Category Archives: Abolitionism and Civil War

Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Saturday, March 4, 1865

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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.

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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 offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses 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 offense 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 bondsman’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 lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1865) ~ http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=38

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin Reading Marathon

The Uncle Tom’s Cabin  reading marathon will be held on April 12 beginning at 8:00 am at the The Modjeska Monteith Simkins House at 2025 Marion Street in Columbia and will run until the entire novel has been read.
 
The event is being held on April 12th  in response to the many Civil War “commemorations” going on across the South and nation this year. April 12th is  the 150th anniversary of the start-up date of the Civil War.   The date is also significant in that the Confederate flag was first placed atop the SC Statehouse dome in 1962 during the centennial observances of the Civil War.
 
Since many of those commemorating and celebrating the “Lost Cause” want to write African enslavement out as a core reason for the war, many of us feel that it’s important to set the record straight in a historically connected way.
 
We want to tell the enslaved Africans and abolitionists’ side of the story. 
 
Why This Book?  When Abraham Lincoln met the Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862 he is said to have remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

Though slave narratives were immensely popular, Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin reached the broadest audience prior to the Civil War.  Stowe’s anti-slavery message was less threatening to white audiences than were ex-enslaved Africans.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin had a tremendous impact.  Most blacks responded positively to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Frederick Douglass was a friend of Stowe’s; she had consulted him on some sections of the book, and he praised the book in his writings.  Most black abolitionists saw it as a tremendous help to their cause.  Some opposed the book, seeing Uncle Tom’s character as being too submissive and criticized Stowe for having her strongest black characters emigrate to Liberia.

The character Uncle Tom is an enslaved African who retains his integrity and refuses to betray his fellow slaves at the cost of his life.  His firm Christian principles in the face of his brutal treatment made him a hero to whites.  In contrast, his tormenter Simon Legree, the Northern slave-dealer turned plantation owner, enraged them with his cruelty. Stowe convinced readers that the institution of slavery itself was evil, because it supported people like Legree and enslaved people like Uncle Tom. Because of her work, thousands rallied to the anti-slavery cause.

Only 5,000 copies of the first edition were printed. They were sold in two days. By the end of the first year, 300,000 copies had been sold in America alone; in England 200,000 copies were sold.  Southerners were outraged, and declared the work to be criminal, slanderous, and utterly false. A bookseller in Mobile, Alabama, was forced out of town for selling copies. Stowe received threatening letters and a package containing the dismembered ear of a black person. Southerners also reacted by writing their own novels depicting the happy lives of slaves, and often contrasted them with the miserable existences of Northern white workers.
 
Individual participants will read for 10 minutes. Slots are filling up but we are still asking fraternities and sororities, high school and college english classes, churches, social groups, politicians, theater people, kids, etc., to get involved.
 
The event is being sponsored by the Harriet Tubman Freedom House Project, the Columbia Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the South Carolina Progressive Network.

Partial List of Participants: Vanzell Haire, Rev. Sandy Jones, Rev. David Edmonds, Tom Clements, Bill Roberson, Hi Bedford Roberson, Kevin Alexander Gray, Scott West, Frances Close, Eva Moore, Tom Turnipseed, Lyn Phillips, Don Frierson, Cassandra Fralix, Gerald Rudolph, Mattie Haynes, Roland Haynes, Becci Robbins, Marjorie Hammock, Michael Watts, Brett A. Bursey, Efia Nwangaza, Catherine Fleming-Bruce, Meryl Truesdale, William Felder, Patricia Daniels, Guy Fowler, Marjorie Trifon, Camille Gray-Felder and many others.
 
For more information and press inquiries call 803.386.4759 or email Kevin Gray @ kevinagray57@gmail.com.
 
http://uncletomscabin.clarity-dev.com/

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