TBT: Lincoln on Education

This week’s TBT feature was also in last Sunday’s “Lazy Sunday XXIV – Education.”  With the school year in full swing, it’s always enjoyable to look back at the benefits of education—a reminder of why getting education right is so important.

Abraham Lincoln was largely self-educated, and he was motivated, it seems, by both a desire to improve his condition in life, and by a genuine love of learning.  As an avid reader myself, I can related to the anecdote (relayed below) of young Abe walking around with “a book in his hand or in his pocket.”

This little piece was an “Historical Moment,” a monthly feature for the Florence County (SC) GOP’s public events.  If I recall correctly, the FCGOP Chairman skipped over my segment in the program (presumably by mistake, but perhaps to save time), so while I wrote this brief talk for the September 2018 meeting, I did not deliver it publicly until the October meeting (it was published on this blog in September).

I hope you’ll find this adaptation of my talk enjoyable.  Here is “Lincoln on Education“:

We’re gathered here tonight to hear from members of and candidates for School Board; in that spirit, I’d like to speak briefly about education, particularly the education of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln.

From what I’ve read, Lincoln’s entire formal education consisted of around a year of schooling.  He would have a week or two here and there throughout his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana, and then return to working on the family’s farm.

Despite little formal education, Lincoln taught himself throughout his life.  He loved to read, and would read deeply on a variety of subjects, obtaining books whenever and wherever he could.  One of his contemporaries commented that “I never saw Abe after he was twelve that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It didn’t seem natural to see a feller read like that.”  When he sat for the bar exam, he’d read law books on his own time to prepare.

Lincoln also believed in education as a source of patriotism, morality, and self-improvement—what we might call “upward mobility.”  He was not a man who wanted to stay on the farm, and his self-education was a means to escape poverty.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to quote Lincoln at length from his 1832 speech “To the People of Sangamo County”:

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.”

Here we can see Lincoln’s belief that education lays the foundation for patriotism—we understand our freedoms better when we understood what they cost, and that others lack them.  We see, too, the power of education to teach us the virtuous and the good.  From that morality flows, as Lincoln said, “sobriety, enterprise, and industry,” the tripartite tools to improve our material conditions.

Patriotism, morality, and industry—these were the three benefits of education Lincoln espoused.  Coming from the man who wrote the Gettysburg Address, I think we should take Lincoln’s views on education seriously.

Lazy Sunday II: Lincoln Posts

I’ve been out of town all weekend—thus yesterday’s very belated post—and it’s getting to the point in the academic year where all the craziness hits at once.  That being the case, I’m posting another one of these “compilation” reference posts to give you, my insatiable readers, the illusion of new content.  It’s like when a classic television show does a clip show episode:  you relive your favorite moments from the series (or, in this case, the arbitrary theming I foist upon you).

Today’s “Lazy Sunday” readings look back at my posts that pertain to President Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator (read the first “Lazy Sunday” compilation).  I noticed that I’ve been writing more about Lincoln over the past week (perhaps my quiet homage to the recently-completed Black History Month?), so I decided to compile, in one place, all of my Abraham Lincoln posts (at least, the ones I could find on this blog).

Without further ado, here are The Portly Politico‘s Lincoln Posts (in chronological order):

  • TBT: Happy Birthday, America!” – a reblog from the old TPP site, this post largely lets Lincoln speak for himself, as it features a full transcript of the Gettysburg Address.  Always good for patriotic goosebumps.
  • Historical Moment – The Formation of the Republican Party” – this short post was adapted from a brief talk I gave to the Florence County Republican Party.  The purpose of the meeting, I recall, was to focus Republicans on who we are as a Party and what we believe, so I thought it would be useful to give a brief introduction to the formation of the GOP.  As the first Republican President (although not the first Republican presidential candidate—that honor goes to John Charles Fremont of California, who ran in 1856), Lincoln obviously exercised huge influence on the young party.
  • Lincoln on Education” – another “Historical Moment” adaptation (I’m all about recycling material), I was supposed to deliver this moment before a forum of candidates for the Florence School District 1 race in autumn 2018.  I was all set to deliver it, but the FCGOP Chairman (accidentally?) skipped over me in the agenda, so I saved it until the following month’s meeting (again, why let good copy go to waste?).
  • Lincoln’s Favorability” – here’s one of TWO posts from last week about Abraham Lincoln.  I’m going to give Lincoln a rest after tonight—he worked hard enough during the Civil War—but this piece looked at an interesting Rasmussen poll, that shows Lincoln is massively beloved by the American people.
  • Reblog: Lincoln and Civil Liberties” – this post is a reblog from Practically Historical, the blog of SheafferHistorianAZ.  Sheaffer—a fellow high school history teacher—wrote a post detailing how Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeus corpus was, indeed, constitutional.

