Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Independence Day.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the stated intent to become free of a ruler who did not respect those living on this continent.

We ended up with laws that were very much flawed. For example, slavery was legal and women could not vote.

Today is the anniversary of the end of the battle at Gettysburg, the end of reasonable expectation that the rebellious states might succeed. For many, this defeat is something they mourn. It was a battle of federal rights versus states' rights. Neither side was fighting for individual rights. The side that lost was fighting, in part, to protect the right of one human being to own another. In other words, fighting to keep individuals from having rights. We should rejoice at the defeat of such a barbaric idea. The side that won did not do anything to put an end to the same practice until after the war was over. So maybe not so much to rejoice over, either.

But what about the Emancipation Proclamation?

This only freed slaves in states that were not under the control of the Union. It was a bribe. Come back and you may keep your slaves. A not so pretty speech, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. It came before Gettysburg, so the outcome was much more dubious. The need to weaken to opposition was still great. This was "Come back and all is forgiven."

One of the most dramatic moments at Gettysburg is described at William The Coroner’s Forensic Files in the post Joshua Chamberlain. Not your typical American, but the kind of person who did make this country possible, a truly impressive leader. This is not meant to ignore the bravery of all of those who fought with him or against him, but his action was pivotal.

As weak and pathetic as the Emancipation Proclamation was, the follow up to the battle was not. The Gettysburg Address was a momentous speech - brief, motivating, memorable.


Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


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6 comments:

MadMike said...

What an inspiring post! This is my first visit and it won't be my last. I am rather sorry I can't disagree with one word of what you wrote, but then again we are doing some of that at my place. I am looking forward to spending some time here. Have a happy 4th!

Rogue Medic said...

Thank you,

I shall be visiting.

I am working, so not so much enjoyment. Enjoy the holiday.

Mark p.s. said...

"slavery was legal and women could not vote."
come on be realistic, slavery has-had been legal since the start of time, and when voting started, only land owners could vote. How many land owners were women?

Rogue Medic said...

Mark p.s.,

What is your point?

Should we return to legalized slavery?

Should we prevent women from voting?

Are these changes in the Constitution that upset you?

Should we try to be more like whatever is common? If slavery is common, we should not have a problem with slavery. If keeping women from voting is common we should not let women vote.

Since these were common, perhaps we should ignore these problems written into the document?

Or do you mean something else? I could speculate endlessly about a possible connection of your comment to what I wrote. Please explain your meaning.

Mark p.s. said...

you wrote"We ended up with laws that were very much flawed. For example, slavery was legal and women could not vote."

I was defending the flawed laws, as not being out of place for the time.

Rogue Medic said...

Mark p.s.,

Yes, these were not uncommon for the time, but the document was not written with in an attempt to create America in the image of other countries. Not uncommon does not mean that they were legal everywhere.

There were many factors in the use of slaves in America. Economic factors seem to be the most important. Of the places that did not allow slavery, the lack of a significant economic benefit probably has a lot to do with the laws. We still have rich and powerful people, as slave owners would tend to be, with significant influence in our legislatures.

We justify many things on the grounds that it would be too expensive to do otherwise, but when these ways are changed, we survive. Businesses also fail when we do not change laws.

In not being fair to different individuals, in making citizenship exceptions without a sound logical basis, they are flawed. That is pretty much the definition of compromise, not everybody gets what they want.

As customs changed, the Constitution has been modified to protect more rights than were originally included. With the banning of slavery and the addition of the right of women to vote, the document has corrected some of the flaws.

While not many women were land owners, this was after a war. The husband or father being killed will be one way that even a patriarchal society will end up with a bunch of women owning land. That is, unless land ownership is restricted to men, by law. It may be more common for the land to be inherited by a son, but there had to be some Henry VIII's shooting out nothing but X's.

They did allow for the correction/modification of the document to account for these flaws, but they did not allow the possibility of any law that would ban the importation of slaves until 1808 and the tax could not be more than $10 per imported slave.

January 1, 1808 the importation of slaves was forbidden. They knew it was wrong, but knew they would not be able to get the slave owning states to join in the formation of the country otherwise. They were also well aware that the power to tax is the power to destroy.

Is it the best compromise that they could have come up with? It has survived. These flaws are no longer active in the current document.

When written, these flaws were accepted as the price for the formation of this country.