First Please Read: “Welcome to the Desert of the Real”- Part Two

“The most beautiful modern city in the world is Chicago. I always visit the Art Institute, walk on Lake Shore Drive and take the architecture boat ride. The Chicago Tribune building is one of my favorites.” ~ Nicola Bulgari, Italian billionaire businessman and grandson of Sotirios Bulgari, founder of the luxury brand Bulgari.

Access Part One at the following link:

Important: Please Read: “Welcome to the Desert of the Real”Part One

“We struck the home trail now, and in a few hours were in that astonishing Chicago–a city where they are always rubbing a lamp, and fetching up the genii, and contriving and achieving new impossibilities.” ~ Mark Twain, “Life on the Mississippi,” 1883

First, here’s another…

…Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight 🙂

“You’d never think of taking a cab if you had to walk a mile down Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. But in a bad city you take a cab just to go around the corner.” ~ Helmut Jahn, legendary German-American Architect

Continuing on from Part One…

…about Senator Stephen Douglas.

I want to make clear that I know that Senator Stephen Douglas was a rabid and unapologetic racist.

In fact, Senator Stephen Douglas was so racist that the legendary Black abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass reportedly said “no man of his time has done more than he [Stephen Douglas] to intensify hatred of the negro.”

Abraham Lincoln reportedly once said:

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Well among other things, Stephen Douglas was a very good racist.

This fact may be why so many historians have either been so unkind to him or chosen to ignore him altogether.

The problem is to ignore Senator Stephen Douglas’ pivotal place in American history is to ignore or whitewash U.S. history altogether…

…aka to ignore or whitewash the TRUTH.

“Back in the fall of 1990, when viewing the first episode of Ken Burns’s powerful TV documentary on the Civil War, I noticed something curious. The episode, which covered the causes of the war, gave much attention to the escaped slave and famous black editor and orator Frederick Douglass. Entirely missing, on the other hand, was the white Douglas—U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. It was that Douglas who had steered the “Compromise of 1850,” including an outrageously offensive Fugitive Slave Law, through Congress. It was that Douglas’s notorious Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 (which allowed slavery in western territories where it had previously been forbidden) that triggered many of the arguments over the territorial expansion of slavery that led directly to the war. Very possibly, no one today would remember Abraham Lincoln had it not been for Douglas’s legislation, which so infuriated Lincoln that he reentered national politics after mostly practicing law for years. How could Burns have ignored Stephen Douglas?” ~ Robert E. May – Cambridge Blog

Here’s the problem with that:

When giving any type of accurate account of the recorded history that led up to the American Civil War…

…you simply cannot ignore Senator Stephen A. Douglas.

Senator Stephen Douglas was partially or directly responsible for so many important factors which led up to launching the nation into Civil War.

From promoting and spearheading the “Compromise of 1850,” and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 which his own city (Chicago) chose to openly defy…

…to authoring the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which made possible the expansion of slavery in the U.S. and infuriated Abraham Lincoln so much that he abandoned his law practice to throw his hat into the political ring to try to unseat Douglas from his Senator’s seat to try to stop him…

…which all led up to the most important debates in American history, an unprecedented nationally famous debate on Slavery, (the first and only one ever), via the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

And let’s face it, if you’re effectively and convincingly debating on behalf of  keeping slavery enshrined in the U.S in any way, shape, or form…

…of course you’re going to also be a Racist.

What needs to be understood is Senator Stephen Douglas most definitely needed to be a racist for that pivotal, consequential, and nation defining debate to happen.

Who else was going to attempt to reach a Compromise with slave holding states which would ultimately still keep slavery intact but a guy who had to also be a virulent yet eloquent Racist?

*One interesting bit of info I found via my research is although he technically didn’t own slaves, Senator Stephen Douglas personally profited from slavery.

“While most people remember (Stephen) Douglas as a politician, few know that slavery made him rich. On the day after his marriage to Martha Martin, Douglas’s father-in-law Robert Martin offered him an enormous plantation and its slaves as a wedding present. Douglas declined due to the potential political embarrassment involved with such a gift.

However, after his death in 1848, Douglas’s father-in-law left Martha 2500 acres in Mississippi land and more than 120 slaves. While this bequest was technically her property, Robert Martin’s benefitted Douglas enormously by granting him the enormous ongoing income from the operation. He received 20% of the annual wealth produced by enslaved people working in the labor camp.” ~ Wallace Hettle, Professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa

Maybe that’s why Douglas reportedly refused to voice his own opinion on whether slavery was right or wrong:

“Lincoln’s main theme (during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates) was that slavery was a moral evil that should not be allowed to spread. Lincoln, who sometimes amused the audience by calling Douglas a “great man,” and himself a “mere mortal,” kept hammering at Douglas’ refusal to admit the immorality of slavery. During one of the debates Lincoln said: “(Douglas) has the high distinction, so far as I know, of never having said slavery is either right or wrong. Almost everybody says one or the other, but the Judge never does.” ~ From Great American History website

In spite of his self interest driven evasiveness, Stephen Douglas needed to be so brilliant and effective in being able to stand toe to toe with Lincoln on a national stage to debate the defining issue at that time in America.

Douglas needed to be so brilliant and effective in helping to steer the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 through Congress.

Douglas needed to be so brilliant and effective in authoring and pushing the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, a bill that the U.S. Senate’s own website to this very day calls “one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in our national history.” 

In addition to provoking Abraham Lincoln to get back into the political fray…

…in what other ways did Senator Stephen Douglas’ truly shocking Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 literally change the course of American history?

“Political turmoil followed, destroying the remnants of the old Whig coalition and leading to the creation of the new Republican Party. Stephen Douglas had touted his bill as a peaceful settlement of national issues, but what it produced was a prelude to civil war.” ~ U.S. Senate website

The rest as they say, is nation shaking history, as I have already extensively detailed above.

Siri, what is a catalyst?

Catalyst: an event or person that causes great change. ~ Cambridge Dictionary

This is one reason why it was so important to me to detail Chicago and my home state’s unique and pivotal role in instigating, advancing, and fighting the American Civil War.

Without Lincoln…without Douglas…without Chicago and the state of Illinois being a willing stage for the Lincoln-Douglas Debates…

….there likely would have been no Civil War.

There likely would have been no Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln & Douglas…

….each man needed the other.

“It is impossible to understand Lincoln’s career without understanding Douglas.” ~ Edward McClelland, author and political journalist

Exactly.

