BEGINNING WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN
16th President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln said, "America will never be destroyed
from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms,
it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
In his "I have a dream" speech, Martin Luther King rightly invoked Abraham Lincoln and quoted the Declaration of Independence,
predicating his powerful call for equal treatment under law on "the true meaning of America's creed: 'We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" The promise of equal treatment without regard to race was one that that lay deep
in the grain of the American creed and the civil rights tradition.
Equal treatment without regard to race remains the enduring promise of the
American creed. As Abraham Lincoln wrote in 1864
|9-2-06 - I had a dream this morning in which the man in my
dream world who represents IEOSOUS (Jesus in Greek) gave me a gift of combat
boots with military blue socks in them and on each sock was a large picture
of Abraham Lincoln. I was told that when I wore those boots with the socks,
the photos of Abraham Lincoln had to show while I worked.
That dream gives a lot of responsibility to go with whatever I write about Abraham Lincoln because whatever I say points to him and his ideas which changed our country. I have a feeling that something is happening or going to happen with regard to Civil Rights that we have to look to Abraham Lincoln for guidance.
On the internet, there are over 3,000,000 sites dealing with Abraham Lincoln and Civil Rights, so what can I possibly say that will improve on what has already been said - not just add to the number of pages already there.
Excerpt from E. Dirksen Notebook, n.d.
It is time to answer some of the political venality, the innuendo, the false implications which have sprung up in connection with the Civil Rights proposals. In my judgment, they are as deliberate as they are false; they are as calculated as they are shameful. It is incredible that men in high places would stoop to initiate such things.
As an example, I cite the cartoon in the New York Herald Tribune of July 9, 1963, showing the Republican Party as a character on his death bier with lilies in his hand labeled [sic] "Lily Whites." The cartoon bears the caption "Voice Of The Future?" The insinuation is equally clear also. Unless the Republicans conform to the demands of the Administration and provide the votes necessary to approve the Administration program it will mean and odious tag for the Party and it's demise. That may be the view of Mr. Whitney, Mr. Thayer and their associates even as it might have been the view of their predecessor Horace Greeley a 100 years ago and it might well be that they are as short-sighted, as erroneous and as uncomprehending as Mr. Greeley.
First, let me point out that in this Senate are 67 members bearing the Democrat label. It takes only a majority to enact the Administration bill, namely 51. It takes 67 to impose cloture if cloture is needed. I say to the President, that his Party has enough members to do both jobs. If as he said to me, the job cannot be done without Republicans, perhaps he should turn the reins of gov't over to Republicans. With such a top-heavy majority, we would not find it necessary to turn to his Party for results.
Secondly, let me refresh the liberal Democrats on some of their own traditions. You would brand us as the Lily White Party and sow cleavage in our country, even though are record on Civil Rights will stand up beside your record at anytime. But go back a little. In June of 1860, you convened at Baltimore and nominated Stephen A. Douglas from my own state for the Presidency on your ticket. This is the same Stephen A. Douglas who stood at Charlestown, Illinois on Sept. 18, 1858 in one of the great debates with Abraham Lincoln and said:
"I say that this gov't was established on the white basis. It was made for white men, for the benefit of white men and for their posterity forever and never should be administered by any except white men."
There is your tradition and yet you would have the effrontery to speak of Republicans as the Lily White Party. Who may I ask freed the slaves? Who may I ask set in motion the Emancipation Proclamation? Who may I ask initiated the 13th,14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution to provide the safeguards for their freedom and equality? Who initiated the first meaningful and substantial Civil Rights legislation in 80 years if it was not done by President Eisenhower? Who gave impetus to the School desegregation cases if it was not a Republican Attorney General?
But you would have us throw conviction overboard and ignore the Constitution in the same blythe [sic] way in which you are willing to ignore it if and when it suits your purpose. And you would have us do it by making it appear that we betray the patron saint of your party, Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps you should read your history a little more carefully. You might find another PROFILE IN COURAGE. That impatient, angry old man Horace Greeley, operating thro a White House grapevine -- and refusing to go to Washington and see President Lincoln -- used his notorious "PRAYER OF THE TWENTY MILLIONS" to berate Lincoln, to express his pain and disappointment that greater progress was not being made in the liberation of the slaves. That open letter of Greeley's appeared while the Emancipation Proclamation was already written. But Lincoln chose to answer Greeley by direct letter on August 22, 1862 and set forth his estimate of his official duty. In that letter he said,
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not to save or destroy slavery... What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. . . I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."
