Archive for the ‘Lincoln’ Category

“American Press has Turned Into a Joke” Comparing Obama To FDR, Lincoln

November 19, 2008

“Barack Obama is just like Lincoln,” a youthful and eager fan reported to me.

And I thought: except for the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address, the preservation of the Union and his record as President of the United States.

Bill Sammon of the Washington Examiner said, “The American press has turned into a joke by comparing Barack Obama to FDR and Abraham Lincoln.  They do him no favor by raising expectations to a level that is not achievable.”

Barack Obama, the first ever black man elected to America’s highest office, should be honored for sure; but we should also put our regard for him in proper perspective and watch how the next four years transpire.

Barack Obama is still, to me, a potential agent of manifest change: and not yet a historically overpowering figure we honor for his many accomplishments.

Oh I agree with others that the election of a Black American is historic and memorable; but while it says a lot about our new President-elect it says more to me about the American people.

The notion that Barack Obama is, in many ways, “Linconesque,” is at least premature and could seem a tad bizarre, especially to historians seeking meaning, accomplishments and proven character.

Obama has not yet managed through his Cuban Missile Crisis, his Vietnam War, his Great Depression or whatever real crises we can anticipate — and even whatever nobody could ever anticipate like George W. Bush’s “Nine Eleven.”

Yet both Lincoln and Obama certainly share Illinois and a place in history.  Lincoln’s place in history is “writ large.”  We do not yet know if Barack Obama is a chapter or two of history; or just a paragraph or two. 

President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist's question ... 
President-elect Barack Obama answers a journalist’s question during his first press conference following his election victory in Chicago, November 7, 2008.(John Gress/Reuters)

Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. He graduated from  Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.

Obama is an “indoorsman,” who wrote two books about himself and arguably became addicted to his BlackBerry.

Lincoln was an outdoorsman who grew up in a log cabin in the rough “west” of the United States in his time, including Kentucky and Illinois.

Wikipedia says “Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.”

Lincoln’s formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe.

Barack Obama is skilled with a computer keyboard, a teleprompter, and as a very eloquent public speaker and, though I myself have been moved by the style of many Obama speeches, the next day I have found something sometimes lacking. Yet like some of Mister Lincoln’s orations and remarks, Mr. Obama’s speeches are filled with “hope” and “change.”

Obama's speech earned him praise from politicians on the left and right. But not everyone was impressed.

Above: Barack Obama before a crowd in Germany. Photo: Getty Images
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Lincoln participated in the most studied and recalled political debates ever held in America.

Barack Obama’s debates with John McCain will be recalled for one thing only: Obama became the elected president.

“I don’t think we need any big media-run productions, no processed questions from reporters, no spin rooms, just two Americans running for the highest office in the greatest nation on earth responding to the concerns of the people who’s trust that we must earn,” John McCain said well before the debates with Barack Obama.

Famously, McCain said he wanted ten “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates with Barack Obama.

The nation ended up with far fewer than ten debates and not one came close to resembling the famed and historic Lincoln-Douglas debates.

But the world is a different place now and our national attention span and will to concentrate is short for good reasons, even though we are multitasking…

Creators Syndicate

Oprah Already Has Dress For Obama's Inauguration
WireImage
Access Hollywood

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are pretty much comfortable everywhere — from public speaking in Germany to Bill Ayers house and onward to Oprah’s TV show and to Hollywood.

Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, which many historians believe was at least “on the edge” and probably crazy, were famously uncomfortable in most settings.  Many Hollywood and TV people today say that Lincoln’s looks would probably make him unelectable today.

Lincoln mourned the loss of one of his own children: and he watched in horror as Civil War casualties bled the nation white.  He even took the time to pen a letter to a grieving mother who lost five sons in “Lincoln’s war.”

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s most famous oration, the Gettysburg Address, took just two minutes to deliver.  For more than a century, American school children memorized this magnificent piece of writing and oration, one of the finest speeches ever given in America, some say, and all in less than 280 words.

On the day of that address, Lincoln was not the featured speaker, who droned on for some time.  But nobody without a deep history education can even recall the man who delivered his remarks before Lincoln on Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the cemetery in Gettysburg.


Soldiers National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Lincoln freed the slaves and preserved the Union.  So far, Obama freed the media and the electorate of the feeling and belief that racism kept good men of color from key posts.

Lincoln was unafraid of firing his top generals — and then while U.S. Grant was gaining ground and winning battles and his staff said the man was a drunk, Lincoln issued an order to send Grant a case of his favorite spirits, or so the story is told.


Lincoln in the field during the Civil War

Lincoln had to sneak into Washington DC for his inauguration.  Obama will be greeted by a throng of millions.

Lincoln assembled a cabinet that was a train wreck of disagreement to the point of dysfunction.  Some in the media today say that Obama is emulating Lincoln’s ability to be “inclusive” in his cabinet selections.

But Lincoln did famously “reach out” to all great leaders who could help him including the Catholic Archbishop of New York, “Dagger” John Hughes.

Linoln also gave a seemingly open door to the White House to Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who pushed President Lincoln to create and issue the Emancipation Proclamation — against the advice of many including his top military commanders.


Above: Frederick Douglass, in about 1879.

Above:  Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862 for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Barack Obama’s challenges have yet to unfold.