“I will study and prepare myself, and someday my chance will come.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

To further prove that each man honed his craft, studied, and prepared so they could ultimately do what they both came here to do…

….what they were both destined to do…

…..the two rivals had reportedly been debating each other for years before the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

“It was in the halls of the state legislature in Vandalia, Illinois that Lincoln and Douglas first locked horns. Douglas was the Democrats’ leader in the battle against the state bank, and it was his claim that the bank was a tool of “elitist financiers” that caused Lincoln to retort: “Mr. Chairman, this movement (to discredit the state bank) is exclusively the work of politicians; a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with the greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal.”

“In the early 1840s many of Springfield’s politicians met regularly in a room above Joshua Speed’s dry goods store, swapping stories and engaging in informal debate. In this setting Lincoln was in his element—cracking jokes, telling tall tales, and baffling opponents with his logical arguments. Douglas, never capable of a funny story, could only offer sober dispute. It was during the 1840 presidential election that Douglas proposed they move their debates about the candidates from Speed’s store to a more public forum, so he and Lincoln participated in street debates that continued for a week.” ~ From Great American History.net website

They had “street debates” which is the Chicago style intellectual version of “street fights.” 🙂

Reportedly, Lincoln & Douglas were even romantic rivals:

“During the winter of 1839-1840 Mary Todd, daughter of the wealthy Robert Smith Todd of Kentucky and one of Springfield’s prettiest and most marriageable “belles,” began entertaining many of the town’s eligible bachelors. Mary was living with her older sister Elizabeth Edwards and Elizabeth’s husband, Ninian. The Edwards’s home became one of the social centers of Springfield, visited by all the town’s eligible young men, including Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.

Douglas courted Mary briefly, and according to Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd’s seamstress during the White House years, proposed marriage. When Mary refused, Douglas purportedly told her she had “thrown away” her best chance to “rule in the White House.” Mary expressed confidence that she would yet be “Mrs. President.” Never publicly admitting this intimacy with Douglas, Mary later said of Douglas that she “liked him well enough, but that was all.

Mary’s heart went out to Lincoln, the tall, awkward young lawyer that could claim neither fame, fortune, nor family. Although Elizabeth and Ninian disapproved of Lincoln, considering him to be Mary’s social inferior, they could not prevent the young couple from falling in love. ~  From Great American History.net website

Had Senator Stephen Douglas not been such a well known and proven brilliantly persuasive legislator, orator and dealmaker…

…Lincoln certainly would not have felt compelled to challenge Douglas’ senate seat, which Lincoln only did in an attempt to stop what he saw as the likely expansion of slavery in the U.S. via the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.

“Lincoln, who had not sought political office for years, was “thunderstruck” by Kansas-Nebraska. He believed the Act’s intention was to deliberately spread slavery into Kansas and other territories. Alarmed at the possibility of slavery’s further spread, he secured the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination, and ran against Douglas for the latter’s senate seat in 1858.” ~ From Great American History website

After one unremarkable term in Congress, Lincoln had reportedly had it with politics and was content with spending the rest of his life and career as a respectable lawyer.

Stephen Douglas changed Lincoln’s mind about that, and in doing so, he changed the course of American history.

This reminds me of an 80s hit song.

“It’s the Eye of the Tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival.” ~ Lyric from iconic 80s song “Eye of the Tiger” by Chicago born rock band Survivor

This song is so Chicago….

….and of course the band Survivor is from Chicago. (Where else?) 🙂

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger – (1982)

“It’s hard for most of us to comprehend having written dozens of commercially recorded songs, but imagine also having co-authored a number one song that received a Grammy award, as well as Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy nominations.

Now imagine that somewhere, on some cable channel or terrestrial or Internet radio station somewhere in the world, your song has been played daily for nearly 40 years.

“Eye of the Tiger,” written by Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik of Chicago rock band Survivor, found its place in history not only as the theme song of the Sylvester Stallone movie Rocky III, but also as a number one song on the Billboard charts and the title song of an album that has sold in the millions.” ~ American Songwriter.com – (2020)

“Rising up straight to the top; had the guts, got the glory.”

GUTS = COURAGE

*Guts: Bravery and determination ~ Cambridge Dictionary

“Went the distance now I’m not going to stop, just a man and his will to survive.”

WILL = MAKE IT HAPPEN

Will: to want or intend (something) to happen ~ Britannica Dictionary

FUN FACT: One of the city of Chicago’s multiple mottos is I WILL.

Two Chicago MEN had the GUTS and the WILL to go the distance to force America on a course which would in one way or the other change this nation forever.

How long would Slavery have gone on in the U.S without these two Chicago connected men literally forcing America to debate and question it…

…both making passionate and convincing arguments for and against it…

…and via these high stakes and crucial debates igniting this country into a bloody civil war which would ultimately force America to make a choice one way or the other?

We don’t know.

Would slavery have ever stopped?

One would like to think so, but we really don’t know, and let’s not even pretend that we do.

However, I think it’s beyond obvious that a civil war at some point in America’s history would have had to happen to force the Slave states to relinquish the enslaved.

In an alternative reality version of America if the Lincoln-Douglas Debates had never happened, and if Lincoln had never become president…

…would a future POTUS have had the necessary amount moral outrage, the backbone of steel, and the iron-clad courage to engage in a civil war to save America if not only the South had seceded…

…but also the states slavery would have definitely expanded into beyond the South had there never been a President Abraham Lincoln who was determined to stop that from happening?

I vote NO, but that’s just my opinion.

Back to Douglas….

…a solid case can be made that without Stephen A. Douglas, the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln would have never become president.

“At (Abraham) Lincoln’s inauguration, when he stood up to make his inaugural address, he awkwardly looked around for a place to put his hat and cane. In a gesture of friendship and conciliation, (Stephen) Douglas stepped forward to hold them for Lincoln. No doubt an ironic smile passed between them.” ~ From Great American History.net website

And as Lincoln assumed the presidency, the Southern States broke away and declared war on America.

After that happened, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas ceased being rivals and instantly became united in the urgent and monumental quest to save the United States of America.

“After the inaugural, (Stephen) Douglas was soon back on the road, traveling north and south, urging restoration of the Union. He strongly supported Lincoln’s stance of military resistance to the rebellion. During an exhaustive series of speaking engagements in the South, in which Douglas urged a return to the Union, he contracted typhoid fever. Douglas died as a result of the fever in Chicago, on June 3, 1861. Perhaps recalling that he had once said “(Douglas) and I are about the best friends in the world,” Lincoln wept unashamedly upon hearing of Douglas’s death.” ~ From Great American History.net website

Even though he didn’t live to see the outcome of the war he exhaustively helped to rally Union support for…

…knowing the new president better than anyone, Stephen Douglas knew what few people knew at that time.

Senator Douglas knew that President Lincoln and his Union Army would prevail.