Happy Sunday!

–TPP

Reblog: Lincoln and Civil Liberties

One of the joys of blogging is the opportunity to read the work of other writers in the “blogosphere.”  Recently, I’ve been reading SheafferHistorianAZ‘s work at his blog, Practically Historical.  Sheaffer writes brief, pithy posts about various historical figures and problems, and seems to have a particular interest in both Abraham Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower, two of my favorite presidents.

Yesterday, he posted a piece entitled “Lincoln and Civil Liberties” that touches on an interesting constitutional question:  did the Great Emancipator violate the Constitution when he suspended the writ of habeus corpus and arrested Americans without due process or the chance to see a judge?

Sheaffer argues that Lincoln was completely justified, as those arrested were actively seditious and traitorous.  He cites the case of John Merryman, the Marylander arrested for his attempt to spur Maryland to secede from the Union.  From Sheaffer (all links are his):

John Merryman was not an innocent victim… of government tyranny as portrayed by Chief Justice Roger Taney.  Merryman led a detachment of Maryland militiamen in armed resistance to troops in Federal service.  Taney was a partisan Democrat staunchly opposed to Lincoln and supportive of secessionist doctrine.  Ex parte Merryman is not legal precedent at all and cannot be cited as such- it is a political document designed to hinder Lincoln’s attempts to protect Washington and preserve the Union.  It was issued by Taney alone- scholars often make the mistake of assuming that the Supreme Court concurred with the ruling.

As Sheaffer points out, there is a trend in Lincoln scholarship that recasts the president as an out-of-control tyrant.  The most prominent figure in this revisionist school is probably Thomas DeLorenzo, and the idea has circulated broadly, even if it hasn’t penetrated the American psyche (remember, Lincoln enjoys a 90% favorability rating among Americans today).

No doubt the American Civil War expanded federal powers, and indelibly changed the relationship between the States and the federal government, in some ways to the detriment of constitutionalism.

Consider that, prior to the Civil War, many States assumed they could “opt out” of the Constitution, having previously “opted in” to it.  Lincoln argued that the Union predated the Constitution, and therefore could not be left; Daniel Webster earlier argued that the Union and the Constitution were “one and inseparable.”

Regardless, the American Civil War resolved by force of arms what could not be resolved in Congress or debating societies (of course, no political question is ever settled permanently).  After that, the States would never have quite the same leverage over the federal government (probably for the better, but perhaps for the worse in some ways), and would lose even more with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment.

These are interesting questions to consider.  Sheaffer’s contribution to this discussion is sober and direct.

 

Lincoln’s Favorability

One of Scott Rasmussen’s recent Number of the Day entries for Ballotpedia deals with the Abraham Lincoln’s current high favorability ratings:  90% of Americans have a favorable view of the Great Emancipator.  88% have a favorable view of our first president, George Washington.

That was certainly not the case when Lincoln was president.  He was an unlikely figure when he first took office, and many in his own party—the young Republican Party—doubted his ability to see the United States through the American Civil War.

