I’m ABE-solutely Serious This Time

Across the country millions of students at various levels are embarking on the incredible journey that is a new school year. Although I won’t be entering a classroom this September, a few months ago I decided to use this month to reeducate my brain in a number of ways. One of those ways? Getting back on the blog train.

That’s why when I woke up and flipped to a new page in my calendar and saw this:image

I felt a strange pang of cosmic coherence. (If you can’t see what’s happening on there we’ve got an inexplicable image of a coy next to a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”)

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I was fascinated by the ways in which people appropriate images, ideas, and honestly, misconceptions about our 16th President. Although the whole inspiration-industry is something that I’ve got a lot of feelings about, I appreciated the serendipity of an oddly placed Lincoln quote to kick-off the month.

So, taking this day by day, step by step, I look forward to going back to school in a log-cabin school house with my fellow Lincoln nerds this September.

Have you seen something awesome and Lincoln related? Let me know, you can Linc up with me at honestabeblog at gmail dot com.


I Do Not Want to Appear As If I Hesitated

Sometimes it’s hard to believe how in so many ways we are still so close to the Civil War. So yesterday, when I read historian Eric Foner’s op-ed in the New York Times on the importance of the the Emancipation Proclamation I found myself for the first time in a long time struck by that easily definable and so proximate value of “one hundred and fifty years.”



While we have certainly made a lot of changes in the past 150 years – and we’ve seen a lot of progress – that number lingers in my head as something that still seems so close and I find myself asking — how is it that the Emancipation Proclamation is only 150 years old?

Foner aptly assesses that the Proclamation – which functioned primarily as a military order declaring all enslaved persons in Confederate territory to be free – was “the crucial turning point in this story.”  While for many the importance of the proclamation was overshadowed by the ratification of the 13th amendment – we are still rightly taught the value of the Proclamation as the first decisive move towards shifting this war to more than just a battle between the states.

In case it’s been a while since you read it, below I’ve copied and pasted the text of the Proclamation — as we continue on our endeavor to remember the sesquicentennial, I urge everyone to reflect on what it is that these turning points have actually meant for our nation.

The Emancipation Proclamation – January 1, 1863

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


The President’s Race

Last week I went to my first baseball game of the season  – Nationals v. Marlins. Had some great seats in the lower section behind first plate -which meant that I had a decent view of “the main event” — the Presidents Race.


If you are unfamiliar with the Presidents Race (and the plight of our 26th President) I recommend checking this site out: http://blog.letteddywin.com/

I caught that pic of a man wearing that awesome “Winning races since 1860” shirt and thought it was worth a share. Lincoln & Washington are tied with 3 wins each this season with Jefferson coming out strong with 5. And while I still hold Abe dear to my heart, I cannot help but echo the calls to let Teddy win.

Statues in the Park

It’s Emancipation Day here in D.C. – where we celebrate the fact that 150 years ago today the DC Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 went into effect and ended slavery in the District


Being a resident of Capitol Hill, I visit Lincoln Park – or as it has also been known as “Racist Statue Park” – with some regularity. The picture above shows the Thomas Ball statue which resides on the western side of the park. I was really pleased to see a nice write up in the Post examining the complexities of this statue – which also addresses the important issue of how we view history today, and how different images and figures mean different things to different eras.

Famous Cat Lovers

Mary Todd was once asked if Abe had any hobbies and her reply was: cats.

Lest you doubt Lincoln’s love of cats:

Mr. Lincoln had a particular weakness for kittens. One friend from his New Salem days recalled that he “ would take one & turn it on its back & talk to it for half an hour at a time.”10 Another New Salem resident recalled young Lincoln playing with the Carman family kittens, Jane and Susan: “he would Take them up in his lap & play with them and Hold their heads together & say Jane had a better countenance [sic] than Susan Had.”11

So there you have it… Lincoln & Lee’s kitty ranch could have been a reality.