We have a duty and a view of our duty. For one thing, it is to respect the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court as the law of the land, especially so when uttered in a line of cases involving a construction of the Constitution of the United States. Is it for us to legislate on a speculation as to what this instant Court will do, as the Attorney General seems to be doing. Is our regard for the Court a betrayal of Lincoln? Is our devotion to the Constitution a betrayal of Lincoln? Is our conviction that Title II of the Administrations Bill is unconstitutional a betrayal of Lincoln?
All this gives point to one thing -- an election if coming. What can be done to smear the Republican Party? In a paraphrase of one of your leaders long ago, you shall not press a false crown of thorns upon us; you shall not crucify us upon a cross of color. On this issue, we shall be glad to go to the people, not in the streets as you would have it but at the Ballot box for this is still a government by all of the people, for a all of the people and by all of the people.
Dirksen's Finest Hour: June 10, 1964
NOTE: The following article was published originally in the
Peoria Journal Star on June 10, 2004.
Forty years ago marks a civil rights milestone. On June 10, 1964, the Senate voted to end a five-months-long debate on what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Between February and June, Senate opponents of the bill had proposed over 500 amendments designed to weaken the measure. Yet after 534 hours, 1 minute, and 51 seconds, the longest filibuster in the history of the United States was broken. Pekin's Everett McKinley Dirksen, then Senate Minority Leader, provided the votes that made cloture, the procedure for ending debate, possible. It was his greatest moment as a legislator.
The nation teetered on the edge of a racial divide in the mid-1960s. Frustrated by decades of second-class treatment, African-Americans were losing patience with their country's legal and political institutions and turning to direct action to secure their rights. Only 12,000 of the 3,000,000 African-American students in the South attended integrated schools. African-American life expectancy was seven years fewer than white, infant mortality twice as great.
Nineteen sixty three and 1964 were the years of civil rights marches in Birmingham, Alabama, the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi, the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, "I Have a Dream" speech, John F. Kennedy's assassination, and the murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi. "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious," James Baldwin asserted in 1961, "is to be in a rage all the time."
At long last, the White House and Congress awakened to the need to strength civil rights law. Beginning in June 1963, first Presidents John F. Kenney and then Lyndon Johnson cajoled and threatened Congress into action. The House of Representatives passed a bill, known as H.R. 7152, in early 1964 and sent it to the Senate on February 17 where the real battle would take place. Senate rules had allowed southerners in the past to mount filibusters, effectively killing nearly all civil rights legislation. Passage depended on getting the Senate to vote for cloture, a procedure to end debate and bring a bill to a vote. Cloture required the votes of two-thirds of the Senate. Democrats numbered 67, exactly two-thirds of the one hundred-member Senate. But 21 of the 67 came from southern states. This so-called "southern bloc" would oppose the measure vigorously and lead the filibuster. The White House and the Senate Democrats needed support from at least 22 of the Senate's 33 Republicans.
From the beginning, the pro-civil rights forces knew that Dirksen was the key to achieving cloture. When the Senate received the House-passed bill, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) issued the challenge. "We hope in vain," he said, "if we hope that this issue can be put over safely to another tomorrow, to be dealt with by another generation of senators. The time is now. The crossroads is here in the Senate." He then turned to face Dirksen. "I appeal to the distinguished minority leader whose patriotism has always taken precedence over his partisanship, to join with me, and I know he will, in finding the Senate's best contribution at this time to the resolution of this grave national issue."
The senator from Illinois replied: "I trust that the time will never come in my political career when the waters of partisanship will flow so swift and so deep as to obscure my estimate of the national interest. . . . I trust I can disenthrall myself from all bias, from all prejudice, from all irrelevancies, from all immaterial matters, and see clearly and cleanly what the issue is and then render an independent judgment."