Lincoln’s challenges were manifest.

History has judged Lincoln.  Obama’s first full chapter, now, at least in part, well chronicled by eager contemporary media scribes, is mostly still a way off for historians to evaluate.

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
November 19, 2008

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The Topeka Capitol Journal began an article on November 9, 2008 with, “Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation’s 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.”

My Vietnamese American relatives say, “We seem to have the Easter before the Palm….”

Lincoln’s Day, once celebrated on his birthday, is now largely forgotten and squeezed out by the celebration of other great Americans like Martin Luther King.  Frederick Douglass has no day at all. It might be prudent to hold off on the “Barack Obama Day” just a tad….

Related:
Barack Obama Needs To Know: Lincoln’s Dysfuncional Cabinet Was Not Your Mother’s A-Team
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 Frederick Douglass: Turning Points
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“Most Famous” Lincoln Letter of Civil War Found?

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Barack Obama Needs To Know: Lincoln’s Dysfuncional Cabinet Was Not Your Mother’s A-Team

November 18, 2008

People love Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on the Lincoln presidency, “Team of Rivals.” More important, for this moment in American history, Barack Obama loves it. The book is certainly fun to read, but its claim that Abraham Lincoln revealed his “political genius” through the management of his wartime Cabinet deserves a harder look, especially now that it seems to be offering a template for the new administration.

“Lincoln basically pulled in all the people who had been running against him into his Cabinet,” is the way Obama has summarized Goodwin’s thesis, adding, “Whatever personal feelings there were, the issue was how can we get this country through this time of crisis.”

By Matthew Pinsker
The Los Angeles Times

That’s true enough, but the problem is, it didn’t work that well for Lincoln. There were painful trade-offs with the “team of rivals” approach that are never fully addressed in the book, or by others that offer happy-sounding descriptions of the Lincoln presidency.

Lincoln’s decision to embrace former rivals, for instance, inevitably meant ignoring old friends — a development they took badly. “We made Abe and, by God, we can unmake him,” complained Chicago Tribune Managing Editor Joseph Medill in 1861. Especially during 1861 and 1862, the first two years of Lincoln’s initially troubled administration, friends growled over his ingratitude as former rivals continued to play out their old political feuds.

In fairness, Goodwin describes several of these more difficult moments, such as when Secretary of State William Seward tried to seize political command from Lincoln during the Ft. Sumter crisis. But she passes over their consequences too easily.

Though Seward, the former New York senator who had been the Republican front-runner, eventually proved helpful to the president, the impact of repeated disloyalty and unnecessary backroom drama from him and several other Cabinet officers was a significant factor in the early failures of the Union war effort.


Above: Seward

By December 1862, there was a full-blown Cabinet crisis.

“We are now on the brink of destruction,” Lincoln confided to a close friend after being deluged with congressional criticism and confronted by resignations from both Seward and Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. Goodwin suggests that Lincoln’s quiet confidence and impressive emotional intelligence enabled him to survive and ultimately forge an effective team out of his former rivals, but that’s more wishful thinking than serious analysis.

Consider this inconvenient truth: Out of the four leading vote-getters for the 1860 Republican presidential nomination whom Lincoln placed on his original team, three left during his first term — one in disgrace, one in defiance and one in disgust.

Simon Cameron was the disgraced rival, Lincoln’s failed first secretary of War. Goodwin essentially erased him from her group biography, not mentioning him in the book’s first 200 pages, even though he placed third, after Seward and Lincoln, on the first Republican presidential ballot. Cameron proved so corrupt and inept that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives censured him after he was removed from office in 1862.

Above: Portrait of Simon Cameron by Freeman Thorp.

Chase was the defiant rival. As Goodwin acknowledges, the Treasury chief never reconciled himself to Lincoln’s victory, continuously angling to replace him. Lincoln put up with this aggravation until he secured renomination and then dumped his brilliant but arrogant subordinate because, in his words, their “mutual embarrassment” was no longer sustainable.

Atty. Gen. Edward Bates was the disgusted rival. The elder statesman — 67 when he was appointed — never felt at home in the Lincoln Cabinet and played only a marginal role in shaping policy. He resigned late in the first term. His diary reflects deep discontent with what he considered the relentless political maneuvering of his Cabinet peers and even the president.

“Alas!” Bates wrote in August 1864, “that I should live to see such abject fear — such small stolid indifference to duty — such open contempt of Constitution and law — and such profound ignorance of policy and prudence!”

Only Seward endured throughout the Civil War. He and Lincoln did become friends, and he provided some valuable political advice, but the significance of his contributions as Lincoln’s secretary of State have been challenged by many historians, and his repeated fights with other party leaders were always distracting.

John Hay, one of Lincoln’s closest aides, noted in his diary that by the summer of 1863, the president had essentially learned to rule his Cabinet with “tyrannous authority,” observing that the “most important things he decides & there is no cavil.”

Over the years, it has become easy to forget that hard edge and the once bad times that nearly destroyed a president. Lincoln’s Cabinet was no team. His rivals proved to be uneven as subordinates. Some were capable despite their personal disloyalty, yet others were simply disastrous.

Lincoln was a political genius, but his model for Cabinet-building should stand more as a cautionary tale than as a leadership manual.

