Monday, November 18, 2013

150 Years Ago Tomorrow, Lincoln Delivered the Gettysburg Address

The Civil War was started by those who were willing to destroy the United States in order to maintain the institution of slavery. In 1863, President Lincoln spoke for those who would preserve a nation conceived in liberty, having emancipated the slaves in the states in revolution against that nation, and soon to succeed in changing the Constitution to abolish slavery forever in all of the nation.

The Clansman was published in 1905 romanticizing the Ku Klux Klan, immediately made into a play, and in 1915 made into the movie, The Birth of a Nation. These led to a founding of the second Ku Klux Klan which reached a peak of power in the late 1920s.  Woodrow Wilson, a racist who segregated federal government facilities, took office as President of the United States in 1913.

In 1963, during the Centennial of the Civil War, the civil rights struggle was most acute in Birmingham Alabama. Police Chief Bull Conners was leading police violence against peaceful demonstrators and Governor George Wallace sent state troopers not to support civil rights but to help Connors forces of repression. Little girls were killed when a church was bombed, and little boys were shot dead. It was the year of Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech and of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It seems that the arrow of history is toward liberty and justice. American enemies of civil rights for minorities are less malevolent than they were 150, 100 or 50 years ago. On the other hand, where today are the charismatic progressives to match Lincoln, Kennedy and King?

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