Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Harriet Beecher Stowe: Author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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Harriet Beecher-Stowe, American abolitionist a...

Harriet Beecher-Stowe, American abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even before the United States became a country, the South and North fought over slavery. Though several compromises created between 1776-1850 prevented war from erupting between the two opposing sides, slavery remained a hot topic in politics. While modern day Americans picture the Northern states has being advocates for Black Americans, majority of Northerners believed that Black Americans were inferior beings that should be shipped back to Africa because they were taking White Americans’ jobs. The slaves needed a voice, someone who could convince thousands that slaves and Black Americans were humans capable of having feelings. In 1852, the slaves received their voice; her name was Harriet Beecher Stowe.

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe was born on June 14, 1881, in Litchfield, Connecticut. She was one of thirteen children born to  Congregationalists minister and his wife; seven of her brothers grew up to be ministers while the sisters became active in women’s rights. Stowe met her husband, teacher Calvin Ellis Stowe, in the Semi-Colon  literature club. She became involved in the anti-slavery movement from participated in the Underground Railroad. From the runaway slaves, newspaper articles, and first-hand accounts of slavery auctions, Stowe learned how horrible slavery was.Years later, Stowe stated the death of her 18 month year-old son helped her understand the pain of enslaved mothers felt when their children were taken from them to be sold. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive State Law, which made it a crime for anyone in the North to help runaway slaves escape from the South. Stowe knew she had to do something so she wrote to her publisher about writing a few articles about slavery. She wrote “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and  humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” Her articles appeared in the National Era and became a novel, now titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the next year. Uncle Tom’s Cabin became the second best book sold in the 19th century, second only to the Bible.

 

The novel described the horrors of slavery, such as the pain a mother felt when her child was sold to a different family. Uncle Tom’s Cabin showed that slaves had emotions, faith, and could be educated; that they were indeed humans. The novel also featured strong female characters since Stowe believed it was up to the American women to end slavery in the United States.  While the book inspired Northerners to participate in the anti-slavery movement, the Southerners sent Stowe death threats; one package included a severed ear of a slave. Stowe never backed down and spent the rest of her life writing articles, novels, and textbooks about social injustice in the country. The book also became popular abroad; American minister to Britain during the war Charles Francis Adams (grandson of President John Adams) said “a more immediate, considerable, and dramatic world-influence than any other book ever printed.”

 

On November 25, 1862, Stowe met President Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C.. The story says that when she met the President, Lincoln told her “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Three years later, the Civil War ended and the 13th Amendment passed, outlawing slavery in the United States. After accomplishing her goal of ending slavery, Stowe spent her winters teaching emancipated slaves in Mandarin, Florida. She  died on July 1, 1896 in Hartford, Connecticut.

 

Stowe was taught by her parents that both men and women were expected to contribute to society. Stowe used writing not only to support her family, but to make a difference in the world. Gone were the days of burning abolitionists’ printing shops to the ground since many Americans now knew about the horrors of slavery. During the Civil War, thousands of men and women joined the cause knowing that slavery needed to end. And even after slavery ended, Stowe focus on writing about equality for blacks and women in the United States. Stowe showed that anyone, man, woman, or child, could make a difference. Because of her, the stories of millions of slaves were finally written down and the horrors of slavery would never be forgotten.

 

Sources:

 

Harriet Beecher Stowe. biography

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Trans-Atlantic Historical Solidarity

 

December 18th: Three Reasons to give Thanks

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Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...

Mayflower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 18 1620, the Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1606, the Puritans founded their own church separate from the Church of England. After being accused from treason, the Puritans sailed to the Netherlands. After spending twelve years in the Netherlands struggling to make money and adapt to the culture, the Puritans decided to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers boarded the Mayflower and set sail to America. After docking on December 18, the Pilgrims would spend a miserable weather trying to build a settlement; half of the Pilgrims would die. In the spring they made contact with the Wampanoag Tribe and signed a peace treaty with the chief. The following fall, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans would celebrate the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims showed how important it is to be able to practice religion freely – they risked their lives to be able to. Ever since 1620, the United States has been a safe haven to all religions.