Matthew Pinsker, author of “Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home,” teaches Civil War history at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Barack Obama will follow Lincoln’s lead in choosing bipartisan Cabinet

November 17, 2008

Barack Obama said today he would appoint at least one Republican to his cabinet as he praised the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln – a president who gave top posts to several of his bitterest political enemies.

Mr Obama, who meets John McCain in Chicago tomorrow to discuss ways they can work together after he becomes president, said he would be announcing Cabinet appointments soon, days after he discussed with Hillary Clinton the possibility of making her his Secretary of State.

In his first full interview since winning the election, Mr Obama described the challenges he faces when he takes office in January as “enormous” and “multiple”.

He made clear his determination to pick the most effective team to tackle them, even if it means choosing former rivals and Republicans.
Mr Obama said he had spent “a lot of time” reading the writings of President Lincoln since the election, because “there is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”

He and Mrs Clinton have both read and admired ‘Team of Rivals’, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how President Lincoln bought old foes into government after winning the 1860 election.

Reminded that the 16th president put many of his political enemies in his cabinet, Mr Obama was asked on CBS’s 60 Minutes whether he was considering the same approach. “Well, I’ll tell you what,” he replied. “I find him a very wise man.”

Lincoln and his cabinet. Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_
americas/us_elections/article5167418.ece

Barack Obama recalls Abraham Lincoln as America revels in making history

November 8, 2008

Obama has something of a pardonable obsession with his fellow Illinois citizen – so much so that his speech on Tuesday night in Chicago quoted Lincoln’s first inaugural address in 1861 without at first identifying him – as if the whole watching political nation would automatically know who he was talking about, especially since Lincoln’s words spoke achingly of a national reconciliation even on the very threshold of civil war.

By Simon Schama
The Telegraph (UK)

It’s easy enough to guess what Lincoln, the 16th president, would make of Obama, the 44th. But what about the third? It was from Jefferson’s hand that so much of the tragic atrocity, as well as the ennobling idealism of the American experiment, followed. For unlike Washington, the author of the Declaration of Independence, who proclaimed to the world as a truism that all men were created equal, could never bring himself to free his 100 or so slaves. And although Jefferson professed to believe in the universal fraternity of mankind, he thought black people intellectually inferior to those of European descent and patronised appallingly the most gifted of their race – like the scientist and inventor Benjamin Banneker.

In August 1791, Banneker presumed to write to Jefferson in Paris asking him, as a man of enlightened ideas, to “eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevails with respect to us” since “your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that the Universal Father hath given being to us all and that he hath made us all of one flesh but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same faculties”.

This was all very nice. But then Banneker took a step too far, adding his dismay at finding that Jefferson himself was one of those who detained “by fraud and violence a part of my brethren groaning under captivity and cruel oppression” and that “you should at the same time be guilty of that which you professedly detested in others”. Jefferson wrote back crisply from Paris that “no body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colours of men”. But then he added, with fatal condescension, that “the appearance of the want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence both in Africa and America”.

Jefferson insisted that no one “wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body and mind to what it ought to be”. But his ardour apparently stopped well short of emancipation.

Read the rest:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/barackobama
/3393459/US-election-Barack-Obama-recalls-Abraham-Lincoln-as-Americ
a-revels-in-making-history.html

Blair family had many historic roles

March 21, 2008

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
February 23, 2008

One family participated in many historic and breathtaking moments of the Civil War. Its members helped Abraham Lincoln get elected twice to the presidency. On behalf of Lincoln, the elder statesman of the family apparently offered command of the Union Army to Robert E. Lee in 1861.

In 1865, that same Washington elder statesman tried to negotiate a peace settlement with his longtime friend Jefferson Davis.

One son served in Lincoln’s Cabinet, had his house burned to the ground by Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederate forces and resigned his high government post in a sort of political trade.
Another son served in Congress, became a general in the Union Army and then a senator after the war and led a life of brawling adventure.

Jubal Early

The family name still causes tourists to stop in awe and respect just one block from the White House, inside the nation’s Capitol and in front of a handsome bust in Vicksburg, Miss.

The Blairs of Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and the District of Columbia played a uniquely influential role in American politics from the time Francis P. Blair Sr. became involved in the financial Panic of 1819 until the end of son Frank Blair’s Senate term in 1873.
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Francis P. Blair Sr.
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Francis Preston Blair Sr. (1791-1876) began a long and distinguished career of semigovernment service and influence during the 1819 crisis. He led the Relief Party and became an influential writer of newspaper opinion pieces on politics.
Montgomery Blair

His articles and support for Andrew Jackson so impressed the new president that Jackson urged Blair to move from Kentucky to Washington to become a full-time newspaperman.

In 1830, Blair established the Washington Globe, a party organ, and also published the Congressional Globe. He gained national importance as a political journalist and ran the printing business for Congress. However, he is remembered best as the leader of Andrew Jackson’s “kitchen cabinet.

Blair’s business partner, John Rives, described Blair as 85 pounds of bones and 22 pounds of “gristle, nerve and brain.”
 

Blair continued to run and edit his newspaper throughout the presidencies of Jackson and Martin Van Buren. When James K. Polk was elected president in 1844, Blair excused himself from the newspaper business but not from his role as an influencer of government policy. He traveled all the way to Jackson’s home, the Hermitage, in Tennessee to visit the former president.
 

