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We memorized this speech in grammar school. It still moves me by its simple elegance. America has been blessed by some of her leaders. Lincoln is one who moved US forward by reminding us who we are (to be).

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In Indianapolis, at PS 84, in 1956, we had to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address in our Social Studies class, and we also had to learn the Preamble to the Constitution so we could grow up as good citizens. We discussed the phenomenon of a Negro woman, Anathena Lee, being denied access to I believe the U of Alabama. We had to write a critique of either Stevenson or Eisenhower stating why one should, or should not, be elected. Bless Mrs. Ewing, our dedicated teacher. This curriculum shaped my life in many ways. Is this still done, or do we not teach what Ron deSantis doesn't want us to hear?

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I too had to recite from memory those two historical gems. I memorized a fair amount of useless stuff in elementary school, such at the total banana crop tonnage of some central American nation, but I have thought about those two passages throughout my life. Lincoln's Birthday was a national holiday then and we prepared for it by hearing quotations and lore from Lincoln's life and times. I believe it significantly affected my sense of social justice.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

JL and Frank, I too had to memorize the Gettysburg address and later, when I found that my Boy Scout group had never heard of it, I made them memorize it.

But, what I did NOT memorize were the dates and text of the Jim Crow laws put in place in the United States AFTER Lincoln's speech. Laws that produced legalized and legitimized inequality and terrorized black people for a century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jim_Crow_law_examples_by_state#:~:text=The%20term%20%22Jim%20Crow%20Law,but%20equal%22%20doctrine%2C%20Massachusetts.

Lincoln's war was only partly successful and the echo we see today, in the Republican Party, is yet another sign that the Civil War did "free" the slaves but Jim Crow/Americans then brutalized those black Americans which resulted in a huge diaspora to the north where black folks were crowded into slums because the Northern white was not exactly enthusiastic about black folks either.

America The Beautiful. Yes indeed.

Now, let me get back to my job as American Military Contractor shipping weapons to Israel to exterminate Palestinians.

Ok, not really. But, I hope you see my point. Rousing though Dr. Richardson's writing is, we cannot lose sight of who we really are. Or we will not change.

another look at America in the NY Times today:

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/19/opinion/rich-billionaires-philanthropy-covid.html?unlocked_article_code=1._0w.7Mbr.JXhxnBEgxwaY&smid=url-share

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Seems that 'we' meaning young adults of today along with 'you and I' could benefit 'muchly' from a post primary session of education. Not a collegiate course, but a more critical understanding of what has made this country worth keeping. Instead we are burdened with an overload of dung the likes of the Geo Santo's/Lindsey Grahams/Rudy G/Sidney P/J.Jordan/netanyah-who's/fo-news/Bo-burps/MTG/theTrumpsyndicate/theRNC..adinfinitum! And, that "crap".., unlike camel dung, it won't burn, just smolders obscuring everything.

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Like others, I’m old enough to have had a good grounding in classes in civics (req in 8th grade), American history (middle and high school), government (required in 10th grade), economics (high school, college, graduate degree), political science (college). I’m not sure kids learning today could have the benefit we had.

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Starting in the 1910's and especially the 1920's, American education changed significantly, with history, civics and economics becoming a new subject - social studies - that grew until it became a consistent part of primary school education throughout the country.

The result has been generations of students, my own children included, who had huge gaps in their knowledge of American history, in particular, only partially remedied by studies for college A/P exams during the latter years of high school.

So tell me, what happened in the United States from the 1780's and the beginning of the Civil War (four score and seven years)? You don't know, do you?

Who took over for Lincoln as President after he was assassinated and what was his role in destroying Lincoln's plans for reconstruction? Don't know that either, do you? 

How did Jim Crow get started? Who were the Wobblies and what effect did they and the nascent American labor movement have in bringing about major positive changes in American life?

I could go on, but hopefully my point has been made, that you're a product of a stripped-down primary and middle school curriculum and if you know the answers to any of the questions above and the many more I could ask that might well draw a blank, it's because after your school years you became curious about what you didn't know or understand and read about it on your own.

If our educational curricula are not revised to be inclusive of what has been purposefully left out, or if we allow Ron DeSantis and his followers to further strip down what we teach our kids, then we'll truly have a Know-Nothing country susceptible to fascist dictatorship. (I won't ask if you know who the Know-Nothings were because I'm pretty sure that was taken out of your education as well.)

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Is Civics or Government even taught in our schools anymore? :(

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I have observed a self-defeating trend for some in society to recognize large problems to be solved and to take refuge in believing that it is too late for them to learn, but "the young" will save us. Except that when "the young" get to the age of self-care, they are obliged to adapt, to a large degree, to the status quo. Idealists can even be ground into cynics. Meanwhile we are a society as a whole, yet, for all the talk of "lifelong learning" we mostly think in terms of teaching to the young. Part of what makes us human is that, barring dementia, we can learn to the day we die. And as a society, we need to learn at every age. We need to build encouragement of curiosity and critical thinking throughout society, and I believe that there are many, many ways that this can be done.

A big barrier, of course is those with entrenched investments in controlling others to satisfy their self-serving agendas, an the lies they tell so that we don't notice and object. It seems to me that phenomenon is our specie's greatest and most stubborn problem; but even the awareness that it is there is step toward reducing it. And let's as a matter of cultural custom call out and distrust proven liars. It seems to me we have become more lax within my lifetime. Remember the "coverup" which was Nixon's undoing? Remember the "scandal" of the "$64.000 Question" quiz show? Remember even the Governments remedies to the "Savings and Loan" scandal vs the subprime disaster The Great Recession).

"And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place," -Sen. Dick Durbin

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Yep. All you said.

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Camel dung so much more useful.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Any sort of natural dung is fertilizer, the building blocks of life to come. Demagogues spew out toxic waste. The "GOP" has become a "Superfund Site".

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It is, indeed, America the Beautiful Mike. My continuing question to all the people who like to complain about this Country is this: Where is the perfect Country?

This line from an old poem (The Desiderata) comes to mind when I think of this Country. "Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism."

There are good people in Washington and in our Country doing great things.

Also.

Did you read President Biden's statement in the Washington Post this weekend? He addresses, very clearly, the need for a humanitarian approach in the Israeli/Palestine conflict. It is important we not radicalize this ancient and extremely complex Middle East reality.

I have not lost sight of who we are. I deeply love this Country and will continue to support it's arc towards Democracy; however imperfect.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

"But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;"

Barbara. Thank you for your caution about my, possibly, missing those aspects of America that are good and true.

