28 February 2008
Tomorrow marks the day when every four years, you ladies get the "Official" sanction to go hunting courtesy of the ancient Romans needing to reset their calendars. By tradition this "Leap Day" became the day when women could propose marriage rather than waiting for some slow to the altar man to pop the question. Al Capp and the cartoon Li'l Abner picked up on this idea, but made it into a once a year event set in November. Whether every four years or once a year, tomorrow is one of the days when Sadie Hawkins tries to become Sadie, Sadie Married Lady. Of course now that we have become terribly modern, Sadie can go hunting any day of the week, but you still have to let him think it was all his idea. Some things just don't change all that easily. Just a reminder of what is supposed to happen on this your Day of Days ...
And once you drag him across the finish line:
If you think you have trouble with your teenagers, just imagine what Elizabeth Howard Boleyn thought of hers: Love Affairs, Teen Pregnancies, Run Away marriage, destruction of the establish church, divorces, trials, sudden death ... Holy Cow!
Well you don't have to imagine, because this weekend, the wayward kids are going to be up on the screen with The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson based on the book by Philippa Gregory . For some real historical fact about Mary Boleyn (just in case the movie leaves out a whole lot the way movies often do), just click on her name above or here. The reason for two citations is because as with a great deal of history from 500 years ago there is a lot of guessing going on.
Mary Boleyn as painted by Hans Holbein
Pretty but not Scarlett Johansson
And for a little touch of the movie magic to entice you out of your house this weekend.
27 February 2008
As most who know who pass through here, one of my passions is genealogy. It is a rather dramatic quirk of Scottish history that for a variety of reasons, both coerced and voluntary, they have spread throughout the world, particularly to British possessions. For some reason Mungo Bisset packed up his wife and seven children some time after 1854 and headed to the southern hemisphere. As a result, their descendants have lived ever since in Australia and New Zealand. Because of this move, many of them ended up in an unpleasant place called Gallipoli, and one nurse never returned home. ANZAC Cemetery Turkey.
If you have never read any of the history of Australia much beyond "Isn't that where the English sent convicts?", or seen a movie called Gallipoli, you may not know the singular importance of this event in creating a national identity. When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. As a result of poor planning, ignorance of command officers, and failure to recognize the changes that had taken place in modern siege warfare, what had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.
War is never wonderful. This was one of the times, unfortunately not the last, when incompetent leaders led to the slaughter of thousands while thousands more paid for those mistakes with a lifetime of crippling wounds.
25 February 2008
It's really easy to do:
Click on the Fake Magazine covers link below
Use any picture you like to create a magazine cover
Choose a magazine
Place the cover on your website
Then post a link back here so I can see you as a star
Tag others or not as you like.
So put your family, children, pets, a much younger you whatever pleases your fancy and have fun becoming famous.
24 February 2008
The crew of STS-51-L. Front row, from left to right: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, and Ronald McNair. Back row, from left to right: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.
It is interesting that Mo picked "Explosion" for today's word. A few days ago when the missile took down the satellite that was comining down and turned it into tiny pieces to burn up in the atmosphere, I got into one of those "where were you" discussions about the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
On the morning of January 28, 1986, I was a member of the staff of The United States Chamber of Commerce which had gathered on the third floor in the Biz Net studio area to watch the shuttle take off. Much of the nation was watching simply because of Christa McAuliff, the "teacher in space", who was going up with a full set of lesson plans for school children across the country. It was of particular importance for us as she was scheduled to make a speech at the Chamber on her return at a luncheon for various business and political invitees in Washington D.C.
Only 73 seconds into its flight, the Challenger blew up when it went to "throttle up" leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. For the next 30 days flags were at half staff, and when you walked into the National Air and Space Museum, a larger version of the picture above was draped in black, and one of the things Ronald Reagan did well in his eulogy for the crew was to quote the poem High Flight which has come to be associated with the deaths of those who lose their lives in flight:
High FlightWeeks followed with the investigation by The Rogers Commission that eventually led to the finding that NASA managers had known that contractor Morton Thiokol's design of the SRBs contained a potentially catastrophic flaw in the O-rings since 1977, but they failed to address it properly. They also ignored warnings from engineers about the dangers of launching on such a cold day and had failed to adequately report these technical concerns to their superiors.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941
23 February 2008
Her majesty, Mimi, Queen of Memes and wearer of the pencil skirt who resides in the magnificent structure known to the world at Blogginham Castle has issued another
Royal Decree "You are about to send a virtual Message In a Bottle across the Blog Ocean. Leave a message in the sand or on the bottle. Write anything you wish. Be a pirate or a poet. Serious or silly. Anonymous or not. What message would you like to send out to the universe?"
Here Are the Rules:
1. Compose a message to place in your virtual bottle.
2. Right click and SAVE the blank graphic below
3. Use a graphics program of your choice to place the message on this picture:
4. Post the Message In a Bottle meme and your creation on your blog along with these rules
5. Tag a minimum of 5 bloggers - or your entire blogroll - to do the same. Notify them of the tag.
Your virtual bottle will remain afloat in the blogosphere ocean for all blogernity (That's a Mimism for blog + eternity.)
