Gift #203: Lincoln and Liberty Too

The title of today’s gift is taken from an abolitionist song during the Civil War extoling the virtuous efforts of the president to free the slaves.  During Thanksgiving, I focused on Abraham Lincoln’s official proclamation during the Civil War to observe a Day of Thanks.  This was especially meaningful to me because I was reading a book about Mary Bowser, who was a federal spy in Richmond during the war.  Yesterday, I finished reading my book about her and today I saw the movie Lincoln with my mom.   Both Mary and Lincoln were incredible people who lived during incredible times and the strength of their characters forged the path to a new era.  While Lincoln is well-known for his place in history, very little is known about Mary.  She was born into slavery in the 1840s and manumitted by her owners while a child and then sent north to be educated in Philadelphia.  During her time there, she joined an abolitionist women’s group and also worked in the Underground Railroad.  Upon the outbreak of war, she decided she needed to do more for her people and traveled back to Richmond, her home.  From there she poses as a slave in the home of Jefferson Davis, where she obtains secret military information and sends it up north through a courier system.  I was awed by the sacrifices she made and dedication she possessed to fight so hard for her people’s emancipation.

The movie Lincoln focused specifically on his efforts to pass the 13th Amendment freeing all the slaves and abolishing the institution forever.  It was incredibly inspiring to see many of the men of Congress and Lincoln’s cabinet fight so hard to see it passed.  It was equally as frustrating to watch how hatred and prejudice closed the minds and hearts of the many that opposed its passage.  As I’ve immersed myself in this period of history, it has been a challenge for me not to condemn those who favored slavery and then just walk away.  Some of the comments made in the movie exposing the hard-held ignorance and prejudice towards African-Americans were appalling and made me cringe in shame and loathing for such attitudes.  But as ugly as it was, it is not contained to that period of history.  We struggle with the same sins of oppression and hatred today all over the world.  And spending time with Lincoln and Mary and has made me realize that I’m responsible for working for justice in my time just as they did in theirs.  I want to walk in their footsteps:

“to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke
To share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood. “

Isaiah 58:6-7

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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