I am sure I do miss many aspects of both the upside and downside of America BUT, I have written here before about leaving a rural East Texas farm existence, where money just did not exist, and converting myself, through the free public University System in Texas, to an engineer and then working for some poorly managed companies up here in the Northeast while I saved and invested my money to change my own life.

I am a living example of the "good" that America offers anyone who can work 16 hour days for years on end to move "their place" in life.

Not only that, I have written about how the people of East Texas helped each other, supported each other, and were, back then, generally kind or at least live and let live.

America has a lot of positive aspects. Yes. But, IF we focus on that, then, we don't move the ball on those things that are ugly.

As for President Biden, he has enabled Israel's horrible response to Hamas by giving the green light to awful destruction. Sure, now Biden is back pedaling. But, NetanYahoo will do whatever he wants.

As for Hamas, we cannot expect to empower Israel to steal land for 100 years from the Palestinians, kill them at will without due process on their own land, and generally treat them worse than cur dogs without a response.

What would you do if someone put you in an open air prison, took your land, stole you kids future, and insured you were a prisoner in your own land?

anyway, thank you for you caution.

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Jennifer Rubin and many other are writing concerning this complex situation dating back decades. There is not only the current conflict but the Middle East peace, and Russian support of Hamas and Russia's effort to incite an explosion of conflict in this region. President Biden and Secretary Blinken have been advocating all along for the Palestinians. And. Frankly Mike your last sentence is a bit out of line in a discussion like we are having. I am not going to going to take it personally, but our opportunity here is to not inflame an already supremely volatile situation.

Here is what President Biden wrote:

"Both Putin and Hamas are fighting to wipe a neighboring democracy off the map. And both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot, and will not, let that happen. For our own national security interests — and for the good of the entire world.

To start, Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism. There must be no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction in territory. And after this war is over, the voices of Palestinian people and their aspirations must be at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza.

As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution."

Finally, Biden writes about violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, violence that poses a threat to the post-war solutions. Biden writes,

I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable. The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank.

Quote from the Washington Post and comment by Hubbell.

Shanti

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Mike S.

Excellent comment and exactly what I was thinking. We have been blessed by exception leaders but though they have influenced many....hatred and prejudices are used by those who seek power and control. These are demented power-hungry individuals. Unfortunately, the church has been captivated by these lower thoughts and beliefs regarding their fellow men and women.

Also, placing ourselves infront of information screens does not assist in our thought-life. More prejudices are introduced. So many are alone or become a part of a like minded group who believe lies as if they are the ones who really know what is going on in the world. The aftermath of COVID is still a problem for many. Recovery within the areas of education and healthcare continues.

Truth has become a precious commodity....and where to find it.

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Emily. Yes. Truth has taken a beating of late. But. Truth has always been hard to find.

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"Lincoln's War"? I could have sworn that history books record the beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, when *Confederate* forces fired on Fort Sumter.

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Mike S, I agree mostly with you but others have shipped weapons to Hamas to slaughter Israelis.

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At one point many doctors believed that compounds of mercury were healthful, but no, the element is a highly toxic heavy metal. Charting our course with bad or ignored information is just plain heading for trouble.

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J L Graham, how could it not affect one’s sense of social justice? And more telling is why would it not be part of any student’s curriculum?

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In floriduh, the teachers have fled, replaced by veterans (as babysitters i suppose). College professors replaced by religious nuts. Yup, in 2023.

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😢😡

People equipped with less education from which to base discernment, are defenseless against the lieing seductions of the demagogues. Low-information voters are exactly the herd demagogues hope for. This is no doubt why ex-College-History-Teacher Newt Gingrich toured the newsy Channels early this Millennium to advance the proposal that it is an irresponsible waste of family fortune to squander it on post-Highschool tuition. And more recently, Schmucker Carlson picked up this banner. They hope to deny voters the self-defense engendered through education.

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Thank you for the report. Will retired Floridians pay attention and vote for DeSantis’s opponent?

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Florida is heavily gerrymandered to benefit the Republican party in a state with close to equal party registrations the Republicans hold 71% of all legislators in the entire legislative body. Dems are the minority party in the legislature. Not likely there will be a change with Republicans holding a super majority and just last year redrawing the legislative districts to benefit them both in Florida and Washington for the next ten years. DeSantis cannot run for governor again as he is term limited. But the good news is that Florida is a state that mandates civic education throughout elementary and secondary public schools.

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Do you know the quality of the civic education?

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You are free to go to the State of Florida website and click on the DOE (Department of Education website). There you will find the curricula, standards and benchmarks for each of the courses. You can then evaluate the quality of the education to your standards. Remember, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. The same holds true for those sitting in the chairs within a classroom. That is the parents responsibility to make sure they communicate their expectations for their child's learning to their child and oversee the child's achievement of those expectations.

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Whewwwww - "yup". You know it.

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I too had such an experience in a suburb of Milwaukee in the late 50s. None of my grandchildren has been tasked to do either recitation. Thank you for your wrods.

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They are poorer for it. Sad what students today are missing. I hate to think what “home-schooled” kids learn. In my experience, a well-educated home schooler is a novel exception.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

But Jeri, home schooling insures my child stays safely ensconced in whatever I teach them to "believe" and never has to worry about coming across anyone who thinks or believes anything different.

C'mon. What could be better than producing an adult, who, at age 18, has no idea what "diversity of thought" is and will shut his or her mind as tight as a jail cell in Attica upon encountering such a thought?

Wait, that's why my kids went to Public School. To learn algebra and learn now to navigate the real world. Like I did (sort of). Plus, my son learned to fistfight his way out of insults. Always a great skill to have!

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I was a teacher; I come from a long line of teachers. I was disheartened when my brother offered to send his grandchildren to private school, so they would not be indoctrinated. My mother would have been so disappointed! Indoctrination goes on in private schools and lots of home schooling situations. Public school teachers don't have time to "indoctrinate" anyone. They have to get students ready for end of year tests.

I attended a base school for Air Force kids. My mother taught there, and my brother and I went to school where she taught. I went to school with kids of all different races and backgrounds. I am so much better for having done so.

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Brother’s grandchildren will surely be indoctrinated, it’s exactly what private schools are for these days.

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I suspect Air Force Base School gave a balanced education. I was in the AF from 1963-67, the Cold War era and was surprised to see the English version of Pravda being sold in the BX.

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Wonder what his definition of ‘indoctrinated’ is. Well-educated?

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Exactly why I think home schooling cheats kids - in most cases

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Watch “Shiny Happy People” about the Duggars.