In addition to those rules, you then need to head over to Mimi's Message in a Bottle Meme and add your site to the Mr. Linky list that she has while also leaving your blog's name and URL in a comment so that she knows you've completed the meme. She will then add it to the master list of message bottles. You can email mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.com if you have questions.
As always, participation is optional, unless, of course, being found many years from now as a skeleton dangling on the blogingham castle dungeon walls upsets you in any way. You could enter witness protection and hope her majesty doesn't have friends in the CIA. You might as well do the darned thing. It is so much easier than meeting up with the dungeon new hire: Somebody named Sweeney I think!
You do not have to be tagged to play, but I tag the following people to be nagged into submission as Queen Mimi can be a harsh (not) mistress:
Shelly at This Eclectic Life
Corey at The Mitchell Blog
Vanilla Birdies at Tick Tock Goes The Clock
Tip Toe at Patterns
Tom at International Blog
Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters
If you are familiar with The Onion, it is a marvelous satire site, and the clip above about broadcast coverage of the election is pure genius. Yesterday I mentioned that Hillary Clinton had been practically dragged over the coals. This beautiful bit of comedy is no different.
It may not register at first, but there are only two tiny images of Giuliani and Edwards who have both dropped out and then a longer shot of Hillary and Bill Clinton. Within the dialogue, only her name is mentioned. Since the subject of the video is B. S. (only bad word used for the sensitive), having her name associated with it by the "newscaster" is telling.
Once you have watched the video, replay it to watch the ribbon on the bottom of the screen. In case you ever want to really know what is happening in the world, that is where you will find the information.
Good on the Onion for a brilliant piece of edgy satire. Bad on them for joining their theoretically more serious brethern in the inequality of coverage.
21 February 2008
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
News is something somebody doesn't want printed; all else is advertising.
--William Randolph Hearst
This was going to be a fairly leisurely article about media coverage of the current political campaign with a nice historical twist about newspapers, television, and cable outlets, and then the New York Times dropped its bombshell about Senator McCain. They placed an article filled with innuendo on the front page of what is considered the nation's "Newspaper of Record" complete with attractive photo of the lady concerned in formal dress obviously out for an evening. This may or may not turn out to be true, but the coverage by cable news in the light of the history of newspapers and "slanted" articles is very interesting.
Once upon a time every city of any size in the United States had a minimum of two papers. Large cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco had more, as well as tabloids, ethnic publications, weekly papers, and political journals. There were nationwide chains and major owners such as Hearst, Pulitzer, and Ochs.
With the 20th century an ethos developed where the editorial and news sections were separate. The editorial pages could slant any way the owners wanted, but the news section was to adhere to "just the facts" of - "What, When, Why, Where, How and Who". The rise of the wire services, which distributed stories to many different papers, of many different political persuasions reduced the emphasis on personal opinion in news stories.
Take a fun break and look for a picture starring Clark Gable and Doris Day, "Teacher's Pet". It is a delightful mix of romantic comedy, musical, and a fairly accurate look at newspaper coverage of the time period. Stay through to the end of the clip for a good newspaper story, complete with "slant". If you rent it later, it also has one of the best "hangover" scenes ever courtesy of Gig Young who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.
By the 1960s, radio and TV news had cut into the circulation of newspapers. Although most people turned first to the broadcast media for fast-breaking news, many relied on newspapers to fill in needed details -- just as they do today. (The text of a typical radio or TV newscast wouldn't even fill one page of an eight or nine column newspaper. Usually, one newspaper was considered "liberal" while the other was "conservative". Still the readership had declined to the point that in most cities there was only one paper due to a merger between the morning an evening papers.
The three major TV networks and the line up of the respected newsmen who had come out of WW II were straightforward newscasts. They were so respected for their accuracy that there is the famous LBJ quote, after a critical report on the Vietnam War, "if we've lost Walter Cronkite, we've lost the country." For years the national anchors and their news departments, while somewhat stodgy, brought news to the American public. Now they were often accused of being "liberal" by conservative newspapers, but the multiple sources that balanced newspapers and TV allowed the public to find the "slant" on information that they preferred while a competing source balanced the data.
As cable has intruded on the the networks they have become more "entertainment" oriented while CNN became the major source for "News", FOX became the major source for the arch conservative view, and MSNBC concentrated on the political scene. In the current election, MSNBC has gone completely off the rails, and unfortunately, because of the lack of intense political coverage by other cable and network outlets, it has reached the point of being dangerous.
Now I will state up front that I support Hillary Clinton for President, something that dismays my more liberal friends. I will therefor concede that I may be somewhat sensitive to the non stop bashing of women in general and the candidate in particular. When coupled with the almost fawning coverage of Senator Obama this has been a major source of frustration. I finally got to the point where I just accepted it as being part of the game of running for office, until it reached the point of Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, and Mika Brezinsky (whose father works for Obama)as the worst offenders who literally could not get five minutes into any hour without saying something negative about Senator Clinton. I can tell when a TV commentator is slanting coverage both right and left. Like it or not words have power and for some reason MSNBC decided that destroying Hillary Clinton was a mission. A couple of days ago when she had lost several primaries in a row, someone over there seemed to wake up that just maybe they had gone too far. That doesn't mean she didn't help with a poorly run campaign, but it doesn't relieve them of the guilt of betraying their profession and their audience with unfair coverage.