“I’ve known Mr. Lincoln a longer time than you have, or than the country has,” Douglas told a friend. “He will come out all right, and we will all stand by him.” ~ From Chicago Tribune article “In Defense of Stephen Douglas”

Continuing with an excerpt from the book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History.”

“(Stephen Douglas’) impassioned speech before friends, neighbors, and former opponents was the climax of Douglas’s tumultuous career. The next day he collapsed, weak with fever and wracked with muscle spasms. Over several weeks a succession of physicians could not prevent his deterioration into delirium and finally death.”

End of book excerpts

*And of course the city of Chicago respectfully honored Senator Stephen Douglas’s colorful, controversial, accomplished, and extremely impactful life and career.

Continuing with excerpts from the book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History.”

“Public buildings in Chicago were draped in black crape, and the body of the forty-eight year-old senator was laid in state for two days before a funeral procession wound its way south of the city to a meadow near Lake Michigan. Hundreds of uniformed volunteers were among those who escorted Douglas to his graveside.”

End of book excerpts

*One more time for the folks in the back:

“There are only two sides to this question. Every man must be for the United States or against it. There can be no neutrals in this war; only patriots and traitors.” ~ Stephen A. Douglas

And in my opinion, Stephen Douglas’ 100% correct words are just as relevant today as they were when the Southern Confederacy declared war on America.

“Once the Civil War broke out, and compromise with the Slave Power was no longer possible, Douglas threw all his support behind President Lincoln, putting aside past campaigns and partisan differences to defeat the greatest threat this country has ever faced.” ~ From Chicago Tribune article “In Defense of Stephen Douglas”

In the end….

…after all of his confederate sympathizing, race baiting, and his total lack of morals on the issue of enslaving human beings….

…Chicago’s own Stephen A. Douglas ended his life as a true American patriot.

Patriot: a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. ~ Google Dictionary

“Although Lincoln could never convince Douglas to publicly admit slavery was a moral evil, the two men were able to agree on one major issue—the Union must be maintained. It was a cause for which both men willingly gave their lives.” ~ From Great American History.net website

During the height of the Confederate statue removal debate which has taken place in recent years, Wallace Hettle, professor of History at the University of Northern Iowa, and author of book The Confederate Homefront: A History in Documents wrote an article titled “Chicago’s Got A Statue Problem Too.” 

Hettle’s article focuses solely on a statue which honors Senator Stephen Douglas:

“Chicago has its own objectionable monument from the Civil War era: a statue of Stephen Douglas elevated on a 45-foot column over his tomb. Ironically, it sits in the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South side.” ~ From Wallace Hettle’s article “Chicago’s Got a Statue Problem Too.”

Pic: Stephen Douglas Tomb and Statue in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood

I’m sure Mr. Hettle means well, but come on.

Did you catch that this statue sits on top of Stephen Douglas’ grave/tomb?

And Wallace Hettle isn’t the only one:

“Stephen Douglas is not too popular in Illinois these days. Last year, the city added an ‘s’ to Douglass Park on the West Side, renaming it after abolitionist Frederick Douglass and his wife, Anna. In Springfield, then-House Speaker Michael Madigan ordered the removal of Douglas’s statue from the capitol grounds, and his portrait from the House chamber, where it had hung on the Democratic side for more than a century, across the aisle from Abraham Lincoln’s. Even Dick Durbin, who holds Douglas’s old Senate seat, tweeted “Removing Stephen Douglas’ statue from the main grounds of the State Capitol, and replacing it with Dr. Martin Luther King’s, is the right thing to do.”

Douglas’s offenses? He inherited a Mississippi plantation, and 100 slaves, from his wife. During his campaigns for the Senate and the presidency, he employed “abhorrent words towards people of color,” according to Madigan. (Yes, the worst one.)” ~ Edward McClelland in 2021 Chicago Magazine article titled “How Stephen A. Douglas Put Chicago On the Map (and Ruined His Career)”

This is one of many reasons why I felt having a much broader context of the importance of Senator Stephen Douglas’ historical legacy not only to Chicago, but to America at large was so important.

“On April 25, 1861, less than two weeks after the Confederate States of America bombed the federal outpost at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, U.S. Sen. Stephen Douglas addressed the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield. After losing the presidential election to Abraham Lincoln, Douglas had traveled to the South to argue against secession. When that effort failed, he met with Lincoln to discuss raising an army. Now, in what would be the final speech of his life, Douglas condemned the rebellion, and pleaded with Democrats and Republicans to unite against the Confederacy.

“Are we to be called upon to fold our arms, allow the national capital to be seized by a military force under a foreign revolutionary flag?” Douglas thundered. Then he declared, “It is a crime against the inalienable and indefeasible right of every American citizen to attempt to destroy the government under which we were born.”

Six weeks later, Douglas died of typhoid fever in a Chicago hotel room. He was buried at Oakenwald, his South Side estate, from which his 96-foot-tall tomb now rises.

“(Stephen) Douglas didn’t live to see the outcome of the Civil War, but the cause he championed led to the abolition of slavery.” ~ Edward McClelland’s must read Chicago Tribune article titled “In Defense of Stephen Douglas” – July 2020

*An interesting point about the renaming of Chicago’s Douglas Park which was originally named after Stephen A. Douglas.

“Last year, the city added an ‘s’ to Douglass Park on the West Side, renaming it after abolitionist Frederick Douglass and his wife, Anna.” ~ Edward McClelland in 2021 Chicago Magazine article titled “How Stephen A. Douglas Put Chicago On the Map (and Ruined His Career)”

The irony?

Reportedly Stephen Douglas’ real birthname is “Douglass” and it is suspected that the reason the senator removed an “s” from the end of his last name may have had something to do with Frederick Douglass, the legendary but fiercely hated Black abolitionist who Stephen Douglas repeatedly race baited Lincoln with during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

“Ironically, Stephen Douglas himself was born with the last name of “Douglass.” He dropped the second “s” just after Frederick Douglass published his famous Narrative. Several historians have speculated that he wished to avoid being confused with the black abolitionist.” ~ History professor and author Wallace Hettle

The irony 🙂

“(Stephen Douglas) is buried beneath a 96-foot-tall column on 35th Street, in the Douglas community area, which bears his name.

Three local state representatives proposed tearing down the monument, while leaving Douglas’s grave intact, but so far, his tomb appears safe: it does not appear on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s list of 41 controversial monuments.” ~ Edward McClelland in 2021 Chicago Magazine article titled “How Stephen A. Douglas Put Chicago On the Map (and Ruined His Career)”

My perspective in two words: Thank God

Another irony:

Chicago Magazine contributing editor, political journalist, and prolific author Edward McClelland explains in his must read article how Senator Stephen Douglas “may have been the most important political figure in the city’s history” in terms of the direct role he played in Chicago’s remarkably rapid ascension into a world class city. 

