Sunday, December 13, 2009

Those Pesky Prophets Are Always Causing Trouble

The last time we visited these guys was exactly one year ago. On the third Sunday in Advent 2008 we heard how the prophets were social activists. We heard about MLK and Rock Hill's own the rev. Ronal King. This year we had some new additions to the rector's list when he threw in Abe Lincoln and F.D.R. Once again, Jesus was left out of the discussion of the formation or inspiration of these "prophets." Before they are enshrined in the great hall of the prophets, let's look back at a couple of their Jeane Dixon moments.

I could not help but remember F.D.R.'s reluctance to help the poor when confronted with the second attempt of the "bonus army" of WWI veterans to get their checks early. The quickie version from Wikipedia is here:

"Following his election, President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not want to pay the bonus early either. In March 1933, Roosevelt issued an executive order allowing the enrollment of 25,000 veterans in the Civilian Conservation Corps for work in forests. When they marched on Washington again in May 1933, he sent his wife Eleanor to chat with the vets and pour coffee with them, and she persuaded many of them to sign up for jobs making a roadway to the Florida Keys, which was to become the Overseas Highway, the southernmost portion of U.S. Route 1. The third-strongest hurricane ever measured, the September 2, 1935 Labor Day hurricane, killed 258 veterans working on the Highway. Most were killed by storm surge flooding. After seeing more newsreels of veterans giving their lives for a government that had taken them for granted, public sentiment built up so much that Congress could no longer afford to ignore it in an election year (1936). Roosevelt's veto was overridden, making the bonus a reality."

And what about Abe Lincoln. I hate to drag it up, but didn't he once prophesy,
"It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know that there are free men among you, who even if they could better their condition are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those, who being slaves could obtain their freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is that the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. You may believe you can live in Washington or elsewhere in the United States the remainder of your life, perhaps more so than you can in any foreign country, and hence you may come to the conclusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country. This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case. But you ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as yourselves.

There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. Now, if you could give a start to white people, you would open a wide door for many to be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are clouded by Slavery, we have very poor materials to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed.

There is much to encourage you. For the sake of your race you should sacrifice something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that respect as the white people. It is a cheering thought throughout life that something can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who have been subject to the hard usage of the world. It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself, and claims kindred to the great God who made him. In the American Revolutionary war sacrifices were made by men engaged in it; but they were cheered by the future. Gen. Washington himself endured greater physical hardships than if he had remained a British subject. Yet he was a happy man, because he was engaged in benefiting his race--- something for the children of his neighbors, having none of his own.

The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. In a certain sense it is a success. The old President of Liberia, Roberts, has just been with me--- the first time I ever saw him. He says they have within the bounds of that colony between 300,000 and 400,000 people, or more than in some of our old States, such as Rhode Island or Delaware, or in some of our newer States, and less than in some of our larger ones. They are not all American colonists, or their descendants. Something less than 12,000 have been sent thither from this country. Many of the original settlers have died, yet, like people elsewhere, their offspring outnumber those deceased.

The question is if the colored people are persuaded to go anywhere, why not there? One reason for an unwillingness to do so is that some of you would rather remain within reach of the country of your nativity. I do not know how much attachment you may have toward our race. It does not strike me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still you are attached to them at all events.

The place I am thinking about having for a colony is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia---not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days'--- run by steamers. Unlike Liberia it is on a great line of travel---it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land---thus being suited to your physical condition."


  1. Thank you for telling the truth.

    FDR hijacked Hoover's interventionist economic program and thus prolonged the Great Depression. To see how depressions should be handled, go back to Warren G. Harding and the forgotten Depression of 1920. Moreover, he single-handedly took the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Cleveland and turned it into the other half of the Big Government Establishment party. Prophets are usually outsiders, not courtiers.

    As for Lincoln: 630,000 deaths -- to enforce a corporatist tariff and eliminate the original compact theory of the union.

  2. more from that great prophet, A. Lincoln

    I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.
    ---Abraham Lincoln
    Fourth debate with Stephen Douglas
    18th Sep 1858, at Charleston IL

    My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
    ---Abraham Lincoln, 1863

  3. Interesting. Some time back, I made similar points about Lincoln and FDR and received a sound verbal thrashing from my commentors. Specifically, both gentlemen were willing to abrogate the Constitution if it suited their purposes, thereby providing the precedent for a lot of what's occurred in the last decade. Yet, heaven forbid, people know the truth, i.e. that sometimes their idols have flecks of clay between their tootsies.


  4. Thanks Chuck and Cato.


    I can see where that thread you linked was headed. As always, we forget more history than we remember.

  5. No comment.
    But I did enjoy reading the comments about this post.