Don’t get me wrong: I love the Emancipation Proclamation:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…
Beautiful. And fully worth recitation.
But as the film Lincoln amply demonstrated, it took two and a half years more war—and an amendment to the Constitution—to actually make it happen.
So, while I salute this, it ignores the bloodshed and sacrifice that brought it to pass:
Communities in western Massachusetts are planning to mark the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that at least 20 churches, the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College will ring bells at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation at 2 p.m. on Jan. 1, 1863. The proclamation declared that all slaves in the states in rebellion were “forever free.”
The emancipation affected about 4 million men, women and children and energized anti-slavery groups.
Many slaves in the South were not freed until Union soldiers arrived and the Confederacy was defeated.
Even in the adoring film, Lincoln is shown acknowledging the essential irrelevance of the Proclamation without putting down the rebellion to enforce it.
I would also hope the pious liberals of Western Massachusetts—Amherst, to be precise, a hotbed of pious liberalism—will also recite some of the names of the dead from their local Civil War cemeteries. Again, the words are nice—but it took years and hundreds of thousands of further casualties to enforce them.
And I hope the pious liberals of Amherst take note of the many Irish names buried therein—many from young men just off the boat.
To be sure, there were Irish in the South—Gone With the Wind is about the O’Hara family whose plantation is named Tara—but the North very well might have lost the war without a steady supply of Irishmen conscripted and sent into battle upon first setting foot in America.