It’s easy to forget—or even to imagine—that Lincoln believed he would not win re-election in 1864.  Thus, he picked Andrew Johnson, a pro-Union, pro-slavery Democrat from Tennessee, as his running mate.  (Of course, Lincoln never dreamed his symbolic gesture of political goodwill and unity would lead to an unqualified boor becoming president.)  Regardless, the fall of Atlanta and subsequent Union victories boosted Lincoln at the polls, securing his reelection (he was touched to find that soldiers overwhelming supported their Commander-in-Chief).

Blogger SheafferHistorianAZ at Practically Historical posted a piece recently entitled, “Finest Two Minutes,” about Lincoln’s delivery of the Gettysburg Address.  That speech is, indeed, one of the most moving and powerful political speeches in the English language, and it’s less than 300 words.

What caught my eye was this quotation:

The Chicago Times recorded, “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.”

It’s instructive to remember that, while history views Lincoln fondly (SheafferHistorianAZ rates him as a “Great”-level president), he was not universally beloved at his time, and only won in 1860 because the race was split four ways:  there were two Democratic candidates (Northern and Southern), the Republican (Lincoln), and John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party.  Lincoln did not even appear on the ballot in many Southern States.  Lincoln had to earn his greatness, and much of it came with posterity.

Similarly, President Reagan was not universally beloved in his own party when he was elected in 1980.  The parallels to our current president, Donald Trump, and his own struggles with his adopted party are striking.

The lesson seems to be to aim for greatness, regardless of contemporary naysayers.  Few Americans remember George McClellan, but everyone remembers the Great Emancipator.

Lincoln on Education

The following is adapted from remarks to the Florence County (SC) Republican Party on the evening of 10 September 2018.  The monthly program featured members of and candidates for the local school board, so I spoke briefly about President Abraham Lincoln’s education, and his views thereof.

We’re gathered here tonight to hear from members of and candidates for School Board; in that spirit, I’d like to speak briefly about education, particularly the education of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln.

From what I’ve read, Lincoln’s entire formal education consisted of around a year of schooling.  He would have a week or two here and there throughout his childhood in Kentucky and Indiana, and then return to working on the family’s farm.

Despite little formal education, Lincoln taught himself throughout his life.  He loved to read, and would read deeply on a variety of subjects, obtaining books whenever and wherever he could.  One of his contemporaries commented that “I never saw Abe after he was twelve that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It didn’t seem natural to see a feller read like that.”  When he sat for the bar exam, he’d read law books on his own time to prepare.

Lincoln also believed in education as a source of patriotism, morality, and self-improvement—what we might call “upward mobility.”  He was not a man who wanted to stay on the farm, and his self-education was a means to escape poverty.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to quote Lincoln at length from his 1832 speech “To the People of Sangamo County”:

“Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.”

Here we can see Lincoln’s belief that education lays the foundation for patriotism—we understand our freedoms better when we understood what they cost, and that others lack them.  We see, too, the power of education to teach us the virtuous and the good.  From that morality flows, as Lincoln said, “sobriety, enterprise, and industry,” the tripartite tools to improve our material conditions.

Patriotism, morality, and industry—these were the three benefits of education Lincoln espoused.  Coming from the man who wrote the Gettysburg Address, I think we should take Lincoln’s views on education seriously.

Lazy Sunday XCVII: More Movies II: Movie Reviews, Part II

Last weekend I began looking back on some of my many movie reviews.  This Sunday I’m continuing that walk down movie memory lane with some more film reviews.

The flicks this weekend better reflect my cinematic preferences than last week’s crop; although I loved all three of those flicks, brainy sci-fi thrillers, vampire movies, and goofy buddy comedies probably sum up my movie-going Zeitgeist perfectly:

  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Archive (2020)” – This flick was a slow burn, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It’s the only movie I’ve seen (that I can remember) that depicts a robot experiencing jealously, loneliness, and isolation—and ultimately succumbing to her “robo-depression.”  Like any good sci-fi film, Archive explores questions deeper than its slick, futuristic aesthetics suggest.
  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Interview with the Vampire (1994)” – A modern classic, I believe this review was my 666th post.  *Shudder!*  It’s an appropriately demonic tale of vampires in New Orleans—a must-see flick set in the Anne Rice’s vampire universe.
  • Monday Morning Movie Review: Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)” – The new Bill & Ted movie isn’t a great movie, and there’s no consistent logic to the time travel depicted in the film.  But that’s okay—it’s a Bill & Ted movie, after all.  What the movie does offer is tons of warmth and fun.  I really enjoyed this little picture immensely.  It was refreshingly upbeat and wholesome in an age when such films don’t seem to be made anymore.