*Edward McClelland also wrote an excellent must read book in 2010 on Barack Obama’s incredible and historic ascension into the presidency and the city of Chicago and it’s South Side Black community’s role in propelling him there titled “Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President” which is linked here.

Speaking of Chicago and going backwards in time back to the American Civil War…

…once the war began, few cities in America were more committed, more uncompromising, and more enthusiastic about preserving the Union aka keeping the “United States” together and intact against the efforts of the Southern Confederate States attempts to tear the nation apart than very northern and very anti-slavery Chicago.

“Union support ran high in Chicago and its surrounding county. The state of Illinois is known for the large number of soldiers it supplied to the Union Army. Enthusiasm for the war in Chicago ran so high that the draft was seldom used; enlistment rallies and large bounties further encouraged men to volunteer.” ~ Battlefields.org

And let’s not forget the beyond brutal warfare that these Chicago soldiers along with thousands of other brave soldiers in Union cities and states so willingly and courageously signed up for in order to save America from being torn apart by the Southern Confederate states:

Scene from the highly acclaimed and must see 1989 Civil War film “Glory”The Battle of Antietam

“…Lincoln once described Chicago as second only to Boston in urging an aggressive war. Chicagoans sent more than fifteen thousand soldiers to the front, and the city acted as a major supply hub for the far-ranging armies of the western theater of operations. As early as the summer of 1862, the city cheered the convicted war criminal General John B. Turchin and called for a “hard war” on the Southern populace.” ~ From the fascinating book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History”

In fact, Chicago resident Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, who was killed while removing a Confederate flag from the roof of the Marshall House Inn in Alexandria, Virginia, was the first Union officer killed in the Civil war.

Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth 

“On May 24, 1861, (Ellsworth) and his men were in Alexandria, Virginia, assisting with the occupation of the city. When Ellsworth spotted a large Confederate flag hanging from the roof of the Marshall House Inn, he climbed up and tore it down. As he was heading back downstairs, James Jackson, the innkeeper, shot and killed him. One of Ellsworth’s men Francis Brownell fatally shot Jackson in retaliation. The Union mourned this tragic loss, and “Remember Ellsworth!” became a rallying cry. His name and face soon appeared on stationary, sheet music, and common household items.” ~ Chicago History Museum website

*Ellsworth was also a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s and after studying law in Chicago, he worked as a law clerk in Lincoln’s Springfield IL law office before he was elected president.

“When President Abraham Lincoln learned that Union Army Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth had been killed, the president exclaimed, “My boy! My boy! Was it necessary this sacrifice should be made?” ~ National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

In addition to General Philip Sheridan and Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth…

…General Ulysses S. Grant, who was the commanding general who handily defeated Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army and led the Union Army to victory…

…and the Great Emancipator himself President Abraham Lincoln in addition to many other civil war leaders and heroes, all lived in or had strong ties to Chicago and/or the great state of Illinois.

FUN FACT: Lincoln’s nickname “Old Abe” originated in Chicago:

“One afternoon, several of us sat on the sidewalk under the balcony of the Sherman House (in Chicago), and among the number was the accomplished scholar and unrivaled orator, Lisle Smith. He suddenly interrupted the conversation by exclaiming, ‘There is Lincoln on the other side of the street. Just look at “Old Abe”. And from that time we all called him “Old Abe”. No one who saw him can forget his personal appearance at that time. Tall, angular and awkward, he had on a short-waisted, thin swallow-tail coat, a short vest of the same material, thin pantaloons, scarcely coming to his ankles, a straw hat and a pair of brogans with woolen socks.” ~ Future Illinois congressman Elihu B. Washburne in 1847 via the website AbrahamLincolnsclassroom.org

In fact, the well-known Civil War song “Battle Cry of Freedom” originated in Chicago, written by yet another Chicago resident named George Frederick Root.

Composed in a single day in response to President Lincoln’s second call for troops in July 1862, “Battle Cry of Freedom” was first performed on July 24 at a huge rally in support of the Union in Chicago. (per Battlefields.org)

Root’s legendary song gave tons of joy, upliftment, and much needed inspiration to the tough, hard fighting Union soldiers:

“A glee club came down from Chicago, bringing with them the new song, “We’ll rally ’round the flag, boys”, and it ran through the camp like wildfire. The effect was little short of miraculous. It put as much spirit and cheer into the army as a victory. Day and night one could hear it by every camp fire and in every tent. I never shall forget how the men rolled out the line, “And although he may be poor, he shall never be a slave.” I do not know whether Mr. Root knows what good work his song did for us there, but I hope so.” ~Henry Stone, The Century Illustrated, “Memoranda on the Civil War: A Song in Camp”

For these and many other reasons…

President Abraham Lincoln, General Philip Sheridan, General Ulysses S. Grant, Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, and the many other victorious Union heroes of the American Civil War which freed the enslaved and prevented the United States from being torn apart, are forever gratefully and thankfully honored in countless ways in the city of Chicago.

Although Chicago honors the triumphant Union Army’s heroes in many diverse and unique ways all across the city…

…one interesting way Chi chose to honor President Abraham Lincoln and the Union Army’s Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant is of special note:

Case in point:

Here is “The Head of State” Abraham Lincoln statue in Chicago’s (Ulysses S.) Grant Park. 

And here is the Ulysses S. Grant statue in the (Abraham) Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. 

Notice how Lincoln’s statue is in Grant Park which honors General Grant, and how Grant’s statue is in Lincoln Park, one of two neighborhoods in Chicago which honors President Lincoln.

That’s no coincidence:

In their own words:

“Well, I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln on Grant

“In February 1862 he (Grant) took Fort Henry and attacked Fort Donelson. When the Confederate commander asked for terms, Grant replied, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.” The Confederates surrendered, and President Lincoln promoted Grant to major general of volunteers. At Shiloh in April, Grant fought one of the bloodiest battles in the West and came out less well. President Lincoln fended off demands for his removal by saying, “I can’t spare this man–he fights.” ~ From White House website

“No general could want better backing, for the president was a man of great wisdom and moderation.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant about Lincoln

“Tears flowed down Grant’s cheek as he stood at attention next to the commander-in-chief’s coffin inside the White House and mourned the loss of a friend. “My personal relations with him were as close and intimate as the nature of our respective duties would permit,” Grant wrote. “To know him personally was to love and respect him for his great qualities of heart and head, and for his patience and patriotism.” Grant clearly had become, by all means, a “Lincoln man.” ~ Excerpt from History.com article titled “How Lincoln and Grant’s Partnership Won the Civil War: Abraham Lincoln was disappointed by most of his generals—but not Ulysses S. Grant.”

