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More sequester pain: White House cancels tours
By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times
“…The White House announced Tuesday that it was canceling all public tours of the president’s home because of the sequester spending cuts.
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours,” the White House said in an email.
The notice comes as both the White House and Congress try to find cuts to their own budgets as part of $85 billion in cuts to the entire government.
As President Obama was returning from visiting wounded veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center, a reporter shouted a question about the decision to cancel the tours as Mr. Obama was walking from Marine One to the Oval Office.
He simply smiled and waved.
At the Capitol, staffers who use the building’s West Front entrance that looks out on the National Mall were told Tuesday that door would be closed as of next week in order to save money. …”
By Kathleen HennesseyMarch 5, 2013
“… The White House has been struggling to highlight cutbacks at federal agencies now that the so-called sequester has hit. On Tuesday, it found one close to home.
Tours of the executive mansion will be canceled starting March 9, the White House announced, citing “staffing reductions resulting from sequestration.” The tours will not be rescheduled and the freeze will be in effect “until further notice.”
The cancellation will annoy plenty of tourists who tour the White House after securing their tickets well in advance through their elected representative’s office. It will also certainly annoy those congressional offices that must begin notifying disappointed constituents.
“We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring touring season,” the White House said in a recorded message on the tour hotline.
Within hours of the announcement, Republicans began to criticize the decision as a stunt. One GOP congressman offered his own solution to the budget cutting at the White House. In an amendment to a bill to fund the government, Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert proposed that none of the money “may be used to transport the president to or from a golf course until public tours of the White House resume.”
The automatic budget cuts are a result of a deficit-reduction deal signed into law in 2011. Lawmakers and the White House agreed to the across-the-board cuts, hoping that the prospect of finding $85 billion in immediate savings would spark compromise on a broader deficit and debt-reduction deal. It did not.
In the lead-up to the budget cuts, which kicked in on Friday, the White House tried to pressure Republican lawmakers to reach a deal by highlighting the pain that would come from axing federal services. But its top spokespeople on the matter occasionally overstepped. …”
White House cancels tours over sequester cuts, as lawmakers call decision political
“…Sorry, Washington-bound spring-breakers. Your White House tours have been canceled.
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will cancel all tours starting this weekend, due to sequester cuts. The move prompted swift condemnation from Republican lawmakers, who described the decision as the latest attempt to make the sequester seem worse than it is.
“It’s politically motivated,” Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told Fox News. “It seems childish — take my ball and go home.”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, declared in a statement that “the people have been banned from the people’s house.”
The announcement is the latest from the administration about the impact of the cuts that went into effect last Friday. Congressional staffers received a terse email saying White House tours would be canceled effective this Saturday.
The email cited “staffing reductions” from the sequester.
“Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours,” the notice said. “We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular Spring touring season.”
White House tours, which are self-guided, are typically scheduled through members of Congress. Visitors can request a tour through their representative up to six months in advance.
Anyone arriving after Saturday, though, is in for a disappointment.
A recorded message on the White House visitor’s hotline Tuesday confirmed that the tours will soon be nixed until “further notice.”
A senior administration official later explained to Fox News that the cancellation arose from Secret Service staffing decisions. According to the Secret Service, officers normally assigned to the public tours are being reassigned to other posts. The Service says the move will reduce costs and “ultimately reduce the number of potential furloughs necessary by our agency.”
Cramer said if he were to give the administration the benefit of the doubt, he could see White House tours being on the list of nonessential items. He said he doesn’t think they’ll close the White House to the public forever.
Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said the decision is just a bid to pressure Republican members to change course on the sequester — he said it would not be successful.
But Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, told Fox News this is another reason why both sides should figure out a compromise. She said the closure of White House tours will be “alarming” for children coming to D.C. for spring break.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival also attracts droves of tourists in late March and early April, though the White House can no longer be on their itinerary.
The administration has announced a raft of expected cutbacks in response to the sequester. The Defense Department, and other federal agencies, are planning to furlough thousands of workers to save money. Congress also announced that it would cut back on foreign travel.
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Go see Lincoln — now, now, now!
Raymond Thomas Pronk
President Lincoln meets with advisers to discuss the timing for passing the 13th Amendment
“Lincoln,” the film, is a riveting and moving masterpiece of an historical drama that covers the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life and his efforts to pass through Congress the 13th Amendment and end the Civil War.
Lincoln is played by Daniel Day-Lewis, who spent a year researching the life and time of the president. Lewis’s memorable performance transforms Lincoln from a white marble statue in Washington, D.C., to an in-the-flesh father, husband, lawyer, storyteller, politician, strategist and visionary on the screen. His performance should earn Day-Lewis another Oscar, which would be his third Academy Award for best actor.
