One of the tricks I have learned to make long road trips tolerable are books on tape and/or my trusty MP3 player. My Sweet Husband enjoys music (as do I). Our car came with XM Radio and he has a large collection of CDs, but he changes channels or skips to the next song right when I am getting into it. He often does the same thing with the remote control, which is why we have two TVs (smiley face). “This has nothing to do with Mr. Lincoln”, you say – not so. I have owned my Mother’s copy of Gone with the Wind for over 20 years, but have never read it. I have seen the movie a gazillion times, I can quote the lines. But the book, never read it until this summer via audio book. MAY I DEMAND THAT YOU ALL FOLLOW SUIT.
Margaret Mitchell took great pains in her research of the details of life in the South just before, during and after this great conflict. This is often referred to in the South, in later years, as The Great Unpleasantness. More about that later as her book made me look at Lincoln, the war and the boundless loss to the Southern States because of his untimely death.
I have studied in high school and one class in college (without paying much attention) American History. I knew a little about the Civil War, reconstruction and less about Lincoln. I have visited many memorial sites (like Vicksburg) and one reenactment in Alabama. The Spielberg movie helped, but didn’t fill in the blanks until I experienced Mrs. Mitchell’s account.
I have now seen Mr. Lincoln through the looking glass of Steven Spielberg, Margaret Mitchell, an audio book about George W. Bush (a great admirer of Lincoln), The Monument in DC, Mount Rushmore, and His Library and Museum in Springfield, IL.
I have a new understanding of the passion, issues and culture of the times. Mr. Lincoln was the focus of the hope and the anger of the diverse states of our union. Some wanted war, separation, unity, slavery, no slavery, economic balance and the clear definition of state and federal rights. State identity and loyalty was stronger than the identity of a United States. This war did more to unify us as The United States of America than any other act. As many people hated Lincoln as loved and supported him. It is any wonder he lived through the war; but for the providence of God Almighty.
What was left out of much of our history (post-Civil War) was the fact that as the conqueror, the Union established Marshall Law on the Southern States. Union soldiers set up the civil law and enforced it. They set the property tax base, so the now vanquished southern plantation owners couldn’t pay the taxes and nothing got planted. Land was purchased cheap by people who had obtained (legally or illegally) or saved federal money.
All the white males had to sign an allegiance to the Union for the right to vote. Most would not because of the losses, of life, land, family and property. In order to win this nasty conflict some very cruel and horrible things were done on both sides. Most Southern men didn’t feel any allegiance to the Union.
At the same time all the slaves were freed, but freed to what? They were homeless, hungry, without money, land or jobs. The union soldiers brought their families down as they would be stationed in assigned towns for an undetermined amount of time, but the northern women wouldn’t hire the freed slaves because they didn’t trust them and thought of them as less than human.
Almost everyone was hungry, homeless and hopeless except the Union forces. Naturally much stealing of food and other necessities were part of the daily activity of survival. The union forces were the defenders of the freed slaves, as the white southerners were still considered enemies. In truth they were.
This is where vigilante protectors came into being: The KKK. It did not start out as any more than protectors of the little the whites had, but evolved into vengeful, power-hungry men of the basest kind.
The death of Lincoln set the fate of the newly freed slaves. Eventually many moved out west to claim land grants and had to fight the American Indians to live, or they had to move to the north and live in the worst of slums taking the least of the available jobs, or they become share-croppers for the people who eventually owned the agricultural land (slaves again).
I believe had Lincoln lived, Marshall Law would have evolved into something much more productive and in many cases much more fair for all. He was a man who knew loss and had wisdom and understanding, a heart of compassion for ALL the people and a cabinet of competent people who held sacred the true Union of these United States. Alas, we will never know. What is, is.
Below (L to R) is the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, a replica of the casket in state, The family as they looked when they moved into the White House, His cabinet room, The night in the Theatre and not pictured, but in the museum was the bed he actually died in. Lastly, Lincoln at Rushmore. I have met him in many settings in the last few months. I feel I know him now. God Bless The United States of America. Let us not allow any current or future administration or enemy separate us.