Slavery, Sin and Me

Slavery, Sin and Me. A century and a half later, three burning issues that no one wants to talk about, think about and dire not write about.

“God has heard the prayer of the oppressed and a fearful retribution awaits the oppressors.” So reads a quote from Frances Seward, the wife of William Seward, Secretary of State under President Abraham Lincoln. The quote is taken from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, Winner of the Lincoln Prize and The #1 New York Times Bestseller. Goodwin further credits the quote from the Seward Papers (reel 114) dated back in April 1861. More than 150 years ago the United States was not “united” on anything but the pursuit of gold and silver by a few at the expense of the many, in essence the one percent with the wealth and the ninety-nine percent trying to seek it, much like it is today. More than 150 years ago the burning question of the day was “What should we do about the Negro?”

Although Goodwin’s Team of Rivals highlight how President Lincoln displayed so much grace and humility by selecting his political rivals like Seward, Salmon Chase and Edwin M. Stanton and others to serve in his cabinet the parallel between President Lincoln and President Barack Obama are striking. This similarity goes beyond both presidents being called derogatory names as well as attempting to right a country that shares the “house-divided syndrome.” But more impressive than the political giants on the world stage 150 years ago who all happen to be men of power and persuasion the hidden golden nuggets in the best selling book to this writer are the women, one in particular Francis Seward. The populace was divided on the burning question of slavery and what to do about the black population. Very few men or women wanted to attribute the upcoming and pending conflict as “a war to end slavery”. Frances Seward knew that the principal point feeding the war clouds was the need for the eradication of slavery and further that the cost would result in “immense sacrifice of human life.” The question of slavery became more intense after the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott Decision that slaves were not citizens and the black man had no rights that the white man was bound to respect.

And the LORD said “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrow. So I have come down to deliver them…” Exodus 3:7-8. There existed little doubt that Frances Seward and others saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that a change was going to come. In Lincoln’s words the country would be “all slave or all free.”

Fast forward to today and the unresolved questions of 150 years ago continue to be debated by our countrymen still divided by race, class and color. “What should we do about our black populace? That question has now been expanded to “what should we do about the exploding brown, red and yellow population? Should we build more prisons, draft more Black and Brown Laws to take away their votes? Should we build taller and longer border walls and zapped it with enough electrical volts to kill potential undocumented persons who answer the beacon call, send me your tired, your hungry and your poor? What does slavery in 1813 have to do with the price of BREAD in 2013?

Lincoln talked about BREAD in his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865: “…It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces;” Lincoln goes on to quote biblical scripture, specifically Matthew 18:7 “woe unto the world because of offense! For it must needs be that offense come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” Slavery was the “offense” and the “woe” resulted in more than 600,000 deaths, more than all the wars of the United States combined reportedly including Iraq and Afghanistan. The war continues, the relic of slavery continues and the woes are poured out each and every day upon the poor, the downtrodden and the despised. Slavery, Sin and Me. A century and a half later, three burning issues that no one wants to talk about, think about and dire not write about. Hmmm