Blair supported John C. Fremont’s 1856 Republican presidential nomination even after he “retired” to his 20-room mansion, Silver Spring, in Maryland.
John C. Frémont 
John C Fremont

He aided Lincoln from the first days of the crisis between the states, offering a prestigious Union Army position to Robert E. Lee, apparently on the president’s behalf. (Controversy continues.)
 

He also crossed Union lines into the Confederacy more than once on peace missions, using a note Lincoln had written that read: “Allow the bearer; F.P. Blair, Sr., to pass our lines, go South, and return.”

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln was a frequent guest at Blair’s Maryland home, where Blair and his family entertained and persuaded the president.

Montgomery Blair

Montgomery Blair (1813-1883) graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1835. He saw action in the Seminole War, established himself as a lawyer and served as mayor of St. Louis (1842-1843).
 

He moved to the nation’s capital in 1852. His family established residence at the town home (now called Blair House) owned by his father on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House.
 

He was U.S. solicitor in the Court of Claims from 1855 to 1858. He and associate George T. Curtis served as counsel for the plaintiff in the Dred Scott case of 1857. Scott and his wife sued in federal court for their freedom after their master moved them to Missouri, a free territory.
 

Blair and his partner represented Scott before the Supreme Court but lost the case when Justice Roger Taney ruled that a slave’s status did not change when he moved from territory to territory. Taney held that Dred Scott, a slave, was property. Thus, Scott was not a man and had no standing in federal court.
 

A fervent opponent of slavery, Montgomery Blair joined the new Republican Party. He became an ardent supporter of Abraham Lincoln for president.

In 1861, Lincoln appointed him postmaster general, but Blair’s influence far exceeded the standard definition of that office.
 

Modern observers would find it difficult to understand the importance of the postmaster in 1860. One line in Lincoln’s first inaugural address indicated the importance of the mail in those days. Faced with secession, Lincoln asserted: “The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union.”
 

Described as the most learned man in Lincoln’s Cabinet, Blair is credited by most with founding the Universal Postal Union, an international agreement that standardized postal rates and services. He also originated prepaid postage, free mail delivery in cities, money orders, and postal railroad cars.
 

House burned
 

Montgomery Blair became a key Lincoln confidant and leader of Lincoln’s kitchen cabinet. In 1861, he was the only Cabinet member who urged Lincoln to reinforce Fort Sumter, a subject far afield of his duties as postmaster. During the war, Montgomery Blair and his father frequently had the president’s ear.
 

When Gen. Jubal Early and his Confederate army invaded the North to pressure Washington in 1864, his troops sacked and burned Falkland, Montgomery Blair’s rural retreat in what is now Silver Spring.
 

Early recalled the day this way: “[W]hen in front of Washington some of my troops were very determined to destroy the house of Mr. Francis P. Blair and had actually removed some furniture, probably supposing it to belong to his son, a member of the Federal Cabinet. As soon as I came up, I immediately stopped the proceeding and compelled the men to return every article so far as I knew, and placed a guard to protect it. The house of his son, Montgomery Blair, a member of the Cabinet, was subjected to a different rule for obvious reasons.”
 

Letter from Lincoln
 

In May 1864, a convention of Radical Republicans selected John C. “Pathfinder” Fremont as their candidate for president. Fremont accepted the nomination and told the audience: “Today we have in this country the abuses of a military dictation without its unity of action and vigor of execution.” Lincoln wanted Fremont out of the race.
 

Fremont demanded the resignation of the man who had urged Lincoln to make Fremont a general earlier in the war, Montgomery Blair, who was disliked by Radical Republicans.
 

On Sept. 22, 1864, Fremont withdrew from the contest. On Sept. 23, 1864, President Lincoln sent the following letter to Montgomery Blair:
 

“My Dear Sir: You have generously said to me more than once, that whenever your resignation could be a relief to me, it was at my disposal. The time has come. You very well know that this proceeds from no dissatisfaction of mine with you personally or officially. Your uniform kindness has been unsurpassed by that of any friend; and, while it is true that the war does not so greatly add to the difficulties of your Department, as to those of some others, it is yet much to say, as I most truly can, that in the three years and a half during which you have administered the General Post-Office, I remember no single complaint against you in connection therewith.”
 

After the Civil War, Montgomery Blair rebuilt Falkland, which Early’s raiders had burned. He became active in Maryland politics and practiced law with his son, Woodbury. After Montgomery Blair died, Woodbury continued the law practice with his brothers Gist and Montgomery Jr.
 

Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring is named for him.
 

Frank Blair
 

Francis P. Blair Jr. (1821-1875), the younger of Francis P. Blair Sr.’s two sons, was commonly known as Frank.

A lawyer, Civil War general, attorney general of the Territory of New Mexico, member of the Missouri Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives, he spent his final time in public life in the U.S. Senate.
Francis Preston Blair, Jr. 

He probably drank too much alcohol, used too much tobacco and too quickly let his anger get the best of him. Yet he was a Lincoln man, a dedicated Union man and perhaps the best of Lincoln’s politically appointed generals.
 

Frank Blair certainly earned the right to be called the most colorful of the amazing Blairs. He exhibited his rambunctious nature at college. A professor at Yale said Frank gave him more trouble than all the other scholars combined. Frank also attended the University of North Carolina before ending up at Princeton.
 