The Surrender of the Confederate Army

“I have never in my life taken a command into battle and had the slightest desire to come out alive unless I won.” ~ Union General Philip Sheridan

*After President Lincoln was tragically assassinated by a Confederacy sympathizer right after winning his second term in office…

…General Ulysses S. Grant was so popular that he was elected POTUS twice.

The Unexpected Pallbearers at Ulysses S. Grant’s Funeral

Here’s the thing:

Wanting to unite the country towards peace after a devastating civil war which killed hundreds of thousands is one thing…

….but honoring those who deliberately tried to destroy the United States of America in a sinister and immoral attempt to keep enslaving millions of human beings is a whole other thing.

NBC New York – December 22, 2022 – West Point to Remove Confederate Symbols From Campus

So this nation’s oldest and most prestigious military academy will finally stop honoring the same folks who initiated a civil war to attempt to tear America apart all to prevent enslaved Black people from being freed….

…and it made this decision in December 2022.

Better late than never, I guess.

“Over the holiday break, we (West Point) will take the following actions:

We will remove the portrait of Robert E. Lee in Confederate uniform from Jefferson Hall (the USMA Library) and place it in storage at the West Point Museum. Concurrently, we will move the accompanying portrait of Ulysses S. Grant from the library to Grant Hall.

We will remove the stone bust of Lee at Reconciliation Plaza and place it in storage on post, while moving the accompanying bust of Grant to the front of Grant Hall.” ~ Via West Point Press Release excerpted here

I’m just curious how for decades West Point Military Academy reconciled honoring the winners and the losers of the American Civil War….

….or reconciled honoring those who were very much believed to be traitors by much of the country in the 19th century.

The following are excerpts from a September 2022 article from the Guardian UK titled ‘Confederates Were Traitors’: Ty Seidule on West Point, Race and American History”

The excerpts begin with a little about Ty Seidule:

“In a 36-year army career, Ty Seidule served in the US, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Kosovo, Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He retired a brigadier general.

An emeritus West Point history professor, he now teaches at Hamilton College. His online video, Was the Civil War About Slavery?, has been viewed millions of times, and in 2021 he published a well-received book, Robert E Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause.

Outside academia, Seidule is a member of the Naming Commission, a body set up in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd and the protests for racial justice it inspired, tasked with recommending changes to military memorials to Confederates who fought in the civil war.”

“Asked how the US military came to name bases, barracks, roads and other assets after soldiers who fought to secede from the union and keep Black people enslaved, Seidule said:

“The first thing to know is that in the 19th century, most army officers saw the Confederates as traitors.

“That’s not a presentist argument. That’s what they thought. And particularly about Lee, who renounced his oath, fought against this country, killed US army soldiers and as [Union general and 18th president Ulysses S.] Grant said, did so for the worst possible reason: to create a slave republic.

“So in the 19th century, they would not have done this … the first memorialization of a Confederate at West Point is in the 1930s.

So, why is that? [It’s about] segregation in America. The last West Point black graduate was 1889. The next one was in 1936. West Point reflects America. [The first memorials] were a reaction to integration.” ~ From Guardian UK article titled ‘Confederates Were Traitors’: Ty Seidule on West Point, Race and American History”

I think the answer to how West Point, the nation’s most prestigious military institution, could go from in the 19th century rightly viewing the Confederacy as the traitors they indeed were….

…into the 20th century erecting monuments, statues, and other honorific symbols to the Confederacy could be simply explained by this sentence from Ty Seidule:

“The last West Point black graduate was 1889. The next one was in 1936.”

So 47 years, (almost half a century) passed between the time there was a Black graduate allowed at West Point.

In my opinion that would easily explain why the Confederacy went from being seen as traitors to being extensively honored at West Point.

“Last week, the Naming Commission made headlines when it highlighted a bronze at the United States Military Academy (West Point) which depicts a member of the Ku Klux Klan.” ~ From Guardian UK article titled  ‘Confederates Were Traitors’: Ty Seidule on West Point, Race and American History”

“The congressional Naming Commission, which initiated the changes at the academy (West Point) noted “there are clearly ties in the KKK to the Confederacy.” ~ NBC New York – December 2022

Yeah, if there are symbols at America’s most prestigious military academy honoring people with ties to the KKK….

….need I say more?

Quite simply, the erection of Confederate symbols at West Point happened for the same reason that these symbols honoring the traitors who went to war against America and tried to tear the nation apart are or were located in thousands of other locations in the US…

….some even in states that fought on the side of the Union, in addition to Confederate symbols in states which were not even states at the time the Civil War took place.

“West Point reflects America. [The first memorials] were a reaction to integration.” ~ Ty Seidule (Guardian UK)

The Confederate symbols were not so much a reaction to integration, but a reaction against integration aka against Black Americans being treated equally much less being treated as welcome members in American society.

“(Ty) Seidule rejects the notion that memorials to Lee and other Confederates – PGT Beauregard, a West Point superintendent fired for sedition, William Hardee, a commandant who fought in the west – might be claimed as symbols of reconciliation.

“The problem with that is it was reconciliation among white people, at the expense of Black people.

“There had already been reconciliation. Magnanimously, the United States of America pardoned all former Confederates in 1868 … reconciliation is sort of an agreement among whites that Black people will be treated in a Jim Crow fashion. So no, it’s not a reconciliation based, I would say, on an America we want today.” ~ Excerpt from Guardian UK article titled ‘Confederates Were Traitors’: Ty Seidule on West Point, Race and American History”

For those who don’t have a clear understanding of what Jim Crow laws were (and still are in certain parts of America):

“Jim Crow was the name of the racial caste system which operated primarily, but not exclusively in southern and border states, between 1877 and the mid-1960s. Jim Crow was more than a series of rigid anti-black laws. It was a way of life. Under Jim Crow, African Americans were relegated to the status of second class citizens. Jim Crow represented the legitimization of anti-black racism. Many Christian ministers and theologians taught that whites were the Chosen people, blacks were cursed to be servants, and God supported racial segregation. Craniologists, eugenicists, phrenologists, and Social Darwinists, at every educational level, buttressed the belief that blacks were innately intellectually and culturally inferior to whites. Pro-segregation politicians gave eloquent speeches on the great danger of integration: the mongrelization of the white race. Newspaper and magazine writers routinely referred to blacks as niggers, coons, and darkies; and worse, their articles reinforced anti-black stereotypes. Even children’s games portrayed blacks as inferior beings (see “From Hostility to Reverence: 100 Years of African-American Imagery in Games”). All major societal institutions reflected and supported the oppression of blacks.” ~ Excerpt from What Was Jim Crow – Jim Crow Museum – Ferris State University

Jim Crow was black people being forced to give up their seats on buses to white people or sit on the back of the bus.

