always insincere. You were attempting to posit a square circle. Such apologies are always a form of moral grandstanding, and say nothing about amendment of current actions of the person making the apology. Now if The New York Times wanted to humbly apologize for their role in pushing ObamaCare on the nation, that would be an apology worth reading.

  • I would agree that the particular example you cited regarding the Gettysburg Address is a case of an editorial writer having too much time on his hands. But trying to use that to make the general point that apologizing for the actions of those who came before us is always asinine is going too far.

     

    I maintain that in those cases where the sins of our fathers are part of an ongoing pattern of evil, apologizing for those sins is a useful first step in changing our own behavior. That is how we learn the lessons of history so as not to repeat them. And as the Biblical story of Samuel’s denunciation of David’s treatment of Uriah indicates, it is sometimes easier to get ourselves exercised over the sins of others than it is to recognize that those sins are ours.

     

    I did not become a conservative by nature. I did it by acknowledging not just the Hitlers and the slave owners, and trying to confront whatever in my own constitution might enable such evil in the future, but also by acknowledging the Stalins and the Maos and the countless well-meaning socialists who continue to starve and murder millions to this day, and to atone for that other mark of Cain. You might be blessedly free of that Catholic guilt that renders you culpable for what happened decades and even centuries ago. I am not, and perhaps I’m better off for it.

     

    In any case, the NYT is today a teeming village of Walter Durantys. Getting them to sincerely acknowledge and apologize for his sins would, I maintain, be a good first step in getting to acknowledge their own furtherance of his campaign of disinformation. You can disagree with me all you want, but I’m confident a more objective reader will see some truth in what I say. In any case, we will just have to agree to disagree.

Red Skelton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and One Nation Under God

Thursday, November 14, AD 2013

Red Skelton and his unforgettable rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time.  His comment about the phrase “under God”  reminds us how deeply this phrase is embedded in American history:

The addition of “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 of course echoes this sentence from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Pledge was altered with that phrase of Lincoln’s specifically in mind.  The Knights of Columbus played an important role in getting the pledge changed, beginning in 1951 to say the Pledge with the phrase “under God” inserted at all Knights of Columbus functions.

Lincoln probably recalled the phrase from George Washington’s use of it in his order to the Continental Army on August 27, 1776 before the battle of Long Island:

The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

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One Response to Red Skelton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and One Nation Under God

The Other Gettysburg Address

Tuesday, November 12, AD 2013

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Edward Everett was the main attraction at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery.  He had led a distinguished life serving as Governor of Massachusetts and ambassador to Great Britain.  In 1860 he had run on the Constitutional Union Party ticket as vice-president, attempting to forestall the break up of the Union that he clearly saw coming.  After the election of Lincoln he became a vigorous supporter of Lincoln’s policies to preserve the Union by force.  He would die in 1865 prior to the end of the War, but with the knowledge that the Union would win and the Union would be preserved.

He was a good choice to be the main speaker, still vigorous at sixty-nine, one of the most eloquent orators of his time, a time which included such speakers as Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John Calhoun.  As he spoke it was as if the past of the country was commenting on its turbulent present.  He spoke for two hours and his listeners would have felt cheated if he had not done so, as lengthy speeches were expected at that time in American history on important occasions, unlike our own time where any statement that goes over three minutes is considered long-winded.

After his address he wrote Lincoln a famous letter in which he included this sentence that almost all Americans would agree with:   “I should be glad if I could flatter myself, that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.”

Lincoln replied:

Executive Mansion Washington November 20, 1863

Hon. Edward Everett. My dear Sir:

Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday,  you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the  little I did say was not entirely a failure. Of course I knew Mr.  Everett would not fail; and yet, while the whole discourse was  eminently satisfactory, and will be of great value, there were passages  in it which transcended my expectation. The point made against  the theory of the general government being only an agency, whose  principals are the States, was new to me, and, as I think, is one of  the best arguments for the national supremacy. The tribute to our  noble women for their angel-ministering to the suffering soldiers,  surpasses, in its way, as do the subjects of it, whatever has gone  before.