Colonization
 

Although Frank, like the other Blairs, supported Lincoln and decried slavery, he was a bigot and owned slaves himself. When his brother Montgomery moved to Washington, taking Frank’s favorite slave, Nancy, Frank griped, “It is indispensable comfort to have a neat servant, particularly in this region of dirt and coal dust.”
 

As a member of the House of Representatives, Frank Blair generally defended Lincoln’s policies. Nevertheless, the Blairs and the president were not in complete agreement on the question of slavery. Every man in the Blair family, it seemed, favored separation of the races through the colonization of American blacks abroad.
 

On April 12, 1862, the day after slavery was abolished in Washington, Frank Blair said on the House floor that Liberia had “failed to attract the freed negro population in any considerable numbers” but stated his support for Negro colonization in Central America. “There is a vast difference,” he said, “between the idea of being colonized on our own continent, under our own flag, and being buried in Africa.”
 

Blair hoped colonization would serve to avoid present and future racial disharmony.
 

He also believed colonization might disrupt the political power of slaveholders in the South. Blair said, “We can make emancipation acceptable to the whole mass of non-slave-holders at the South by coupling it with the policy of colonization. The very prejudice of race which now makes the non-slaveholders give their aid to hold the slave in bondage will induce them to unite in a policy which will rid them of the presence of negroes.”
 

Blair pushed a bill through the House that authorized the president to spend $100,000 for colonizing the freedmen of the District.
 

A warrior
 

The Blair family made several efforts to persuade Lincoln to make Frank a general, but at first the president put them off. Finally, in the autumn of 1862, after Frank had raised five regiments of troops and said he hoped to raise two or three more, the president made Blair a general in the Union Army.
 

Despite much newspaper criticism, Frank Blair proved himself one of the better political generals. A very capable and fearless leader at Vicksburg, he gained Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s notice and praise. “There was no man braver than he,” Grant wrote of Blair. “No man obeyed all orders of his superiors in rank with more unquestioning alacrity.”
 

Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant

After a shaky start, Blair also established a lifelong mutual respect with Gen. William T. Sherman. The men served together during the campaigns for Vicksburg and Atlanta, and Blair commanded the 17th Corps during the March to the Sea. When newspapers criticized Blair as a political general, Sherman said Blair was “brave, cool and of ability.”
 

Franc B. Wilkie, a reporter for the New York Times, described Frank Blair this way: “He was a most interesting man in every respect. … He was versatile, doing everything well, from leading a charge to uncorking a bottle, and in all instances characterized by a calm, dispassionate manner. … Beneath all his outward calmness he had a tremendous force — a fact demonstrated by the momentum with which he threw his columns against the bristling, deadly heights of Chickasaw Bayou.”
 

A bust of Frank Blair causes visitors to marvel at Vicksburg. A statue of him campaigning in St. Louis entertains tourists in Missouri. Both were created with family money. In Statuary Hall within the U.S. Capitol, Frank Blair’s larger-than-life statue represents his state of Missouri along with a statue of Thomas Hart Benton.
 

The term “larger than life” perfectly describes the Blair family.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times.

Obama confronts racial division in US, Talks About Rev. Wright

March 18, 2008
By NEDRA PICKLER and MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writers

PHILADELPHIA – Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday tried to stem damage from divisive comments delivered by his pastor, while bluntly addressing anger between blacks and whites in the most racially pointed speech yet of his presidential campaign.

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks ...
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks about race during an address in Philadelphia, Tuesday, March 18, 2008.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) 

Obama confronted America’s legacy of racial division head on, tackling black grievance, white resentment and the uproar over his former pastor’s incendiary statements. Drawing on his half-black, half-white roots as no other presidential hopeful could, Obama asserted: “This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.”

Obama expressed understanding of the passions on both sides in what he called “a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years.”

Related:
The Right Stuff or The Wright Stuff

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080318/ap_on_el_pr/obama_race;_ylt=Aj8
mkpHU6DyxBhTrMpfFLTSs0NUE

Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ Six Years Later

December 21, 2007

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
December 21, 2007; Page A35

Just four months after Sept. 11, George Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “axis of evil” and declared that defanging these rogue regimes was America’s most urgent national security task. Bush will be judged on whether he succeeded.

Iran’s Maḥmūd Aḥmadīnezhād
محمود احمدی‌نژاد
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Six years later and with time running out on this administration, the Bush legacy is clear: one for three. Contrary to current public opinion, Bush will have succeeded on Iraq, failed on Iran and fought North Korea to a draw.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/20/AR2007122001863.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

America’s First Thanksgiving

November 15, 2007

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
Thanksgiving, 2006

The first “Official” Thanksgiving in the United States of America was celebrated in 1863. President Lincoln, by proclamation, declared a day of Thanksgiving in the middle of the Civil War!

The original proclamation is in fact dated October 3, 1863. Just a few months before, on July 1-3, 1863, the Union and Confederate Armies had clashed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. During those three days 3,155 Union soldiers were killed and between 2,600 and 4,500 Confederate soldiers were killed. But they were all Americans.

The total of the killed, wounded and missing during those three days for the Union side was 23,040. The Confederate estimate is between 20,650 and 25,000.

