Gettysburg Address: Still Balderdash After 150 (+) Years | James Bovard

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“I am mystified by all the whooping on the… anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. Most of the commentators seem to believe that Lincoln was an honest man touting the highest ideals.”

Source: Gettysburg Address: Still Balderdash After 150 Years – James Bovard

November 19th of this year of grace 2019 was the 156th anniversary of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.”

Along with his “Emancipation” Proclamation, which did not emancipate a single slave (*), it is the basis for the Northern/Federalist mythologizing of both Lincoln as the preserver of the Union (which is true, although at gunpoint, and at tremendous cost to the Founders’ vision of that Union) and liberator of the slaves (which is a bald-faced lie), and the War Between the States as a “civil war” and a conflict between freedom and oppression.

Well, it was not a civil war: a civil war is a war between two or more factions for control of the central government; the WBTS was an invasion of a group of States, who wanted only to be left alone, by another group of States – at the behest of the Federal government – which was violently determined not to leave them in peace.

It was, in fact, a war between freedom and oppression; but not in the way the Lincolnites and supporters of the “Glorious Union” would like us to believe. As one commenter has accurately noted, H.L. Menken had Lincoln pegged 100 years ago:

“The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in American history… the highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.

“Think of the argument in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people, should not perish from the earth.

“It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.”

(For a more detailed treatment of Mencken on Lincoln, go here.)

And as the linked essay points out,

“Massachusetts abolitionist Lysander Spooner” – of all people! – “offered the most concise refutation to President Lincoln’s claim that the Civil War was fought to preserve a ‘government by consent.’ Spooner observed, ‘The only idea . . . ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this – that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.'”

That was certainly the case with the Federal Union, in the War Between the States (a.k.a. War of Northern Aggression)! And it has been, by and large, ever since.

On the subject of liberating the slaves: I wonder how many people who hail Lincoln as “the Great Emancipator” realize that his much-vaunted Proclamation did not emancipate a single slave. And why? Because it applied only to areas – Confederate-controlled areas – in which his writ did not run.

It specifically did not apply to any area in or held by the Union! And why was that? Because, as he was very well aware, slavery was still PERMITTED BY THE CONSTITUTION in the “Glorious Union,” and he had absolutely no authority to change that, short of a Constitutional Amendment – which did not occur until after the War (though passed by a Congress in which the Southern States were not represented early in 1865, it was not ratified by the requisite number of States until December 6th of that year).

Now, granted, he did a lot of other things he had no Constitutional authority to do! But I think he was smart enough to realize that if he tried to end slavery inside the Union without an Amendment to the Constitution, he’d be losing several more states, and most likely, the War. And he had already made it clear that he didn’t give a hoot about slavery, one way or the other, as a matter of policy – just about keeping the Union together.

The “Emancipation” Proclamation was a very narrow and (I’m sorry to say) well-designed political and military “poison pill” to make it look like he was doing something about slavery when, in fact, he wasn’t; and to dissuade nations like Britain and France who were debating coming in on the side of the Confederacy, but didn’t want to look like they were defending slavery.

Lincoln was an @$$hole – pardon me – but he was a clever @$$hole… We sometimes forget, I think, that before he was President, he was a frontier lawyer! As one might expect of such an individual, he was very good at manipulating both facts and people to advance his agenda.


Side note: Washington, DC, emancipated its slaves in 1862, with the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862, passed by the Congress and signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act ended slavery in Washington, DC, freed 3,100 individuals, reimbursed those who had legally owned them and offered the newly freed women and men money to emigrate.

A good example of the correct way to do it, as distinct from what actually happened in the aftermath of the WBTS…

 

A Pledge to the Confederate Flag, by John Field Pankow

Raise Your Battle Flag” (partial) by Celtic Confederate. – this excerpt includes footage from flag-raisings by the Virginia Flaggers. Full version may be found here.

I have not posted much of a Confederate or Southern culture and heritage nature lately, as other issues have taken center stage for the time being. But that does not mean that I have lost my passion for the Southern Confederacy, which (as a friend of mine is wont to points out) “was wrong about slavery” – although many even among the elite recognized it as a moral as well as political evil, and most Confederate soldiers never owned a single slave – “but right about everything else!”