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Mike S, My second comment to you is a total agreement. This is a digression from HCR's blog but I believe that the cause of the high suicide rates of teenagers and their acknowledged widespread unhappiness is that their pampered, protected, and digital obsession does not prepare them for the real world.

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Ha.. "In my experience"... you and I (I'm 80) will not be around to really "experience" the effect of a homeschooled population along with the damage being inflicted by the 'moron & grifter alliance (MAGA).

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The advantage of old age, but hate to miss the wonders of science. The human frailties, not so much. Nazis making a comeback is more than this old Ike admirer can deal with. The young of today have not been immersed in the horror of that time and the millions of murdered Jews.

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Or the French Revolution and the March of history from the Crusades to the Age of Enlightenment and our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. “Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it.”

Words of George Santayana at the exit to Dachau (1973). I wonder if the small desk is still there.

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And as many non jews, remember that

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How will the Ukrainians learn to use these sophisticated weapons that our soldiers take months to learn? Answer: Faster than you think. Two languages (at least) at first grade and two alphabets.

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That’s beautiful! Made me tear just after watching a long eulogy (MSNBC) for Rosalyn Carter. We need a Secretary of Education who wants to educate EVERYONE, not prepare “students” to be serfs for big business. Thanks to the hard work of the Kochs, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Party in conjunction with Big Business and Big Pharma, we no longer have the public schools of the 19th and 20th (until post-WWII) centuries. Our universities have discontinued the core curriculum that made them universities. Liberal arts colleges are disappearing, even though I read occasionally that liberal arts students are valued by employers because they can “think.”

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This was in response to the first comment that seems to have disappeared. It was beautiful.

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Great comment Frank. And, for remembering "Mrs Ewing". I can only wonder what children today of your age back then will remember of what some teacher of theirs imparted to them in the recent 'ten years' of public school? I am not only wondering what the kids are being told (err learnt!) by these 'teachers' of today. Not to demean "teachers of today", but worrying more about the credibility of the institutions they have emanated from.

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Worry about the school boards and the state boards of education. At least in Texas…

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Not the institutions who trained them—reactionary governors, school boards, Moms for Liberty.

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Interesting, back in the mid 50s, I attended PS 84 but I lived in the Bronx, NYC.

I wonder how many PS 84s there are?

The curriculum was similar for us back then...I think that there is still a national requirement for civics training but it's the 21st, digitized century now, children have access to and are distracted by devices, the internet and social media. Now, 50% of our elected lawmakers have gone off the rails. Some (GOP members) are feckless and batsh*t crazy but they are not patriotic.

I don't remember that the civics education had a great deal of impact on me at the time but I had to take that Oath to defend the Constitution when I joined the USMC at age 18 and it was quite a while before I realized that oaths are important.

All these people who claim to be patriotic, conservative and morally superior. They wave their flags, hold up their bibles and curse the libs but want nothing more than to dismantle our government. they want no restrictions on their "Freedoms".

The Social Contract is another word for our Constitution. The Framers did their best to provide us with something that would provide citizens with some security and assurances that they could safely prosper. That Preamble, that Bill Of Rights, Lincoln got it, he got the Declaration and he understood the devastation of warfare.

What chance is there that these "patriots" received but ignored that Civics training?

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Our polarizations define the stark contrasts.

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That's a rhetorical question, right Frank?

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President Lincoln said there

was "unfinished work" back then at Gettysburg: there is unfinished work now, in 2024 & in the years ahead.

I'm in.

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We did too. Now, over sixty years later, I can still recite most of it. I think we studied more history and civics ten.

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I'm absolutely positive that you did!

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We did, Linda. History and Civics is as “dead” as was Latin, of which my one year of excellent is still treasured. Couldn’t have started Polish at 82 without it

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Brava! Learning is living!

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Thank you, Anne Marie. It’s true. Still learning at 89, doing Pilates, and trying to educate my doctors (ageism is an American disease, affecting the medical profession as much as anyone else). It’s a real adventure to think of oneself as a two year-old all over again. Not having the “freedom to fall” is the problem. Need to review that education (modern dance in undergraduate school), though who would dare try to teach me?

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I memorized it in school as well, and I grew up in Georgia. Back in those days, our teachers recognized who won the war. As a footnote I would suggest reading Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant about James Longstreet, who warned Robert E. Lee against Pickett's Charge, which enabled the Union win at Gettysburg.

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As a writer, I am dazzled and moved by this jewel of a speech and the pure idealism of it. But since we're talking about requiring a US history test for elected leaders, I have to point out that at the time of this speech and up until his assassination, Lincoln was still far behind a great many abolitionists in his thinking about the national abomination of slavery, enslavers and enslavement. Even before he was elected president his practical solution was deportation of the enslaved. He proposed settlement in various countries - Liberia, Haiti, Panama. In 1863 he mused about moving the “whole colored race of the slave states into Texas.”

Four days before his death, speaking to Gen. Benjamin Butler: “I can hardly believe that the South and North can live in peace, unless we can get rid of the negroes … I believe that it would be better to export them all to some fertile country…”

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I had not heard those remarks from him, Alexandra. Where did they come from? A reference, please...and thanks.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

I never knew any of this. Is this info in any book? Thanks.

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Elaine, Lincoln's very gradual evolution on the question of slavery (using his own speeches, writing, and his support or opposition to proposed legislation of the time) is very well documented by many historians. Besides Eric Foner's The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, I highly recommend Stony the Road, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and David Blight's book on Frederick Douglass and also Race and Reunion, and his must-see lecture series on the Civil War, available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXXp1bHd6gI&list=PL5DD220D6A1282057

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Thank you very much.

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Good grief! I was totally unaware of Lincoln’s idea to ship slaves out of America to the Caribbean. Thank you for the education.

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CivilWarTalk, an online forum about, of course, the Civil War, had a conversation in February, 2017 about this quotation. The quotation appears to have been from Benjamin Butler's autobiography, written long after the end of the war. Even then, Butler appears to have claimed (as you can tell I am referring to comments in the discussion. I have not read the autobiography), that the discussion was about the armed US Colored Troops. That claim, it seems to me, weakens the credibility of Butler's recollection rather than strengthening it.

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The Butler quote is only one of many, many quotes of Lincoln's, and policy proposals, affirming his strong support for re-colonization. Take that one quote out if you want to, but Lincoln advocated for it over and over and over again. I'm bringing this up because the unreconciled problems of enslavement still exist and I think we should always be looking at the complexity of our leaders.

