Events: 2015 Archives
This is the 150th anniversary year of the end of the Civil War and the death of Abraham Lincoln, America’s greatest president. 1865 was one of the most momentous years in the history of America.
It was in the year 1865 that the Union was preserved, slavery was permanently ended in the United States with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and President Lincoln was martyred for his belief in freedom and equal opportunity for all.
Abraham Lincoln is of singular importance to every American and has a special place in the heart of every Republican. Lincoln was a founder in 1854 of the Republican Party, which had as its express purpose the elimination of slavery. Lincoln went on to become the first Republican president. As Republicans, we take special pride in being his heirs.
In this YEAR OF LINCOLN, we honor and give thanks for the sacrifices President Abraham Lincoln and so many others made for a united nation and a new birth of freedom for the millions of our fellow Americans and their descendants.
The four years of Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War were exactly 150 years ago. Chatham Republicans have been honoring President Lincoln for each year of his leadership as president and this, the most important memorial year, is when all the pain and suffering, the heartbreak and sorrow and the benefits of victory all came together in an extraordinary climax.
The freedom of slaves in rebellious territories that was accomplished in 1863 with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as Commander in Chief of the nation’s armed forces needed to be made permanent and extended to all blacks and others in servitude before the end of the war – and that was done.
In 1865, freedom forever for all slaves in the United States was achieved by Constitutional Amendment, the Civil War ended with the surrender of the South, the Union was preserved and the President who had freed millions of human beings from slavery and preserved the Union was assassinated.
In 1865, 150 years ago, slavery and involuntary servitude, which had existed in America for more than 250 years, long before the Declaration of Independence, were banished forever from the United States of America with the 13th Amendment. Rebellious states which had seceded and commenced the war, were brought back into the Union and, tragically, President Lincoln was murdered for bringing about a "new birth of freedom" for millions of African-Americans and their descendants.
Since Massachusetts was the epicenter of the national anti-slavery movement, it is no surprise that Massachusetts abolitionists flocked to the Republican Party.
That devotion to freedom and opportunity for all in the Republican Party continued after Lincoln's death, with Massachusetts Members of Congress often leading the way battling in the post-Civil War years, when the states of the Democratic South adopted and enforced Jim Crow laws and practices,
Republican Congresses worked to counter them. Republican Congresses adopted the 14th Amendment (1868, equal protection for all) and the 15th Amendment (1870, granting the vote to all those of “any race, color, or previous condition of servitude).
In the adoption of all three of these amendments, Massachusetts members of Congress were in the forefront, Charles Sumner in the Senate and John Baldwin in the House being among the most prominent.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 introduced by Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner and co-sponsored in the House by Massachusetts Congressman Benjamin J. Butler was enacted by the Republican Congress and signed into law by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. It guaranteed African Americans equal treatment in public accommodations, public transportation, and prohibited exclusion from jury service.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was just one of the major pieces of legislation passed by Republican Congresses after the Civil War. Those include the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the four Reconstruction Acts of 1867 and 1868, the three Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871, as well as the three Constitutional Amendments (13, 14 and 15) adopted between 1865 and 1870. In 1883 the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875 as unconstitutional, under the 14th Amendment, saying it only prohibited discrimination by states, not individuals.
The result of the rejection of the 1875 Civil Rights Act was widespread segregation, discrimination and an increase in black migration to the North. As well captured by the motion picture "Selma," protests grew and grew, with Martin Luther King Jr emerging as the dominant champion for the nation doing what was right. His most significant statement for the cause of justice --- "I Have A Dream" --was made at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 before tens of thousands.
The provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 MLK Jr fought for were essentially the same as those in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 stricken down by the Supreme Court. This time, the act was upheld under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.
Even in 1964 and 1965 when the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were enacted by a Democrat Congress, a greater percentage of Republicans voted for them than Democrats, still hobbled by Dixiecrat-style Members of Congress. Republican votes in both cases were essential to the passage of both Acts.
The first significant dates in this YEAR OF LINCOLN come this weekend, on Saturday, January 31and Sunday, February 1. It was on January 31, 1865, 150 years ago, that the 13th Amendment, which made permanent the freedom of all slaves throughout the United States, finally squeaked through the House of Representatives. It had passed easily through the Senate in 1864. On February 1st, President Lincoln added his signature to the Amendment approved by Congress.
Although Republicans were in the majority in the House as well as the Senate a handful of Democratic votes was needed in the House to reach the required 2/3ds majority. President Lincoln’s vigorous activity (some say “wheeling and dealing”) to secure those Democrat votes is the principal subject of the 2012 motion picture “Lincoln.”
After Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment, it was sent out to the states for ratification and became fully effective in December,1865. (3/4th required, achieved December 6, 1865; Amendment certified and declared effective and in force December 18, 1865 by Secretary of State Sewall).
January 31. To commemorate this enormous accomplishment, Chatham Republicans will hold a simple ceremony on Saturday, January 31 at Chatham's Civil War Memorial at the intersection of Main and Seaview Streets at 10 a.m. We will honor Abraham Lincoln and the men of Chatham whose names are inscribed on the monument who fought in the Civil War to save the Union and put an end to slavery. .
Monday, February 9th - regular meeting of February 2 rescheduled. At our meeting of Chatham Republicans on Monday, February 9th, at 5 p.m. at the Community Center, we will briefly review the year of 1864 leading up to the Year of Lincoln’s major events as well as the four years of Lincoln's presidency. South Carolina had already seceded before he was sworn in as president. We will also discuss progress on Beacon Hill, the national situation as well as the shaping up of the presidential race. We will hold our third presidential preference straw vote.
All who attend can vote.
Thursday, February 12th. On Lincoln’s Birthday, Thursday, February 12th, starting at 3:30, Chatham Republicans will present, free of charge and open to all, young and old, the acclaimed motion picture “Lincoln,” which chronicles the strenuous efforts President Lincoln and his fellow Republicans in the House undertook to secure the last handful of votes needed to attain the 2/3rds required by the Constitution to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution through Congress.
We plan to commemorate other significant Lincoln-related events during the course of the year. To view an abbreviated chronology of significant dates in the four years of Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War, click on the link below.
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