Tuesday, February 19, 2008

President's Day & Black History Month Tribute to Abraham Lincoln

Yesterday, was President's Day so I'm a day late and a dollar short in writing this. Also, this month is Black History Month. In honor of these 2 occasions, I would like to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln who is on the top rung for heroes in both categories.

Abraham Lincoln was born Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Hardin (now Larue) County, Kentucky to Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His mother was a distant cousin of the current and popular actor, Tom Hanks. Do you notice his resemblance to Abraham? His father was a carpenter. Abraham was one of 3 children as he had an older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas, who died in infancy.

In 1816, the Lincolns relocated to the wilderness of Indiana near Little Pigeon Creek, in Perry (now Spencer) County. It is said that their move was in part because of slavery, since his parents belonged to a faction of the Baptist church that disapproved of slavery.

Lincoln's mother died in 1818 when he was 9 years old and the following year his father married a Kentucky widow, Sarah Bush Johnston who proved a good and kind mother according to Lincoln.

In 1830, the Lincolns left Indiana for Illinois and in 1831, Abraham left home for New Salem, in Sangamon County near Springfield. After trying several different occupations, Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois legislature in 1832. Two years later he was elected to the lower house for the first of four successive terms (until 1841) as a Whig. He later became a lawyer in 1836, and in 1837 he moved to Springfield.

He met and married Mary Todd on Nov. 4, 1842.

Lincoln served one term (1847-49) as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which opened lands previously closed to slavery to the possibility of its spread by local option (popular sovereignty) and Lincoln viewed the provisions of the act as immoral.

In 1856, he joined the newly formed Republican Party, and two years later he campaigned for the Senate against Douglas. In his speech at Springfield he expressed the view that the nation would become either all slave or all free: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Lincoln was elected to the presidency in 1860, defeating the Northern Democrat Douglas, the Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and the Constitutional Union candidate John Bell.

By the time of Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861, seven states had seceded from the Union. As a commander in chief, although the Constitution protected slavery in peace, in war, Lincoln came to believe that the commander in chief could abolish slavery as a military necessity. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of Sept. 22, 1862, bore this military justification, as did all of Lincoln's racial measures, including and especially his decision in the final proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863 to accept blacks in the army.

By 1864, Lincoln endorsed the 13TH Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery.
He was re-elected that year. On Apr. 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee, the South's Confederate General surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant's Union forces at Appomattox Court House.

Lincoln was gunned down by John Wilkes Booth 5 days late on Apr. 14, 1865 while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington. Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln. He died the following morning at 7:22am.

Abraham Lincoln was an Almighty God-sent angel. God used him and worked through him and others to free a people and a nation from the evils of slavery. He may or may not have known at the time that this was the case but God definitely had a plan for him at an early age and also worked through his parents who were God abiding people and anti-slavery activists to prepare him for his destiny.

African Americans have a lot be thankful for and first and foremost we should drop to our knees and thank God. However, we also need to be grateful for men and women like Abraham Lincoln who when God gave him a mission, he answered the call and went with what was in his gut and heart and did what he thought was right.

So in honor of both President's Day and Black History Month, I salute Abraham Lincoln because he ranks on the top in regards to both of the events.

He was "hands down" one of the best presidents in US History and his actions forever changed Black History because without his contribution and efforts Black History could very well still be one of slavery and oppression.

Below are just some of my own ancestors who were liberated by the Civil War (Holy War) and the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln:

Levi and Mary Clay Green
Henry and Effie Johnson
Jane Green,
Harry and Mary Gay
Monroe and Sophia Brittentine
Nat and Sarah Hill
Pompey and Mary Hines
David and Mariah Pressly Hines
Stephen and Phyllis Pressley
William and Phoebe Brayboy
Issac and Jane Jefferson
Betsey Taylor
Prince and Jennie Burney
William and Louisa Knox
Anthony and Betty Banks Brown Smith
Adam and Sallie Brown
Richard Clyde "Papa Dickie" Lee

On behalf of my ancestors and their descendant's past and present, We thank, God for you, Abe!

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