** Aloha Patriots! Before ‘President’s Day’, everyone celebrated George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays on February 12. Let’s take a look at two of these exemplary presidents.
George Washington was an immensely popular war leader and the victorious general of our American Revolution. During this time, Kings and victorious conquerors had always claimed and held rule and then established hereditary dynasties. Washington’s own officer corps – after the war having been won, jealous of each other and eager for advancement – nearly established military rule. It was only Washington’s crucial and sympathetic address to these disgruntled officers at just the crucial moment that nipped military rule in the bud.
To put the fearsome executive power of an entire nation in the hands of one leader was normal. For that leader to step aside for another, lawfully elected, was unheard of. Conquerors and aristocratic statesmen throughout the world doubted that our republic would endure.
Abraham Lincoln, our 1st Republican President, was brilliant, yet plain spoken; self-taught, but eloquent; and also known as a self-sacrificing, backwoods lawyer.
His 2nd Inaugural Address allows us to claim for him the first and true ‘1619 Project.’ He was well aware of, and referred to, the “250 years of unrequited toil” since slaves were first held on American soil, that, “in the providence of God, must be atoned for, and paid for.” And not ‘reparations’ to unknown descendents, but paid for “in blood and treasure.” The civil war cost 700,000 dead and untold numbers maimed.
Lincoln then pushed through Civil Rights Amendments 13, 14 & 15, and Republican Ulysses S. Grant, another victorious general, established the Justice Department to enforce them.
Yet Lincoln, the first US President to be assassinated, was not killed in revenge for the war. His assassin was actually motivated by Lincoln’s first ever statement, April 11, 1865, in favor of black voting rights.* And Republicans continued to be one quarter of the victims of the ensuing decades of Democrat Party Klan violence under ‘Jim Crow.’
Frederick Douglas, a famous black Republican, in a speech only recently published in full, said in a eulogy just after Lincoln’s death: “It is one of the marvels to the outside world that the confidence of the country—was so easily and promptly transferred from the President dead to the President Living. The death of a monarch is looked to as an event of great political changes if not of revolution—but we have shown that even in times of great troubles and calamities—our country can pass from the hands of one ruler to those of another without noise or detriment of any sort: In this fact we have a renewed guarantee of the perpetuity of Republican Institutions.”
The most dangerous occupations, in OSHA statistics, are deep sea fishing and logging, each with workplace fatalities of about 130 deaths per 100,000 work-years, or 0.13%. Yet American Presidents, with 4 shots to death of 46 holding the office, face a death rate 10 times worse (4 per 232 office-holding years, or 1.7% per year). And that’s with the Secret Service guards!
So, on this ‘President’s Day’ let us honor the two famous men our holidays used to honor exclusively, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and in the reflection of their great deeds, all men and women who dare the odds, meet the challenges, and hold the temporary office of President of the United States.
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