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Ahh yes...“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” These insightful words were spoken by Marc Antony. Please don't quote me as inferring someone was "evil". Only that, things we humans utter in some conversation can easily be taken out of context or misconstrued only to be recorded and recited for whatever purpose. Thank you for those links :)

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Thank you, MadRussian12A. The Marc Antony quote is the important one here. I heard it years ago and had forgotten it.

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I just finished Jon Meacham s “ And Then There Was Light” Lincoln and the American Struggle, he discusses Lincoln’s evolution about slavery and blacks, Lincoln walked slowly but never backwards!

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Yes! Excellent book.

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Well put, and thanks for the rec, Tom and Sharon - that sounds great!

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Wow! After this wholly bloody war to free Blacks from enslavement you would send them to Texas?? I can't think of which is worse....

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I'm with you on that, Sophia.

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If it were not for the humanity of leaders like Lincoln, we might still be back in caves. All of us are creatures of the times in which we live and unless we start revolutions (think of the blood shed), we have to make change within the framework we are born into.

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I'm not disputing Lincoln's greatness, Virginia, but plenty of other people of the time were ahead of his thinking. I don't buy the "of their time" excuse. There have always been sociopaths, and there have always been people who understood from the depths of their souls that slavery is a grotesque evil.

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My memory cells are weak, but I cannot remember a time when I did not know of Lincoln and his address at Gettysburg.

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Had I been there, I would have been selling soda pop and turnovers off my covered wagon. Lots of mouths to feed.

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Thank you, Virginia, for this reminder. I had the same experience in sixth grade. I still remember how petrified I was, but I was grateful to gain some insight into Lincoln because of that experience. He had remained one of my heroes in American history.

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Reading this speech gives me tears. Every time.

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I’ve been wondering, now that we see the results of having so many misinformed or uninformed federal officials, if it wouldn’t be prudent to require folks running for federal office to take a test, allowing the public to see if the folks who are running adequately understand the Constitution as well as basic governmental norms that keep the government operational. And maybe it would allow the American citizenry be better informed about who is truly “fit for office”.

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I’d urge these people to walk these fields where people died and then they should take the test.

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I can honestly say that if anyone walks through one of the fields of Civil War action, or a National Cemetery where the fallen have been laid to rest, and it doesn’t move them, they are not American.

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We here in northern NY are surrounded by important Revolutionary War battlefields. Unfortunately our congressional representative is Elise Stefanik and she holds no reverence for the meaning behind those battles to free us from authoritarian monarchy and religious tyranny.

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Stefanik is a disgrace.

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Brenda, I do hope you and the New York voters know that she stands for Trumputin. In my book, that makes her a traitor. She’s not in office fur the people of this country, or her district she was elected to represent. That makes her a traitor, in my opinion. She needs to go!

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I think of, by and for the people ought to be the practical criteria for evaluating the spirit and consequences of any aspect of US governance; law, policy, elected and appointed officials. The whole dang thing needs a triage against that standard.

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Brenda, least we forget her shadow, Claudia Tenney.

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Hope you work for her opponent. What a sycophant!

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A lot of the current Rs are not patriots or American in the way the Lincoln defined nor do they really care about those who fight the military battles despite all the flag waving, anthem, and pledge.

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How right you are, Michele! Their “leader”, whom they all worship the ground he 💩s on, even made a point when speaking about Senator John McCain, about how he wasn’t a Patriot, a Hero, because he had been captured. He was a war prisoner, therefore he was nothing. His talking about that man, and the fallen soldiers, made me sick.

It doesn’t matter if you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, or whatever. These men and women fought, and died, to preserve the freedoms we so much have taken the granted, until right now. Especially since these freedoms, our Democracy, our Constitution, is exactly what Trumputin is going to take from all of us if he returns to the Oval Office!!!

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His treatment of military personnel and his comments should tell everyone who are actually patriots that they are backing the wrong horse. My ex-classmate from my home town as been pretty silent about politics. She did recognize a veteran in her family, probably her current husband on Veteran's Day. Somehow people don't see the disconnect.

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Well, you might point out, if you dare, that Senator Tuberville seems fixed on disarming the military until the former guy is restored to power. Makes me ill.

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If hallowed ground does not move a person, there is no soul in the body.

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You piqued my curiosity with your comment Ally. My mind goes to strange places. This is from the Gettysburg/Adams Chamber of Commerce website-

Economic Impact of Tourism - Gettysburg and Adams County, Pa.

Annual Visitation -

Gettysburg National Military Park 1 million

Adams County 3.7 million

Visitor Demographics-

Average length of trip 2 days

Percentage of International Visitors 3.2%

Average age 52 years

I am surprised at the average age of visitors when there are so many school buses the times I have visited. As so many have commented today, the Gettysburg address is likely the most studied text in our school curriculum. I suspect many people commenting today, could recite most of the address from memory.

We all wept when we visited this hallowed ground. So many sacrificed with their lives that our Republic could continue.

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I would suspect that the school itself is one visitor, no matter how many kids attend. I am thrilled to see that schools bring kids to see that.

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Like you, this average age surprises me as well.

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Ohhh how right you are. I remember walking through that cemetery. All I could say was WOW! I mean, it really, really, touched me.

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I have as well. And being a Mainer I had to walk to Little Round Top, where Lt. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain led his 20th Maine regiment in a bayonet charge down that small hill against the troops of the 15th Alabama regiment, saving the left flank of the Union Army.

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I bet those museums there are full of Civil War artifacts found on these hills. I bet it’s really interesting to walk the same grounds that those battles were fought. I never made it to any of those sites in the northeast. I wanted to, but dad couldn’t be away from the farm that long when I was growing up.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Me, too. I highly recommend purchasing the CD self guided tour, it is well worth the cost.

In the same road trip we took to view Gettysburg, we first visited the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. (it is fabulous) where I saw the famous two masks of Lincoln, side by side.

Incredible the stress of this war put on him.

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I remember as growing up, after I started school, we took trips every summer to different Civil War locations and did the tour of that location. My dad being from Georgia, there is a lot of war cites within the state, and surrounding states. It was fantastic. I always looked forward to going to those every year.

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Morning, Ally! Several years ago we took a self-guided tour of Gettysburg's battlefields by car. To see the fields all lit up by candles was humbling. I don't see it advertised now, but they do have a Sing Along at the Annual Tuba Carol Fest!

https://www.gettysburgbattlefieldtours.com/christmas-in-gettysburg-winter-2022-essential-guide/

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That is so cool!! In the "did you know" department, Harvey Phillips (tuba player who got the initial idea for this event that brings tuba and euphonium players together to play Christmas music) took out a copyright on "Tuba Christmas" and has a rule that if you advertise your event as "Tuba Christmas" you have to use his trademarked music. Ergo, our event is "Tuba Carol Concert" because we play music that was arranged for our ensemble by a U of O grad student frome England who played with the group in the late 1980's. We often have people sing along with us, and we use "Jingle Bells" for audience participation as they "jingle" their car keys.