Here, then, by permission , is a Pledge to the Confederate Flag, by my friend John Field Pankow:

I pledge my allegiance to the flag of the Confederacy and to the ideals for which it stood and stands: liberty, honor, chivalry, independence, courage, duty, and love of God, family and home.

On my honor, I promise never to forget the just cause to which so many devoted their lives. I promise to do my best to see that their proud history is truly reported and not defamed. May my voice be strong and true as I tell the story of this flag and its people to my children and their children, and all else who will listen.

And if the time comes when the flag requires my defense, may I have the courage, the strength, and the honor to defend it, at all costs, with all that I have and all that I am.

This I pledge on my sacred word of honor.

John Field Pankow

To which I would add:

(The Rev’d) Thomas H. Harbold

Of course, it could be argued that there is not one single “Confederate flag.” There were three National flags, just in the four years of the Confederacy, and many battle flags, not just “the” Battle Flag, as it has become known.

The First National (1861) was the “Stars and Bars” properly speaking – distinct from, but intentionally similar to, the “Betsy Ross” version of the Stars and Stripes – and that came in four variations (with 7, 9, 11, or 13 stars in the canton), depending on how many states were in the Confederacy at the time:

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The Second National (1863), also known as the “Stainless Banner,” was the first to incorporate the “St. Andrew’s Cross” or “saltire” design as found on the Army of Northern Virginia’s Battle Flag:

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And the third and final design, the Third National (1865), or the “Bloodstained Banner,” added a vertical red bar, primarily to prevent the flag from being mistaken for a flag of truce when hanging from a staff with no wind:

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And of course, there is the one that is best known, called “the Battle Flag,” or “the Rebel Flag”: technically the “Second Naval Jack” (1863-1865). Variations were also used by several field armies (usually square ones closer to the canton of the Second and Third National flags), most notably (as mentioned above) by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Here is the version usually seen today:

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It was this flag that has become the one most closely associated with the Confederacy in the popular imagination: loved and revered, or hated and despised, according to one’s sympathies. When people say “the” Confederate Flag, this is generally the one meant.

Needless to say, I fall into the “loved and revered” camp! And since we are still in a battle – a “cold civil war,” as some have termed it, or a “second Reconstruction,” as others have noted – it is this flag, the Battle Flag, that I think of when I read John’s Pledge. I encourage others who wish to “sign on” to the Pledge to do so in the comments. God bless, and Deo vindice (“God will vindicate us”)!

Terrorism, Chivalry, and “The Great Compromise” | Abbeville Institute

The ongoing purge from the South of Confederate symbols also reflects the triumph of Brown’s totalitarian utopianism over novelist-historian Shelby Foote’s “Great Compromise.”

Source: Terrorism, Chivalry, and “The Great Compromise” | Abbeville Institute

I have used, on a number of occasions and in a number of fora, the term “Great Compromise” or “Great Truce” to describe the situation that existed between the South and the rest of the United States from approximately the time of the Spanish-American War until fairly recently – certainly until the 1960s, and arguably (in somewhat more attenuated form) until 2015, when the current age of persecution of all things traditionally Southern and Confederate began.

But if I ever knew it had been originated by author and historian Shelby Foote, I had long forgotten it. In any case, an excellent article on the subject, and on our current distressing state of affairs, by the Abbeville Institute!

“For those unfamiliar with Foote’s expression, the term Great Compromise here refers to an unspoken understanding which supplemented the formal peace treaty signed by the opposing generals at Appomattox.

“The idea was that Southerners would accept the reality of their defeat and render dutiful service to the Union, especially in the military, even as Northerners agreed to honor Southern heroes and admitted that Southern culture and principles had made valuable contributions to America’s development.

“As a result, former Confederate general Joseph Wheeler served in the United States Army during the Spanish-American War, while the Kansas-born President Eisenhower generously praised Robert E. Lee as a man ‘selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God.'”

That we seem to have lost that sense is one of the great tragedies of the contemporary era. As this essay points out,

“A case can be made that American society is becoming increasingly coarse, sordid, and perverse precisely because America’s leaders have in recent years decided to define the South as ‘the Other.’

“The result of defining America in opposition to the South has been the rejection of Southern values like honor, Biblical tradition, forms and courtesy, and deference toward the female sex and its unique role in sustaining civilization.

