Obama’s history making day and the Civil War

What a night in history! With Sen. Barack Obama being the Democratic nominee for President, one can not help but take in the history surrounding this occasion, whether Republican or Democrat. Obama is the first African-American to receive the nomination of a major political party in American history. This is a testament to the sacrifice of the nation in the Civil War that a black man may become our next president. In full disclosure, while I personally disagree with his politics, I can not help but appreciate the history that I am witnessing through his nomination. If elected, Obama will preside over our nation’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. How this will effect our remembrance of the war will be interesting to witness. I feel that many in the North would see an Obama presidency as the Civil War coming full circle, as a man who may very well have been in bondage prior to the war is leading the nation that fought its bloodiest war so that all men would be free. I also see that some in the South would use an Obama presidency to advance the Lost Cause, arguing that had the South not lost the war, Obama would never be able to become the nominee of a major party, let alone president. The only remaining question regarding the Obama nomination and possible presidency is what would Lincoln think about it?

2 thoughts on “Obama’s history making day and the Civil War

  1. There seems to be more than one irony here.

    The last Senator from Illinois to contest the Presidency for the Democrats was Stephen Douglas in 1860.

    There are also parellels with Lincoln. Obama deliberately began his campaign from the Old Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, the place where Lincoln made his “House Divided” speech accepting nomination for Senator in 1858.

    Lincoln was a relative unknown in the country at large, much as Obama up until the Iowa caucus. Lincoln’s rival for the nomination was William Seward, the Senator from New York, a man with instant recognition throughout the countty for his antislavery stance. Lincoln was a surprise winner, just as no one would have fancied Obama over another Senator from New York (Hilary Clinton) a year ago.

    February 2009 is the Lincoln bicentennial. Compared to our views today, Lincoln was quite racist is his assessment of blacks. Yet he showed a progression throughout his career. He and Frederick Douglass, the black leader, hit it off instantly. Douglass later said he felt Lincoln was the first white man who related to him in a completely non-racist way – he neither shunned not patronised him. Lincoln towards the end of the Civil War was suggesting the franchise for black war veterans and the educated.

    I think if Lincoln somehow came back today he would be surprised to see a black man nominated for the Presidency. But, after a little thought, he would have conceded its rightness. What better way to embed his own legacy than to see a black man inaugurated as President in January?

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