The outcome of the Civil War was by no means clear in October, 1863. We still could have finished the conflict with two separate nations on the North American continent: instead of one United States.

Despite Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July, 1863, the nation still had 22 months of bloody Civil War ahead of it. At the end of the Civil War the nation had suffered approximately 630,000 deaths and over 1 million total casualties.

But President Lincoln and his cabinet discussed the situation in the country frequently and they came to several conclusions. Despite the tremendous loss of life and destruction, the population was indeed on the rise. The fields in the north were producing prodigious amounts of food. The mines were producing more coal, iron and precious metals than ever before. The cabinet officers wanted the President of the United States to remind the people to thank God for His blessings!

Amid all this suffering of the Civil War the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, ordered a Day of Thanksgiving in this Proclamation:

“By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony 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 Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth. By the President:

Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,Secretary of State

According to an April 1, 1864 letter from John Nicolay, one of President Lincoln’s secretaries, this document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy wrote in his diary on October 3, 1863 that he had complimented Secretary Seward on his brilliant writing.

Related:
Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

Veterans Day Memory: Tour with Diep

November 11, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
April 7, 2007

Diep is 65 years old and has only lived in the United States for about six month. In her homeland of Vietnam she taught English. She now works six days a week at Sears so she has no time for sightseeing.

Last Wednesday I asked Diep if she was ready for an “outing.” So we saw some sights in Washington D.C.

Arlington National Cemetery

We started a rather chilly and rainy spring day appropriately at the National Cemetery.

The entrance to Arlington features a kind of museum that we walked through solemnly.

There is a huge photograph of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral and I told Diep I could still recall the drums on that historic day. My eyes welled with tears so we ventured outside.

Diep marveled at the gravesite of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our thirty-fifth President of the United States (1961-1963) who was tragically struck down by a sniper’s bullet.

His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”

Some of the greatest quotes from President Kennedy’s speeches are engraved in the granite wall surrounding the gravesite.

I reminded Diep that I was a Naval Officer like the young John Kennedy but never in a position to achieve his honor and heroism as Commander of PT-109.

She looked with wonder upon the grave of Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of President John F. Kennedy. Also buried there are two young children, Arabella, stillborn in 1956 and Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, who was born in the summer of 1963 and only lived two days.

We walked from President Kennedy’s grave past the grave of Robert Kennedy and toward the tomb of the unknown soldiers.

Along this path one can see the graves of many famous Americans. I pointed out one of my favorites to Diep:  Peter M. Boehm enlisted as a bugler in the 2nd US Cavalry in 1858.

Peter M. Boehm, Second Lieutenant, Company K, 15th New York Cavalry, Aide and Bugler to General George Armstrong Custer. Boehm was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing Confederate colors at Dinwiddie Court House, Virginia, on 31 March 1865.

Second Lieutenant Boehm also served in the “Indian Wars” but he was not with General Custer at the Little Big Horn.

He died peacefully on June 4, 1914 and was buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Ada Boehm, is buried with him.

We also visited old friends including Mrs. Margaret Meyer, wife of “The Father of AEGIS,” Rear Admiral Wayne Meyer, U.S. Navy.

We stopped by to visit with many old friends including Colonel Vance Hobert Hudgins, U.S. Marine Corps.
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/vhhudgins.htm

At the Tomb of the Unknowns I told Diep that the sentry marched exactly 21 steps. Like the 21 gun salute, the 21 steps indicates honor. She counted the sentry’s steps with delight after that.

As we silently walked back to the enryway to Arlington, we saw a burial service in progress, complete with honor guard, gun salue, and a marching band. We stopped in silence to pay our respects.

Arlington is the place of symbolism and significance.

Georgetown

We drove past the U.S. Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial into Rosslyn then across the Potomac River into Georgetown.

Georgetown is home to plenty of trendy restaurants, salons and shops.

We stopped at Erwin Gomez’s Salon & Spa: where the rich and famous get facials, permanents, pedicures and the like. WOW! We couldn’t have afforded the simplest procedure!

We drove slowly through the historic city of Washington D.C., past the Lincoln Memorial, the White House and the rest.

Looking up to “Capital Hill” I told Diep that the City of Washington was planned and designed by the Frenchman Pierre Lafonte.  He wanted the American nation’s capital designed is a style like that of Paris.  As a result, Washington has several “circles,” like Dupont and Thoomas Circle.  Each makes for a beautiful mini-park inside the city.  Most circles feature some statue or monument to remind Americans of their history.

Smithsonian

At the Smithsonian I took Diep to the Vietnamese-American Exhibit. She marveled at the tribulations and the achievement of her countrymen.

I told Diep I cried when I first came here: but my wife, Lien, who experienced many of the hardships depicted seemed delighted to be reunited with the “Boat People.”
http://www.nowpublic.com/ever_see_a_grown_man_weep_in_a_museum

Diep enjoyed the exhibit greatly but she asked me to find for her the space exhibit. We walked to the National Air and Space Museum; the Smithsonian’s most visited museum.

In the main entrance lobby one can see some of the most famous U.S. spacecraft.

On July 21, 1969, American Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon.

The astronaut stepped onto the Moon’s surface, in the Sea of Tranquility, at 0256 GMT, nearly 20 minutes after first opening the hatch on the Eagle landing craft.We stood in front of the command module that brought Armstrong and his crewmates home: wide-eyed with wonderment.