Jim Crow was separate water fountains.

Jim Crow was laws that made interracial marriages punishable by incarceration.

Jim Crow was a Black male could not offer his hand (to shake hands) with a white male because it implied being socially equal.

Jim Crow was blacks and whites were not supposed to eat together. If they did eat together, whites were to be served first, and some sort of partition was to be placed between them.

Jim Crow was blacks were not allowed to show public affection toward one another in public, especially kissing, because it offended whites.

Jim Crow was Whites did not use courtesy titles of respect when referring to blacks, for example, Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma’am. Instead, Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to whites, and were not allowed to call them by their first names.

Jim Crow was a black person rode in a car driven by a white person, the black person sat in the back seat, or the back of a truck.

Jim Crow was white motorists had the right-of-way at all intersections.

I could go on and on.

*You can learn more about how insidious and pervasive Jim Crow laws were here.

Like I said previously about West Point finally choosing to remove the Confederate symbols of honor in December 2022:

Better late than never, I guess.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this decision to remove Confederate symbols from West Point, (in addition to other U.S. military academies and facilities), was likely made at least in part because of our current Secretary of Defense, who is a pioneering first:

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin…

…our nation’s first African American Secretary of Defense

*You can check out Ty Seidule’s fascinating book titled Robert E Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause at Book Lender here.

The losing Confederate General Robert E. Lee who initiated the civil war to quite literally tear America apart in a sinister attempt to continue enslaving millions of human beings…

…and the winning Union General (Ulysses S. Grant) who prevented that Confederate General and his Confederacy from succeeding with it’s evil intentions….

…being put on the same level of honor at America’s most prestigious military academy up until December 2022 is…..something.

“The report said Lee’s armies “were responsible for the deaths of more United States soldiers than practically any other enemy in our nation’s history.” ~ NBC New York – December 2022

FACTS

“In the middle of the 19th century, the United States entered into a civil war that proved bloodier than any other conflict in American history, a war that would presage the slaughter of World War I’s Western Front and the global carnage of the 20th century. The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, generally estimated at 620,000, is approximately equal to the total of American fatalities in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, combined.” ~ NPS.gov

Going back to the city of Chicago…

How proud Chicagoans everywhere should be, (as well as every truly patriotic American should be), that the city of Chicago has always chosen to honor the remarkable friendship, kinship, and deep respect these two timeless American heroes had for one another…

….President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant, the two men most responsible for ensuring slavery would stay abolished…

…the two men who would lead the supreme battle to prevent the South from seceding or from separating from this country…

…and in doing so preserved and saved the UNION aka The United States of America.

And what has already been made abundantly clear…

…in addition to Lincoln and Grant, Chicago honors all heroes, leaders, and fighters in the Union Army and it’s cause which was to keep the United States of America united.

“…the men and women (of Chicago) who sacrificed lives and loved ones to create “a more perfect union” refused to let the memory of the war die. They created an elaborate memorial landscape to be their time capsule for future generations. One hundred and fifty years later, the city’s people recreate in giant parks named for Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. There is a statue of Grant in Lincoln Park and statues of Lincoln in Grant Park and a score of other places in the city. Chicagoans drive down boulevards named after generals in cars with “Land of Lincoln” emblazoned on their plates as they look out at Beaux-Arts sculptures of Civil War heroes.”

“…the hand of the Civil War generation still rests upon Chicago’s shoulder.” ~ From the must read book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History”

The city of Chicago forever being a living monument to Lincoln, Grant, and to many of the other true heroes of the American Civil War.

…and also honoring the UNION and the estimated 360,222 incredibly brave Union soldiers who gave their lives to save America and to abolish the enslavement of human beings…

….is one of many reasons why I am a very proud Chicagoan. 🙂

“How many Union soldiers died vs Confederate?

For more than a century, the most-accepted estimate was about 620,000 dead. A specific figure of 618,222 is often cited, with 360,222 Union deaths and 258,000 Confederate deaths.” ~ History.com

An Important Point About Lincoln:

I want to make it clear that in spite of their immense courage, great valor, and right morals on the issue of enslaving human beings being inherently evil…

…most of these abolitionist white men were extremely flawed and not very honorable in many other aspects of their lives.

Yes, they were much more honorable and much more moral than the pro-slavery Confederates who wanted to keep enslaving human beings as part of America’s culture and identity, but being more honorable and moral than enslavers is a very low bar to step over.

And example of this truth in Abraham Lincoln’s case can be found in the specific difference between the two men in the arguments between Lincoln and Douglas made during the Lincoln-Douglas Debates:

“Lincoln believed that slaves were humans, and as humans deserve the fundamental right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which Lincoln interpreted as only the right to not be enslaved, not the right to citizenship. Lincoln believed that one race must be superior to the others and he was “in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.” First and foremost, Douglas believed in the inferiority of African Americans and often articulated this conviction quite bluntly. However, Douglas believed just because this group was inferior did not automatically mean that they should be enslaved. To Douglas, it was up to the citizens in respective states/territories to decide if they wanted slavery—reconfirming his support of popular sovereignty. Whether blacks were free or enslaved did not matter to Douglas, what mattered was they were never to be citizens and always subordinate to whites. One of the biggest differences between Douglas’ and Lincoln’s views on slavery is that, unlike Lincoln, Douglas did not consider slavery a moral issue, an agonizing dilemma, nor was it an issue that would tear the Union apart.” ~ Lincoln-Douglas Debates – Battlefields.org

So yes, Abraham Lincoln saw the inherent immorality and evil in enslaving human beings and it being the antithesis to a country which proclaimed to be founded upon freedom, liberty, and democracy, yet…

“Lincoln believed that one race must be superior to the others and he was “in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

In other words, President Lincoln believed in white superiority which the vast majority of White Americans also believed in back then…

….but I must say that one can’t compare Lincoln or any other white person’s racist ideas while living 165 years ago in 1858, which was the year the Lincoln-Douglas Debates took place…

…a time when little was known in America about the true ability of Black people because they were kidnapped from a far away continent, were a total unknown to white people, and at that time enslaved, subjugated, oppressed, brutalized, and not even allowed to learn to read…

….to a white person in 2023 holding on to the archaic, ridiculous, and easily proven false notion that white people are superior to Black people or any other people of color.

Yet going back 165 years to 1858…

…Stephen Douglas asked Abraham Lincoln a pivotal and extremely important yet long unresolved question….

