October 26, 2011

Philip Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace  in the chapter Arsenal of Grace quotes Alexander  Solshenitsyn:  “Only a small crack. . . . but cracks make caves collapse.”  Later in this chapter references are made to Lincoln and Martin Luther King as champions of grace and national reconciliation. Interesting is the fact that the recently dedicaded statue  monument of Martin Luther King is across from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was here that King gave his “I Have a Dream Speech”.

Lincoln’s election in November 1860 led to the secession of South Carolina in December and the following February ten more states in the deep South seceeded. Lincoln’ inaugural address Feb. 11, 1861 stated:  “We are not enemies but friends”. On February 8th the secessionists created the Confederacy. A four year struggle ensued and left 617,000 casualties on both sides. Total population North and South numbered 40 million (North 30 million, South 10 million of which 4 million were slaves).After four years of struggle Lincoln was urged by vindictive politicians to punish the South. An assassin’s bullet removed Lincoln from leadership and swift reconciliation lead rather to recrimination and bitterness North and South. What might have been? A complex unfolding of event led to legal segregation in the South and virtual non-legal segregation in the rest of the country. Bringing to reality the guarantees for the ex-slaves (freedmen) of Radical Reconstruction’s 14th amendment providing  for citizenship and “due process of  law” was a decades long struggle . Not until  the Civil Right Decade triggered by the Supreme Court decision of 1954  declaring “separate but equal schools” unconstitutional  were the guarantees of the 14th mendment eventually guaranteed for all citizens. The Civil Rights Era was profoundly influenced by King’s non-violent protest in the face of racial discrimination, injustice, and violence. As Yancey has it King stirred “the national reservoir of moral outrage” with a “sophisticated  strategy of war fought with grace, not gunpowder”.

Published by profbartling1

Retired professor Concordia University, St. Paul, Mn. Taught mainly American History. Also taught in other areas of history, philosophy, and theology,


    1. Certainly the Wall Street protestors nationally are using non-violent methods. Whether they speak for the 99% vs. 1% wealthy is merely a slogan for public effect. Yesterday a poll stated 54$ (if I reecall accurately) were opposed to the Wall Street protests. The protestors, I believe, do have issues but they must be articulated. Wealth ought to be distributed equitable which obviously is not the case today. What is in the future with this issue is hard to predict.

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