Dirksen played the central role in steering the civil rights bill along its twisting parliamentary path through the Senate. The wily, hard-working Republican leader used his personal charm, legendary knowledge of Senate rules, and finely honed political instincts to convince enough Republicans to vote for cloture and the bill's passage to overcome southern Democrats' opposition. He was asked to deliver Republican votes in support of a Democratic president who could not bring along enough of his own party to seal the deal.
Seal the deal he did. And the capstone to that effort occurred forty years ago on June 10, 1964. Time Magazine reported the historic details. Dirksen arose at 5:00 a.m. on that Wednesday, and, after a light breakfast, went out to his garden to clip some long-stemmed roses to take to the office. Leaving his farm in Virginia shortly after 8:00 in his chauffeur-driven limousine, Dirksen arrived at the Senate just as Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) was completing his marathon address of 14 hours and 13 minutes, the longest speech in the entire debate. It ended at 9:51 a.m, just nine minutes before the Senate was scheduled to convene for the pivotal vote on cloture.
Dirksen had the last word. In poor health, drained from working fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen-hour days, his words came quietly. Twice he gulped pills handed him by a Senate page. In his massive left hand, he held a 12-page speech he had typed the night before on Senate stationery . "I have had but one purpose," Dirksen intoned, "and that was the enactment of a good, workable, equitable, practical bill having due regard for the progress made in the civil rights field at the state and local level."
He warned his colleagues that "we dare not temporize with the issue which is before us. It is essentially moral in character. It must be resolved. It will not go away. It's time has come." He quoted Victor Hugo, the historian and French philosopher who, on the night he died, entered these words in his diary: "stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come." Dirksen declared, "The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied. It is here!" His last words were these: "I appeal to all Senators. We are confronted with a moral issue. Today let us not be found wanting in whatever it takes by way of moral and spiritual substance to face up to the issue and to vote cloture."
Never in history had the Senate been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a civil rights bill. And only once in the thirty-seven years since 1927 had it agreed to cloture for any measure. The clerk proceeded to call the roll at 11:00 a.m. At 11:15 a.m., Republican Senator John Williams of Delaware replied "aye" to the question. It was the 67th vote; cloture had passed by a vote of 71 to 29. The final count showed 44 Democrats and 27 Republicans voting for cloture with 23 Democrats - 20 from the South -- and only 6 Republicans opposed.
The formal Senate vote on the bill took place on June 19th. It passed overwhelmingly, 73-27. Majority Leader Mansfield said of Dirksen, "This is his finest hour. The Senate, the whole country is in debt to the Senator from Illinois."
Editorial opinion saluted Dirksen. For example, the Chicago Defender, the largest black-owned daily in the world, which had pilloried Dirksen for weeks, changed its tune and praised him "for the grand manner of his generalship behind the passage of the best civil rights measures that have ever been enacted into law since Reconstruction." Bill O'Connell, the Peoria Journal Star's political writer, suggested that Dirksen might join the Republican ticket in the Fall as the vice presidential candidate partly because of his performance on the civil rights bill.
Among the many private letters Dirksen received, one stands out. Two days after the historic cloture vote, Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, wrote a two-page letter to the Republican leader. "Let me be the first to admit that I was in error in estimating your preliminary announcements and moves," Wilkins noted. He and other civil rights leaders had feared that Dirksen would gut the bill through amendment during the Senate debate. Wilkins allowed that "there were certain realities which had to be taken into account in advancing this legislation to a vote. Out of your long experience you devised an approach which seemed to you to offer a chance for success." He called the final vote tally, with the majority including 27 of the 33 Senate Republicans, a "resounding vote" which "tended mightily to reinforce your judgment and to vindicate your procedure."
After commenting on particular sections of Dirksen's June 10th speech, Wilkins concluded with these words: "With the passage of the bill . . . the cause of human rights and the commitment of a great, democratic government to protect the guarantees embodied in its constitution will have taken a giant step forward. Your leadership of the Republican party in the Senate at this turning point will become a significant part of the history of this century."