…and the failure to come up with a good, fair, and equitable answer is in my opinion the reason this country is still dealing with the ghosts of the Confederacy today:

“Slavery is not the only question which comes up in this controversy. There is a far more important one to you, and that is, what shall be done with the free negro?” ~ Stephen Douglas

Yes, once the negro is free while living in a country which proclaims “We the people” and “All men are created equal…”

…. a country built on the promise of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”…

…how is that question reconciled in a nation of people who mostly saw Black people as inferior and undeserving of the promises made by the founders of America?

I mean it wasn’t like Black people asked to come here. The Black ancestors were literally kidnapped from their land, transported thousands of miles to America, and sold to be enslaved as a white person’s property.

So once slavery was abolished, what was the responsibility to free Black people of the nation founded upon their enslavement?

That’s the part that wasn’t really thought through by the anti-slavery forces…

…although in Abraham Lincoln’s case, he really didn’t have much time to think it through since he spent his entire first term as president fighting the civil war…

…and was killed by a Confederacy sympathizer as the civil war was coming to an end, just a month after he was inaugurated into his second term as president.

Yet because of the unlikely friendship President Lincoln had struck up with Frederick Douglas during the latter part of his first term as president…

…I can’t help but wonder how things would have played out for newly freed Black people had President Lincoln not been assassinated.

Frederick Douglass – (1860)

From my personal perspective….

…in the end, Abraham Lincoln did what he was born here to do, and that’s the only thing that matters.

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light that I have.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Going back to Lincoln’s Chicago:

“Chicago became an important place for Abraham Lincoln throughout his entire political career. From his attendance at the River and Harbor Convention, to speaking at Market Hall against the extension of slavery in 1854, also having his photograph taken while holding an abolitionist newspaper, and to setting the schedule with Stephen Douglas for their senatorial debates, Chicago was a magnet for Lincoln.” ~ Daniel Weinberg, Owner of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago

It should also come as no surprise that no community of people in the entire nation was more in shock or more heartbroken than Chicago was when President Lincoln was assassinated.

It is reported that Chicago was in sorrow and in a great deal of dark mourning for weeks on end.

“Roughly a third of the entire U.S. population — out of a total of 31 million — participated in some kind of memorial commemoration for Lincoln. “Lincoln’s funeral was the largest public event [up to that point] in U.S. history — probably, in world history, if you count the percentage of people who walked out of their doors, many miles, sometimes hundreds of miles — to see the procession,” says Cornelius, of the Lincoln Presidential Library. In Chicago alone, some 125,000 people — 7,000 people an hour — viewed Lincoln’s remains.” ~ The Huffington Post – (2015)

125,000 people was more than a third of the population of Chicago at that time who viewed President Lincoln’s remains.

Chicago was the 11th stop in Lincoln’s funeral procession before it finally made it’s way to Lincoln’s hometown in Springfield, IL for burial….

…and the city of Chicago pulled out all stops for its beloved fallen hero.

“At approximately 11:00 a.m. on May 1, 1865 the Lincoln Funeral Train pulled into Chicago, where hundreds of thousands of mourners waited to pay their respects. Rather than pull into the main depot, however, the train stopped on a trestle built a short distance into Lake Michigan. The train remained still, with only its bell tolling its arrival.”

“Lincoln’s remains were removed from the train shortly after its arrival to a platform which rested underneath a spectacular arch. The Gothic structure was magnificent, beautiful, and soaring. The city had spent $15,000 on it and the decorations in the Cook County courthouse, where Lincoln would lay-in-state. That total was half of what Washington had paid for the entire funeral for Lincoln! Below is a photo of that stunning arch.” ~ Abraham Lincoln Blog

Image: President Lincoln’s Funeral Procession in Chicago

“He comes back to us, his work finished, the republic vindicated, it’s enemies overthrown and suing for peace. He left us, asking that the prayers of the people might be offered to Almighty God for wisdom and help to see the right path and pursue it. Those prayers were answered. He accomplished his work, and now the prayers of the people ascend for help, to bear the great affliction which has fallen upon them. Slain as no other man has been slain, cut down while interposing his great charity and mercy between the wrath of the people and guilty traitors, the people of Chicago tenderly receive the sacred ashes, with bowed heads and streaming eyes.” ~ Chicago Tribune Editorial on the day Lincoln’s horse-driven casket was ushered through the streets of Chicago in the funeral procession

It was President Lincoln’s final visit to the city that meant so much to him…

…the city that enabled him to ascend to the presidency…

…the city that loved him beyond measure.

It was Chicago’s final farewell to “Old Abe.”

“Abraham Lincoln is not a Springfield figure, not an Illinois figure, not even a national figure,” says historian Ian Hunt, of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. “He is one of those rare individuals who is truly a world figure.” ~ The Huffington Post (2015)

Note: Had President Lincoln not been killed, it is highly likely he would have moved to Chicago after his presidency was over, just like his widow Mary Todd Lincoln and their sons did after he was slain.

“President Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, after being shot by secessionist John Wilkes Booth. The next month, Robert Lincoln (Lincoln’s eldest son) moved to Chicago with his mother and lived with her for two years. During this time he took law classes at the University of Chicago and passed the bar to become a lawyer.” ~ Biography.com

Is it any wonder that Abraham Lincoln has consistently been voted America’s most popular president?

“A new YouGov poll has asked Americans their view on the 45 men who have served as president to date.

Abraham Lincoln is the most popular US president

Topping the list is Abraham Lincoln. Eight in ten Americans (80%) have a favorable view of the president who freed the slaves and won the Civil War, including 56% who have a “very favorable” view of him.” ~ YouGov AmericaJuly 2021

And most American academics, scholars, and historians feel the same way:

The National Interest – February 2018 – America’s Greatest President Ever: Abraham Lincoln

“Whenever academics and scholars tickle their fancy by putting forth yet another poll of historians on presidential rankings, there is little doubt about which president will top the list—Abraham Lincoln. In the numerous such polls executed since Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. pioneered the genre in 1948 for Life magazine, Lincoln has come out as number one in nearly all of them. Of the seven surveys I pulled together for my 2012 book on the subject, Where They Stand, the Illinois rail-splitter was judged the nation’s greatest president in six of them.” ~ The National Interest – February 2018

This is one of many reasons why my home state is so proud to be known as “The Land of Lincoln.” 🙂

Illinois License Plate:

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Fast Forward to 2008:

Hence why it was so fitting and meaningful to Chicagoans everywhere when a 21st Century Chicagoan became this nation’s first Black president of these still United States along with his Chicago-born first Black First Lady by his side.