Oh, and good morning, Lynell!

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Now, yours is very cool, Ally! Clever work around to have your event stay "legal." And who knew car keys could substitute as musical instruments!

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Well, many Rs have no souls and they worship the truly soulless person who is just an overweight bag of air. And they are true hypocrite with the false patriotism. All the emphasis on form, but not substance.

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The extremists in the House would have no understanding of Gettysburg.

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Or they aren’t quite human...

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They are certainly soulless.

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It’s a definite hologram , I experienced this phenomenon . “That these honored have not died in vane..”

💙💙VOTE ALL THE COMPLICIT OUT💙💙

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Good idea, along with a full psychological evaluation!

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If there were such a test, cynic that I am, I assume some (many) would find a way to cheat.

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It seems to be the raison d'etre of the modern Republican Party, in service of the love of money.

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Mr Graham; Unfortunately, your statement is true of the entire Congress. In my humble opinion, much of our Congress has been a disgrace for a long time (sure there are members who are honest). I remember thinking that when members vote themselves raises, get preffered healthcare and pension conditions, insider trade in the stock market, are more beholding to lobbyists than voters, participate and profit from gerrymandering, don't address climate change, cowtow to the Billionaires for funding, don't address mass killings in the streets, don't seem to feel themselves accountable for multitudes of failures...ETC ETC ETC. ...I remember saying to myself: "I am really peeved, and how pissed off so many people must be who are not as fortunate as myself to actually participate in the American dream. Won't they rebel at some time? Might they not want to 'blow it all up'?" And here we are. I don't think we can categorize our MAGA neighbors as the only bad guys (those that take advantage of them yes, those that will not put their mighty positions at risk to get rid of a patently crazy "Wanna Be", yes. Many people just think, "Hey they are all the same, and they do nothing for me. Maybe it's time for a HUGE change (as misguided and risky as that might be)? Love of Money by some of us is risking it all.

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Lincoln said that public sentiment is everything. Freedom worthy of the name promotes and protects unlimited diversity of choices within the range of of actions that are responsible to the rights of others. The conundrum is maintaining a robust array of different drummers while pulling together the conditions that enable freedom of this sort to exist. Colonists worked together to end their homeland's status as a possession of Britain. Revolutions of whatever sort occur in the mind and the "heart" before they are tangible. If enough people prioritized a a more responsive and responsible government, I think it would occur. Those who benefit from tyranny devise to divide and rule. Liberators and reformers build solidarity. Solidarity builds agreement about the conditions necessary to maintain universal liberty, or at least a best and unending effort to do so. Lincoln seemed to "get" that, and expressed it eloquently. I think that if we mean to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people, we have been far to lax about neglecting our role. We indulged distractions while the reality that has become today's so-called "Republican" Party and what Gen. Mike Milley recently called a "wannabe dictator" has crept closer in fits and starts for over 40 years. Now defending democracy needs be mission critical for every American.

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Amen!

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JL Graham,

Words of wisdom as usual. Thank you. Our understanding of who we are and who we want to become requires educated thinking . It requires listening, observing ..... what are the results of the actions a leader chooses? Is the leader open to listening to another side and taking time to digest it producing a clear, balanced response.

Do we pay enough attention to what is going on within the systems of our local government? Do we feel so far removed that we allow persons to push away our freedoms, simply because we are not as involved and informed as we should be?

Obviously this is taking place within our towns, cities, local and state governments. WE are allowing the "MAGNA" types to get a foothold within our government. We are the only ones who can change this situation by voting for and electing, steady, solid , informed citizenry.

JL Graham, I especially appreciated..."I think if we mean to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people, we have been far to lax about neglecting our role." "Now defending democracy needs to be mission critical for every American." Thank you JL Graham!

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Even well intentioned politicians seem sometimes to me more focused on bone throwing than highlighting fundamental problems. I am not entirely a fan of Biden, but I see him from a managerial standpoint, launching more strategic initiatives than any recent president I recall. You don't want to just win the battle but lose the war. What I think Biden most needs is more compelling presentation skills, which is where President Carter, an admirable planner and administrator, and human being, was weak. We want presidents to be charismatic communicators, as well as master administrators. Trump maintains an enthusiastic following with his shameless demagoguery. There is always an audience for people who flatter others with what they would like to hear; the "real patriots", the "master race", etc . Media liked to call Reagan "The Great Communicator", but who remembers what Reagan said except for his smug (and divisive) one-liners?

The Gettysburg Address is an example of "great" communication. It still speaks to us more than a century later. It nails things that matter. I think JFK was heading that direction when he said:

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. "

We now face intimidating challenges, in part from taking our eye off the ball, and leadership, grass roots, elected, and even in our own internal musings, helps us to focus and coordinate.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Thank you, J L Graham, for expressing this so well.

I hope that many here will read your comment, turn it over in their minds, and share its content.

For my part, I am much taken with HCR's drawing attention to the word "proposition" used by Lincoln when referring to what the Declaration of independence calls self-evident truths.

Being wary by nature of untried beliefs, I prefer to think in terms of "settings" by which we try to live. Given experience, these enable us to progress towards a deeper understanding of truth.

*

I have just added a general comment to this thread, a comment on Lincoln's crucial choice of this word. I want to share this with as many readers as possible.

*

Maybe the proverbial needle in a Substack.

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"Maybe the proverbial needle in a Substack."

Spoken like a true pundit.

"Being wary by nature of untried beliefs, ..."

I think that skepticism and an open mind are two aspects of the same approach. Skepticism and cynicism are often conflated, but both skepticism and open-mindedness require some measure of uncertainty, and ultimately , humility. Even mathematics, which involves the faithful completion of a set of "settings", drifts into uncertainty (such as "Geodel's Proof ") even though we get to make the rules. Science, as far as I can tell, is ultimate a conversation with nature. With observation and action, we "listen" to what nature can tell us, and when we pay keen enough attention to Nature's ways, we get some remarkable things done by playing by "Her" rules. Not always good things, but things that can "work".