The focus of the movie is Lincoln’s efforts in January 1865, with the assistance of his close adviser and Secretary of State William Seward (played by David Strathairn), to round up enough Democratic and Republican votes to pass a bill in the House of Representatives that would lead to the passage of the 13th Amendment that would abolish slavery in the United States. Lincoln directs Seward to enlist three unscrupulous political agents to offer patronage jobs, once they leave Congress in March, to lame-duck Democrats, who lost their seats in the November 1864 election, in exchange for their voting for the bill in January.
Lincoln seeks the assistance of Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), leader of the abolitionist movement and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, to secure the votes of radical Republicans in the House.
Lincoln also needs the votes of all the conservative Republicans in the House. To accomplish this, Lincoln seeks the help of Preston Blair (Hal Holbrook), founder of the Republican Party, and unofficial adviser to Lincoln. Blair gives Lincoln his support provided he is given the authority to go to Richmond, Va., the capitol of the Confederacy, to initiate peace talks.
Blair is successful in getting the Confederacy to send a three-man peace delegation headed by the Confederate States vice president Alexander Stephens (Jackie Earle Haley), that is delayed en route by Lincoln in order to first get the emancipation bill through Congress. The bill almost fails at the last moment when the Democrats disclose to the House the rumor that a Confederate peace delegation is in Washington. Lincoln replies to the rumor by sending a misleading message to the House and the historic bill passes on Jan. 31.
Lincoln finally meets with the Confederate peace delegation on Feb. 3, 1865, in Hampton Roads on the River Queen steamboat. The meeting ends in failure because Lincoln offers no concessions and demands the end of slavery as a condition for peace — the unconditional surrender of the South.
The Civil War’s massive death toll exceeding 600,000 and destruction are graphically illustrated on screen with Lincoln’s visit on April 3 to the Petersburg battlefield after the Union victory to meet with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant (Jared Harris).
“Lincoln” is a Hollywood blockbuster film with record box-office receipts of more than $175 million and 12 Academy Award nominations. The film faces stiff competition at the box office and at the Academy Awards from the films “Argo”, “Les Miserables”, “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty”.
I believe Lincoln will win at least five Academy Awards including best picture, actor (Day-Lewis), director (Steven Spielberg), adapted screenplay (Tony Kushner), and cinematography (Janusz Kamiński) at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 24.
Celebrate the anniversary of the birth of this historic president on Feb. 12, 1809 or the Presidents’ Day and the Washington’s Birthday holiday on Feb. 18 by seeing “Lincoln”.
Film rating: A
Raymond Thomas Pronk is host of the Pronk Pops Show on KDUX web radio from 3-5 p.m. Fridays and author of the companion blog http://www.pronkpops.wordpress.com/
Lincoln Official Trailer #1 (2012) Steven Spielberg Movie HD
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by Kelly Candaele
“…ONE OF THE MOST gratifying aspects of Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln has been the debate that its release has generated among historians and journalists, a debate more important than the movie itself. What were the complex dilemmas that Lincoln faced as President? What were the political realities and conduct of the time? How should we interpret the decisions that Lincoln and others made? What role did slaves and free blacks play in their own liberation?
Despite the fact that the film focuses on a short period of time in Lincoln’s presidency and deals primarily with the political cut and thrust associated with the passage of the 13th Amendment, there is a real sense in which the film can be described as deeply philosophical. Lincoln is portrayed as a man of discipline, concentration, and energy, all characteristics that sociologist Max Weber defined as part of the serious politician’s vocation. By forging an effective and realized political character — one aspect of Weber’s definition of charismatic authority — an astute politician can change the nature of power in society. By controlling his all-too-human vanity, he can avoid the two deadly political sins of lack of objectivity and irresponsibility. For Weber, a certain “distance to things and men” was required to abide by an “ethic of responsibility” for the weighty decisions that leaders are often required to make.
Lincoln has always been a man for all political seasons. There is Lincoln the principled politician, who believed that war was a necessary and legitimate means to sustain the Union; Lincoln the timid compromiser, who as late as 16 months into the war declared that if he “could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it”; and Lincoln the reconciling healer of “With malice toward none, with charity for all,” of the Second Inaugural.
Conservative New York Times writer David Brooks argued in a November 22 column that it was Lincoln’s internal strength and ability to compromise that allowed for the possibility of public good. For Brooks, the temptations of fame and ideological rigidity are what undermine the average politician’s ability to compromise. Weber called the losers in that wrestling match with fame, political “windbags.”
