Abraham Lincoln in 1863 (aged 54)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Post revised on 20 October 2013)
A House divided: 1858
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.” (Abraham Lincoln, 16 June 1858)
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:22-28, NKJV)
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 battlefield 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 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.
Oak Alley Plantation, looking towards the main house from the direction of the Mississippi River.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
President Abraham Lincoln
President Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865; aged 56), elected in 1860, opposed the expansion of slavery into the United States’ territories. I will quote Wikipedia: “Lincoln won, but before his inauguration, on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy.”[i] Abolition was about to cost a great deal of money, as will the Affordable Care Act, so seven states turned to mutiny, or a form thereof.
It is quite appropriate for a nation to defeat an abusive and tyrannical leader. But it is in no way appropriate to elect a leader only to divide a country or to hold it and the world ransom and to jeopardize his policies. A policy “is a statement of intent.” (See Policy, Wikipedia.) Everyone knew President Obama’s intent: affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act, the ACA, was passed into law, and it has now been implemented. As I wrote in a previous post, two words sum up Barack Obama’s presidency: obstructionism and scapegoating, the kind of misery inflicted on President Obama by members of Congress and various Sarah Palins.
At any rate, slavery was abolished on 31 January, 1865, but President Lincoln, a Republican, was assassinated on 14 April 1965, Good Friday, by actor John Wilkes Booth. Born on 10 May 1838, Booth died on 26 April 1865 (aged 26). He was shot by Union soldier Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894 [he may have died in a fire]). In other words, Lincoln won the election, but at the cost of his life. As written above, he was assassinated at the age of 56.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Missouri Compromise
Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery into the United States’ territories
The Kansas-Nebraska Act
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Missouri Compromise (1820) prohibited slavery in the unorganized territory of the Great Plains (upper dark green) and permitted it in Missouri (yellow) and the Arkansas Territory (lower blue area). (See the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Wikipedia.)
The Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1854
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 therefore jeopardized the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Settlers reserved the right to use popular sovereignty to determine whether or not they would have slaves. Put in a nutshell, this is the history of western expansion. Settlers were in search of cheap and submissive labour. Lingering in their mind was the memory of beautiful alleys bordered by oak trees and leading to the plantation owner’s mansion.
There were, among slave owners persons who had a degree of respect for the individuals they owned. But the principle was morally unacceptable and it culminated in a Civil War. The belligerents were the federal government, i.e. the Union, and the Confederate States of America. Three more states joined the Confederacy and Lincoln resorted to the Emancipation Proclamation (1st January 1863), an executive order.
Then and Now
Has anything changed? I don’t know, but I am seeing extremist Republicans so wish to avoid higher taxes that they are holding not only the United States, but the world hostage. Slavery is over, but the Declaration of Independence, quoted below, remains an unfulfilled ideal. This time, no one will lose slaves, but the Affordable Care Act will be expensive and the wealthy do not want to pay their fair share of taxes. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on 23 March 2010 and implemented on 1st October 2013.
Insurance Companies will no longer make huge profits by considering certain illnesses, such as cancer, as “pre-existing” conditions. The only pre-existing condition all of us have to face is our own mortality. But does anyone have to die for lack of money? And must people die in pain? Insurance Companies have long allowed innocent individuals to die prematurely and in pain. Humans have a right to work, a right to education, and a right to health, not to mention other rights.[ii] And they have duties, such as the duty to protect these rights and to protect women who also have rights. Is the health of a woman less equal than the health of a man?
Wealthy individuals can afford an education and they can afford to pay medical bills, but in the US many are saying to the other half, the less affluent and the poor: “Perish if you wish; I am safe.” (Discours sur l’inégalité, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) No one is asking that wealthy citizens take their shirt off their back and give it to less fortunate citizens. However, there has to be some equality, as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776).
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.
Taxes are the “Freedom we surrender” (Thomas Hobbes)
A number of extremist Republicans hail from states that once constituted the Confederacy. Their ancestors had slaves. But slavery is no longer acceptable. It’s a crime. Moreover, it is now part of the social contract to provide citizens with affordable health care. Nations no longer threaten their economy and global economy over a right, such as the Affordable Care Act, but it is happening in the US. No, it’s not President Obama’s fault.
As for the scary videos on the internet, one expects the worst, only to learn they are about the taxes everyone will have to pay. That is the fear these videos are instilling in people who are not always in full possession of the facts. Yes, taxes will probably go up, but, as I mentioned above, taxes are the “freedom we surrender” (Thomas Hobbes) so we can live in a civil and just society. The Affordable Care Act is a law and one doesn’t break the law. Nor does one blackmail a President whose intellectual superiority no longer needs to be proven. He is a man of colour. So this smacks of racism. There comes a point where one decides that racism should be put away once and for all.
It’s relatively simple, in the short-term. I believe Congress should raise the debt ceiling immediately! It’s an obligation. That debt was incurred during a Republication administration waging wars in the Middle East. If the debt ceiling is not raised, those who have caused delays will have abused the power invested in them by their constituents and they may have triggered a depression that will affect not only the United States, but its trading partners.
Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund (IMF)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)
President Obama said that a default would be “devastating.” Those are the sentiments expressed by Christine Lagarde, the chief of the IMF. “IMF’s Christine Lagarde warns America’s lawmakers they risk pushing world into recession.”
News: not very good
President Obama cannot give in to blackmail and he has to protect Joe Biden, the Vice-President. Mr Biden is currently under the Witness Protection Program, which is prudent. I cannot understand that the Affordable Care Act would cause the US Government to shut down. So, I’m afraid I may have to agree with those who look upon Congress as “immature.” Yet, somehow, I believe matters will be resolved.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. (Abraham Lincoln)
[i] The Confederacy (1861): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_States_of_America
[ii] Human Rights (1948): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights
Grigory Sokolov (b. 1950) plays Rachmaninov, Prelude Op.23-5
© Micheline Walker
October 14, 2013
revised October 20, 2013)
Henry Louis Stephens, untitled watercolor (c. 1863) of a man reading a newspaper with headline
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)