My impression is that we have lost track of the concept of "wisdom", which I think has to do with recognizing what most "matters" as well as what is likely to work as planned. Science can greatly inform, but not decide, what most matters to us as individuals, but I think when we compare notes in an honest and reflective state of mind, some things stand out as more fundamental than others. "Road rage" seems like extreme juvenile folly, even though there can be strong temptation to go there. Caring for each other is part and parcel of our specie's survival strategy. We are a thoroughly social species. History self-evidently indicates that concentrated power tend to corrupt, so it is wise to divide it. That said, we all have, to varying degrees, an appetite for power. It would seem wise to negotiate how power gets distributed, at least when and where it most matters, one aspect of which is "government". Government comes into being wherever there is more than one person. It just does, like children proposing a "pretend" game. It is not the enemy that Reagan claimed, but it can be. It all depends; and we all have a serious stake in that.

Wisdom seems to be hard to pin down, because it appears to be predicated on knowing that you don't know. I don't think that means we cannot accumulate useful knowledge, but our very best attempts are ultimately an educated guess, that therefore, dictate humility. I think that requires open, observant senses, along with an open, observant "heart" and mind; which is not necessarily easily maintained; but it helps to have and contribute to encouragement from one's cohort and society.

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A “burn it all down” position. Sorry, but Bannon did not speak for me. And no, they are not the same. Not perfect, but definitely not the same.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Sorry, Jeri, it's not quite clear what you're speaking of, but if it's Bruce Klassens' speaking of too many people's "blow it all up" attitude, that plainly is not his own, nor have I seen anyone here who's open to such a view.

But isn't it painfully understandable, coming from people who are suffering from disappointed expectations -- "the American dream" -- people who don't realize how much they fooled themselves with these dangerously fragile expectations... and who rightly feel that they have been cheated by complacent, self-seeking politicians, corporations and powerful people who profit from the status quo?

Expectations are always dangerous, they blind us to reality and to real opportunities.

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I was poor and had reasonable expectations considering our resources. Knew work was primary, but did not have so many strikes against me as did and do so many. Shakespeare had something to say about that. “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Not expectation, but germs were planted. As a senior, English teacher asked if I was going to college. I said no, we couldn’t afford it. She said that’s too bad, you would do well. I remembered that much later when the circumstances changed somewhat. Instead of disappointment over unrealized expectation, I was pleasantly surprised when something worked out (often after a crushing disappointment). I never blamed corporations, although I could have blamed NASA for a reduction-in-force (RIF) that kicked me out of a job that I had recently been promoted to.

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Pop Quiz, only oral responses to questions asked when you file to run for office or register to vote.

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Nov 21, 2023·edited Nov 21, 2023

With thanks to contributors above whose comments reflected thoughts related to the Letter about Gettysburg. (Daniel Cooper, Sky777 and Jenn SH from NC) I wish I knew how to draft a law preventing any member of Congress from voting on legislation about which they know NOTHING! Hence my brief comment promoting the use of making candidates take that Pop Quiz I mentioned. Health concerns? Can they pass a basic human biology exam or identify their own body parts and how and why they work as they do (including those of the opposite sex(s). Are they fluent enough in medical terminology so they can understand what they are reading? Oops! How many of those potential laws are completely read and UNDERSTOOD before being voted on? On the other hand, only reinstating real Civics courses in our schools will help actual voters understand what could happen to their lives if they let politicians explain to them what or why they should vote for or against. l This has been on my mind for a while now. Thanks for letting me vent.

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?what is you age?

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I'LL BE 81 TWO DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

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There are ways around that which testing services know a bit about.

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gosh, people would cheat. How novel. Cheating has a long history as the Greeks, for example, cheated in the ancient Olympics.

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It's safe to assume that if today's extremist Republicans were alive in 1863, they would begin a concerted campaign of lies that the Confederates did not lose at Gettysburg and Lincoln never spoke the words that echo loudly even today. Just as they're doing about Jan. 6.

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So true, lie, deny, and obfuscate

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The subject of many a book already..and obviously still contended....

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Not a bad idea. Let's get Boebert, MTG, and Jordan busy writing some version of it for publication in Mad Magazine.

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I agree. It could be done in some cases through the debates if moderators would begin asking questions that had to do with the Constitution, our government, how things work, how things should work, norms, how elected officials should behave, etc.

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I think, at least a brief history should be part of a new legislators’ orientation

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

Yes! (“Fit for office”) Last week NPR was reporting a story on Biden‘s diplomacy with foreign countries, and then added to that many of the maga group felt that Trump would be better at foreign policies than Biden. That’s when I started shouting at my radio in my car. Can you believe a person that wanted to buy Greenland or Iceland and doesn’t know where half the countries are in the world is better than Biden? How are we still here with me screaming at my car radio years after J6??

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Yes! Elected public servants should be required to pass the US Citizenship Test that all new immigrants are required to take to qualify for citizenship. I'd bet every cent I have that Marjory Taylor Green would fail!

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

I agree 1000%! Seems like a no-brainer. It's common sense. (commenting on "fit for office" post.)

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

The problem with your idea is that indoctrinated/brainwashed/radicalised people can know the difference but choose the cult leader over everyone/everything else pointing out the lies.

Or in Trump's case, he knew he lost the election (everyone in his staff was telling him this) BUT he chose to ignore the facts and push the Big Lie.

A test of knowledge isn't going to weed out the traitors and cult followers.

People are going to need to learn to critically think and recognize who is credible and who isn't. Stop listening to the liars. Recognize who is credible and who is not credible. Listen to those who fight to tell the truth (HCR is one of them) and who is full of crap.

If a so-called 'news organization' is sued for lying and found guilty, or settles out of court for $787M (admitting guilt), and/or evidence in the case proves on-air personlities (not real journalists) are saying one thing off-air in texts & emails, and saying something else (LYING) on air, THEN stop watching them.

If credible organizations point out their lies with evidence, listen to the the Truth-tellers NOT the Liars.

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It certainly would weed out a large number of the current office holders!

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Me too. Basic third grade civics about the 3 branches of government and separation of powers would be nice.

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Great idea but(isn't there always a 'but'?) I'm not sure that today's electorate could judge whether people running for office understand the constitution. I mean many of these folks elected the likes of Marjorie Taylor Green, trump, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz, the list does go on & on. I fear that the threshold for determining who is a responsible representative is long past. I hope that I am wrong but(damn, there's that word again!) I have a dreadful feeling that I may be more right than wrong. I'll be happy to go down in flames in being wrong!!!!

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Great idea!

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The Gettysburg Address is one of the most beautiful and profound prayers ever uttered. I still get chills every time I read it.

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I was there to visit with my wife and two children after we moved to Washington DC. We came from Toronto, and it was then that I decided to become a US citizen (I was already American🤙🏻, strong and free). My wife and kids were already dual citizens. The feelings that overcame me were monumental, and lead to a reading binge that was exhausting. I had to know everything about these people who fought each other so viciously over what? economics? What motivated people (on both sides) to fight their neighbors over slave economics? During the last 5-6 years I have learned so much again 35 years later from the good Professor. Thank You!