Before anyone thinks this is a Clinton apologia, I would be just as upset if the same techniques were used on the opposing candidate. That opportunity came with the right wing report on a Michelle Obama quote about being "proud of America." When MSNBC gets off a bandwagon it's very interesting. The Michelle Obama remark you can hear on C-SPAN. says "really proud" obviously meaning that the joy of the successes of her husband made her joyous. There was no doubt what she meant. The right wing has clipped out the word "really" which totally changes the meaning. This altered clip has been making the right wing rounds.
MSNBC plays the altered version and questioned an Obama surrogate about why Michelle wasn't proud of her country before now. In addition they keep playing the Cindy McCain remark, "I've ALWAYS been proud of my country" They have now followed this with the looped Chris Matthews video of the demand for achievements from the Texas representative even though it was obvious the man was not versed on Senator Obama's record. This is despicable. After months of non stop Clinton bashing, they finally seem to be using some of the same techniques on Obama, and it is just as rotten. Now the McCain story has blown up and they are criticizing the New York Times for lack of evidence and questioning their motivation, of course this now makes it possible to drop the Obama story while the Times/McCain story will play all day.
When networks lie, yes I said LIE via slant, additions, omissions, or the just plain ignorance of their newswriters or on-air broadcast personnel, they fail in their responsibility to the American public. We are in the process of trying to nominate the best possible person as President of the United States. That cannot be done if we cannot trust the coverage provided by a news outlet that is starting to resemble a propaganda rag such as Pravda a great deal more than they resemble lauded newscasters such as Murrow or Cronkite.
20 February 2008
For those of you who drop in on my blog, you know that I do a meme every week called "Manic Monday". The wonderful human being who invented this fun bit of inspiration is Mo of I'ts A Blog Eat Blog World
Today is Mo's birthday an event when he does something very very special called Morgepalooza. If you just want a good reason to smile today, pay him a visit. This man has a crowd of friends and regular readers for one reason: He is probably one of the sweetest human beings on the face of the earth. Even when feeling a bit down and cranky for himself, he still spreads joy and laughter to everyone else, and deserves all of the praise and good wishes he gets.
As many of you may have noticed, I have a great love for books, poetry, and words that weave a kind of magic. For that reason, I've found oodles of loverly places on the web.
Who said that? Why you just head on over to the The Quotations Page.
I've mentioned him before, but he's worth a second cheer. It's a word or phrase you've heard over and over and want to know the rest of the story. Go visit The Word Detective. If he hasn't done a story, then a little dryer but wonderful source is Etymology On Line.
Everyone must know Snopes Urban Legends by now, but just in case it is where you go to find out if that email plea for money, promise of wealth, dire warning of a virus, or if the latest slash and burn on some politician you love to hate actually has any basis in reality.
Is your library a little lacking? Would you like to read the classics without leaving home or paying for a book you might only read once? If it is out of Copyright, head for Project Gutenberg
There is a call back number on your cell phone. Where were they calling from? For that you go to Area Code By Number , and why wait for the post office to answer the phone when you can look up Zip Codes on line.
Don't call your buddy in Tokyo without checking the World Clock.
A foreign phrase has just appeared. Babel Fish will help you out in eleven different lingos, and thank you to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the term Babel Fish.
Then there are those pesky acronyms of letters that could mean anything. To look those up, use the The Acronyms Dictionary
Unfortunately, none of those languages is Latin. All those phrases you know you should know. Just cheat a bit with a trip to Yuni Words of Wisdom or EpistemeLinks. You'll be able to throw around high brow phrases with the best.
The dollar is slipping out of sight. Would you like to know just how bad it is getting out there? That means a trip to Exchange Rates
That's enough useful things to make you feel noble for the day. Later I'll tackle some of the beautiful, odd, and intriguing spots out there.
19 February 2008
Marvelous Mo of It's A Blog Eat Blog World has decreed that this Monday's word is "Two". As much as most of us would like to be paired, it's not easy to do it well which is what is behind one of my favorite motion pictures.
"When we married you were a disorganized, egotistical failure," Joanna tells Mark. "Now you are a disorganized, egotistical success."
There you have one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies: Two For The Road with one of the most beautiful theme songs ever written for a film courtesy of Henry Mancini.
If you have never seen the picture, it stars Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. In a masterpiece of editing you see them as a couple who have been married for twelve years on their road trips together, flashing back and forth between when they met and fell in love to later incidents in the marriage. It is a great "relationship" movie with all the ups and downs that can befall a couple as time and habit wear away at the first flush of being "in love" and gets replaced with a deeper if often troubling state of imperfect love as they laugh, cry, argue, betray, and ultimately can't do without each other.