Our sick boy, for whom you kindly inquire, we hope is past the  worst. Your Obt. Servt.

A. Lincoln

Here is Everett’s speech, interspersed with my commentary.  It is completely our of step with our sound bite age, but it is worthy of our close attention as it sheds light upon his time:

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5 Responses to The Other Gettysburg Address

  • Fascinating stuff. It is difficult, however, to equate secession with rebellion, and Everett’s argument, that the government of the United States was so obviously enlightened that to wish to be free of it must be perverse and wicked would not have been one that many in the South would have recognized. In recent times we have seen the break-up of such federations as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (not to mention the Soviet Union) without any assumption that those who wished to secede were rebels. Ireland’s secession from the United Kingdom was at first treated as a rebellion but with the evidence from 1918 onwards that a majority in Ireland wanted it, it was conceded four years later despite the violence and the complicating factor of the Ulster protestants being determined to preserve the Union.

  • “would not have been one that many in the South would have recognized.”

    Depends upon whether one includes black slaves or not into the mix. Even without the slaves there was substantial dissent in the Appalachian regions of the Confederacy, such as West Virginia and East Tennessee.

    “In recent times we have seen the break-up of such federations as Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia (not to mention the Soviet Union) without any assumption that those who wished to secede were rebels.”

    Because they were historically distinct nations. None of the component states of the United States were ever that, with the exception of Texas for ten years, and in the case of Texas the Texans had been trying throughout that decade to be admitted to the Union. If secession were not legal in the American context then the Southerners were appealing to the right of revolution set forth in the Declaration of Independence and were by definition rebels.

  • “Because they were historically distinct nations. None of the component states of the United States were ever that, with the exception of Texas for ten years, and in the case of Texas the Texans had been trying throughout that decade to be admitted to the Union.”

    Donald, I understand where you are coming from as a northerner and an Illinoian exhibiting filial piety toward your most prominent native son, but allow me, as a native southerner and onetime resident of Texas, to dissent from your judgment that the case of the central European nations is substantially different from that of the states of the Confederacy. In response to the assertion that none of the component states were ever historically distinct “nations” (which you appear to be using in a primarily political rather than racial/ ethnic sense), a confederate would point out that they darn well were and conceived themselves as such from the formation of the union — which is why they defined themselves in the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of 1789 as “States” rather than “Provinces.” It is also why several of them, including the very-reluctant-to-secede-in-1861 Virginia, specifically reserved to themselves the right of secession in their ratification conventions. The right of secession was considered not particularly controversial, and was taught for some time at West Point in the text used by cadets there (who included a number of future general officers on both sides of the Late Unpleasantness). The book was authored by a Pennsylvania Quaker lawyer named Rawles, who not incidentally (due to his religious convictions) was no friend to slavery.

    “If secession were not legal in the American context then the Southerners were appealing to the right of revolution set forth in the Declaration of Independence and were by definition rebels.”

    This is true, though the implied presumption (“If…”) is, as I have noted above, subject to serious challenge. The confederate — referring to what he would have seen as the First War for Independence — would have responded to being called a “rebel” with a “so what?” or, especially if he were a Virginian, with an allusion to Patrick Henry’s “if this be treason, then make the most of it.” If he were one of those who saw the northern incursion as an invasion of sovereign territory with the intention of imposing a tyrannical regime — one acting apart from the provisions of the Constitution — on duly elected republican governments, he would also likely have resorted to the Jeffersonian dictum that resistance to such is obedience to God.

    For many southerners, even today, it seems that the only unqualified good to come out of “the War” was the end of chattel slavery. The preservation of the Union, it seems in retrospect, was a good, but a qualified one, since its preservation was accomplished at the cost of the beginning of a pattern of centralization that still bids fair to completely eliminate the sovereign union of sovereign states and replace it with unlimited centralized government dictating policies through provincial satrapys.