But for liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, it was Lincoln’s principled stand on the 13th Amendment and the need to ban slavery that accounts for his iconic status as one of our greatest Presidents. In an October 19 piece, Dionne encouraged Obama to “follow Lincoln’s example” by refusing to compromise with current economic and financial injustice.
While most political journalists have viewed the film with an eye on the current political stalemate, our most prominent historians have looked for accuracy and context.
Columbia University Professor Eric Foner, one of the most eminent historians of the Civil War and Reconstruction, sees the film as an “inside the beltway” rendition of the period. In a recent interview on Jon Wiener’s KPFK radio show, Foner points out that during the period that the movie covers, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Union Army was marching through South Carolina. Slaves, in full-scale rebellion, were seizing plantations and “occupying” the land that they had worked. Slavery was “dying on the ground,” Foner insisted, not just in the House of Representatives. In Lincoln, “We are back to the old idea of Lincoln freeing the slaves by himself,” Foner says, reinforcing a one-dimensional view of a complicated historical process. The problem is not what the movie shows but what it doesn’t show. Additionally, as Foner points out in his Pulitzer Prize wining book, The Fiery Trial, Lincoln was “non-committal” during the failed 1864 attempt by Congress to pass the 13th Amendment. This was at a time when abolitionists, including the Women’s National Loyal League headed by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were delivering “monster” petitions to congress urging them to pass the amendment. They had gathered 400,000 signatures by mid 1864, but Lincoln was pushing for state-enacted emancipation in the border-states and occupied south.
Lincoln was also a “passive observer” of Senator Charles Sumner’s “crusade” to pass legislation that would allow blacks to carry mail, ride on streetcars, and testify in Federal courts in the District of Columbia, although he signed the bills that managed to pass in Congress. It was not until John C. Fremont was nominated for President in May 1864 — as a challenge to Lincoln — that Lincoln encouraged his party to embrace a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.
Foner also challenges the “race against time” plot of the movie, whereby recalcitrant Republicans and pro-slavery Democrats stall the work of Congress while a Confederate peace initiative threatens to undermine the amendment’s only chance at passage. In reality, Lincoln had told the lame-duck congress that if they did not pass the amendment he would call a special session of the new Congress in March of 1865, made up of enough Republicans (elected that November) to easily pass the amendment.
Historian James Oakes, in his book Freedom National — The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, published in early December, suggests that Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner might have that part of the history right. Oakes points out that a large number of Republicans felt that the amendment abolishing slavery was a “civil” rather than “military” measure, and that the basis for changing the constitution was thus linked to the winning of the war. As the war’s end drew closer, the justification for the 13th Amendment was potentially undermined.
In an email exchange with me about his book and the movie, Oakes speculates that Lincoln and his Republican allies were worried that public support for the passage of the amendment would dissipate as the exigencies of war diminished. “If abolition were imposed AFTER [Oakes’s caps] the South surrendered it might seem vindictive to northern voters, or voters might think Republicans were liars or were disingenuous for having claimed that abolition was a war measure,” Oakes wrote. Although this argument does not appear in the film, it was a central theme for New York Congressman Fernando Wood, the Democratic attack dog in Congress and in the film.
What Oakes finds more troubling in terms of historical accuracy is the scenario set up by Kushner, whereby conservative Republicans (represented in the film by Montgomery Blair) and Radical Republicans had to be brought in line to defeat the Democrats and pass the amendment. Oakes points out that the Republicans were united all along, as demonstrated by the House vote to pass the 13th Amendment that took place the previous July. There was only one Republican “no” vote at that time, cast by Ohio Republican James M. Ashley. Ashley was a strong supporter of the amendment, but realizing the amendment was about to lose, he voted no as a procedural maneuver that would allow him to call for reconsideration of the amendment when Congress returned in December.
Blair, who had represented Dred Scott in the famous Supreme Court case, was Lincoln’s Postmaster General until he was replaced in late 1864. Blair had influence in Maryland and Missouri and was called upon to secure Border State Unionist votes, not to cajole conservative Republicans. Between July 1864 — when Democrats and Border State congressman had defeated the amendment — and January 1865, both Maryland and Missouri had abolished slavery. So Congressmen who had represented slave states the previous July were representing free states in January. They were the Congressmen that Blair went after.
Historians and journalists will and should continue debating the historical accuracy and limited context of the film, especially the invisibility of blacks as central participants in their own liberation.