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I wonder how often immigrants (so reviled by the current "Republican Party") know more about the underpinnings and duties of American citizenship than average native-born counterparts?

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We have to pass the citizenship test. So, we probably know more than many of the MAGA crowd.

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Nov 20, 2023·edited Nov 20, 2023

My one remaining Trump supporter (and neighbor) on FB is from Ecuador. He may have passed the citizenship test but his fundamental understanding of the tenets of our founding escape him. Meanwhile though he may be somewhat accepted in south Florida, among my Virginia neighbors he would still be viewed as an invader. He strongly believes in a strongman government.

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I think that preference is often inculcated from birth.

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Nov 21, 2023·edited Nov 21, 2023

Quite a valid point. On both fronts.

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More than I for sure!

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That’s a wonderful story, Bruce. Thanks for sharing it.

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Chills abound, that's for sure

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Me too!

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Thank you, Dr. R! Your letters help us work to keep our government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people. Wishing you another good night’s sleep.

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Without a doubt, the address that Lincoln gave at Gettysburg sets out goals and aspirations that we must struggle to achieve even now and actually particularly now. You have likened and the period we are in now to the period of 1850 and I do not doubt your assessment. I believe we are in an existential crisis and the choice is fascism versus democracy. It is every bit important as the decision of slavery versus free men and women.

It is my fervent hope that in the next election Americans vote overwhelmingly for democracy, but in the event fascism wins the election, we must have a plan in place to begin to fight what Trump and his minions have planned to end American democracy.

It is a long time since I personally have taken to the streets, but it could come to that. What was occurring on the streets of Israel before October 7 could well be what we need to look forward to should the people choose fascism. Democracy will triumph in the end but we will value it all the more if we have to fight for it.

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If we do have to take to the streets to fight for democracy, it should not be the capitalist democracy that we now suffer under, but a new form of democracy that ensures that everyone has the ability and the opportunity to earn sufficient purchasing power for their food, clothing, shelter, housing, and free education and medical care should be provided for all. Additionally, it should not permit for the massive accumulation of wealth that is currently undermining our treasured democracy and allowing politicians, chosen by the wealthy to run amok with our government.

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I favor the idea of a social democracy, though it can be quite disorderly at times (see France) but it has as its core that the reason it exists is so that each citizen can hold other citizens caringly, working for equal education, opportunity and decent treatment from government.

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Look at Canada. Not so messy!!! So grateful.

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Is that the third party that will break the binary deadlock?

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Bruce, at this point I think we need to reimagine democracy from the ground up rather than to apply a Band-Aid such as a third-party. This is not a quick fix, but it is something we should begin to ponder now. Unfortunately, there is a reasonable chance that Trump and the fascists could win the election. If, that occurs I would expect there will be a tremendous amount of resistance with demonstrations in the streets, general strike, etc. until we can throw the bums out. but when we get to that point, we need to put something in that is far better or could I say bullet proof as our current democracy, is full of bullet holes at this point.

We need to get the power back to the people and out of the hands of the ultra rich capitalists.

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my thinking too

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An older idea from Lincoln seems to me to remedy the plutocratic excesses of the day:

"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits."

Lincoln admirer Teddy Roosevelt posited a "Square Deal" and his cousin, the "New Deal". Both were a far cry from "Reaganomics" or MAGA. We were haltingly working on achieving an economically more just nation until the 1%, the newly Confederate "Republican Party", and McCarthyesque propaganda swung our momentum back toward the "Gilded Age".

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Amen to that, Marc!

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Marc Nevas, well said.

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If we really believe that, we all need to buy guns and learn to shoot. In fact, we should probably learn to shoot, and buy AR47s or whatever they are. Personally, I'd rather see the red states secede from the Union. THEY have ample guns already.

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There are many blue voters in red states.

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Some of us are already there. Should the need to take up arms arise, be sure to square your mind with the act of killing. It is a process.

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I did not expect to get a response like this. My gut doesn't expect to have to do this sort of thing, although my intellect is not so sure it won't be necessary. I might want to talk to you.

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I'd be honored to talk. It is something that I had to come to terms with as a cop. Thankfully, it is never a bridge that I had to cross; to my mind, direct interpersonal human violence is the greatest harm we do to other people; to the psychopath, it is no problem. To ordinary people, whether in combat, defense of self/others, or other unique situations, the cost of taking another human's life is one that you have to prepare for if you want to come out whole on the other side of that event. Service in the military does that in ways that they have found to be most battle effective. Law enforcement operates in a different milieu and it is incumbent on each person to determine whether they can kill someone. It is a process.

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I really would vastly prefer that Biden win so that we are not faced with another civil war, or anything close. I'm not sure I even want to face that possibility. And with the way elections have gone, I suspect it may never be necessary. And I have no desire to live in times that are more interesting than they are already. It might be easier to talk now than if things go bad, or it might not. I don't know. In any case, thank you!

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Such a chilling thought Ally. I live in a pretty well stocked house but realize I may be totally unprepared to more than dispatch the occasional snake.

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Gail, we have no guns in our home. (My husband has never been interested in hunting or fishing.) I do not want to become like those who want to use power to slaughter fellow humans. ( I am not opposed to hunting if the game is used for food....not for the dead animal to be left to rot.)

We must learn to communicate with one another. When weapons are brought into the picture....reason goes out. This action is NOT the best.

When I was growing up, my mom had a gun and knew how to use it. She did kill snakes.....once we had a prowler. She called the sheriff but he was at a baseball game and thought she was just imaging she saw/heard someone.

The next morning footprints in our garden revealed the truth.

That night after my mom heard the intruder, she had stepped out the back door with her gun and fired a warning shot. The steps of the intruder were much futher apart at one point (when mom fired the gun)....as the sheriff observed the next day when he came by the house.

Guns are not bad....but we as humans can use them with evil intensions.

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Here in the north woods, my hunter friend has harvested 4 deer this week, which meant 4 bullets. He honors their spirit, then butchers them himself so no meat is wasted. He shares venison with elderly neighbors. I make pies, a good exchange for roasts. As sharp as his aim and his reputation, a drunk magate with an AK47 could destroy us in seconds. We must somehow go back to the concept and reality of well regulated militias, where assault wespons are forbidden, except when locked up in the local armory.

