Return to the fountain of freedom

By Edward Achorn

Every American would benefit by reading Frederick Douglass’s gut-wrenching address on the Declaration of Independence, which he delivered on July 5, 1852, at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. That was more than ten years before Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation and 13 years before slavery was finally abolished.

It is a scathing denunciation of America’s hypocrisy in perpetuating slavery while celebrating the signing of the Declaration, which declared that “all men are created equal” and that all are endowed with rights no man or government could justly take away.

I write about this speech in my new book, Every Drop of Blood.

“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” the great black leader and former slave asked.

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Is it divisive to celebrate America?

By Edward Achorn

Has it become “dark” and “divisive” to celebrate America and honor such icons of freedom as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln?

According to elements of the American news media it has — at least if a politician they detest is doing the celebrating.

“Trump pushes racial division, flouts virus rules at Rushmore,” the Associated Press headlined its coverage of an ostensibly patriotic speech the president delivered at Mount Rushmore Friday night.

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Cancel culture vs. Mount Rushmore

By Edward Achorn

I was glad to see the Democratic Party this week quickly delete its tweet about the great fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore in honor of Independence Day. The reprehensible tweet called the nation’s birthday party “a rally glorifying white supremacy.”

Political passions have become so hot of late that some will not even set aside the hatreds of identity politics on July 4th, a day when we celebrate this great nation and express gratitude for the extraordinary blessings of freedom it has bestowed on all of us, of all skin tones.

Two of the mighty presidents hewn into the rock of Mount Rushmore — there on the left, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — were slaveowners. It is interesting that a third president, over on the right, Abraham Lincoln, was a bitter, lifelong enemy of slavery who, at immense sacrifice, finally presided over its destruction. But he had the highest regard for both, recognizing their crucial role in securing liberty and preparing the way for slavery’s destruction.

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John Lennon’s revolution

By Edward Achorn

John Lennon was an artist — specifically, a great rock ‘n’ roll musician and singer — and not a nuanced political thinker. Critics, then and now, might be inclined to tell him to shut up and sing.

But he was a brilliant and witty lyricist who wanted to speak out. One of the things I always liked about him and his fellow Beatles was that they advocated through their beautiful art values I admire: love, peace, freedom, laughter and treating each other as equals. (I had the poster above, from his “Imagine” album, on my bedroom wall as a teenager.)

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Marcia Cole stands up for Lincoln Park Statue

By Edward Achorn

God bless Marcia Cole. She had the courage to show up, wearing nineteenth century garb, at a protest over a monument in Washington, D.C., that honors Abraham Lincoln for his role in emancipating four million enslaved Americans.

 Ms. Cole, a member of the African American Civil War Museum’s Female RE-Enactors of Distinction (FREED) program, spoke up for the ex-slaves who funded the statue.

The statue has been targeted for destruction or removal by the same forces that are trying to destroy or erase many symbols of American freedom and courage across the country. A copy in Boston is also at grave risk of being removed. Many of those determined to eradicate the ex-slaves’ tribute to Lincoln are white.

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Vandals vs. ex-slaves

By Edward Achorn

As expected, rioters have quickly moved on from tearing down statues of Christopher Columbus to those honoring such icons of freedom as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ulysses Grant. Some radicals have even called for the elimination of depictions of Jesus.

Once authorities have begun permitting violent attacks on America’s symbols and history, it is hard to see where the destruction will end.

And, of course, the vandals have turned against Abraham Lincoln — the great president who saved this country and, in doing so, freed four million enslaved African Americans.

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Hating the Confederates

By Edward Achorn

While rioters in American cities in recent days have damaged or destroyed monuments to George Washington, Ulysses Grant, and even the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment, those honoring Confederates seem especially targeted for destruction. Everyone from violent Marxists to conservatives look down these days on the Confederates from their high ground of moral superiority.

Abraham Lincoln had plenty of reason to despise the Confederates and seek vengeance on them. Rather than accept his legitimate election in 1860, they led their states to break off and form their own nation.

Determined to prevent the severing and destruction of the United States, Lincoln embarked on what turned out to be four years of brutal and anguishing war, American against American. He sent hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths.

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The untold truth about slavery

By Edward Achorn

Last week, Tim Kaine made a ludicrous statement: “The United States didn’t inherit slavery from anybody. We created it.”

It is shocking to hear a U.S. senator, a former Virginia governor and a former major-party candidate for vice president spout such nonsense, particularly at a time when racial tensions have been ratcheted up, with rioters looting and burning neighborhoods.

Even a cursory reading of world history would reveal that America did not create the institution of slavery (though North America’s colonies permitted it to take hold here). Slavery goes back many thousands of years.

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Four generations of Americans

By Edward Achorn

Years ago, my sister, Nancy Engberg, an award-winning amateur photographer, took a fragile glass negative from my father’s hands and made a print from it.

The sepia-toned image that emerged offered a striking glimpse of a sunny day in 1922 on the front lawn of 80 Court Street, in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Four generations had gathered: Civil War veteran John F. Mead, wearing his uniform; his petite daughter, Josephine Mead Comey, better known as Josie; her daughter, Mabel Louise (Comey) Achorn; and her infant son, Robert Comey Achorn.

They are, respectively, my great great grandfather, my great grandmother, my grandmother and my father.

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Erasing Abraham Lincoln

By Edward Achorn

Abraham Lincoln is in the news again. A statue of Lincoln that has stood for over 100 years in Park Square in Boston is the latest target for historic obliteration.

The statue shows Lincoln standing above a crouching half-dressed black man in broken chains. The man is looking up with strength and determination, as if ready to rise.

With American cities in flames, and an all-out propaganda effort underway to depict America as systemically racist, the time seems ripe to destroy symbols of American history that were once deemed to celebrate freedom and its inseparable companion, courage.

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