In his blog, Brooklyn College Professor Corey Robin quotes from the 1992 book Slaves No More (by Ira Berlin et.al.), making it clear that despite Lincoln’s great accomplishment, historians overturned long ago a Lincoln-centered view of emancipation. The destruction of slavery was:
[A] process by which slavery collapsed under the pressure of federal arms and the slaves’ determination to place their own liberty on the wartime agenda. In documenting the transformation of a war for the Union into a war against slavery, it shifts the focus from the halls of power in Washington and Richmond to the plantations, farms, and battlefields of the South and demonstrates how slaves accomplished their own liberation and shaped the destiny of a nation.
The relegating of African Americans to secondary roles, even in films where black civil rights is the central topic (2011’s The Help is a recent example) is unfortunately the rule rather than the exception. But on the positive side, Lincoln has accomplished something that historian and literary critic Irving Howe suggested is very rare for American artists: the ability to portray politics as “a distinctive mode of social existence with manners and values of its own.”
The history of slavery, its origins, extirpation, and consequences, becomes more fascinating and illuminating once the context is expanded. Robin Blackburn’s new book The American Crucible — Slavery, Emancipation and Human Rights argues that the success of anti-slavery movements involved some combination of class struggle, war, and a re-casting of the state’s relationship to the claims of property — New York Congressman Fernando Wood, for instance, spoke against the 13th Amendment as a “tyrannical destruction of individual property.” Wood was pointing to the broader underpinnings of both the Constitution and state law.
For Blackburn, who writes in a Marxist vein, dominant economic interests, both North and South, needed a “different type of state.” In the South, slaves, who were legally property, could run away, while northern manufacturing demanded state regulation of finance, funding for internal transportation and communications infrastructure, and tariff protection. These Unionist and Confederate “rival nationalisms” were both expansionist, the Union looking to overtake the continent and the Confederacy eyeing new slave territory in the West, the South and in Cuba. The clash, according to Blackburn, “was thus one of rival empires, as well as competing nationalisms.”
Foner also places the state in the center of Civil War and Reconstruction history, focusing on how shifting political dynamics shaped the economic and social relations that followed the abolition of slavery. Slavery was a mode of racial domination but also a system of labor that a “distinctive ruling class” was fighting to retain. The “labor question,” and what role the state would play in re-constituting a disciplined and docile labor force after the Civil War became central to the battle between former master and former slave.
It was Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln), Foner points out, who recognized the “hollow victory” that liberation would bring unless accompanied by the “destruction of the land-based political power” of the agrarian ruling classes. In Nothing but Freedom — Emancipation and Its Legacy, Foner reveals some striking similarities between post-emancipation southern politics and similar developments in the Caribbean and Africa. Struggles over immigration, labor laws, taxation, fiscal policy and the definition of property rights “reveal how much of post-emancipation politics was defined by the ‘labor problem.’ In the southern United States, sharecropping became the common solution to an economic struggle whereby resilient planters and large landowners where eventually (after Radical Reconstruction) able to deny blacks access to productive land, capital, and political power.
If this seems a bit far afield from the central focus of Lincoln, it shows how difficult — how impossible — it is to present complex historical “moments” through film. History is not a series of “moments” but is, as the recently deceased historian E.J. Hobsbawn reminded us, something that surrounds us. “We swim in the past as fish do in water, and cannot escape from it,” Hobsbawm wrote in On History. The historian’s role — from Hobsbawn’s (and Marx’s) point of view — is the examination of how societies transform themselves and how social structures factor in that process.
Getting history wrong, as Ernest Renan noted over a century ago, is an essential element in the formation of a nation. Historians will continue to inform us about whether Spielberg and Kushner got Lincoln wrong in the service of polishing a national myth. Perhaps it is an unfair criticism to direct at a two and-a-half-hour movie on one of our most important political figures, but this story of emancipation is woefully incomplete. How could it be otherwise?
Tragedy very often accompanies politics practiced a high level. Has any American President avoided making decisions about the life and death of others? Lincoln was a man able to control his vanity by casting a cold eye upon both the virtues and the corruptions of human beings. He was able to reject cynicism, that reliable psychological shield for feelings of political impotence, and this the movie demonstrates clearly.
The film succeeds in portraying Lincoln as a political man in Weber’s sense, a man of ambition who was willing to be held responsible for the results of his decisions.
Moving away from the sterile debate over whether he was a “compromiser” or a man of “principle,” the film shows he accepted the fact that, in his political life at least, there would be a constant tension between the two. …”
Spielberg’s Lincoln: A Historian’s Review
By Nicholas Roland
“… Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama chronicles the 16th president’s final months and his struggle for passage of the 13th Amendment by the House of Representatives in 1865. Lincoln’s enduring popularity means that this film will be subjected to intense scrutiny and debate by historians, movie reviewers, and culture warriors alike.
