Tuesday, February 3, 2015

EXTRA: Rauner sending a historic msg w/ slavery amendment proclamation?

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued his own proclamation Tuesday, praising a legislative action of 150 years ago. It has me wondering if our new governor is sending a subtle message about how quickly he’d like the current legislature to respond to his own actions.

The action in question is the approval by the state Senate in early February 1865 of the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

THAT AMENDMENT WAS approved by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 31, 1865, and Illinois became the first legislature in the nation to give its support. By December of that year, enough states had ratified the amendment to allow it to take effect.

Which means Illinois just gave a knee-jerk reaction to supporting the desires of then-President Abraham Lincoln. No pesky debate or rhetoric. Just pure support!

Not that giving such quick support to the 13th amendment was a bad thing. That amendment was the first of three measures (the 14th and 15th as well) that, in effect, brought an end to the concept of slavery in this country. Racial discrimination and segregation lasted for another century.

But being ahead of the pack on that issue surely doesn’t shame us in any way.

As Rauner wrote, “today we remember all of the sacrifices made by so many to create equality for all. We, as the great state of Illinois, must continue to lead the country to achieve freedom, liberty and justice for all.”

LET’S JUST HOPE it’s only my political paranoia at work here in suspecting that the current governor expects equally-quick reactions to his own proposals. Let’s hope that serious thought is put into the many changes that Rauner is bound to try to make – both in his State of the State address on Wednesday and during the next four years.

One aspect does amuse me; the historic illiteracy of many people in our society today.

Be honest! How many of you would have to look up to see which amendment the 13th is, and probably think of it as being the basis of the storyline in the late 2012 film “Lincoln,” which gave us a semi-fictionalized account of the political brawl in January 1865 to persuade enough political people to put aside their racial hang-ups and do away with slavery – rather than anything that really happened in life like that other film that portrayed "Honest Abe" as a silver axe-wielding vampire slayer!

Although my own memories of the film (which gave actor Daniel Day-Lewis his “Best Actor” Oscar) are more humorous in noting how many of the “lobbying” tactics to persuade congressmen to vote to abolish slavery would now be regarded as out-and-out bribery that would draw the attention of a U.S. attorney.


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