Years later, on December 18, 1777, the United States celebrated its first national day of Thanksgiving; they gave thanks to the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga. The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point in the American Revolutionary War since it convinced the French to enter the war at the American’s ally since they were able to fight the British. The American forces were led by Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold while the British forces were led by General John Burgoyne. One of the most important heroes of the battle was Polish Engineer Thaddeus Kosciusko – it was he who fortified the Americans’ defenses along the Hudson Bay, ensuring the British would not be able to attack. In December, Congress wrote “It is therefore recommended to the Legislative or executive Powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next, for solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That at one Time and with one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor.”

"The surrender at Saratoga" shows Ge...

“The surrender at Saratoga” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was the first time all thirteen colonies had celebrated together, one step for them in forming a country. If Americans did not win the Battle of Saratoga, the French may never had sided with the Americans and who knows if the war would have favored the Americans. Then in December 18, 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The Amendment stated “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Though the main goal of the Civil War was to reunite the Union, the North began to hate slavery since it was associated with the South. In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the states rebelling against the North (meanwhile the Northern and Border states still allowed slavery, though majority of states did not practice it). In March 1865, the amendment passed and was ratified in December of the same year. This amendment would abolish all slavery in the United States, creating a large population of African-Americans that would struggle for Civil Rights to this day. Though the United States is still working toward becoming a country where everyone is equal, the 15th Amendment was the first major step in the right direction.

Thanksgiving: A Holiday being Overshadowed by Greed

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Black Friday shoppers at Walmart

Black Friday shoppers at Wal-Mart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1620, a group of people (known today as the Pilgrims) arrived in the New World in order to escape religious prosecution in England. Of the original 102 passengers, only half of them survived the winter. In spring, they came in contact with the Natives, who taught them how to grow food. In November, after the Pilgrims’ first successful corn harvest, they organized a celebratory feast and invited their Native American friends. This feast would last for three days, though the peace between the two groups would last for over fifty years. Though New England would celebrate Thanksgiving annually, it was President George Washington who proclaimed Thanksgiving to be celebrated across the country for the “Happy conclusion of the War of Independence.” Though John Adams and James Madison followed suit, it was Abraham Lincoln who made Thanksgiving a National Holiday that would occur on the final Thursday in November. In the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln asked that all Americans to ask God “to commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Today, families gather around the table to eat turkey and watch football before going off to work… that is, if one is in the retail business. On a day where one should be thankful for what he has, it has now become consumed with shoppers “wanting more,” forcing retail employees to cut spending time with the family short. Originally Black Friday meant stores opened earlier, but now stores are opening early on Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart is opening at 8pm while Target is opening at 9pm. There are even some stores, like Old Navy, that is opened all day Thanksgiving. Besides the hours, Black Friday has also brought out the worse of the human kind.  In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death as shoppers knocked the doors from their hinges and stepped on him in their rush to the stacks of sales items. In 2011, a woman used pepper spray on fellow shoppers to get Xbox videogames.

Since the first Macy’s Parade in 1924, the day after Thanksgiving has kicked off holiday shopping season. The term “black” refers to stores’ accounting records when records were kept by hand – red ink indicated a loss while black ink indicated a profit. In the 1960’s, Philadelphia police in Philadelphia complained about the traffic, calling it “Black Friday.” Today, Black Friday has become a giant economy boost since the National Retail Federation predicts holiday sales will increase 4.1% this year to $586.1 billion, causing retailers to hire between 585,000 and 625,000 seasonal workers this holiday. In 2011, 226 million people went shopping, spending on average $400 each, and resulting in a total of $52 billion dollars being spent. Another (safer) option to Black Friday is Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday where retailers offer more sales; in fact, more than 70% percent of Black Friday deals last year were also available online.