Two for the Road ends with a shocking (for the time), two-word exchange between the two stars, and at least, for Audrey Hepburn, the closest thing to profanity in any of her films:
"Bitch!" says he.
"Bastard!" she replies.
And somehow you know, everything will be okay.
17 February 2008
There must be something in the water on February 17, because it seems to be associated with a great deal of music. You name the genre and somebody connected with it was born, died, debuted, danced to it, or had a hit with it on February 17.
"Secret Love" from the movie, Calamity Jane by Doris Day became number one in 1954 as well as winning the Oscar for Best Song.
In 1962, The Beach Boys started making waves with the release of "Surfin'". Gene Chandler sort of mixed up his levels of nobility with "Duke of Earl" also in 1962, and in 1976, The Eagles were flying high with their "Greatest Hits" album.
Now all of the above is good listening and great fun, but this day had some major heavy hitters as well.
First up is Swan Lake, a ballet with music by Tchaikovsky, was first performed, in Russia in 1895, and there has probably not been a night since when those lovely ladies in the white tutus haven't flapped their way onto a stage somewhere.
In 1897, the great Marian Anderson was born. Her magnificent voice took her to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and made a nation face the evils of racism. There is a short biography on line that is well worth your time to read.
QUOTE: [On prejudice]:
Sometimes, it's like a hair across your cheek. You can't see it, you can't find it with your fingers, but you keep brushing at it because the feel of it is irritating.
-- Marian Anderson
In 1982, the world lost Pianist Thelonious Monk, one of the pioneers of the bop (or bebop, if you prefer) movement in jazz, who died of a stroke in New York at the age of 64.
Finally, one of the pieces I listen to whenever the mood for an opera comes nudging for my attention. Madama Butterfly by Puccini debuted in 1904 and is absolute proof that just because something is a failure the first time, it doesn't mean you shouldn't keep trying. It has now been performed, copied, retold, reviled, and praised for 104 years. You might want to give a little bit of it a listen.
16 February 2008
Political season is in full swing, which is the best excuse for serious drinking that I know. Now there are two kinds of hard liquor in the world: Scotch and everything else. If you take it easy and work your way carefully through the following recipes, you won't care who is living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In Scotland Whiskey Means Scotch
Sweet Vermouth – Red
French Vermouth – White
Mixtures with Scotch are usually 4 to 1
(i.e. 4 jiggers of Scotch to 1 of vermouth) but do to taste
Flying Scotsman - Mix three glasses whisky, 2.5 glasses Italian Vermouth and add one tablespoon bitters and a tablespoon of sugar syrup.
Hilton Fling - Mix a measure of Dubonnet with half a measure of Drambuie. Add a dash of orange bitters and a slice of orange.
Rusty Nails - Mix a measure of Drambuie to a measure of whisky and stir well.
Manor Punch - Mix a measure of whisky, Sweet Vermouth and a dash of Drambuie and serve with a cherry. You decide whether to shake or stir...
Rob Roy - Mix a measure of whisky and Sweet Vermouth and add two dashes of Angostura bitters.
Robbie Burns - Measure of whisky mixed with Sweet Vermouth and three dashes of Benedictine.
Prince Charlie - Equal measures of Drambuie, Cognac and lemon juice.
Flora Macdonald - Mix a measure of Drambuie and dry gin to two measures of French Vermouth. Wow!
Whisky-Mac - The classic cocktail of equal parts whisky and green ginger wine or one part wine to two of whisky. Mix by holding the bottom of the glass and gently shaking.
Auld Nick - each drink has 50% whisky, 25% Drambuie and 12.5% of orange juice and 12.5% of lemon juice.
Deansgate - One measure of Drambuie, one measure of lime juice and two measures of white rum.
Ecstasy - equal measures of Drambuie, cognac and French Vermouth.
Highland Fling - mix two measures of whisky to one of Italian Vermouth and add two dashes of orange bitters. Serve with an olive.
Highland Milkmaid - using a spoon, gently add cream to the top of a generous serving of whisky.
Isle of Skye - Equal measures of Drambuie, gin and lemon juice.
Scottish Sparkle Punch - Mix a bottle of dry white wine, two-thirds of a cup of Drambuie and the juice of a lemon in a jug. Chill and, just before it is to be used, add a bottle of chilled sparkling wine and two cups of lemonade. Add plenty of ice before serving.
Tam O' Shanter - 3 glasses of whisky, 2 glasses French Vermouth, half a glass of orange juice. Shake well, add a little nutmeg and serve with an olive.
Now that you have committed every form of sacrilege possible and would like to learn how to REALLY drink scotch, go visit Max Riffner for step by step directions on how to do it right.
15 February 2008
Some of you have been freezing out there. Here is the steaming cure for the shivers from another one of the fine people out there somewhere.
Harbor Woman's Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
2 medium-large sweet potatoes or yams
2 T olive oil
1 C chopped onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1-2 small fresh hot chilies, minced (or 1 4-oz can mild green chilies)
2 t ground cumin
1/2 t dried oregano
salt to taste
fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Bake sweet potatoes at 350 degrees until slightly firm, but not soft.
