Sunday, February 26, 2012

Example of Lincoln again -- private thoughts contrasted with public actions

Doris Keairns Goodwin in her book Team of Rivals, depended heavily on the public actions of Abraham Lincoln in portraying a man who was strategic, political, and plodding in his efforts to steer the American ship of state and the American people towards Black emancipation and freedom from slavery. Another biographer relied a good deal more on the private reflections and letters of Lincoln.

Ronald C. White in his biography A Lincoln time and time again emphasizes how Lincoln spoke out against slavery. Yet again Lincoln did not want to dictate to anyone else that they solve their problem, their moral conflict, when he did not know himself what steps to take in ending slavery. He spoke out on the issue of slavery all during the 1850's and was elected to the Presidency in 1860. Yet between his November triumph at the polls and his March 1861 inauguration, he offered to support an amendment to the US Constitution allowing slavery to forever be acceptable in the states that were threatening secession if only slavery did not spread to the other federal territories (Kansas, Nebraska and beyond).

His actions were strategic in contrast to the deep and clear sentiments Lincoln held about slavery. Here is such a stirring quote from him in helping to make this point:

When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal," and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.

He made this argument while speaking out against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a good two years before he started debating Stephen Douglas in the 1858 Senate campaign. Lincoln seemed to have well situated himself and his moral compass. Patiently he guided this country over the 1850's and during the term of his Presidency, logically and gracefully (maybe even with a Christian grace) leading his countrymen into seeing that slavery had to be removed like a cancer in a surgical and purposeful way.

In my previous post, I suggested a hope for people's attitudes and perceptions of greed and wealth to mature into some new revolutionary understanding. I am not sure what that result will be. Over the days of this blog, I hope to explore some ideas and even attempt a method for regulating greed in our world-wide societies. The result could be revolutionary, but not within my vision to be predicted.

I am writing under a pen name. Maybe this will protect my family in case some see my ideas as too revolutionary, too threatening to the status quo. My inner thoughts may not match my actions or my blog posts. I do insist though on opening up this conversation, raising the coming questions, and inspiring the discussions that result.

All my best,
Auntie Greed

Friday, February 24, 2012

Abraham Lincoln matured while in office like we may have to mature over issues of wealth

Providence seemed to be at play in the full life of Abraham Lincoln. He was a noble and well thought-out man for all his life. He should have reached success time and time again. Instead, he was dealt set back after set back and not permitted to be content until the Union finally triumphed over the Confederacy (April 7, 1865), just a week before John Wilkes Booth shot him.

As a young man, Lincoln fell in love with Ann Rutledge. Historians tell us that he was bound to marry her, but she died. Another woman did not suit him and Mary Todd did not suit him, for a while. Lincoln had at one point promised to marry Todd, but then ignored her over several months hoping to pursue a fourth available woman. When the other married, Lincoln slowly returned to Mary Todd, apologizing, not sure of his choice for a bride but eventually honored his promise and they were wed on the same day that she told her eldest sister. (Surprise!)

Lincoln was a great orator and political strategist. Yet he had to give up his ideals to support Zachery Taylor instead of his hero Henry Clay. After several terms in the Illinois House, he lost an election. In getting elected to the US House of Representatives, he had to allow two others from his political party to go before him, as a matter of "turn about is fair play." He lost in a bid to be re-elected to the US House because he was too distant from his Illinois constituency.

In an epic contest for our history, Lincoln debated Stephen Douglas running to be the Senator from Illinois in 1858. Lincoln did not win the election. More pointedly from our vantage point, Lincoln was arguing that slavery merely needed to be contained in the states where the Founding Fathers had seen fit to leave it, expecting it would die eventually as long as it did not spread into Nebraska, Kansas or other western territories. Douglas argued that each new state's citizenry should be allowed to decide whether their state would be slavery bound or free soil.

Once he announced his Presidential candidacy and before he was inaugurated as our 16th President, he was pulling madly to try to keep the country together. He even offered an amendment to the Constitution to allow slavery to permanently remain in the states that were seceding. No success there.

Once the war started, he was frustrated by at least five top generals who did not pursue the enemies when they retreated. They did not prosecute the war to end it, they were denying him and the nation an end to the war. But during all this time, providence seemed to be at play, IMHO, allowing Lincoln to come to understand that slavery needed to be outlawed. Doris Keairns Goodwin lays out that the Emancipation Proclamation was a war strategy more than a humanitarian act.

Lincoln matured over time to understand that slavery must be abandoned. In the coming entries to this blog, I hope to inspire new maturity about greed and wealth. We shall see how things develop.

all my best,
Auntie Greed