Just thinking today with all the obsession and discussion over President Obama’s speech to schoolchildren everywhere, let’s drop back a 140+ years, and see how it would have been (technology notwithstanding — this is let’s pretend) if President Abraham Lincoln were addressing the children-in-a-one-room-schoolhouse all across the country.
What would he talk about? Would he tell how he grew up in that little log cabin in or near Hodgenville, Kentucky,only to move to a slightly larger one in Illinois? Would he discuss the candlepower put out by a langern’s light or large candles? Would he talk about his mother and father and the part they played in his education?
And then into the talk — college educations were not the norm in that era, so doubtless he’d have had to make a strong plea to all those kids to go home and talk to their parents. Would he have tried to explain his stance on slavery? Would he have urged the kids in Southern states to think about what would happen if their little black friends were suddenly “free” and what it would mean?
And with a thought to the purported “lesson plans” to follow the speech, would he have urged a unification of the country and that the seceding and seceded states should rethink their position? Would he try to explain the tariff problems to them? Would he explain that if the slaves WERE freed, their parents wouldn’t get any compensation for them, as had been done in England? would he appeal to their “better nature” to help make the Union stronger?
Would he have given any thought to the Southerners and their post-reconstruction problems? What would his ideas have been?
Of course we will never know the answers to those questions, but in our ongoing context of the civil war, the War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the War for Southern Independence — it’s sort of fun to think what might have been.
Of course he may have told them that the bigger, Stronger Union would always prevail, that the seceded states would have been “brought back in line,” and that a financially and physically devastates South would take generations to recover. What would he have said??
Just pretending, of course!