“Likewise, the large-scale rejection of Southern political ideals – states’ rights and decentralization, rurally-rooted republicanism, modest and constitutionally-restrained government – has played no small part in transforming American politics into what could be best described as a cold civil war.”

Read the whole essay. It’s worth it!

Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

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Gunston Hall, with its gardens, and boxwoods lining the walk down to the River. (From the linked article.)

The years when these boxwood sent their roots into the Virginia soil were the years the American republic took root on these shores.

Source: Gunston Hall Boxwoods | Abbeville Institute

“George Mason, like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, was happiest at home, either in the fields and woods, with a good book by the hearth, or entertaining neighbors and family. Living close to the soil, time was measured by the rhythms of nature. The flow of the seasons brought different activities: planting and harvesting, fishing and hunting, visiting neighbors in winter, and strolling through the gardens in summer. There was time for church, social gatherings, dances and parties, especially during the Christmas season. All took place in the community and around the home… Traditions ran deep, with kith and kin close by and entertainments mostly homemade.”

This would be my ideal life! I cannot conceive of a better. True, today we have advances like indoor plumbing, air conditioning (!), and advanced medicine (although the way it is organized, distributed, and administered has plenty of room for improvement); but was it really necessary to give up graciousness, in exchange for these benefits? I wonder, I truly do…

In any case:

“… for George Mason, home was Gunston Hall in Fairfax County, Virginia. … Mason and many of his contemporaries loved to experiment with plants and took pride in their gardens. Gunston Hall was noted for the beautiful English boxwood that lined the walk from the house to a beautiful view of the Potomac River…

“Visitors such as Washington, Jefferson, and other patriots, neighbors and family, walked down the garden paths, and guided by the boxwood, took in the vista of the distant Potomac River, the artery of trade in this region. As children played, talk of domestic concerns and the nature of American rights and liberties was heard on these grounds…

“Now the boxwood have fallen on hard times and the decision has been made to dig them up. Experts believe that at 230 years old, the plants may be at the end of their natural life. The boxwood was planted amidst such hope, as the Colonies won their independence, and went about the process of protecting their hard won liberties. Perhaps the boxwood just does not understand how a country with so much promise could go so far astray. Nor would George Mason.”

This is barely to scratch the surface of this excellent essay, which uses the boxwood of Gunston Hall as the backdrop for a tale of the rise and fall of the America our Founders intended: – ’tis a mere appetizer, to entice one to the feast. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest! But this I will say, if the above is not sufficient enticement: might the imminent demise of Gunston Hall’s boxwood, beautiful as they have been for more than two centuries, be an emblem of the demise of other things, just as old – but things of much deeper import…? Again, I wonder!

America’s space saga showcases her common Christian culture | The Bridgehead

“It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

— Apollo astronaut “Buzz” Aldrin

Source: America’s space saga showcases her common Christian culture | The Bridgehead

It is more than a curiosity, I think, that the first action committed by human beings on the Moon, aside from operational necessities, was the receiving of the sacrament of Holy Communion by astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin:

And so [his] pastor consecrated a communion wafer and a small vial of communion wine.  And Buzz Aldrin took them with him out of the Earth’s orbit and on to the surface of the moon. He and Armstrong had only been on the lunar surface for a few minutes when Aldrin made the following public statement: 

“‘This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.’

“He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, 250,000 miles from home, he read a verse from the Gospel of John, and he took communion.”

Aldrin had originally intended to broadcast the moment to the United States and the world, but NASA – then embroiled in a legal battle with the militant atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hare, over the Apollo 8 astronauts’ Christmas Eve message from lunar orbit, when they read from the Book of Genesis, and closed with “good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas – and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth” – requested that he refrain.

Still, as the article points out, his actions, and those of his colleagues on Apollo 8, serve as proof positive that Americans still had a common, Christian culture, just 50 years ago. It is also, I would add, proof positive that scientific and technological accomplishment is not at odds with Christian faith: that faith and reason are not, or at any rate need not be, in enmity with one another.

To quote the linked article once again:

“It is fascinating to look back and realize that a mere fifty years ago, America still had a common culture. Her preeminent scientific explorers took the first opportunity when orbiting in space and setting foot on the Moon to glorify the Creator, to acknowledge Him, and to commemorate His sacrifice for mankind. They recognized that despite man’s great accomplishments, which they themselves were spearheading, men should stand in humility and awe at the reality of the Creator.