Heat oil in soup pot or Dutch oven.
Add garlic and onion and saute over medium heat until golden brown.
Add remaining ingredients and heat.
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add diced sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Taste improves if allowed to stand for 1-2 hours before serving.
Reheat and serve with chopped cilantro for garnish.
14 February 2008
Mary The Teach over at Answers to the Questions tagged me to do a new Book Meme.
Here are the Rules:
1. Pick up the nearest book ( of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people & post a comment here once you post it to your blog, so I can come see.
The Source by James Michner
"From the warm rising current which has sustained it, the vulture entered the cold outer layers, descending in a great arching curve, its sharp eye fixed on the object that had just died. Speed and determination were necessary, for before long other birds would spot the lifeless target and would come swooping in to claim it, but on this day the solitary vulture was to be the angel of death and it sped down on silent wings. On the ground a small donkey lay trapped with its hind leg pinched into the fork of a desert shrub, and its efforts to extricate itself had brought exhaustion.
Now I’m supposed to tag 5 people who will let me know when theirs are completed:
Mo of It's A Blog Eat Blog World
Lois of Lowdown From Lois
Sandee of Comedy Plus
Linda of Are We There Yet
Mags of Miss Maggie Moo Talks 2 U
13 February 2008
A few days ago, I mentioned the alternate universe where politics, music and food are the norm and promised to share some of the goodies with my readers here.
Chef Sheila is a real chef (as in who do you think gave me that White House menu?). I asked her for something wonderful that the average cook could handle. Here it is just in time for Valentine's Day:
Chocolate Orange Truffles
Makes about 4 dozen truffles
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup orange marmalade, preferably bitter orange
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, such as Droste, for rolling
In a medium heatproof bowl set over a large saucepan of hot, not simmering, water, melt the butter.
Add the chocolate and melt, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from the heat.
Whisk in the marmalade and the liqueur. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Place the cocoa in a shallow medium bowl.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Using a melon baller, scoop the chilled chocolate mixture and roll between your palms to form a round truffle. (If the chocolate is too firm, let stand at room temperature to soften slightly.)
Roll the truffle in the cocoa and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Repeat with the remaining chocolate.
(The truffles can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers, and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 2 months. )
Remove the truffles from the refrigerator 10 minutes before serving
12 February 2008
Abraham Lincoln was born on this date in 1809. (Small aside, the U.S. Mint will produce a new penny next year for the bicentenniel of his birth)
If you Google "Abraham Lincoln", the search will turn up a mere 10,800,000 references, so if you are doing research you may need some additional terms to narrow things down a bit. If you go to Amazon for books on Lincoln there are more than 53,000 entries. Each year produces more and more entries. This year I would recommend Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" and on the Civil War Drew Faust's "This Republic of Suffering". There are two books on the specific subject of today's blog: Lincoln at Cooper Union by John A. Corry and Lincoln At Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President by Harold Holzer.
In 1860 Lincoln gained national fame because of his powerful speech at Cooper Union in New York City on February 27th. He toured New England making more speeches. Regarding the presidency, he wrote a friend on April 29th that "The taste is in my mouth a little." We now refer to this as a politician getting the "fire in his belly" for the Presidency. On May 18th he was nominated for president at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. At this time, Lincoln was still beardless until he received a letter from 11-year-old Grace Bedell of Westfield, New York, suggesting he grow a beard. He decided to follow her advice. Another example of the hoops politician goes through to create an "Image". Too often we put the all too human Presidents of the past on a pedestal with all their flaws erased and their virtues enshrined. For the most part the great Presidents were good, ambitious men who simply landed in very momentous times and managed to get the nation through them.
If you have never read the Cooper Union speech, this is your chance, or just print it out and tuck it away somewhere for later reference. It is worth the time and the impact on America was significant. We are not used to speeches of this length these days in a world that moves at a much faster pace. Then they were popular, well attended public events. So, if you do nothing else, try the closing sentence on for size.
In October 1859 Abraham Lincoln accepted an invitation to lecture at Henry Ward Beecher's church in Brooklyn, New York, and chose a political topic which required months of painstaking research. His law partner William Herndon observed, "No former effort in the line of speech-making had cost Lincoln so much time and thought as this one," a remarkable comment considering the previous year's debates with Stephen Douglas.
The carefully crafted speech examined the views of the 39 signers of the Constitution. Lincoln noted that at least 21 of them -- a majority -- believed Congress should control slavery in the territories, not allow it to expand. Thus, the Republican stance of the time was not revolutionary, but similar to the Founding Fathers, and should not alarm Southerners (radicals had threatened to secede if a Republican was elected President).
