Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday

Honoring great President Abraham Lincoln. One of President Lincoln's finest speeches was given at Cooper Institute, now Cooper Union, a university, in 1859. He took months to research the question of the intent of the writers and signers of the US Constitution with regards to slavery. In this portion at the beginning he goes through historical evidence that most of the 39 signers thought the US could prevent slavery in the Northwest territories. He is taking on Steven Douglas and the Democrats. Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Address: "What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?" What is the frame of government under which we live? The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789. Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated. I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood "just as well, and even better than we do now?" It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories? Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue - this question - is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood "better than we." Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it - how they expressed that better understanding?

1 comment:

RobertinSeattle said...

And we also need to point out that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. As was Martin Luther King and his family.