Diep told me she was in Washington D.C. during that historic space flight. She was on scholarship from Vietnam!

World War II and Vietnam Memorial

We drove slowly past the World War II Memorial: a colossal and significant monument to the men and women who served.

I parked (illegally) and escorted Diep into the Vietnam Memorial; reminding her that it was designed by an Asian, Maya Ying Lin.

I scampered back to the illegally parked car but Diep stayed to soak in the significance of the Vietnam Memorial.

When she returned to the car she told me she found the names of two American soldiers she has met in Vietnam during the war.

As we ended our day Diep thanked me for being an adequate tour guide and said, “You were lucky to have been born in the United States of America.”

Indeed.

We experienced a moving and memorable day of  history together.  We both have memories we shall never forget.

Some Distinguish Themselves by their Words and Actions; Some Do Not

September 15, 2007

Good and Not So Good Behavior This Week
By John E. Carey
September 15, 2007

Geraldo Rivera apologized to Michelle Malkin of the Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly show “The Factor” last night. Mr. Rivera had said he would spit of Ms. Malkin if he saw her. He made the remark to a Boston Globe reporter who blasted it into the media.

General Peter Pace told Pentagon reporters on Friday that he had made mistakes in judgment as the war in Iraq was unfolding. “One of the mistakes I made in my assumptions going in was that the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Army would welcome liberation, that the Iraqi Army, given the opportunity, would stand together for the Iraqi people and be available to them to help serve the new nation,” Gen. Peter Pace said.

But “they disintegrated in the face of the coalition’s first several weeks of combat, so they weren’t here,” Pace said.

Had he known that would happen, he would have recommended more troops be sent at the outset of the Iraq war, he said.This was another vindication of General Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff, who had recommended more troops before he retired.

I like folks that own up!

Tony Snow Leaves the White House

Tony Snow served his last day as the White House spokesman yesterday. Mr. Snow was recognized for his wit and grace under fire by Republicans and Democrats alike.

The Bad Behavior

The Rutgers University fans ay the football meeting with the U.S. Naval Academy caused something of a stir last Saturday as they taunted Navy; repeatedly using the “F-word.”

It took three days for the University’s head of the Athletic programs and Dean of Students to apologize.

O.J. Squeezes Memorabilia Salesman

Whatever happens to Mr. Simpson he has again caused a public stir with his behavior. He has been widely criticized by the media.Bad Behavior of the WebA liberal political web site went after General David Petraeus; saying he “betrayed us.” Rudy and others including Senator John McCain spoke out against the tactics and the lack of a strongly negative Democrat response.

Some days it may be better just to ignore some of this ugly behavior.There does seem to be a lot of “over the top” ugly speech in the media today, which reminded me of something we first posted here some time ago…..

We’ve published the essay below before so if you find your lips starting to move as you read it; that is entirely our fault. We thought we would republish this essay, though, because of the stalemate in the U.S. Congress. No funding bills have been agreed upon this session and the most important one, the defense appropriations bill, was pulled from the floor of the Senate by Senator Harry Ried, the Majority Leader. Mr. Reid also engineered the meaningless all night “pillow fight” in the Senate which amounted to nothing.

Restore Civility in Debate, Government and Politics

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Republished September 15, 2007

There seems a lack of civility, good manners, decorum and protocol in Washington these days.
And it has spread beyond Washington to the internet and to email onscenities.

One side frequently calls the other side names; instead of making organized, logical arguments.
We entered the world of the “blogosphere” on July 4, 2006. In this internet land of people discussing world events, the language we found often is particularly harsh, polarizing and nasty.

Former President Bill Clinton entered (or re-entered depending upon your point of view) the fray on Sunday, September 24, 2006, during an interview with Chris Wallace on the Fox News Sunday show. Associated Press writer Karen Matthews, reporting on the exchange, called it “combative.”

That’s not a word usually associated with a president during a media interview. I can’t think of that word ever applied to an ex-president during a media exchange — especially with a president.

This may just qualify Mr. Clinton for another description: “not presidential.”

Clinton accused host Chris Wallace of a “conservative hit job.” Not presidential at all. He seemed to be just venting rage. Who needs that?

Did president Clinton miss a memo about letting others mix it up in public with the opposition and their media? Even my Vietnamese-born wife observed: “Good thing Clinton didn’t interview with Bill O’Reilly on Fox. It might have ended up with Bill and Bill on the floor slugging each other.”

Not presidential.

Last week, in mid-July 2007, the two Democrat front runners for the nomination of their party to run for president duked it out in public. As we used to say in the navy: “Hold Fire!” you two. Save it for the Republicans!

It is bad enough we have to hear the president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “talking smack” as they say, at the United Nations; now we have to hear it from a former President of the United States and those running for that high office.

On President Bush’s trip to South America, not only has he refrained from talking about Mr. Chavez: he has refused to mention him by name. This is the same Mr. Chavez that called the president the devil at the U.N.

Thoughtful, courteous national discourse has managed to get us through a revolution against the most powerful nation on the Earth, a War Between the States, two World Wars and other tragedies and trying times.

If we can get along, maybe we can discuss the problems and get the best answers. Maybe a more civil and etiquette-driven discussion of the issues can help us get through the War on Terror.