Fortunately, Lincoln is blessed with a remarkably accomplished cast. Daniel Day Lewis is Abraham Lincoln. Having supposedly read over 100 books on Lincoln in preparation for the role, he manages to convincingly replicate many aspects of Lincoln’s persona and physical aura: Lincoln’s purportedly high voice, his wry sense of humor and knack for storytelling, his slouched posture and awkward gait, and the overwhelming weariness incurred by the “fiery trial” of war all ring true.
Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Fields) is portrayed as a more or less sympathetic character, in accordance with more recent scholarship rejecting long-standing depictions of Mrs. Lincoln as a shrew, possibly suffering from a mental illness. Fields plays a First Lady who is grief-stricken over the loss of her son Willie and weary from the stress of a wartime presidential marriage. During a scene at a White House reception, she draws on her social training as a daughter of the Kentucky elite to skillfully defend against political critics.
Secretary of State William H. Seward (David Strathairn) also appears as an important source of support for Lincoln. Seward cuts patronage deals with lame duck Democratic Congressmen in order to help secure the passage of the 13th Amendment and acts as a sort of political muse to Lincoln. Seward harangues and cajoles Lincoln on policy and political strategy but ultimately serves as a loyal ally in carrying out Lincoln’s intent, a depiction born out in the historical record.
Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) is also a convincing secondary character, albeit with some historical problems. A leader of the radical wing of the Republican Party, Stevens is accurately portrayed as an advocate of racial equality and a vehement opponent of secessionists. However, a scene revealing the purported relationship between Stevens and his African-American housekeeper risks conveying the sense that this relationship was the primary motivation for Stevens’ crusade for the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.
Despite the excellent performances turned in by the star-studded cast, Lincoln has a number of shortcomings from a historian’s point of view. Based on Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film is at times a taut political thriller and at times the inspirational story of the final abolition of American slavery. The choice to focus on the last few months of Lincoln’s presidency is appropriate given the ultimate outcome of the American Civil War: the defeat of the Confederacy and the end of legal slavery. However, this narrow focus glosses over Lincoln’s famously ambiguous views on slavery and racial equality.
Spielberg’s Lincoln appears committed to rapidly ending slavery and even suggests that suffrage might eventually be extended to black men. In his lifetime, Lincoln was consistently criticized by radical Republicans and African-American leaders such as Frederick Douglass for his equivocation on slavery and lenient plans for Reconstruction. Lincoln seems to have held a lifelong commitment to the free-soil ideology that every man, white or black, has the right to earn for himself by the sweat of his brow. Despite this conviction, Lincoln repeatedly stated that he wished to preserve the Union, either with or without slavery. Lincoln viewed the Emancipation Proclamation and the enlistment of black troops as a wartime expedient to preserve the Union.
To its credit, Lincoln does make some references to contradictory statements Lincoln made earlier in his presidency about slavery.
Despite this nod toward the complexity of Lincoln’s political career, Spielberg risks reviving the Great Emancipator myth. The best evidence suggests that Abraham Lincoln personally abhorred slavery as an institution while simultaneously denying the concept of racial equality.
Some historians have argued that Lincoln’s personal beliefs underwent a significant change during the last year of the Civil War, and Lincoln did in fact suggest to the reconstructed government of Louisiana in 1864 that “very intelligent” black men and “those who have fought gallantly in our ranks” might be given access to the ballot box. As depicted by the film, during the 1864 Presidential campaign Lincoln threw his support behind passage of the 13th Amendment and was active in securing its passage in 1865. But he never became a radical abolitionist like Thaddeus Stevens, or an outright advocate of racial equality. Lincoln continued to put forth plans for the resettlement of freedmen to the Caribbean even after issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and possibly even after the passage of the 13th Amendment.
Too narrow of a focus on the actions of Lincoln and other white politicians unfortunately downplays the role played by both enslaved and free African Americans in the Civil War-era struggle for freedom. Black characters largely appear passive in Spielberg’s account. Kate Masur points out that White House servants Elizabeth Keckley and William Slade were deeply involved in the free black activist community of Washington, D.C. Instead of appearing as dynamic characters within the President’s household, they are relegated to cardboard roles as domestics. The most assertive black character in the movie is a soldier who confronts the President about past ill-treatment and future aspirations. Lincoln artfully deflects the soldier’s concerns and the scene ends with the soldier quoting the Gettysburg Address. The one-dimensional black characters in Lincoln are unrecognizable as depictions of African Americans during the Civil War.
