Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln

In one of her very first posts here, Jessica posed a question, “What is America for Mummy?” It’s a question that has always haunted us from Winthrop’s sermon about the Cty on the Hill to last night. While then and now I really like Jessica’s answer, it is incomplete. But one of the two greatest of American Presidents also thought about it, so maybe what he said could amplify her point.

We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty—or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country,—with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men,—we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these [Independence Day] meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations.

But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long continued applause], and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. [Applause.]

Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of “don’t care if slavery is voted up or voted down” [Douglas’s “popular sovereignty” position on the extension of slavery to the territories], for sustaining the Dred Scott decision [A voice—“Hit him again”], for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden.

That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge [Douglas] is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! [Voices—“me” “no one,” &c.] If it is not true let us tear it out! [cries of “no, no,”] let us stick to it then [cheers], let us stand firmly by it then. [Applause.]

Abraham Lincoln on July 10, 1858, as he ran for the Senate against Stephen Douglass via Scott Johnson at PowerLine. Lincoln, along with Washington are our two greatest presidents. But Lincoln was also perhaps the best lawyer in the United States before he was president. In truth, this speech may well be what secured him the Republican nomination. And like the quote from Silent Cal in the sidebar, he recognized that any movement from what the founders wrote and said was of necessity a backwards movement, because as Coolidge said, if all men are created equal, that really is final. There can be no progress beyond that point, all movement from it creates inequality.

Something else strikes me currently, in that series of posts Jessica also wrote how Churchill and De Gaulle were outsiders from their political societies. She was correct, they were. But they both understood their peoples better than the insiders. I suspect that also applied to Lincoln, and it is very clear that it also did to Reagan, and does to Trump as well. The political class is not the people, and I suspect it never has been. Sometimes, rarely, that might be a good thing, but evidence saying so is mighty slim.

One of the wisest things Jessica ever wrote here was the last paragraph of that article, and it will serve to end this one as well…

In this case, in 1940, the ‘fools’ were two men whose status as outsiders had made them think hard and fast about their countries. They saw beyond the tawdry politics of the day to the reality of what France and what Britain were, and could again be.  The Bible tells us that without vision, the people perish – in 1940 two men stood forth in Europe with a vision sharpened by their status as outsiders – sometimes that difference of perspective makes for a better vision.

Democrats and Mobs (BIRM)

Steven Hayward over at PowerLine noticed something, well, so did I, and maybe you did too. The Democrats sure do love their mobs.

News item: Two GOP candidates assaulted in Minnesota.

News item: Antifa mob overruns Portland, and Democratic mayor stands aside. (And to think, I had dinner once with Ted Wheeler a few years ago, before he was elected mayor of Portland, and thought he was a sensible human being. Another case of misleading first impressions I guess.)

New item: Ricin sent to Sen. Susan Collins.

News item: Democrat assaults, critically injures Republican Senator in capitol.

Ok, that last one is from 1851, but it rather makes the point. Others could be added.

  • The New York Draft Riots during the Civil War

Not as clearly linked, but given the party’s history of racism, I’d guess there is some connection.

  • The East St. Louis riot in 1917
  • The Red Summer of 1919

And of course, the whole series in the 1960s culminating for a time at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

And Ferguson, and Baltimore – the list goes on.

And that’s just the high points.

Back when Abraham Lincoln was 28 years old, he gave what we know as his Lyceum Speech, in it, he said this.

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, “What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?” I answer, it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil; and much of its danger consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as its only consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg, was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept, from the stage of existence, by the plague or small pox, honest men would, perhaps, be much profited, by the operation. Similar too, is the correct reasoning, in regard to the burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life, by the perpetration of an outrageous murder, upon one of the most worthy and respectable citizens of the city; and had he not died as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law, in a very short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way it was, as it could otherwise have been. But the example in either case, was fearful. When men take it in their heads today, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one, who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of tomorrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them, by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defence of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil. By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. . .

Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocratic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed—I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last.

Hat tip to Steve (link above) for the speech as well. As Steve points out, it seems that even non-radical Democrats think the Constitution needs to be replaced (with their cause of the day, as near as I can figure) so the government not lasting might be considered, by them, as a feature, not a bug.

Well, The Duke of Wellington said of the French after Waterloo, “They came on in the same old way, and we stopped them in the same old way”. One hopes that it doesn’t come to whiffs of grapeshot and the rattle of musketry, but what must be done will be done. That oath says all enemies, foreign and domestic, no exemption for the Democratic Party.