  • And, by the way of follow-up, dissent as I might from Lincolnian political theory (actually originating with his hero, Henry Clay), I am not a Lincoln hater. On the contrary, I find his character and personality well-nigh irresistible, and he is always on my top-five list of historical personalities with whom I would most like to sit down to dine.

  • “which is why they defined themselves in the Declaration, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of 1789 as “States” rather than “Provinces.”

    The Founding Fathers assumed that the Union of States would be perpetual and stated as such in the Articles of Confederation:

    “And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, Know Ye, that we, the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do, by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said articles of confederation and perpetual union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained. And we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the united states in congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said confederation are submitted to them. And that the articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the states we respectively represent, and that the union shall be perpetual. In Witness whereof, we have hereunto set our hands, in Congress. Done at Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, the ninth Day of July, in the Year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and Seventy eight, and in the third year of the Independence of America.”

    The issue of whether the States were independent nations was actually brought up by the British at the negotiations that led to the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, the British wondering if one treaty was being negotiated or 13. They were told in no uncertain terms by the American delegates that the United States of America were one nation.

    “The right of secession was considered not particularly controversial, and was taught for some time at West Point in the text used by cadets there (who included a number of future general officers on both sides of the Late Unpleasantness). The book was authored by a Pennsylvania Quaker lawyer named Rawles, who not incidentally (due to his religious convictions) was no friend to slavery.”

    Actually the right of Secession was highly controversial and was denied by no less an expert on the Constitution than James Madison. I will defer to General Lee on the subject in a letter to his son Rooney on January 23, 1861:

    “I received Everett’s Life of Washington which you sent me, and enjoyed its perusal. How his spirit would be grieved could he see the wreck of his mighty labors! I will not, however, permit myself to believe, until all ground of hope is gone, that the fruit of his noble deeds will be destroyed, and that his precious advice and virtuous example will so soon be forgotten by his countrymen. As far as I can judge by the papers, we are between a state of anarchy and civil war. May God avert both of these evils from us! I fear that mankind will not for years be sufficiently Christianized to bear the absence of restraint and force. I see that four states have declared themselves out of the Union; four more will apparently follow their example. Then, if the border states are brought into the gulf of revolution, one half of the country will be arrayed against the other. I must try and be patient and await the end, for I can do nothing to hasten or retard it.

    The South, in my opinion, has been aggrieved by the acts of the North, as you say. I feel the aggression and am willing to take every proper step for redress . It is the principle I contend for, not individual or private benefit. As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any state if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution. . . . Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved, and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people; and, save in defense, will draw my sword on none.”

    “If he were one of those who saw the northern incursion as an invasion of sovereign territory with the intention of imposing a tyrannical regime — one acting apart from the provisions of the Constitution — on duly elected republican governments, he would also likely have resorted to the Jeffersonian dictum that resistance to such is obedience to God.”

    And he would have been wrong. No long train of abuses prepared the way of the Secession Crisis of 1860-61 but rather a phantom menace to the institution of slavery ginned up by fire eaters after the election of Lincoln, a candidate pledged not to interfere with the institution in States where it existed. If the Southern states had not seceded they could have bottled up anti-slavery legislation in Congress. Lincoln likely would have spent a frustrating four years as President and been a one-termer, the fate of all Presidents since Andrew Jackson. Never have a braver people been more foolishly led than the Southern people in the Secession Winter of 1860-61.

Thank You Mr. President

Monday, November 11, AD 2013

Lincoln

 

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the Universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. [Applause.] Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a beacon to guide their children and their children’s children, and the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which their fathers began — so that truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land; so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.

Abraham Lincoln, August 27, 1858

 

 

 

 

 

In nine days, this town will commemorate the 150th  anniversary of Lincoln’s speech with a ceremony at the same Soldiers’ National  Cemetery featuring the U.S. Marine Band, Gov. Tom Corbett and a reading of the  Gettysburg Address.