More movie reviews to come.  Keep on watching!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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Lazy Sunday XCVI: More Movies: Movie Reviews, Part I

Way back in “Lazy Sunday LVI: Movies” I looked back on some movie reviews and posts analyzing movies.  That was long before I began Monday Morning Movie Reviews as a semi-regular feature on the blog.

Since then, I’ve dedicated more of the blog to discussing culture, especially music.  I’ve also written more about films and the cinema.  Even with large theater chains still closed and film-viewing shifting increasingly to streaming services, movies are still a powerful way to convey ideas and to shape cultural attitudes.  Indeed, I think the importance of film has only increased in The Age of The Virus, as we’re able to consume more and more of it in quarantine.  That our political elites have essentially recommended we just sit around watching television as some heroic form of self-sacrifice is suggestive—of what, I’m not sure, but it can’t be good!

Regardless, during this quieter, slower season, I thought it’d be fun to look back at some Monday Movie Reviews (to be be fare, not all of these were published on Mondays or in the morning, but they’re still movie review!—one out of three ain’t bad, to very loosely paraphrase Meat Loaf).

Here are three for your enjoyment:

  • Monday Movie Review: The Empire Strikes Back” – Seeing The Empire Strikes Back (1980) on the big screen reminded me powerfully just how great Star Wars used to be before the new trilogy ruined it with SJW nonsense and incompetent direction.  Empire is widely regarded as the best entry in the history of Star Wars films for a reason.
  • Morning Movie Review: Brazil (1985)” – This one had been on my RedBox wish list for some time, and I finally rented it on-demand back in October.  It’s a great, dreamlike flick about an excessively bureaucratic dystopia.  Brazil captures the thousand tiny tyrannies of bureaucratization beautifully—and scarily.  That we’re heading down a road towards mandatory vaccination passports and ever-growing globalist conglomerates suggests we haven’t learned the lessons of Brazil.
  • Movie Review: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)” – I stumbled upon this flick on Hulu, and it was one of those rare gems among the garbage that streaming service typically serves up (and yet, I continue to pay my $2.15 every month for the pleasure of streaming terrible horror movies and Bob’s Burgers).  It stars a very young Jodie Foster as a young teenager living completely on her own in a hostile New England town, attempting to avoid Martin Sheen’s inappropriate advances.  The film is a bit of a thriller, but also an endearing coming-of-age story in which the young Rynn—Foster’s character—learns that life isn’t meant to be lived alone.  As I wrote in the review, “It’s a lost gem, one worth unearthing.”

That’s it for this weekend.  Happy Sunday—and Happy Viewing!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

food snack popcorn movie theater

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Lazy Sunday XCV: The Best of Lazy Sunday

When I began writing this post, I thought it was the 100th edition of Lazy Sunday.  However, I double-checked the long list of “Other Lazy Sunday Installments” that I put at the end of each of these posts, and after applying the “Numbered list” option, realized I was off by five!

I traced the error back to the seventy-fifth Lazy Sunday post, “Forgotten Posts, Volume IV.”  I mislabeled it as the eightieth post.  So I’ve gone through and corrected the Roman numerals in the list following this post.  I won’t go back and change it in every post, but at some point I’m going to correct the titles of those posts, though the URLs will remain unchanged.

That will be a tedious task, but one worth doing for the benefit of accuracy (and to placate my own desire for fastidious organization).  I was excited to celebrate 100 Lazy Sundays, but it’ll be able to wait another five weeks.

But what won’t wait was my original plan—to look back at the “best” of Lazy Sunday based on pageviews.  It is Lazy Sunday, after all—why put forth the extra effort?