Early in the war, when Lincoln strenuously wished to avoid confronting slavery, black enslaved workers fled to federal lines and congregated around federal camps such as Fortress Monroe, Va. Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 in reaction to this development, marking the first movement by the federal government to separate rebellious slaveholders from their enslaved workers. While Lincoln continued to insist that the war was a struggle to preserve the Union, African Americans did not wait for the Emancipation Proclamation to turn the war into much more than a sectional conflict. Slavery was destroyed as much by their individual actions as by the political workings of white politicians.
The film also has a number of smaller inaccuracies and stylistic issues. For example, Alexander H. Coffroth is depicted as a nervous Pennsylvania Democrat pressured into voting for the 13th Amendment. Coffroth actually served as a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral, indicating that he was more than a simple political pawn of the White House. And in a scene supposedly taking place after the fall of Richmond and Petersburg, Lincoln solemnly rides through a horrific battlefield heaped with hundreds of bodies. A battlefield such as this would likely represent one of the worst instances of combat in the Civil War. Richmond and Petersburg fell primarily due to General Ulysses S. Grant’s maneuvering to cut Confederate supply lines rather than through bloody fighting on the scale Spielberg depicts. Lincoln did in fact visit Richmond after it had fallen and was greeted there by hundreds of jubilant freed slaves in the streets of the former Confederate capital. The chance to depict such a poignant scene is not taken up by the filmmakers in favor of a continued focus on the political and military struggle waged by white Americans.
Perhaps most inexplicably, the movie does a poor job of identifying the various cabinet officials and Congressmen central to the plot. The average moviegoer is likely to be somewhat unsure of the exact role or importance of several characters. This is especially curious given the fact that obscure members of a Confederate peace delegation such as Confederate Senator R.M.T. Hunter and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell are explicitly identified onscreen.
On the whole, Spielberg’s Lincoln is a masterful politician and a dynamic character, able to carefully mediate between his own evolving beliefs and the political realities of his age. This interpretation falls solidly in line with the mainstream of Lincoln scholarship. For an incredibly complex, sphinxlike figure such as Abraham Lincoln, perhaps we shouldn’t expect a more thorough interpretation from Hollywood.
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President Obama Takes The Oath Of Office
~President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
President Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address (1 of 3)
President Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address (2 of 3)
President Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address (3 of 3)
There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence and energy of her citizens cannot cure.
~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
President Theodore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
Lee Greenwood – God Bless The USA
Aretha Franklin, My Country Tis Of Thee, Inauguration Of Barack Obama, January 20, 2009
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Poll: Obama Should Model Himself After Reagan
“President Barack Obama should model himself after Ronald Reagan, according to Americans of both parties polled about which former president’s example to follow.
Reagan was the top choice among all voters, with 26 percent, followed by Franklin Roosevelt with 18 percent, John F. Kennedy with 17 percent, and Lincoln with 13 percent, according to a survey that Clarus Research Group compiled this past week.
“Reagan was the overwhelming favorite among Republican voters,” said Ron Faucheux, president of the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based research group. “He received 59 percent as the president GOP voters want Obama to emulate. Nobody else came close.”
On the other hand, Faucheux said, “Democrats scattered their choices more.FDR was their top pick at 27 percent and was closely followed by Kennedy, with 26 percent. Lincoln, a Republican, ranked third among Democrats.” …”
Presidential Inauguration Speeches: Look at Past Speeches and Expectations of Barack Obama’s Speech.
44th U.S. Presidential Inauguration – Barack Obama speech 1/3
44th U.S. Presidential Inauguration – Barack Obama speech 2/3
44th U.S. Presidential Inauguration – Barack Obama speech 3/3
President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address 1 of 2
President Kennedy’s Inaugural Address 2 of 2
Full text of President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address
“Senator Hatfield, Mr. Chief Justice, Mr. President, Vice President Bush, Vice President Mondale, Senator Baker, Speaker O’Neill, Reverend Moomaw, and my fellow citizens.
To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.
Mr. President, I want our fellow citizens to know how much you did to carry on this tradition. By your gracious cooperation in the transition process, you have shown a watching world that we are a united people pledged to maintaining a political system which guarantees individual liberty to a greater degree than any other, and I thank you and your people for all your help in maintaining the continuity which is the bulwark of our republic. The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions, penalizes thrift, and crushes the struggling young and the fixed-income elderly alike. It threatens to shatter the lives of millions of our people.
