A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Confederacy Day

Although this has nothing to do with mathematics instruction, I often post on the Washington Post blogs.  Here is an issue I care about deeply, so I felt it worthwhile to repost something I posted today on another site.

Slavery was the USA's original sin.  The framers of the Constitution crafted a document that enabled a union to be pulled together despite massive differences over the issue of slavery. We can thank James Madison and other founders for every peaceful transition of power we have in America, but slavery was the single issue that would not simply go away.
The Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision in 1857 ruled that slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never become citizens. When Lincoln was elected, southern states feared that Lincoln was planning to abolish slavery and the "southern way of life."
Lincoln's arguments during the election of 1860 suggest otherwise. Lincoln's main differences seemed to be over the extension of slavery into the Western Territories. He argued vigorously that the "Slavocrats" would have an unfair advantage over white labor if the institution of slavery was extended into the Western Territories. Lincoln's views on slavery evolved during the Civil War.
Nat Turner's bloody rampage in August of 1831 exposed a frightening demographic problem that existed in many communities of the South -- black slaves greatly outnumbered whites. When the abolitionist John Brown raided the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, VA in an effort to lead an armed slave revolt, Robert E. Lee was dispatched by the US Army to put down the rebellion. The US government protected the institution of slavery with federal troops as late as 1859.
When it became clear that the compromise on the issue of slavery was no longer an option, southern states seceded. That caused a constitutional crisis. Lincoln's primary objective in declaring war on the Confederacy was to save the Union. To argue that the Civil War was fought over the issue of States Rights is to ignore the facts of history.
If you want to get an idea about how awful the fighting conditions were during the Civil War, visit Tredegar Iron Works near Richmond (http://www.usa-civil-war.com/Tredegar/tredegar_vst.html) A must see!
With a civil war brewing in Iraq, with daily sectarian bombings rising as American troop levels are falling, people like Bob McDonnell should pause to recall how much blood was spilled on Virginia's soil over the issue of slavery. Virginia's governor should re-read Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address: "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."
With the another anniversary of the Civil War fast approaching, Virginia's elected officials need to be a little more careful about how they handle such a sensitive issue.