In Federalist #10 James Madison reminds us,  “… democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” And that is exactly the point to the Constitution in this Republic.

Lincoln at Cooper’s Union

Steven Hayward over at PowerLine reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun, and also that Abraham Lincoln was a very wise man.

Lincoln noted toward the very end of the speech that the pro-slavery faction in the South wasn’t content with Republicans allowing slavery to exist in the South: it was necessary that everyone change their mind and express publicly their positive support for slavery. In other words, the pro-slavery forces demanded that everyone else submit to their opinion. Sounds like the left today on every social issue in sight, no?

Here’s the key language from the end of the Cooper Union address about the demand for uniformity of opinion:

The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.

These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly–done in acts as well as in wordsSilence will not be tolerated–we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’s new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.

I suspect that sounds very familiar indeed to my readers in both the US and the UK. I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore today than it did in 1860. So there is going to be a lot of anguish for them. Hopefully, they won’t act out as badly as their forebearers did in 1861.

Railsplitters, Tailors, and Government Bureaus

Speaking of the CFPB, this is interesting, from The Federalist.

Although the Reconstruction Era has gotten more mainstream attention lately, to most Americans the Andrew Johnson administration is still a part of the dusty past. The CFPB dispute is, as David Harsanyi explained earlier this week, about which employee has the right to occupy the office of CFPB director. So did the dispute that led to Johnson’s impeachment and near-conviction. Only in that case, the office in question was of much greater importance: secretary of war.

In the days following the Civil War, the secretary of war (a predecessor to the secretary of defense, but without jurisdiction over the navy) occupied an important position in domestic politics, as his job included presiding over the reconstruction of the conquered Confederacy. After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his successor, Johnson, seemed to be in accord with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and the Republican-dominated Congress on how to accomplish this.

Things soon changed. Johnson returned to his pre-war Democratic Party loyalty and worked to re-admit the Southern states to the Union quickly, with no other changes than a de jure abolition of slavery. Stanton and congressional leaders saw their task as larger, and wanted to ensure greater equality for the former slaves in fact as well as in law. As Johnson gradually replaced Lincoln appointees in the cabinet, Stanton was increasingly the only voice in the administration for a vigorous scheme of occupying and rebuilding in the South.

Stanton’s allies in Congress worked to protect him by passing the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. The act decreed that any officer appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate could not be removed by the president unless the Senate approved. Johnson saw the act for what it was—a curtailment of executive power—and vetoed it, but Congress overrode the veto and the bill became a law. The president no longer had control over his own appointees.

Johnson initially acted in accordance with the law and suspended Stanton while Congress was in recess, selecting Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant to serve as acting secretary in his stead. Stanton went along with this, as Grant was closer to congressional Republicans in his views than to Johnson. When the recess ended, the Senate refused to concur in Stanton’s removal, and Grant returned the office to him. Then Johnson declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional and said Stanton’s removal was valid. He appointed Maj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the “vacancy” and instructed him to report to the War Department for work.

Stanton refused to accept Thomas’s appointment and declined to yield the office. Thomas took the office across the hall, and both men declared themselves the true secretary of war. Stanton retained the keys to the office and did not leave the room, eating and sleeping there for months to prevent Thomas from seizing it.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment against Johnson, specifically for his open violation of the law, but more generally for his obstruction of Congress’s plans for Reconstruction. The Senate fell one vote short of conviction, and Johnson remained in the White House. With Grant nominated for president and Johnson on the way out, Stanton gave up the fight and relinquished the office.

Rule Without Consequences

The stakes of the fight over the CFPB directorship are far lower, but the precedents of the Stanton-Thomas affair provide a guideline for how the current quarrel should proceed, both legally and politically.

The Tenure of Office Act of 1867 and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, both aim at the same result: removing the power from the president to control members of his administration. The Tenure of Office Act’s authors were concerned with keeping Johnson from overturning Lincoln’s legacy. Dodd-Frank’s authors had a wider goal in mind: removing politics from government. This fits the general progressive belief that we would be better governed by unelected technocrats than by politicians who must take popular opinion into account.

It is a strange take on a republic, and at odds with the Founding Fathers’ opinions. They knew that the government would contain officers who wished to trample the people’s rights. It has been true of every government, elected or unelected, since mankind emerged from the state of nature. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people acknowledges that the people in question are all flawed. As James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Do read it all.