The number of attendees for the speech had increased to the point that the Young Men's Republican Union took over as sponsors and the location was moved to the Cooper Institute. Lincoln, as an unannounced presidential aspirant, attracted a capacity crowd of 1,500 curious New Yorkers. Lincoln has often been described as awkward and ungainly, but apparently when he started to speak all doubts about his physical appearance would drop away. He was such an effective orator that audiences regularly gave him standing ovations. One young man describes his reaction as, "I forgot his clothes, his personal appearance, and his individual peculiarities. Presently, forgetting myself, I was on my feet like the rest, yelling like a wild Indian, cheering this wonderful man." The clarity of the ideas and issues, the way he pursues facts, and patterns in which he writes take him to a powerful conclusion where the words almost leap off the page making the reader wish they had been there to "cheer this wonderful man".
With a deft touch, Lincoln exposed the roots of sectional strife and the inconsistent positions of Senator Stephen Douglas and Chief Justice Roger Taney. He urged fellow Republicans not to capitulate to Southern demands to recognize slavery as being right, but to "stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively."
Mr. President and fellow citizens of New York: - The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the inferences and observations following that presentation.
In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in "The New-York Times," Senator Douglas said: "Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now."
I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting point for a discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed by Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: "What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?"
What is the frame of government under which we live? The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.
Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated.
I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood "just as well, and even better than we do now?" It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories?
Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue - this question - is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood "better than we." Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it - how they expressed that better understanding?
In 1784, three years before the Constitution - the United States then owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other, the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting slavery in that Territory; and four of the "thirty-nine" who afterward framed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on that question. Of these, Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory. The other of the four - James M'Henry - voted against the prohibition, showing that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.
In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the only territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the Confederation; and two more of the "thirty-nine" who afterward signed the Constitution, were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were William Blount and William Few; and they both voted for the prohibition - thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the Ordinance of '87.
The question of federal control of slavery in the territories, seems not to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the "thirty-nine," or any of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on that precise question.
In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was reported by one of the "thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Wm. S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.
This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the federal territory; else both their fidelity to correct principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.
Again, George Washington, another of the "thirty-nine," was then President of the United States, and, as such approved and signed the bill; thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government, to control as to slavery in federal territory.
No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting the State of Tennessee; and a few years later Georgia ceded that which now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded territory. Besides this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it - take control of it - even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization, they prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory, from any place without the United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so bought. This act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the "thirty-nine" who framed the original Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Read and Abraham Baldwin. They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line dividing local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.
In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States; but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804, Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part, was an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did interfere with it - take control of it - in a more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi. The substance of the provision therein made, in relation to slaves, was:
First. That no slave should be imported into the territory from foreign parts.
Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.
Third. That no slave should be carried into it, except by the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.
This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress which passed it, there were two of the "thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line properly dividing local from federal authority, or any provision of the Constitution.
In 1819-20, came and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the general question. Two of the "thirty-nine" - Rufus King and Charles Pinckney - were members of that Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding, no line dividing local from federal authority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in federal territory; while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that, in his understanding, there was some sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.
The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to discover. To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-20 - there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read each twice, and Abraham Baldwin, three times. The true number of those of the "thirty-nine" whom I have shown to have acted upon the question, which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.
Here, then, we have twenty-three out of our thirty-nine fathers "who framed the government under which we live," who have, upon their official responsibility and their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which the text affirms they "understood just as well, and even better than we do now;" and twenty-one of them - a clear majority of the whole "thirty-nine" - so acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross political impropriety and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, any proper division between local and federal authority, or anything in the Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.
Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of slavery in the federal territories, in the instances in which they acted upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known. They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local from federal authority, or some provision or principle of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted against the prohibition, on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he understands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, therefore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who voted against the prohibition, as having done so because, in their understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in federal territory.
The remaining sixteen of the "thirty-nine," so far as I have discovered, have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of federal control of slavery in the federal territories. But there is much reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested at all.
For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person, however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the "thirty-nine" even, on any other phase of the general question of slavery. If we should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as the foreign slave trade, and the morality and policy of slavery generally, it would appear to us that on the direct question of federal control of slavery in federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, would probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen were several of the most noted anti-slavery men of those times - as Dr. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton and Gouverneur Morris - while there was not one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.
The sum of the whole is, that of our thirty-nine fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty-one - a clear majority of the whole - certainly understood that no proper division of local from federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories; while all the rest probably had the same understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the text affirms that they understood the question "better than we."
But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the question manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In and by the original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I have already stated, the present frame of "the Government under which we live" consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles framed and adopted since. Those who now insist that federal control of slavery in federal territories violates the Constitution, point us to the provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, that all fix upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in the original instrument. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves upon the fifth amendment, which provides that no person shall be deprived of "life, liberty or property without due process of law;" while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution" "are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution - the identical Congress which passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, but they were the identical, same individual men who, at the same session, and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and in progress toward maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act prohibiting slavery in all the territory the nation then owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced before, and passed after the act enforcing the Ordinance of '87; so that, during the whole pendency of the act to enforce the Ordinance, the Constitutional amendments were also pending.
The seventy-six members of that Congress, including sixteen of the framers of the original Constitution, as before stated, were pre- eminently our fathers who framed that part of "the Government under which we live," which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal Government to control slavery in the federal territories.