The retail employees have expressed anger at having to work on a holiday; some employees have threatened to not show up on Black Friday. Wal-Mart has filed a complaint with a federal agency accusing one of the largest unions in the country of unlawfully organizing picket lines and in-store “flash mobs.”  People have also expressed  displeasure at stores for forcing their employees to work on a holiday, but  ultimately it is the shoppers who decide – if no one was lining outside Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving night, then Wal-Mart would not be open on Thanksgiving. Those customers in line must ask themselves, years from now, will they remember the Thanksgiving spent with family or the price they saved on a new television.

Texas Petition Insults Civil War Soldiers’ Memories

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English: Incidents of the war. A harvest of de...

English: Incidents of the war. A harvest of death, Gettysburg, PA. Dead Federal soldiers on battlefield. Negative by Timothy H. O’Sullivan. Positive by Alexander Gardner. Deutsch: Vorkommnisse im Krieg. Die Ernte des Todes. Gettysburg, Juli 1863 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On this day, November 19th, 149 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most famous speeches in United States history– the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln read his inspiring speech at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The cemetery was where, months earlier, over 50,000 American (Union and Confederacy) soldiers died. The Civil War claimed over 620,000 American lives – a number that is estimated because not all of the bodies were recovered. This war resulted in families being torn apart and cities being burned to the ground; but yet, the talk of Civil War has emerged again… all because President Barack Obama was reelected.

All fifty states have started petitions about having their state seceding from the United States, but the top seven states (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee) are all from the South. Texas boasts of a petition of over 100,000 signatures; though in a state where the population is over 25 million, the petition only represents .0039% of the population. These petitioners actually believe that their state can stand alone, yet it was the original settlers of Texas who chose to be a part of the United States. These petitioners believe that they can protect themselves from other countries, but the Texans needed help from the United States during the Mexican-American War in the 1840s. These people believe they can make a profit, yet six of these seven states account for 23% of aid received from the federal government. Most of these states have tried to leave the United States before and it resulted in a bloody battle; as the philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.” The possibility of the states seceding from the United States is slim as the Civil War showed.

As talk of secession continues, the talk of a possible Civil War has appeared in discussions amongst the social media websites. The people talk as though Civil War is needed in order to demonstrate how corrupt the United States has become…yet do they realize how over 620,000 Americans died in the last war. And in a world of planes, bombs, and drones, that number would only be greater. Are these petitioners willing to risk their lives to fight against their fellow countrymen because President Obama was re-elected? The first Civil War resulted after decades of issues, including: states’ rights, slavery, confusing territory outlines, international trading, and differing economy. The election of a Republican president was the final straw for the South since the states soon seceding after President Lincoln was elected. The fact that the petitioners want their state to leave the United States because someone they didn’t like was chosen as president is insulting to the original Southerners who had more than one reason to want to leave the country. The petitioners also argue that the United States is a corrupt country, even though the American people participated in democracy and chose their leader – a type of government that is uncommon worldwide. There are other countries where the people have no say in electing their countries’ leaders, but here in the United States, the White House has to waste time reviewing these petitions.

When people delightfully talk about a Civil War being probable, it appears as though they have never were taught about the Gettysburg Battle, the bloodiest battle on the American soil that took place during the original Civil War. The Gettysburg Battle took place in three days (July 1-3, 1863) but resulted in over 50,000 soldiers dying. Months later, President Abraham Lincoln was asked to attend and speak at the dedication of the cemetery. The speech was small, but yet it sent a message. President Lincoln said “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here” yet it seems as though people have forgotten how horrible war is. They forgot about the sight of blood, the smell of dead bodies, the tears of family members – they forgot how soldiers risked their lives to bring back the Southern states. “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,” said President Lincoln, stating how the Civil War was a test on the United States’ strength and that it would survive the war… and he was right.

The United States is a land of freedom where every adult can vote for president. Instead of signing their names on a piece of paper, the petitioners should be productive and focus on what they can do to better the country or if they want, they can leave the United States on their own. But acting as though a possible Civil War is justified through the reelection of President Obama – it is insulting to everyone who fought in the Civil War.