And, in fine, that was much of the point of the Constitution, to throw sand in the gears of the government.  The founders knew, even better than we do, the cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”. After all they fought a war, against the greatest empire of the age for that very reason. But as long as men (and women) seek personal advantage from government (and that is until Christ returns) the vigilance of the citizens will always be required.

Ronnie was absolutely right about the most feared words in the language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Abraham Lincoln and the SJWs

Well, is anybody surprised? I’m not, it was a logical procession. Confederate statues are kind of an easy target, even if they were erected by Democrats to celebrate other Democrats, and now torn down by still more Democrats. But Lincoln is sort of an obvious target, one, he was not a radical (on either side), two, he saw through the radicals of his time and shows us how to in ours. From American Spectator by Kevin Portteus.

The Associated Students of Madison has called for a plaque to be placed on the statue, acknowledging what ASM’s Katrina Morrison called Lincoln’s “brutality toward indigenous peoples.” The alleged “brutality” involves Lincoln’s role in the suppression of an uprising by Sioux Indians in Minnesota in the summer and fall of 1862. In the aftermath of the uprising, a military tribunal issued 303 death sentences to Sioux men.

In the aftermath, Lincoln ordered a careful investigation of the tribunals, and found massive irregularities. He also carefully distinguished between those Sioux who had engaged in battles against soldiers and militia, and those who had perpetrated massacres against unarmed civilians or had committed rape. Despite enormous public pressure, Lincoln commuted 264 of the sentences, and then pardoned one of the others at the last minute. It was the largest mass execution in American history, but it was also one of the nation’s greatest acts of clemency.

These facts were acknowledged by UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank in her statement refusing to acquiesce in ASM’s demands, but they are unlikely to satisfy the SJWs. Thus, one is presented with the spectacle of activists against the Confederacy turning on the man who did more to fight that regime and erase the injustice upon which it was founded than any other man in American history. He paid for it with his life.

All very true, what Indian campaigns took place during the Civil War were horrendous, this one in southern Minnesota and another even worse in Colorado, leading to a quote on letting Indian babies live, “Nits grow into lice”. A lot of the problem was that these were militia campaigns, essentially military style posses, without the leavening of Regular officers, who were often quite understanding of the Indian’s problems. More so, it was to prove in later years, than the civilians appointed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Why? I think a lot of it was that the soldiers, treated the Indians as warriors, giving them the same respect as they would any other army, and being treated so, the Indians reciprocated. Where the BIA treated them (and still does) as children who haven’t the sense to come in out of the rain. The tyranny of low expectations.

But, about Lincoln and the SJWs…

In Lincoln’s time, these were the radical abolitionists. They condemned slaveholders in the vilest language. They burned copies of the Constitution. They publicly declared their desire to rend the Union to escape the taint of association with slavery and slaveholders. (How this would improve the lot of slaves or reform slaveholders is unclear). They refused to participate in politics, denying to themselves the very weapon that could effect meaningful change, because they did not want to take part in a system they believed to be hopelessly corrupt, lest it corrupt them.

In our own time, these are the leftist social justice warriors. They are supremely confident in their own moral superiority, and denounce everything and everyone around them with a now-familiar litany of sins: racism, sexism, heterosexism, cisgenderism, patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and more. They declare that, by definition, all Americans of European ancestry are guilty of all these sins. They demand a total purification of society from all these sins, and to this end are willing to harass, intimidate, threaten, or physically harm anyone who resists them.

With this kind of radicalism there is no discussion and no reasoning. Unconditional submission of the “impure” to the rule of the “pure” is the only acceptable outcome. There is a massive danger in this kind of reformism, because a tyrannical impulse lurks beneath it. The great monsters of modern history — Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim, and Khomeini — have all possessed the kind of reforming spirit Lincoln describes. Each sought to remake man and the world in his own image, free from what each perceived as the impurities around him. Each was utterly ruthless and relentless, indifferent to the suffering of others in pursuit of his goal.

And that is why, increasingly, I see no point in attempting to engage with them, they simply need to be destroyed, at least for another generation or two.

Defending the Dream

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gett...

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is 30 May, the traditional date for Decoration Day, by order of General Logan, commanding the Grand Army of the Republic, as noted here yesterday. When Congress decided we needed a three day weekend more than we needed to remember our traditions, I think they made a mistake, not that we don’t need that three day weekend!