Is it not a little presumptuous in any one at this day to affirm that the two things which that Congress deliberately framed, and carried to maturity at the same time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does not such affirmation become impudently absurd when coupled with the other affirmation from the same mouth, that those who did the two things, alleged to be inconsistent, understood whether they really were inconsistent better than we - better than he who affirms that they are inconsistent?
It is surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six members of the Congress which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who may be fairly called "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." And so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that any living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the present century, (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century,) declare that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give, not only "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live," but with them all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing with them.
Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood. I do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience - to reject all progress - all improvement. What I do say is, that if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.
If any man at this day sincerely believes that a proper division of local from federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the false belief that "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live" were of the same opinion - thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely believes "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live," used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led them to understand that a proper division of local from federal authority or some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the federal territories, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his opinion, he understands their principles better than they did themselves; and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that they "understood the question just as well, and even better, than we do now."
But enough! Let all who believe that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better, than we do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they acted upon it. This is all Republicans ask - all Republicans desire - in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guarantees those fathers gave it, be, not grudgingly, but fully and fairly, maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.
And now, if they would listen - as I suppose they will not - I would address a few words to the Southern people. I would say to them: - You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us a reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to "Black Republicans." In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of "Black Republicanism" as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite - license, so to speak - among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges and specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify.
You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes an issue; and the burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our party has no existence in your section - gets no votes in your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the issue? If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin to get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we shall get votes in your section this very year. You will then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section, is a fact of your making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault is primarily yours, and remains until you show that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought to have started - to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section; and so meet it as if it were possible that something may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you really believe that the principle which "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live" thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is in fact so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment's consideration.
Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional parties given by Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Washington gave that warning, he had, as President of the United States, approved and signed an act of Congress, enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the Government upon that subject up to and at the very moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it, he wrote LaFayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure, expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time have a confederacy of free States.
Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or in our hands against you? Could Washington himself speak, would he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? We respect that warning of Washington, and we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right application of it.
But you say you are conservative - eminently conservative - while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the "gur-reat pur-rinciple" that "if one man would enslave another, no third man should object," fantastically called "Popular Sovereignty;" but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge or destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.
Again, you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we made it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist, your innovation; and thence comes the greater prominence of the question. Would you have that question reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that old policy. What has been will be again, under the same conditions. If you would have the peace of the old times, readopt the precepts and policy of the old times.
You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry! John Brown!! John Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man and proving the fact. If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for asserting it, and especially for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make the proof. You need to be told that persisting in a charge which one does not know to be true, is simply malicious slander.
Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair, but still insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. We know we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not held to and made by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon us, you could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declarations are accompanied with a continual protest against any interference whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves. Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt. True, we do, in common with "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live," declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not hear us declare even this. For anything we say or do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know it but for your misrepresentations of us, in their hearing. In your political contests among yourselves, each faction charges the other with sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood and thunder among the slaves.
Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were before the Republican party was organized. What induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which, at least three times as many lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? You can scarcely stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that Southampton was "got up by Black Republicanism." In the present state of things in the United States, I do not think a general, or even a very extensive slave insurrection is possible. The indispensable concert of action cannot be attained. The slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can incendiary freemen, black or white, supply it. The explosive materials are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be supplied, the indispensable connecting trains.
Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for their masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true. A plot for an uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the life of a favorite master or mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule; and the slave revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, but a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected with slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, averted the calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts extending to a score or so, will continue to occur as the natural results of slavery; but no general insurrection of slaves, as I think, can happen in this country for a long time. Whoever much fears, or much hopes for such an event, will be alike disappointed.
In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, "It is still in our power to direct the process of emancipation, and deportation, peaceably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly; and their places be, pari passu, filled up by free white laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held up."
Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the power of emancipation is in the Federal Government. He spoke of Virginia; and, as to the power of emancipation, I speak of the slaveholding States only. The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the power of restraining the extension of the institution - the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall never occur on any American soil which is now free from slavery.
John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed. That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts, related in history, at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. The eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one case, and on New England in the other, does not disprove the sameness of the two things.
And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of John Brown, Helper's Book, and the like, break up the Republican organization? Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling - that sentiment - by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the ballot-box, into some other channel? What would that other channel probably be? Would the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation?
But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial of your constitutional rights. That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right, plainly written down in the Constitution. But we are proposing no such thing.
When you make these declarations, you have a specific and well-understood allusion to an assumed Constitutional right of yours, to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. But no such right is specifically written in the Constitution. That instrument is literally silent about any such right. We, on the contrary, deny that such a right has any existence in the Constitution, even by implication.
Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. But waiving the lawyer's distinction between dictum and decision, the Court have decided the question for you in a sort of way. The Court have substantially said, it is your Constitutional right to take slaves into the federal territories, and to hold them there as property. When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it was made in a divided Court, by a bare majority of the Judges, and they not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that it is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another about its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken statement of fact - the statement in the opinion that "the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution."
