Essay Non-Fiction posted August 3, 2019


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The Wisdom of the 16th President

Lincoln

by Marisa3


Our 16th President was noted for his storytelling, and he usually had a pointed story for each and every challenging situation he faced throughout his stressful presidency. One very interesting story, which concerned his most challenging issue of the day that of the abolishment of slavery, was when he was talking with two young men in a telegraph office. On the subject of slavery, he explained the reason for the need to emancipate slaves in this manner:

He began by asking them if they had ever heard of Euclid's Triangulation and then proceeded to quote the mathematical scholar:

"Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other" Euclid's Elements

Lincoln went on to state, "that's a rule of mathematical reasoning. It's true because it works; has done and always will do. In his book Euclid says this is "Self-evident."

"D'you see? There it is, even in that two-thousand-year old book of mechanical law: it is a self-evident truth, the things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other."

"We begin with equality, that's the origin, isn't it? That balance, that's fairness, that's justice"

This was Lincoln's brilliant and insightful explanation of the conclusive reason for emancipation of slaves. It tied directly into the Declaration of Independence and Jefferson's immortal words. "We hold these truths to be [self-evident] that all men are created equal ...." (emphasis added).

To be clear, Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He did believe that slavery was morally wrong but there was a much larger problem, slavery was sanctioned by the Constitution, which was the highest law of the land.

Of the fifty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention, 49% owned slaves. And approximately 70% of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were either slave owners or had something to do with the slave trade. Among them were the accepted key founding fathers; Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jay, and Madison.

Hence the drafters of the Constitution did not explicitly incorporate the word "Slavery" into the founding document, but they did include key clauses protecting the institution of slavery.

Lincoln's views on slavery continued to evolve and he devoted many of the last days of his life muscling and cajoling a constitutional amendment through the Congress. Ultimately, the 13th Amendment was approved by Congress in January of 1865, and it was ratified in December of the same year. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated in April of that year, so he did not live to see the fruits of his labor.

The current presidency and its elitist administration and all those in power who either side with it or keep silent in fear of reprisal should send us rushing back to our nation's founding documents. We need to refresh our memories on the aspirations our forefathers had for this country and just how much we have struggled to overcome the dark days of slavery. It is with never-ending vigilance that we must continually combat the vileness of bigotry and hatred.

There will always be those among us who believe in the awful declarations of the cession documents of the states that would give despicable reasons for their need to secede from the Union; those with the delusional idea that they are entitled to all the rights and privileges of freedom based solely upon the color of their skin, and the right to enslave others that are not of the same color.

"Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe." Haruki Murakami




Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry


It is not necessary to go all the way back to the 1800s in order to see how the bigotry of those in power has influenced policy where our government is concerned. Richard Nixon is a prime example. He was an anti-Semite and this has been revealed extensively on the White House tapes from his presidency.

Just recently, another tape was released to the public by the historian Tim Naftali. This was a taped phone call between Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, and Richard Nixon in 1971. Reagan was outraged at the African delegation to the U.N. because they voted against the US position that Taiwan, rather than the Peoples Republic of China, should receive U.N. recognition. In this conversation, Reagan stated the following:

"To see those, those monkeys from those African countries-damn them, they are still uncomfortable wearing shoes!"

Nixon laughed heartily and went on to tell the Secretary of State, William Rogers, about Reagan's outburst. While Nixon did not agree with Reagan's proposed idea about how the U.S. should penalize the U.N. for voting to kick Taiwan out, he still found Reagan's racist remarks to be interesting, exciting and worth repeating.

The important take away here is for people to see how racists enable racists, how these turns of phrase and tropes are daggers. Nixon did not consider himself a racist, even though he had racist ideas.

Trump repeatedly states that he does not have a racist bone in his body. Of course, this statement comes right after he has made a blatantly racist remark.

Whether Lincoln was a walking contradiction of one who was anti-slavery but also embraced the ideology of a white supremacist is still being debated. However, it is clear historically that he rose to the challenges of the time to push forward for the ratification of the 13th amendment. He gave his all to right a wrong that the founding fathers ignored when drafting the constitution.

If we want to get an honest perspective on the history of our nation, then we need to remove the rose-colored glasses and understand that the founders were complex individuals who, brilliant though they may have been, were still products of their time.

My concern over all of this is that we have not learned any lessons from our past, so we are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes time and again. The only way forward for us as a nation is to come to terms with and accept our diversity. The truth is, no one race is superior to another. Those that stubbornly cling to this idea are only deluding themselves.

I will end this piece with some frightening words from one who sold the German people a bill of goods on their superiority as a race; the "Master Race" theory. We all know what happened to that country and the madman that brought them to the brink of destruction.

"The nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated."

Adolf Hitler (excerpt from Mein Kampf).
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