Gettysburg Address edition
- Lincoln did not write the speech on the back of an envelope during the train ride to Gettysburg- he worked on the speech in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, making minor alterations after arriving in Gettysburg
- “Under God” is in the original speech. Secularists enjoy speculating Lincoln omitted those words, but three separate newspaper transcriptions include them- the reporters were in the crowd that day.
- There is no photograph of Lincoln giving the speech- the one known photo captures Lincoln returning to his seat after speaking… a recent discovery may show Lincoln before the speech.
- Lincoln composed the address without speechwriters. This is one of the few Presidential speeches where this can be positively asserted.
- The exact spot of the address is still in doubt. Scholars now acknowledge that both commemorative plaques in the National Cemetery are incorrect.
November 19, 1863- nice hat, Abe
Critics of the New Deal assail the consensus history that… FDR’s social programs helped the US out of the Great Depression. Their objections are based on two faulty parameters of statistical analysis:
- First, they use 1929 as a baseline for all New Deal data compiled by the Census Bureau. — WRONG. Any elementary study of economic policies in the 1920’s exposes the data as artificially enhanced by rampant speculation, unscrupulous trading, and predatory lending. These statistics in no way represent typical American economic activity.
- Second, modern economic indicators are used to examine the progress made during the 1930’s. — WRONG. Post World War II employment patterns are radically altered by the baby boom. The statistical sample is completely different from the 1930’s. The average 5.5% unemployment figure following 1970, cannot be factored against the data compiled following the grossly inflated figures from the 1920’s.
The Great Depression presented a crisis never before seen in American economic history… and required measures beyond mere market correction to address the suffering. The basic indicators of GDP and unemployment rates improve during the New Deal. The so-called Roosevelt Recession of 1938-39 must be considered an effect of the budgetary restraints forced on FDR by the newly elected Republicans in the 76th Congress.
R0bert E. Lee was an honorable man… White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was not wrong making this observation. Unfortunately, Lee’s honor too often guided him down the wrong paths in life. It was this misguided sense of honor that led him to fight for one of the worst causes in history. Once the conflict was over, Lee behaved admirably in helping the Confederate forces put down their weapons and reenter Union society.
Traitor? Noble Warrior?
Lee advised his former countrymen-
“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”
As the President of Washington College, Lee often dismissed white students who carried out violence against black residents… and did not tolerate “Lost Cause” propaganda at the school. A professor who regularly criticized US Grant received one of the famous, pointed Lee rebukes:
“Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.”
Jefferson wrote to John Holmes of the Missouri Compromise- “but this momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. it is hushed indeed for the moment. but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper.”
Wolf by the ears…
Missouri’s admission to the Union as a slave state… threatened the tenuous balance- 22 states, 11 with slavery, 11 without. Missouri was the first territory carved from the Louisiana Purchase to apply for statehood. Jefferson’s vision of America as a land of small, republican farmers was in danger of devolving further into the plantation gang labor system dominating the tidewater south.
Henry Clay of Kentucky
Henry Clay’s solution to the crisis is often reviled… by historians for perpetuating slavery and providing the United States the opportunity to conquer more land. This New Left interpretation of history overlooks the contributions Clay made to our republic during its formative years. His American System had revitalized the nation following destructive War of 1812. Clay had convinced Madison, the National Bank’s most vocal critic, to recharter it in 1816. He had rewritten the rules of the House of Representatives and established the post of Speaker as the force we know it today. Firebrands bent on defending slavery at all costs- even peace and prosperity for all- could not be allowed to derail Clay’s vision. The Missouri Compromise has to be studied from all points of view.
Clay’s Compromise saved the republic in 1820… arm-chair historians(like Jamelle Bouie @jbouie at Slate) are quick to condemn the Compromise as an extension of slavery- but what if the Civil War had started in 1820? Was there a leader like Lincoln on hand to defend the Union? Would the people of the free states supported action against secessionists? If not for Clay, the slave-holding South would have emerged from this crisis in a stronger political position. The Union may never have recovered and abolition would have been dealt a serious blow.