“A half-century on, the intellectual descendants of the angry atheist who sued NASA over the astronauts’ reading of Scripture on Christmas Eve have triumphed in many ways. But while they can trash the present, they cannot rewrite history—and the simple fact is that the first acts of American astronauts in space and on the Moon were the acknowledgement of God’s infinite goodness and the magnificence of his Creation.”

Amen. Alleluia! Thanks be to God, the Maker of Heaven and earth.

 

George Washington Mural, and America’s Past & Present | National Review

We’ve seen something like this fight before, in 1861 — and it didn’t end well.

Source: George Washington Mural & America’s Past & Present | National Review

“If progressives and socialists can at last convince the American public that their country was always hopelessly flawed, they can gain power to remake it based on their own interests. These elites see Americans not as unique individuals but as race, class, and gender collectives, with shared grievances from the past that must be paid out in the present and the future.”

Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. This is what we’re up against. Dark times!

 

On this day in 1981: President Reagan is shot

On this day in 1981 – toward the end of my sophomore year of high school – a deranged John Hincklely, Jr., attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, in a misguided and very nearly tragic attempt to impress actress Jodi Foster. Fortunately, he failed, but by the very breadth of a hair: Reagan had been shot under his left arm, but the bullet had ricocheted off a rib and into his lung; it had stopped less than an inch from his heart.

Three others were also wounded in the attack: White House Press Secretary James Brady, D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty, and Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, who was wounded covering President Reagan with his own body. Brady was the most seriously wounded of the four, being shot in the head and left permanently paralyzed. He unfortunately later allowed himself to be used as the poster-boy for gun control in the 1980s and ’90s.

President Reagan was severely wounded, but he was a man of tremendous toughness, both mental (until robbed of that, most sadly, by Alzheimer’s disease, in later years) and physical. The most moving episode of this incident was one we did not learn about until much later: how when they arrived at Walter Reed Medical Center, the President – in excruciating pain and weak from loss of blood – nonetheless insisted on walking into the hospital under his own power.

Once safely inside and away from the cameras of the press, he all but collapsed into the arms of the waiting medical staff, and was immediately whisked away by stretcher: but the point had been made. He did not wish America’s enemies to see her Commander-in-Chief laid low by an assassin’s bullet. That personal moral courage and strength of will is one of the reasons he will always live in my heart as my favorite President, at least of my own lifetime. God bless his memory!

He was also a man of tremendous good humor: not for nothing was he referred to as “the Great Communicator.” Historian, author, and Constitutional scholar Tara Ross commented, in her post on the subject today,

“Naturally, a little thing like being shot couldn’t dampen Reagan’s sense of humor. When he saw [his wife Nancy] at the hospital, he quipped, ‘Honey, I forgot to duck.’ On the way into surgery, he told his doctor, ‘I hope you’re a Republican.’ The doctor (who happened to be a liberal Democrat) responded with class: ‘Today, Mr. President, we’re all Republicans.’

As Reagan recovered from surgery, he was placed on a respirator to help his left lung, which had collapsed. The Gipper was still cracking jokes—even if he had to scribble them on a piece of paper. ‘I’d like to do this scene again,’ he wrote, ‘starting at the hotel.'”

She adds,

“Despite his age and the bullet wound, Reagan recovered quickly and was soon back at work, signing a bill from his hospital bed by the next day. In the end, he spent a little less than two weeks in the hospital.”

One tough cookie! But the story isn’t quite over, yet:

Later that year, while giving a speech in West Berlin, a balloon loudly popped. The President paused for the briefest of moments, glanced up with a twinkle in his eye, commented “Missed me,” and continued with his speech. The crowd, understandably, went wild with applause and cheering. He was one of a kind: God’s gift to our nation at that crucial time in our history, he was by turns inspirational, entertaining, and reassuring. Sometimes all of the above, at once!

President Reagan was President from 1981–1989 – basically throughout my “coming of age” years – and was the first President I ever voted for (in 1984). I must confess that I did not and do not agree with everything he said and did as President, but between his success in restoring America’s self-confidence following the debacle of Vietnam, his key role in bringing down the Soviet Union, and incidents such as this which revealed him as a man of great and admirable character, there is a sense in which he will always be, for me, “the” President.