Idle industries have cast workers into unemployment, human misery, and personal indignity. Those who do work are denied a fair return for their labor by a tax system which penalizes successful achievement and keeps us from maintaining full productivity.
But great as our tax burden is, it has not kept pace with public spending. For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals.
You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we’re not bound by that same limitation? We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow. And let there be no misunderstanding: We are going to begin to act, beginning today.
The economic ills we suffer have come upon us over several decades. They will not go away in days, weeks, or months, but they will go away. They will go away because we as Americans have the capacity now, as we’ve had in the past, to do whatever needs to be done to preserve this last and greatest bastion of freedom.
In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price.
We hear much of special interest groups. Well, our concern must be for a special interest group that has been too long neglected. It knows no sectional boundaries or ethnic and racial divisions, and it crosses political party lines. It is made up of men and women who raise our food, patrol our streets, man our mines and factories, teach our children, keep our homes, and heal us when we’re sick–professionals, industrialists, shopkeepers, clerks, cabbies, and truck drivers. They are, in short, “we the people,” this breed called Americans.
Well, this administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunities for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. Ending inflation means freeing all Americans from the terror of runaway living costs. All must share in the productive work of this “new beginning,” and all must share in the bounty of a revived economy. With the idealism and fair play which are the core of our system and our strength, we can have a strong and prosperous America, at peace with itself and the world.
So, as we begin, let us take inventory. We are a nation that has a government–not the other way around. And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth. Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.
It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people. All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government.
Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it’s not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work–work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.
If we look to the answer as to why for so many years we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on earth, it was because here in this land we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on earth. The price for this freedom at times has been high, but we have never been unwilling to pay the price.
It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government. It is time for us to realize that we’re too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams. We’re not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. I do not believe in a fate that will fall on us no matter what we do. I do believe in a fate that will fall on us if we do nothing. So, with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal. Let us renew our determination, our courage, and our strength. And let us renew our faith and our hope.
We have every right to dream heroic dreams. Those who say that we’re in a time when there are no heroes, they just don’t know where to look. You can see heroes every day going in and out of factory gates. Others, a handful in number, produce enough food to feed all of us and then the world beyond. You meet heroes across a counter, and they’re on both sides of that counter. There are entrepreneurs with faith in themselves and faith in an idea who create new jobs, new wealth and opportunity. They’re individuals and families whose taxes support the government and whose voluntary gifts support church, charity, culture, art, and education. Their patriotism is quiet, but deep. Their values sustain our national life.
Now, I have used the words “they” and “their” in speaking of these heroes. I could say “you” and “your,” because I’m addressing the heroes of whom I speak–you, the citizens of this blessed land. Your dreams, your hopes, your goals are going to be the dreams, the hopes, and the goals of this administration, so help me God.
We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup. How can we love our country and not love our countrymen; and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they’re sick, and provide opportunity to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?
Can we solve the problems confronting us? Well, the answer is an unequivocal and emphatic “yes.” To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I’ve just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world’s strongest economy.
In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government. Progress may be slow, measured in inches and feet, not miles, but we will progress. It is time to reawaken this industrial giant, to get government back within its means, and to lighten our punitive tax burden. And these will be our first priorities, and on these principles there will be no compromise.
On the eve of our struggle for independence a man who might have been one of the greatest among the Founding Fathers, Dr. Joseph Warren, president of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of . . . On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.” Well, I believe we, the Americans of today, are ready to act worthy of ourselves, ready to do what must be done to ensure happiness and liberty for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children. And as we renew ourselves here in our own land, we will be seen as having greater strength throughout the world. We will again be the exemplar of freedom and a beacon of hope for those who do not now have freedom.
To those neighbors and allies who share our freedom, we will strengthen our historic ties and assure them of our support and firm commitment. We will match loyalty with loyalty. We will strive for mutually beneficial relations. We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale. As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever.
Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength. Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have. It is a weapon that we as Americans do have. Let that be understood by those who practice terrorism and prey upon their neighbors. I’m told that tens of thousands of prayer meetings are being held on this day, and for that I’m deeply grateful. We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free. It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years it should be declared a day of prayer.
This is the first time in our history that this ceremony has been held, as you’ve been told, on the West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on the city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.
Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man, George Washington, father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led Americans out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence. And then, beyond the Reflecting Pool, the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.
Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River, and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery, with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses of Stars of David. They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been paid for our freedom. Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier. Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, the Argonne, Omaha Beach, Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir, and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.
Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division. There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message between battalions under heavy artillery fire.