One person who will not be among those honoring  Lincoln is President Barack Obama. The White House gave no reason why the  president would not attend.

  According to the National Park Service, Obama  has never visited the battlefield as president.

 

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Gettysburg Address: First Draft

Friday, November 8, AD 2013

 

The news of the surrender of Vicksburg did not reach Washington until July 7, 1863.  On top of Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg, the town went wild with rejoicing.  A jubilant crowd went to the White House.  President Lincoln made an impromptu speech that contained many of the themes and thoughts that he would flesh out in his Gettysburg Address delivered on November 19, 1863:

Fellow-citizens: I am very glad to see you to-night.  But yet I will not say I thank you for this call.  But I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. [Cheers.]  How long ago is it?  Eighty odd years since, upon the Fourth day of July, for the first time in the world, a union body of representatives was assembled to declare as a self-evident truth that all men were created equal. [Cheers.]

That was the birthday of the United States of America.  Since then the fourth day of July has had several very peculiar recognitions.  The two most distinguished men who framed and supported that paper, including the particular declaration I have mentioned, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the one having framed it, and the other sustained it most ably in debate, the only two of the fifty-five or fifty-six who signed it, I believe, who were ever President of the United States, precisely fifty years after they put their hands to that paper it pleased the Almighty God to take away from this stage of action on the Fourth of July.  This extraordinary coincidence we can understand to be a dispensation of the Almighty Ruler of Events.

Another of our Presidents, five years afterwards, was called from this stage of existence on the same day of the month, and now on this Fourth of July just past, when a gigantic rebellion has risen in the land, precisely at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow that principle “that all men are created equal,” we have a surrender of one of their most powerful positions and powerful armies forced upon them on that very day. [Cheers.] And I see in the succession of battles in Pennsylvania, which continued three days, so rapidly following each other as to be justly called one great battle, fought on the first, second and third of July; on the fourth the enemies of the declaration that all men are created equal had to turn tail and run. [Laughter and applause.]

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An Invitation to Speak

Monday, November 4, AD 2013

 

One hundred and fifty years ago President Lincoln received an invitation to say “a few appropriate remarks”.  Lincoln while he was President received many invitations to speak and accepted very few of them.  This one, however, he did accept.  It was an invitation from David Wills, a Gettysburg attorney, who had been appointed by Andrew Curtin, governor of Pennsylvania, to spearhead the ceremony for the opening of the national cemetery at Gettysburg.

Beginning on October 17 the Union dead had been removed from their makeshift graves and reburied.  We must not think of Gettysburg then as it is now.  Now, it is a national park, a symbol of national pride.  Then it was a scene of almost unspeakable horror, bearing the raw scars of a huge battle where over 8,000 Americans had recently been killed and over 27,000 had been wounded, many maimed for life.  It had been a Union victory, but the War went on with no end in sight.  Lincoln seized upon the opportunity to explain to the American people, perhaps to also explain to himself, what Gettysburg meant.  Here is the text of the invitation:

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Gettysburg Closed

Tuesday, October 8, AD 2013

In the never ending effort of the Obama administration to see just how absurd they can be over the fake government shutdown, they have attempted to close down the Gettysburg battlefield.  I say attempted because a lot of tourists are engaging in civil disobedience and touring the battlefield, playing catch me if you can with National Park Service Rangers.  Go here to read all about it.

This of course is all part of a carefully orchestrated plot by the Obama administration:

A U.S. park ranger, who did not wish to be identified, told FoxNews.com that supervisors within the National Park Service overruled plans to deal with the budget cuts in a way that would have had minimal impact on the public. Instead, the source said, park staff were told to cancel special events and cut “interpretation services” — the talks, tours and other education services provided by local park rangers.