Dirksen appeared on the cover of Time Magazine on June 19th. When asked by a reporter why he had taken the lead, Dirksen replied, "I come of immigrant German stock. My mother stood on Ellis Island as a child of 17, with a tag around her neck directing that she be sent to Pekin, Illinois. Our family had opportunities in Illinois, and the essence of what we're trying to do in the civil rights bill is to see that others have opportunities in this country."
|No correlation: Civil
rights and illegals' rights
By Herman Cain
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 Hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens and their supporters voluntarily stepped out of the shadows last week by waving the Mexican flag and marching in the streets. The blatant flaunting of their illegal status in cities across the nation was in protest of legislation passed by the U.S. House that, if enacted, will create felons out of the approximately 11 million illegal aliens currently residing on American soil.
The arrogant sense of entitlement displayed by many illegal aliens has caused some of them to demand protection of constitutional rights guaranteed to legal U.S. citizens. Many of them even equate their situation to the civil rights struggle by black Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Dolores Huerta, co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers Union (UFWU), said last week at a rally, “We’re here celebrating a new civil rights movement, and it’s headed up by Latinos.” Ms. Huerta is deliberately misleading her followers. There is no parallel between the struggle by legal black U.S. citizens to secure their constitutionally guaranteed protections and the claim on non-existent civil rights made by millions of illegal aliens. Illegal is not a civil right.
Leaders of the long struggle for civil rights aspired to secure and protect rights based on an ideal written in the Declaration of Independence and later codified in the U.S. Constitution. That is, that all men and women are created equal, and in the U.S. all legal citizens will be guaranteed equal protection of the laws.
The 20th Century civil rights movement was preceded by nearly 250 years of slavery, followed by nearly a century of discrimination, segregation and Jim Crow laws. The movement ultimately achieved a number of legal and legislative victories, including the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The key difference between the civil rights movement of the 19th and 20th Centuries and the call today for protection of non-existent rights by leaders of illegal aliens is that the leaders of the civil rights movement were fighting to secure and protect the rights of legal citizens. If illegal aliens were conferred the same constitutional rights as legal U.S. citizens, the benefits and uniqueness of U.S. citizenship would cease to have meaning and our nation would lose its sovereignty.
The leaders of the civil rights movement did not seek extra-constitutional rights or benefits. They merely sought the protection of their right to participate fully in society and government with the vote, and they sought to overturn the discriminatory laws that prevented them from participating fully in the economy. Conversely, leaders of the movement to secure rights for illegal aliens – as well as their supporters in Congress – want to undermine and destroy the Constitution and the rights it guarantees legal U.S. citizens.
Just as Ms. Huerta is misleading her followers on the facts of the 20th Century civil rights movement, she is deliberately deceiving them about Cesar Chavez’s views toward illegal aliens. Steve Salier, in the February 27, 2006 issue of The American Conservative, writes that the late Mr. Chavez was a successful labor organizer and union leader who fought for reforms in wages and working conditions for farm workers. Chavez keenly understood the basic relationship between wages and labor supply in a market economy – more supply equals lower wages. To protect the interests of his UFWU members, Chavez had to insure that illegal aliens willing to toil in harsh conditions for low pay did not dilute the domestic labor supply.
Cesar Chavez was surely proud of his Hispanic heritage but, like civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., he fought to protect the rights and interests of legal U.S. citizens.
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln delivered his “House Divided” speech to the Illinois Republican State Convention. Regarding the issue of slavery Lincoln stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
Similarly, a nation divided between its laws and lawlessness cannot stand.
President Bush and Congress are sending a message to legal U.S. citizens and the world that they are willing to tolerate a “house divided” by allowing 11 million illegal aliens to openly break the law. They are then willing to stand by and watch the illegal aliens flaunt their lawbreaking in our streets while waving the flag of their native country.
We are a nation of legal immigrants, and there is a road to citizenship. Along that road are legal entry, our Constitution, the rule of law and the flag of the United States of America.
This is the flag we salute and honor.
In Strauder v. West Virginia, 100
U.S. 303 (1880), the Supreme Court holds that the Fourteenth Amendment
prohibits states from excluding