Four score and seven years ago…These are the words which open the famous speech delivered on November 19, 1863, by US President Abraham Lincoln and known as The Gettysburg Address. Many people in the United States, including this blogger, were required to memorize and recite the speech before their peers while in grade school.
So what happened four score and seven (i.e. 87) years prior? To be exact, on the 87th anniversary of what event did Jack Fernandez write about Parham’s expected amputation from a hospital near Gettysburg? To use the words penned by Thomas Jefferson, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. Today, we call this the Declaration of Independence.
Representatives gathered together as a Congress and signed the document to:
- declare the causes which impel them to the separation (from Great Britain),
- list a long train of abuses and usurpations,
- state the patient sufferance of these Colonies,
- explain that they had been reduced to live under absolute Despotism, and
- confirm that it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Ironically, President Lincoln did not focus on these points in his speech. They were the very sentiments echoed in each of the declarations of causes of the seceding States. One may not agree with some or any of the reasons listed by the Southern states for choosing to secede; however, that is not the issue here. The fact is that elected officials from those sovereign states exercised what they believed to be their right to separate and in the same manner in which their forefathers had severed ties from Great Britain. Parham’s state of Mississippi, after building a case for secession, wrote in their declaration for far less cause than this, our fathers separated from the Crown of England.
How did President Lincoln respond when the Southern states declared their independence? He did the same as King George III of Great Britain, sent troops to suppress the rebellion so that taxes/tariffs would continue to be gathered. The politically correct term for this by the Lincoln administration was Preservation of the Union. How did the Southern States respond? They did so in the same manner as the original thirteen States, raised-up arms against what they perceived to be an invasion from an occupying force. Separation (and the reason for doing so) is one matter; fighting for the right to do so after being invaded is another. Unfortunately, we learn about this embarrassing conflict from the 1860s in the modern classroom by mixing the two. In 1776, there were people loyal to the crown initially opposed to separation who in the end chose to defend themselves against British occupation. To be historically consistent, why is it different for the Confederacy?
Stay tuned for the next blog post when it will be explained what The Gettysburg Address was about, how it led to the creation of National Cemeteries, and why it influenced the reinternment of Parham’s remains back to Southern soil.