April 15, 2013
America's first abolitionist organization was founded in 1775, when a group of Quakers met at the Rising Sun Tavern in Philadelphia. The Quakers had been anti-slavery proponents for some time, having banned its members from enslaving African Americans by the 1770s. From this meeting was borne the Pennsylvania Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. The society was devoted not only to the abolition of slavery, but also to the social and economic improvement of African Americans.
February 18, 2013 |
As the nation's first president, George Washington led a young country that had declared "all men are created equal," yet owned 300 slaves, gave slave owners the legal right to recover their runaways, and skirted a Pennsylvania law providing for gradual abolition by sending some of his slaves to Virginia. That dichotomy, at the heart of the President's House exhibit at Independence Mall, was on the minds of those touring the site Sunday on the eve of the federal holiday honoring all U.S. presidents.
January 31, 2013 |
On this last day of January in 1865, the House of Representatives passed a proposal for a constitutional ban on slavery. In Steven Spielberg's latest film, Abraham Lincoln is the consummate politician who, in the midst of a great war and facing determined resistance in Congress, made it happen. But before we join the "Why can't President Obama be more like Lincoln?" chorus, it's worth noting that the 13th Amendment was less a great leap forward than a single conflicted step. It reads, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
January 25, 2013 |
The entire treatment of slavery in my junior high history books - crack sources of information that they were - consisted of one or two illustrations of nameless black people, in chains, standing on auction blocks or picking cotton. Nary a mention of who the enslaved were, how they felt about their lives, or whether they had any dreams or aspirations. What we were required to memorize was that Abraham Lincoln freed us. Now here we are, 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation (issued Jan. 1, 1863)
January 13, 2013
In this month marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, here's a look at slavery around the world. Match the nation with the year it abolished slavery. 1. Brazil. 2. China. 3. Haiti. 4. Iran. 5. Korea. 6. Mauritania. 7. Portugal. 8. Russia. 9. Saudi Arabia. 10. Zanzibar. a. 1723; serfs in 1861. b. 1761. c. 1804. d. 1888. e. 1894. f. 1897. g. 1906. h. 1928. i. 1962.
January 6, 2013 |
On the first day of 1863, as the Civil War raged on, President Lincoln proclaimed all the slaves in the rebellious Confederate states to be "forever free. " With his Emancipation Proclamation, whose 150th anniversary the United States celebrates this week, Lincoln made the end of slavery a Civil War goal. As PBS's ambitious documentary miniseries The Abolitionists shows, Lincoln's words came at the end of a decadeslong antislavery campaign led by a tiny group of activists whose fervor alienated them from the mainstream of American life.
November 26, 2012 |
If only we could hustle President Obama and Congress into a screening room and require repeated viewings of Lincoln . And if only we could lock ourselves in there as well, because the smartest film ever made about politics offers nuanced insights about the messy reality of governance, and about a democratic process run by flawed mortals whose noble aims often require ignoble means. The cinematic Abraham Lincoln - rendered life-size yet iconic by Daniel Day-Lewis - says it best.
July 6, 2012 |
Failing grade on Civil War David Goldfield deserves a failing grade ("A deadly rush into Civil War," Monday). Southern slave owners took their states out of the Union because they wanted no restrictions on the expansion of slavery. They feared any political evolution that would make a peaceful end to slavery possible. In 1860, Lincoln and the Republican platform recognized the constitutionality of slavery in the states where it already existed, but opposed the creation of any new slave states.
July 2, 2012 |
We are marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. So what? Most Americans seem indifferent. That's a pity. The Civil War can tell us a great deal about ourselves, then and now. We have an unfortunate history of plunging into wars for God and democracy that have often made a mockery of both. If we can use this anniversary to learn more about why we rush to war, it will be an exercise worth undertaking. More than 750,000 men died in the Civil War. Extrapolated to today's population, the death toll would be close to 10 million.
February 6, 2012
SLAVERY IS alive and well. Not the old-time slavery - that is rare, although it exists in a few backwaters of the world. I'm talking about neo-slavery, which goes by the name of "human trafficking," and its reach is global. A lot of people throw the term around, but many don't understand it. Under federal law, at least one of three elements must exist to be considered "human trafficking": force, fraud, coercion. Without at least one of those, it may be exploitation or cruelty, but it is not "human trafficking" under U.S. law. These and other points were put on the table Saturday at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute during a film screening/panel hosted by state Sen. Daylin Leach, a Democrat representing parts of Montgomery and Delaware counties who is best known for having a sense of humor and a reliably liberal voting record.