“Apparently, they want the public to feel the pain,” the ranger said.

 

Instead of feeling pain the public has had a glimpse into just how mean, petty and spiteful the gangsters currently in power in the White House can be.

 

 

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4 Responses to Gettysburg Closed

  • Donald McClarey: You might want to peview this post.

    The following is from a letter sent to the secular press:

    The people being evicted from their homes because of the government shutdown are being mistreated. These people are not visitors or squatters. They own the national forests and parks. Each and every citizen owns all public places and waterways in including the WHITE HOUSE, in joint and common tenancy. You own it all and I own it all. This battle was fought several decades ago when the government sent park rangers to “evict” indwellers. The indwellers won in court and it is declared that people have rights to live on their own property.

    SEE: INDWELLERS or contact Brad Dacus at Pacific Justice Institute for information.

    The HOMESTEAD ACT has not been repealed. The HOMESTEAD ACT has just been obscured to enhance the power of the government. Squat on public land and improve it with a house of other structure or farm and you, and you alone, have the option to purchase the land at minimum value.

    If the INDWELLERS had not already won in court there might be some question as to the good will of government officials.

    Harassing the citizens in their daily lives for no reason needs to be addressed in court. This is sheer ignorance compounded by atrocities for power over ordinary people.

  • Agian, Instapundit: “The people must be punished until the regime gets it way. The House keeps passing bills to fund this stuff, bills with nothing about defunding ObamaCare in them, and the Democratic Senate keeps killing them.”

  • “…the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.”

    False arrest? Kidnapping? Criminal imprisonment? Violation of civil rights under color of law?

    “…some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.”

    Those foreign tourists had a correct understanding of their plight despite “limited English skills”.

  • Yes, Micha Elyi: Kidnapping by the state, false arrest and imprisonment without being read their Rights and Codes of law. As one person said: The government sends Rangers to imprison and evict others, but no Rangers to guide and protect. These Rangers are working on our tax dollars. WHO are the Rangers working for? Let the criminal in the White House pay them. Taxation without representation. IMPEACH OBAMA.

Fortnight for Freedom: July 4, 1863

Thursday, July 4, AD 2013

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have proclaimed a second Fortnight for Freedom from June 21-July 4th, and, as last year, The American Catholic will participate with special blog posts each day.

I confess that I am not likely to see the Hand of God very much in most human events.  Where some can clearly see Divine handiwork, I do not, perhaps because, in the words of Saint Paul, I “see as in a glass, darkly.”  However, even I find it hard not to look at the events on the Fourth of July one hundred and fifty years ago, with the retreat of Lee from Gettysburg and the surrender of Vicksburg and not suspect that God was saying something through his human instrumentalities.  At any rate it was left to Mr. Lincoln on November 19, 1863 to attempt to make sense of the terrible crisis that the nation was living through.

Presidents during their presidencies make hundreds of speeches.  Most are utterly forgotten soon after they are delivered.  Even most of the speeches by a president who is also a skilled orator, as Lincoln was, are recalled only by historians and trivia buffs.  Yet the Gettysburg address, given 146 years ago today, has achieved immortality.

 

Lincoln was invited to say a few words at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.  The featured speaker was Edward Everett, one of the most accomplished men in American public life, who gave a two hour oration.  It is a fine example of nineteenth century oratory, full of learning, argument and passion.  It may seem very odd to contemplate in our sound bite age, but audiences in America in Lincoln’s time expected these type of lengthy excursions into eloquence and felt cheated when a speaker skimped on either length or ornateness in his efforts.

Lincoln then got up and spoke for two minutes.