In addition to the best Lazy Sundays based on pageview, I’ll also highlight a couple of “Honorable Mention” posts.

I’ve enjoyed putting together Lazy Sunday posts, which give me a bit of a break on Sundays from writing full-fledged posts, but also allows me to organize some favorite posts thematically.  I’ve written so much over the past couple of years—over half-a-million words—that it’s easy to forget about posts.  Indeed, I routinely stumble upon posts I have no recollection of writing; Lazy Sunday gives me an opportunity to catch up with my literary red-headed stepchildren.

With that, here are “The Best of Lazy Sunday“:

  • Lazy Sunday XXX: Trump, Part I” (64 pageviews) – Thirty Lazy Sundays seemed like a pretty good milestone to go bigly with some posts about GEOTUS Trump.  That was late 2019, when things were looking good for Trump and America.  What a glorious age it was.
  • Lazy Sunday XIV: Gay Stuff” (55 pageviews) – The provocative title of this Lazy Sunday surely helps make it one of the more popular installments.  There was a great deal of loafer-lightened hysteria in Summer 2019, with gay Leftists sashaying their way tyrannically through the body politic, trying to get everyone with normal sexuality deplatformed.  Then the progressives came to prefer black destruction in 2020 to booty-shorted hijinks, and the gay mafia doesn’t seem quite as active these days.
  • Lazy Sunday IV: Christianity” (43 pageviews) – One of the earliest Lazy Sundays, looking back at some posts about The One True Faith.
  • Lazy Sunday XI: Walls” (37 pageviews) – I wrote a great deal about walls and border security in the earlier days of the blog.  Read all about these stony securers of national sovereignty here!
  • Lazy Sunday V: Progressivism, Part I” (36 pageviews) – To understand the issues facing the West today, conservatives must understand their opponents—the progressives.  Indeed, I think I write more about them than I do about us.  I have to be careful—if one stares too long into the abyss, the abyss stares back.  Gulp!

Honorable Mention:  “Lazy Sunday XLIX: Family” (35 pageviews) – I’ve always enjoyed writing about the family—which I think is the true basic building block of society, not the individual.  Our obsession with individuality—which, as an eccentric weirdo, I very much prize—has served, in part, to undermine the importance of the family.  It, not the individual, should be the focus of our society.  Anything we can do to support family formation and to keep families intact should be encouraged.

First Lazy Sunday:  “Lazy Sunday: APR Pieces” (30 pageviews) – The very first Lazy Sunday, this one featured some posts I wrote for American Patriot Radio, which I believe is now defunct, but the posts are still there (I just checked).  They were written during those early, exciting days of the Trump Administration in 2017, when every day brought some fresh victory of sanity and conservatism, and when Trump still had a ragtag team of outsiders spitting out policy reforms one after the other.  Talk about a great time to be alive!

That’s it for this not-quite-100 edition of Lazy Sunday.  Now to get all the editions from seventy-five on fixed.  Ugh….

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Sunday Doodles V, 8 December 2019 - Sophisticated Baby

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Lazy Sunday XCIV: My Favorite Things

Today is the 99th edition of Lazy Sunday; it is also my birthday.  I’m getting to that age where my birthday is still enjoyable, but also serves as a reminder that I’m on the wrong side of my thirties, slipping towards forty ever-faster.

It’s also that point in my life that I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality.  Youthfulness compensated for poor dietary choices and succulent overeating in fifteen years ago; now, I’m feeling more and more the ravages of delicious indiscretions.  I also find I don’t sleep as well (usually) as I once did, and I will ache in places that never bothered me before.

That said, I’m still fairly spry, and while my on-stage antics might not be nearly as acrobatic as they were in my twenties, I still manage to huff and puff my way around a stage—and onto coffee tables, if need be.  Anything to entertain the crowd.

With that, I thought I’d celebrate Lazy Sunday and my birthday with some of my personal favorite posts:

That’s it for this birthday Sunday.  If you’d like to celebrate with me, considering giving yourself the gift of subscribing to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Regardless, Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

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