‘…It is not just that
that day’s four million slaves were freed; their progeny, otherwise destined to
be slaves themselves, were freed. And it is not just that the slaves current
and future were freed; their white masters were freed from the incubus of
slavery. The rest of the American population was freed from it. An institution
which was radically unjust in its very essence was overcome. It is not only
that a certain number of living Southerners were “held” in the Union; the
principle of the American Union was defended, and not only defended but given a
deep redefinition, now with equality at the center alongside freedom.’
How's this for a teaser? In
1863, in the depths of the Civil War, Lincoln proclaimed the very first
Thanksgiving holiday. Like, the nation dissolving like snow in spring and he
was into thanking - WHAT PLANET DID THIS MAN LIVE ON?
Want a Thanksgiving role
model? Try Abraham Lincoln.
Look at how Lincoln treated
the troops. He thanked them, he encouraged them, he affirmed them. They were
simple farm boys, most of them illiterate, and they were interrupting their
lives in a fairly profound way, and all because of the following principle of
Constitutional law: any attempt unilaterally to abrogate a multilateral
contract is invalid in law. Not only did Lincoln enunciate the North's war aims
in terms these farm boys would fight to maintain but he also thanked them for
joining in the fight.
And he got out of the ivory
tower of the White House to do it. He visited them - particularly during those
first 24 months when Robert E. Lee and his dazzling cohorts ran rings around
that bungling giant known as the North, Lincoln encouraged them, he reminded
them that preserving the Union was a cause worth the sacrifice.
He led by example (does
leadership come in any other guise?) - that first Thanksgiving gave thanks for
an idea of democracy that was very much in doubt, what he once called "the
last, best hope of earth."
We could do with following
his example. Democracy is threatened in our day by our abiding addiction
to rancor, an addiction every bit as corrosive in our day as the threat posed
by an attempt at dissolution by a vastly determined foe in Lincoln's day. Let
us give thanks in our day as Lincoln did in his, for an abiding idea - "I
want every msn to have a chance!." And let us in our day, as Lincoln in
his day, give thanks to those in our circle who do the grunt work to make that
ideal a reality. And finally, let us in our day, as Lincoln in his, give
practical expression to the astounding thing he said when he won the Presidency
in 1860: "In all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any
harsh feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let
us all all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common
country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal feelings."
Think of it: 21st century Democrats (they
all bash the rich) and 21st century Republicans (they all bash the poor)
actually listening to one another -that should hit all of us where we live!
'It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his
wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view and which should be true
and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And
this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour
of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!'
'Let every American, every lover of liberty, every
well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to
violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate
their violation by others.'