An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property in a slave is not "distinctly and expressly affirmed" in it. Bear in mind, the Judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that such right is impliedly affirmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their veracity that it is "distinctly and expressly" affirmed there - "distinctly," that is, not mingled with anything else - "expressly," that is, in words meaning just that, without the aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other meaning.
If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right is affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to others to show that neither the word "slave" nor "slavery" is to be found in the Constitution, nor the word "property" even, in any connection with language alluding to the things slave, or slavery; and that wherever in that instrument the slave is alluded to, he is called a "person;" - and wherever his master's legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is spoken of as "service or labor which may be due," - as a debt payable in service or labor. Also, it would be open to show, by contemporaneous history, that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of speaking of them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the idea that there could be property in man.
To show all this, is easy and certain. When this obvious mistake of the Judges shall be brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?
And then it is to be remembered that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live" - the men who made the Constitution - decided this same Constitutional question in our favor, long ago - decided it without division among themselves, when making the decision; without division among themselves about the meaning of it after it was made, and, so far as any evidence is left, without basing it upon any mistaken statement of facts.
Under all these circumstances, do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government unless such a court decision as yours is, shall be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political action? But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!" To be sure, what the robber demanded of me - my money - was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, can scarcely be distinguished in principle.
A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all parts of this great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even though the southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we possibly can. Judging by all they say and do, and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them.
Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered to them? We know they will not. In all their present complaints against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them, if, in the future, we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not. We so know, because we know we never had anything to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us from the charge and the denunciation.
The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.
These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas' new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.
I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, "Let us alone, do nothing to us, and say what you please about slavery." But we do let them alone - have never disturbed them - so that, after all, it is what we say, which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we cease saying.
I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, demanded the overthrow of our Free-State Constitutions. Yet those Constitutions declare the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis, than do all other sayings against it; and when all these other sayings shall have been silenced, the overthrow of these Constitutions will be demanded, and nothing be left to resist the demand. It is nothing to the contrary, that they do not demand the whole of this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally right, and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal right, and a social blessing.
Nor can we justifiably withhold this, on any ground save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and constitutions against it, are themselves wrong, and should be silenced, and swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality - its universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its extension - its enlargement. All they ask, we could readily grant, if we thought slavery right; all we ask, they could as readily grant, if they thought it wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the precise fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?
Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored - contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man - such as a policy of "don't care" on a question about which all true men do care - such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance - such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.
11 February 2008
As with Batgirl and Wonder Woman, I have a secret identity, or at least several alternate lives that sometimes crop up here. I am absolutely mad about politics, adore music, think all history is repetitious, believe that everyone should do a family tree and love great recipes. This means that there are a multitude of blogs that cater to one or more of my great loves. There is one place where it all sort of comes together simply because of a great group of people (including all the ones who are so benighted as to not instantly agree with me). They talk politics left, right, and center. They discuss family and personal events. Connections to articles of all sorts of interests get linked, and You Tube gets a major workout, usually by the night shift. The place is also blessed with chefs both formal and amateur. Therefor as a regular feature, I am going to start sharing some of their recipes because good food is always a gift from the heart.
First Up: Nanny MM's Old Borunda Stacked Red Chile Enchiladas
Red Chile Sauce
12 red chiles,seeded amd stemmed
3 garlic cloves minced
2 Tbs vegetable oil
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. dried mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. gd black pepper
3 Tbs. hot veg oil for dipping the tortillas
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mont Jack or Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped onions
Preheat the oven to 450. Fill a large pot with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the chiles. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Place the chiles, onion, garlic, and 3 cups water in a blender and blend until well pureed, apprx 5 minutes on high. Strain the puree, extracting as much of the pulp as possible. Discard the remaining skin.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the flour with the oil for 2 to 3 minutes to make a blond roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the strained puree, salt, pepper, and oregano to the roux, stirring constantly until it thickens . Set aside. (This may be used in other recipes calling for Red Chile Sauce.)
To make the enchiladas, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium -high heat for 3 minutes. Using tongs, place a tortilla in the hot oil for 30 sec or until soft and slightly browned. Drain on absorbant paper and allow to cool before handling.
Ladle a thin layer of sauce into a baking dish large enough to accommodate 4 stacks of tortillas. Place 4 tortillas in the dish and ladle some more sauce over each. Sprinkle with cheese and chopped onions, add another tortilla, and repeat. Top with a third tortilla, and sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and onions.
Bake for 10 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts.
While the enchiladas are baking, fry the eggs sunny-side up.
Place each stack of enchiladas on a plate and divide the remaining suace among the plates.
Serve immediately with a sunny side up egg on top.
Variation: Instead of stacking the enchiladas, divide the cheese and onions evenly among the tortillas (reserving some for the top) and roll the enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese and onions and bake. Omit egg..
And just to prove to Dog's Eye View's surfer ears that just because a song come from a musical, it doesn't mean it is bad; and for Brian - What's so bad about class?: Here is my favorite "Heart" Song sung by the classy entertainer who will always have a piece of mine.