Instead, we have become a nation led by name-callers, insult-slingers and generally rude, angry and impolite representatives.

And sometimes, the media, maybe unintentionally, magnify the animosity.

My friend, retired Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters at The New York Post, wonders about “the unscrupulous nature of those in the media who always discover a dark cloud in the brightest silver lining. They are terror’s cheerleaders.”

What does this teach our children? And does it do us any good?

Candidate for president John Edwards not too long ago defended his own bloggers for their use of “the most hate-filled, blasphemous and obscene remarks—all of which were brought to the attention of Edwards—that have ever been written by any employee of a presidential candidate,” according to the Catholic League of the United States.
In other words: a new low.

Opposite Mr. Edwards, we were delighted to see Governor Bill Richardson call for civility among the national candidates.

Senator James Webb, a former Marine and Secretary of the Navy, met the President of the United States in November 2006 at the White House. Maybe Mr. Webb was a little too taken with himself after beating Senator Allen in the election. Whatever the reason, newspapers reported that Mr. Webb, while a guest at the White House, “Tried to avoid President Bush,” refusing to pass through the reception line or have his picture taken with the president. The president had to seek out the illusive Mr. Webb, a guest inside the Executive Mansion.

“How’s your boy?” President Bush asked the Senator then elect, referring to Webb’s son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

“I’d like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President,” Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

“That’s not what I asked you,” Bush said. “How’s your boy?”

“That’s between me and my boy, Mr. President,” Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

When Webb was asked about the apparently rude response to a question from the President of the United States, he responded by saying, “So I know the drill. I’m looking forward to working with people in this administration.”

The language and smart remark to the President of the United States, and the host of the event in his own residence, seems an insult to me and not an indicator of someone eager to work with the opposition. It is not the language of a gentleman.

“I’ve got good friends on the Republican side,” added Webb, a former Republican.

At the United States Naval Academy, Webb’s alma mater, where many of America’s finest young men and women are taught to behave in a certain manner and make the case cogently and without obscene language or smart remarks.

We can assure readers that at the Naval Academy, midshipmen are instructed to conduct themselves as gentlemen and gentlewomen.

Our American history is full of great men who teach us the importance of good conduct for the common good.

Some say George Washington actually authored “The Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour [sic] in Company and Conversation.”

Though not the author, Washington embraced good manners so famously that the “Rules” could easily have been his own creation. The good manners of John Adams also echo to us through history.

With Thomas Paine, Adams watched a young American officer conduct himself less than diplomatically and courteously before the King of France.

Adams wrote to his wife, describing the “Man of Choleric Temper.” Adams said the man “like so many Gentlemen from his State, is abrupt and undiplomatic. Last evening, at a Royal Reception, he confronted His Most Christian Majesty Louis XVI with Words both ardent and impatient, whilst Mr. Paine wrung his Hands at the other man’s lack of Tact. Never did I think that I would see our impetuous Paine so pain’d by another’s want of Courtesy and Civility. To our amazement, however, the King took [the man’s] Enthusiasm in good Part.”

When told one of his generals, John C. Fremont, had been nominated by a group of 400 anti-Lincoln loyalists to run for president, Lincoln opened a Bible and read aloud from I Samuel:22, “And everyone that was in distress, and everyone that was in debt, and everyone that was discontented gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them; and there were with him about four hundred men.”

Modern statesmen pulled the country together, not by tearing others apart or barking at the media, but more often by thoughtful discourse and conduct.

“Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt operated beautifully on the reporters who surrounded them,” wrote David Keirsey and Ray Choiniere in “Presidential Temperament.”

“Both used the press as if it were their own publicity machine.”

This was largely achieved in a civil, diplomatic style.

A modern day solon of wisdom and truth might be former Indiana Congressman and Democrat Lee Hamilton.

Hamilton volunteered some stern remarks about the importance of truth. “Facts are not Republican and they’re not Democrat,” he said.

“They’re not ideological. Facts are facts,” said Mr. Hamilton.

I cannot ever recall seeing Gerald Ford, our late president whom we honored last December, look mean, uncivil, rude or terribly angry.

Neither can I remember John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan (”The Great Communicator”), George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush look petulant, angry or rude. I also cannot recall any of them knowingly distort the facts.

Other great national leaders also reflect respect, even admiration, for the importance of good protocol and decorum.

Winston Churchill described a 1941 university ceremony this way: “The blitz was running hard at that time, and the night before, the raid … had been heavy. Several hundreds had been killed and wounded. Many houses were destroyed. Buildings next to the university were still burning, and many of the university authorities who conducted the ceremony had pulled on their robes over uniforms begrimed and drenched; but all was presented with faultless ritual and appropriate decorum, and I sustained a very strong and invigorating impression of the superiority of man over the forces that can destroy him.”

Let’s hope leaders become enlightened enough to avoid the forces that can destroy them. For our sake and the sake of our children. Especially as we in the United States near an important national election.

I regret the times that bad conduct, anger and a disregard for etiquette got the best of me. I hope our present day political leaders see the light too.

To get though the war against terror and to achieve victory, a united, clear-thinking leadership just might be important.

Angry rhetoric and arson with clever words serves no good purpose.

I might be wrong but that’s how we see it.

Related:

Lingo of Failure: How to Decode Washington Political Speak