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We don’t hunt either though in my rural area in Virginia I’m surrounded by them. Good on your mom! I’ve often thought the sound of racking a shotgun should hold a high deterrence factor lol. My husband was the security manager for a major national company so became a somewhat collector because he was offered pretty amazing prices on firearms. He does have one he carries when we travel but the rest are locked up in a dusty closet. Neither of us would mind giving them up or having them subject to higher regulation. Never before have I thought about using any of those for personal protection. Probably because I’m still under the “ it can’t happen here” mindset in the communities in which I live . *sigh*

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I will be right next to you, Marc.

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No great grandstand, no bunting, just a simple man standing in the midst of a crowd, uttering a few simple sentences that defined a nation. Words so powerful and pure that will endure forever!

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Thank you for these words, Herb. And, do you live in FL AND UMBRIA – my most treasured place on earth!

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I am in the middle of listening to Dark Money, by Jane Mayer (at your recommendation Professor Richardson), and reading your letter tonight brought me to the brink of tears. How far we have come, and how little we really seem to have accomplished. I am hopeful that we can hang on to this fragile democracy as envisioned by our founders and fought for by so many.

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I read Dark Money and it shook me to my core. We were all so naive about what was going on behind the scenes for decades. We did our jobs, paid our taxes, voted and trusted our representatives were doing their job. The betrayal of trust is maybe the hardest part for me.

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I treasure Jane Mayer’s writing. For even more unsettling facts, I am now reading Craig Unger’s American Kompromat. He writes about “how the KGB cultivated Donald Trump, and related tales of sex, greed, power, and treachery.”

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Evening to All---

For the bulk of my life, irrespective of my sharing in the honor that all Americans exude upon reading or hearing the Gettysburg Address, I never gave much thought to the "unfinished work" Lincoln spoke of as anything beyond his time. Well, you live and learn.

The unfinished work we now realize, as inheritors of the great American Experiment, is an obligation we all have to bear, one way or another.

In the denouement of the great Stanley Kubrick movie "Spartacus", in an effort to protect their eponymous leader, the slaves of the Roman Empire all stood up individually, to call out, "I'm Spartacus!"

We are all Spartacus, in that we all have an obligation to work in whatever way our talents and capacity allow us, to further the freedom and dignity of our fellow Americans, irrespective of race, gender, economic status, sexual orientation, religion, etc., etc.

We are all Cincinnatus, in that we all have an obligation to drop the implements of our daily lives and routines, to a certain extent, so as to take up the greater and more noble obligations that our community of free men and women call upon us to meet.

We are all Tom Joads, bearing difficult witness to the suffering of our families, in both the narrow nuclear connotation of that word, as well as the broadest and most widespread, knowing that "we'll be there" with them, and knowing that in our Country, there is no "them" there is only "US".

Our unfinished work as Americans is not simply to stand firm against the forces that would hurl us regressively backward with vulgarity and viciousness, but to keep our progress moving ever forward, from sea to shining sea. To fight against gerrymandering and voter suppression, so that our government is "of the people"; To insure that our right to vote is fully available and protected, not bought off ala Citizens United, so that our government is "by the people"; And to campaign long, loud and with love abounding so that our rights are ever evolving and expanding with the vicissitudes borne by the necessities of our age, so that our government is "for the people".

When he exhorted the Americans of his time to strive so that our Democracy would not "perish from this earth", Lincoln could not have known that a time would come when the earth itself would start to perish beneath its human inhabitants. That time is upon us as well, making our challenges even more difficult, but even more necessary.

Are we all on board?

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What a beautifully written and thoughtful comment, Daniel. I have hope that the people, like you, who write on Heather's page are a representation of the country at large.

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Thank you for your graciousness, Karen!

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Wow, Daniel! You have captured the essence of Lincoln's words as you challenge We, the People to keep moving forward toward keeping our Democracy.

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Thanks much, Lynell!

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Well said & spot on, Daniel!

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Thank you Barbara!

I appreciate your kind words.

Good night!

DANNY

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Powerful Daniel, and very well articulated. Thank you.

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Thanks kindly, Gail!

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Daniel, I appreciate your words very much. I actually find comfort in the notion that the earth itself is not in danger of perishing. But we are. This pale blue dot may eventually shake us off, like so much dust from the back of a horse, and begin again. The earth is resilient and regenerative. As you say, it’s we the people that need to fulfill our obligations from sea to shining sea.

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Good Morning, Samantha!

Thanks much for your kind words and your resilience!

DANNY

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Wow... November 19, 1863... almost 100 years to the day before President Kennedy was assassinated. 😢

We had great leadership in both Lincoln and Kennedy in my opinion. Lincoln saved the nation from self destruction and Kennedy showed us we could do “the impossible” (land on the Moon) within ten years of saying we would do so.

Of course, a house divided against itself cannot fulfill any such future dreams. I hope my fellow Americans realize how critically important it is that the forces seeking to end democracy be defeated in next years’ selection. Those forces don’t just want a divided nation. They want an intellectually dead one.

But back to Lincoln, here is a link to Jason Robards reading the Gettysburg Address. This was part of a Lincoln documentary broadcast on PBS in 1992. It's a wonderful documentary overall. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/UToOotXu4Jc?si=QTwH_YPGBh1SrfDU&t=3061

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JFK lacked the time to show us how great he might have been. He was a very interesting character, and already had deep, philosophical thoughts as early as 10th grade. But he was also deeply flawed, which came out in his relations with women, probably his father's influence. Although had he married Inga Arvad (his father prevented that from happening) he might never have been the womanizer he was (Arvad would not have tolerated it and JFK wouldn't have felt the need for it, as he was attracted to Arvad in a way he wasn't to Jackie--all this is in the recent Logevall biography). I actually think that RFK was the Kennedy who could have done the most for the country. After the assassination of MLK, he prevented riots from happening just by talking to people. He had developed a depth of humanity that was much greater than his brother's. If RFK had gained the White House, we might never have needed Biden at this juncture, because we wouldn't have had Trump, or Bush2, or Reagan. (I may be dreaming of course, but I think that's possible.)

But in terms of great achievements, under difficult circumstances, Biden is definitely the best President since FDR. I feel like the wind's at my back in a way it hadn't ever been before, except for when I rode my bicycle east in the Great Plains, and the wind was with me.

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I agree that Biden has done a lot to rebalance our very out of balance government policy philosophy. But while Biden says “possibilities” defines America, IMHO he has yet to point to a great future and say “This is what we can do if we work together”. He says together there’s nothing we can’t do. But he doesn’t offer an example. And that’s what Kennedy did... not just saying we could do something literally unimaginably amazing but setting the plan for doing so - the Apollo Project - in motion.

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