We’re told that on his body was found a diary. On the flyleaf under the heading “My Pledge,” he had written these words: “America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost, as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”
The crisis we are facing today does not require of us the kind of sacrifice that Martin Treptow and so many thousands of others were called upon to make. It does require, however, our best effort and our willingness to believe in ourselves and to believe in our capacity to perform great deeds, to believe that together with God’s help we can and will resolve the problems which now confront us.
And after all, why shouldn’t we believe that? We are Americans.
God bless you, and thank you.”
Full text of President Barach Obama’s inaugural address
OBAMA: My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”
America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Lincoln At Gettysburg
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Text of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Fourscore 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 battle-field 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 this 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.
Full text of President Lincoln’s second inaugural address
At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil-war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
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Washington & Lincolns Thanksgiving Day Proclamations
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.
(signed) G. Washington
Lincolns Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the everwatchful providence of almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN’S THANKSGIVING DAY PROCLAMATION, OCTOBER 3, 1863.
The Real Story of Thanksgiving
|RUSH: Now, the real story of Thanksgiving: “On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible,” and this is what’s not taught. This is what’s left out. “The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford’s detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims — including Bradford’s own wife — died of either starvation, sickness, or exposure.
“When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well.” They were collectivists! Now, “Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.
“He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. … Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn’t work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years — trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it — the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson,” every kid gets. “If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.” Here’s what he wrote: “‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing — as if they were wiser than God,’ Bradford wrote.
“‘For this community [so far as it was] was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense…that was thought injustice.’” That was thought injustice. “Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?” ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Bradford doesn’t sound like much of a Clintonite, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? … In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. … So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.
|“The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.’” Now, aside from this program, have you heard this before? Is this “being taught to children — and if not, why not? I mean, is there a more important lesson one could derive from the Pilgrim experience than this?” What if Bill and Hillary Clinton had been exposed to these lessons in school? Do you realize what we face in next year’s election is the equivalent of people who want to set up these original collectivists communes that didn’t work, with nobody having incentive to do anything except get on the government dole somehow because the people running the government want that kind of power. So the Pilgrims decided to thank God for all of their good fortune. And that’s Thanksgiving. And read George Washington’s first Thanksgiving address and count the number of times God is mentioned and how many times he’s thanked. None of this is taught today. It should be. Have a happy Thanksgiving, folks. You deserve it. Do what you can to be happy, and especially do what you can to be thankful, because in this country you have more reasons than you’ve ever stopped to consider.
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President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was delivered November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
President Lincoln Gettysburg Address
Lincoln At Gettysburg
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address – by Ken Burns
Fourscore 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 that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot 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.
Page one of first draft of Gettysburg Address
Second page of first draft of Gettysburg Address
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Background Articles and Videos
Gettysburg Address Audio
Gettysburg Favorite Scenes-Part 1
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Gettysburg Favorite Scenes-Part 8
Shelby Foote on Civil War generals
Battle of Gettysburg
“…The Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), fought in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as part of the Gettysburg Campaign, was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is frequently cited as the war’s turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee’s invasion of the North.
Following his success at Chancellorsville in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley for his second invasion of the North, hoping to reach as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia, and to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
The two armies began to collide at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division, which was soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south.
On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. Across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
On the third day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on Culp’s Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Pickett’s Charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-day battle. That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
Gettysburg National Cemetery
“…The cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863. The main speaker at the ceremony was Edward Everett, but it was here that Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The night before, Lincoln slept in Wills’s house on the main square in Gettysburg, which is now a landmark administered by the National Park Service. The cemetery was completed in March 1864 with the last of 3,512 Union dead were reburied. It became a National Cemetery on May 1, 1872, when control was transferred to the War Department. It is currently administered by the National Park Service as part of Gettysburg National Military Park and contains the remains of over 6,000 individuals who served in a number of American wars, from the Mexican-American War to the present day.
3,512 Union soldiers were buried in the cemetery; of these, 979 are unknown. …”
“The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and one of the most quoted speeches in United States history. It was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War, four and a half months after the Union armies defeated those of the Confederacy at the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.
Abraham Lincoln’s carefully crafted address, secondary to other presentations that day, came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but as “a new birth of freedom” that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, and that would also create a unified nation in which states’ rights were no longer dominant.
Beginning with the now-iconic phrase “Four score and seven years ago…”, Lincoln referred to the events of the Civil War and described the ceremony at Gettysburg as an opportunity not only to consecrate the grounds of a cemetery, but also to dedicate the living to the struggle to ensure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.
Despite the speech’s prominent place in the history and popular culture of the United States, the exact wording of the speech is disputed. The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address differ in a number of details and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech. …”
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