We are not really sure precisely what Lincoln said.  There are two drafts of the speech in Lincoln’s hand, and they differ from each other.  It is quite likely that neither reflects  the exact words that Lincoln used in the Gettysburg Address.  For the sake of simplicity, and because it is the version people usually think of when reference is made to the Gettysburg address, the text used here is the version carved on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle- field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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3 Responses to Fortnight for Freedom: July 4, 1863

  • Pingback: 4th of July Special Edition - BigPulpit.com
  • Wow. You are one ignorant, hateful person. Keep it up. You do know that there were both liberals and conservatives in both political parties back then, right? And that the modern attribution of liberal democrat/conservative republican happened in the late 1920s? This is evidenced by far right – conservative! – groups such as the KKK being pro democrat. Hey, you’re far right – maybe the KKK will take you in their ranks, if only they didn’t hate catholics, as you have a lot in common with them otherwise.

  • How you got off on your unhinged screed from what I wrote is beyond me. However for my amusement I allowed your crazed comment through.

    You do understand that the KKK was the terrorist arm of the Democrat Party? Probably not. No doubt it will also come as a revelation to you that the last member of the Klan in Congress was Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, who died in office in 2010. Here is what he wrote to Senator Bilbo of Mississippi, arch segregationist in 1946:

    “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a negro by my side … Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

    Anti-Catholicism was of course a cherished tenet of the Klan and thus Klansmen would feel quite at home in today’s Democrat party where anti-Catholicism is an article of faith.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2012/05/31/obama-working-willfully-to-undermine-hierarchical-catholic-church/

Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863

Saturday, November 19, AD 2011

Johnny Cash in the above video does a superb job of reading the Gettysburg Address.  Go here to read my analysis of the Gettysburg Address.  Winston Churchill, certainly the greatest orator of the English language in the last century, deemed the Address, “The ultimate expression of the majesty of Shakespeare’s language.”  Lincoln’s masterpiece of concision packed with thought will endure as long as our American republic does, and the truths it contains will endure far beyond that time period.

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5 Responses to Gettysburg Address: November 19, 1863

  • Interesting that Lincoln talks about “this nation under God”. Churchill, not a religious man, spoke in the dark days of 1940 that “in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might” would in effect save the Old. Ever the historian, he was consciously echoing Canning in the 1820s. Can one imagine a modern politician invoking the Deity in such a direct manner?

    Actually, I have a vested interest in the idea of the New World having stepped forth for the liberation of the Old. As a FOO in West Germany in the 1970s my life expectancy was around six minutes; thanks to the nuclear deterrence provided mostly by the USA I’m still around. I understand that the Church has said nuclear deterrence is immoral. I’m going to have to reserve my judgement here.

  • Actually John I believe the Church gave approval to nuclear deterrence, although the teaching in that area tends to be fairly arcane and convuluted, at least to me.

    I have always been very fond of Churchill and this is one of my favorite Churchill quotes:

    “You ask, What is our policy? I will say; “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.” You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. ”

  • Lincoln’s law partner described his voice as “shrill, squeaking, piping, unpleasant”. Were there a Bob Dylan rendition, It would probably be more appropriate than this one.

  • How fortunate HA for Lincoln, and for us, that he lived in a time when people actually listened to what a speaker said rather than how he said it.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Ask-an-Expert-What-Did-Abraham-Lincolns-Voice-Sound-Like.html

  • Say what you will of the last couple of decades, but Bob Dylan’s career would not have been possible in any age that cared more about how someone said something than about what he actually said.

Red Skelton, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and One Nation Under God

Monday, November 14, AD 2011

Red Skelton and his unforgettable rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Skelton rose out of abject poverty to become one of the great comedians of his time.  His comment about the phrase “under God”  reminds us how deeply this phrase is embedded in American history:

The addition of “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 of course echoes this sentence from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The Pledge was altered with that phrase of Lincoln’s specifically in mind.  The Knights of Columbus played an important role in getting the pledge changed, beginning in 1951 to say the Pledge with the phrase “under God” inserted at all Knights of Columbus functions.

Lincoln probably recalled the phrase from George Washington’s use of it in his order to the Continental Army on August 27, 1776 before the battle of Long Island:

The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die.

 

 

 

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