You know, as do I, that America has never been a pile of rocks and dirt between the oceans. Whether your ancestors came over the Bering land bridge time out of memory ago, came on the Mayflower, came to escape starvation in Ireland to see the sign “No Irish need Apply”, came from old Mexico to work at a meat-packing plant, or got off a 777 last night; You are here because of a dream. Bevin Alexander said it as well as anybody.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

But to make dreams come true is hard work. And there are people around whose dreams would preclude yours. So dreams have to be defended. So it is with the American Dream. From that day to this, the dream has demanded that men, ordinary men, defend it. But the defending of dreams creates extraordinary men, and so it has been here.

On 19 April 1775, a shot was fired in Lexington, MA, no one knows by whom. That shot has echoed down the corridors of time for 242 years, and its reverberations continue. For that shot was a warning that God meant men to be free, and with God’s help, men, and women would be free. A few weeks before, a member of the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, in Virginia said this:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

And so was the lamp lit in that fabled city on the hill that John Winthrop had spoken of all the way back in 1630.

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:…

And so it came to pass that America would be free. It would not be perfect, ever, for America is a dream of man, not a work of God. But it would continually try to be, and it would improve. And it would come to pass that the lamp lighted in that city upon a hill would become a beacon to the world so that today the world itself is far more free than on that blustery March day when Mr. Henry spoke.

But in the middle of the 19th century, the dream nearly foundered on the rocks of two different interpretations of that freedom.

That conflict has often been said to have been about slavery but, deep down it wasn’t. Very few Southerners defended slavery on moral grounds, they did on economic grounds but, in truth, they had little choice. A very high percentage of their capital was tied up in slaves, and that is why, even then, the South was lagging behind the North in industrialization. For it would be true that southern planters owned slaves, it is equally true that the slaves own their masters. As Frederick Douglass said, “No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.

On the other side, there were some abolitionists, it is true but, they were fewer than one would think. In truth, Abraham Lincoln himself said that while he would not countenance the extension of slavery he saw no method of abolishing it either. So what was left was Union or secession. That is what motivated the Armies, the proper road for the dream.

Those armies of America, The Army of Northern Virginia, The Army of the Potomac, The Army of the Tennessee, have become part of the soul of America, the dusty columns still march in our hearts. And the battles they fought: 1st & 2d Manassas, the Seven Days, Champions Hill, The artillery hell of Antietam, the burning wounded in the Wilderness, the misery of the Mule Shoe, and Cold Harbor. The taking of Missionary Ridge without orders because the enlisted men decided to do it, and finally that heart-wrenching scene at Wilmer McLean’s house (where he had moved to get away from the armies at Bull Run) where General Grant met General Lee and Lee surrendered that most romantic of American Armies, the Army of Northern Virginia, under terms inspired by Lincoln’s advice to Grant to “Let ’em up easy”. And so the Army not so much surrendered as passed directly into legend for all Americans. An Army that fought until it was living on acorns, knowing it couldn’t win, but fighting for its beliefs.

Who amongst us can forget the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, on the second day of Gettysburg (from the inscription on the monument.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

The very next day, for the very last time, was displayed the grim majesty and pomp of war in the old style, as the center of the Army of Northern Virginia attacked in close order under General Pickett, and was repulsed, the high tide bringing General Armistead to die with his hand on a Union gun.

There are many other actions that we could tell of equal bravery on either side. This was merely 150 years ago, and yet, many have not heard of the glory of these men who were willing to suffer more than 83% casualties in battle and were in line the next day to receive the most famous of American charges.

These were the men that Decoration Day was instituted to honor. Do we still honor them?

Also note that during the Seven Days battles in Virginia it was not possible to fire the volleys requisite to military funerals, a tradition going back to the Roman Legions shouting “Vale” three times in burying their comrades. A substitute had to be found, it was, Colonel Dan Butterfield wrote a new call for his buglers to sound. It has been sounded millions of times since to mark the end of the day and the burial of the soldier. This is it of course.

And so today, as you travel around the world, wherever you find Americans buried, at Cambridge in England, at Omaha Beach and Chateau Thierry in France, in Luxembourg, in Italy, in Australia, in the Philippines, at Arlington, at Lexington, at Gettysburg, at Fort MacPherson, Nebraska, and Fort Snelling, Minnesota, and so many others, and in nearly every graveyard in America, you will see graves strewn with flowers, and with a small American flag placed in front of the headstone. For these men, and women as well, one day raised their right hand and took an oath to defend “We, the People”, from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And these the “Gardens of Stone” are the only land that America still holds in the world.

We can note with pride the success of the mission has been such that when the BBC asked an elderly Dutch woman long after World War Two about how she knew the liberators of her town were Americans, she could reply, “I knew they were Americans because they walked like free men.”

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