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President Lincoln, Civil Rights & The Supreme Court

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Date: Wed Apr 10 2002 - 08:48:20 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

This message contains information on:

1. President Lincoln - His attitude toward Civil Rights.
2. Working for Change - Some quotable quotes.

1. President Lincoln - His attitude toward Civil Rights (a Quotation).
This was submitted by Rich Eichinger (another coordinator for the
group), contact@AKidsRight.Org.  It is a great quote from a President
who was famous for his "common sense."  For those of you who may have
forgotten some high school history, his message is a response to the
"Dred Scott" decision of the Supreme Court:

In 1846, Dred Scott and his wife Harriet filed suit for their freedom
in the St. Louis Circuit Court. This suit began an eleven-year legal
fight that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court, which issued a landmark
decision declaring that Scott remain a slave. It also made abundantly
clear that slaves were "chattel" (just property), and could be taken
by their owners to any State in the Union.  This decision contributed
to rising tensions between the free and slave states just before the
American Civil War. (It should also be a 'reality check' for many of
us who expect a "magic bullet" Court Decision to make everything

Recently, I learned that the  Domestic Relations Abstention
Doctrine" is the precedent that allows some members of Congress to say
that the Federal Government is prevented from protecting inalienable
rights of parents and children and it's up to each Family Law Court in
each separate state to determine our basic human rights.  Many of us
know there is something drastically wrong with this perspective on the
US Constitution.  The doctrine pre-dates the Civil War when Chief
Justice Taney's Supreme court denied Dred Scott and his family a life
of freedom.

Abraham Lincoln (future President) gave a speech, June 26, 1857, in
which he described what was wrong with Justine Taney's opinion.  When
you read the following excerpted paragraph from his speech, just
imagine that Lincoln was talking about Mothers and Fathers wanting to
be with their kids.  

"Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits
that the language of the Declaration [of Independence] is broad enough
to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that
the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by
the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality
with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all,
by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards,
actually place all white people on an equality with one or
another.  And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the
Senator [Judge Douglas], for doing this obvious violence to the plain
unmistakable language of the Declaration. 

I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all
men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all
respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size,
intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with
tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men
created equal: 'equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'  This they said, and
this meant. 

They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then
actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to
confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer
such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the
enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should
permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which
should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to,
constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained,
constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and
deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of
life to all people of all colors everywhere. 

The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use
in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in
the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant
it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to
those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into
the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity
to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this
fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them
at least one hard nut to crack."

Future President Abraham Lincoln, June 26, 1857.

See the entire speech at:

2. Working for Change - some other quotes.
There are many, many great ideas for reform!  For many people "Family
Law Reform" can become a theoretical or academic question, fascinating to
discuss, write articles, and mostly get 'angry' about -- what we ALSO need
to make reform happen is Mothers and Fathers willing to demonstrate
their love for their kids by personal sacrifice.  Just ask yourself a simple
question, "Why do some pour over the Gospels of Jesus Christ?  Why do
people now study his every word?"  Is it because of what he "said", or
because of what he "did" that gives his words meaning?

"I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do
something.  And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to
do the something that I can do.  What I can do, I should do.  And what
I should do, by the grace of God, I will do."  -- Edward Everett Hale

American author and Unitarian clergyman, b. Boston, grad. Harvard,
1839. He was the nephew of Edward Everett. The pastor of a church in
Worcester, Mass. (1842), and of one in Boston (1856), Hale was
widely influential as a reformer and a prolific writer of magazine
articles. From 1903 until his death he was chaplain of the
U.S. Senate. His famous short novel, The Man without a Country, was
published anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly in 1863

"A single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of
truth and to stand behind it with all of his person and all of his
life, ready to pay a high price, has, surprisingly, greater power,
though formally disenfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous
voters."  --Vaclav Havel (Former President of Czechoslovakia)

Czech dramatist and essayist, president of Czechoslovakia (1989)
and the Czech Republic (1993). The most original Czech dramatist to
emerge in the 1960s, Havel soon antagonized the political power
structure by focusing on the senselessness and absurdity of
mechanized, totalitarian society. As a leading spokesman for the
dissident group Charter 77, he was imprisoned (1979) by the
Czechoslovak Communist regime, and his plays were banned. He was the
principal spokesman for the Civic Forum, an opposition group, when it
succeeded in forcing (1989) the Communist party to share power, and he
became interim president of Czechoslovakia. Havel was elected
president of Czechoslovakia after the collapse of Communism in 1990;
he resigned in 1992 in response to the impending dissolution of
Czechoslovakia. He was elected president of the new Czech Republic in
1993 and reelected in 1998.

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