And how very fitting it was that President-elect Barack Obama chose to give his incredible victory speech which was seen all over the world from Ulysses S. Grant Park in Chicago with the “Head of State” Abraham Lincoln statue looking on. 🙂

Chicago was so proud on that history making night, and that includes the 250,000 jubilant Chicagoans in Grant Park on that magical evening…

….the millions of Chicagoans at home proudly watching it all on their television screens…

….and the millions more Chicagoans watching across America and around the world. 🙂

250,000 victorious Chicagoans in Grant Park on that iconic and world changing Election Night in 2008:

“Anyone who was in town that night — certainly anyone who joined the mass pilgrimage to Grant Park — remembers how it felt, and even if you didn’t vote for Chicago’s own, you could admire the Chicago that his victory put on worldwide display. The autumn-tart evening light. Remember that? And the surprising air, almost summer-sweet. And how we the people — white, black, everything else, and not only Democrats — flooded the downtown streets.

The sound in those streets, without snark or irony, of the words “history” and “hope.” And the dancing. Remember? The crying, the honking, the hugging, the cellphone photos sent to impress faraway friends with the fact that we were here.

Grant Park. Chicago. Our kind of town.”

“This is the highlight in Chicago’s history to have the first African-American president hail from Chicago and have a president from Chicago,” Mayor Daley told a New York Times reporter, with his unique eloquence. The country seemed liberated, however momentarily, from its racist roots. And however much that moment belonged to the whole world, it belonged, just a fraction more, to Chicago.” ~ Mary Schmich of the Chicago Tribune in an article titled “This Year Will Be Different, But We’ll Always Have 2008″` on election day in November 2012.

The following morning after his historic win, Barack & Michelle’s Hyde Park neighborhood celebrated at Valois Restaurant which served “The Obama Breakfast” for Free to all in joy and celebration. 🙂

“When Obama finally emerged for his victory speech, his first words were “Hello, Chicago!”

It was both a greeting to the city where he had made his political career and a note of gratitude. Obama is a remarkable politician, but if he hadn’t come to Chicago, he wouldn’t have been standing on a stage, about to address the entire world.”

“…only in Chicago could a Black man have become president of the United States. His rise to power had begun just a few miles away on the South Side, in the midst of the largest Black community in the United States. It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.” ~ Edward McClelland from his fascinating book “Young Mr. Obama.” 

Interestingly, Barack Obama used his community organizing experience which he learned in Chicago, the birthplace of Community Organizing, to mount a massive grassroots campaign unlike any presidential campaign before it in 2008.

What few people know is long before even the people of Chicago knew his name…

….little known 30 year old Barack Obama the community organizer, played a KEY role in helping then Gov. Bill Clinton to defeat then President George Bush Sr. for the presidency in Illinois in 1990…

…and Barack Obama the community organizer also played a KEY role in electing Chicagoan Carole Mosely Braun the first Black woman U.S. Senator…

…to the same U.S. Senate seat he himself would go on to win years later and launch his ground breaking presidential campaign from.

*For those interested in how, please check out this fascinating Chicago Magazine article from 1993 which is likely the very first article ever written about young Barack Obama as a likely future political candidate titled “Vote of Confidence.”

Fast forward from 1993 to 2008:

Maybe the Republicans shouldn’t have used their 2008 political convention to belittle and ridicule then U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for being a mere “Community Organizer.” 🙂

‘Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” ~ Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

Note: It’s never wise to voice an opinion on a topic you don’t have a clue about.

This is especially true when you are broadcasting your opinion based on nothing to millions.

*For those who don’t know what Community Organizing, (which was pioneered in Chicago) is,….

…click on this link to a very brief video the Obama-Biden Presidential Campaign put out in 2008 titled “The Meaning of Community Organizing.”

Also The Chicago Way says it’s not wise to underestimate your competitors. 🙂

FUN FACT: That community organizing experience laughed at and ridiculed by Republicans at their 2008 convention…

…helped the Obama-Biden ticket to receive more votes than any other presidential ticket in U.S. history in 2008.

Whose laughing now? 🙂

Obama-Biden 2008 – We ARE Out There

*Update: The Obama-Biden 2008 record has since been broken by the Biden-Harris ticket in 2020:

The Independent UK – November 2020 Biden Breaks Record For Most Votes in History For Any Presidential Candidate

“The previous record holder was Barack Obama.” ~ The Independent – November 2020

Note: Chicago being the birthplace of Community Organizing is just one of many forms of American Democracy it helped to create, innovate and/or revolutionize.

And of course President Obama used his invaluable community organizing cred to go on to win four more years in the White House in 2012.

President Obama’s stellar Chicago-based re-election campaign headquarters in 2012 made sure of it.

“Every president since Richard Nixon has run his re-election campaign from either Washington D.C., or its Virginia suburbs.” “Reelection campaigns are typically based in Washington because that puts the leadership closer to where [the candidate] lives,” Jamal Simmons, a Democratic consultant, told Politico.

“In modern presidential history, this is kind of revolutionary.” ~ From CBS News article titled “Report: Obama to Run 2012 Campaign from Chicago” – December 2010

Needless to say, Barack Obama is a very smart man.

He intimately knew the city that in many ways very strategically helped and positioned him to launch straight into the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

Case in Point:

During the very hard fought battle between Barack and Hillary during the Democratic primary for the presidential nomination in 2008…

…Chicago pols and Illinois state lawmakers made no secret which candidate they were all in for:

A few examples:

“In fact, state Democratic lawmakers moved up Illinois’ (presidential) primary — one of more than two dozen “Super Tuesday” contests across the country — to try to give Obama an early boost.” ~ Reuters – January 2008

Los Angeles TimesApril 2008 – Mayor Richard Daley (the younger) comes to Barack Obama’s Defense

“Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, whose father and namesake was famously not so sympathetic to antiwar protesters, is coming to the defense of Barack Obama for his link to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. Daley accused Hillary Clinton and other critics of Obama’s association with Ayers of ‘re-fighting 40-year-old battles.’ And the mayor noted that he also knows Ayers and has ‘worked with’ him on city education reforms.” ~ Los Angeles Times – April 2008

Knowing how hard Chicago worked to get him into the White House…

…President Obama also knew Chi would work hard to keep him there.

One thing is for sure, any presidential campaign that is run from Chicago is most definitely going to play to win.

Remember this?

Comments from this highly effective Obama 2012 re-election campaign video on You Tube:

“Wow! Well done Team Obama. This is powerful stuff.”

“Brilliant ad. Hats off to the team that did this. And most importantly, it’s factual.”

“I applaud the Obama campaign for this ad. Not only is it accurate but it’s made incredibly well.”

“Most effective ad I’ve ever seen at getting to the point simply and directly with just facts.”

Fearlessly cutting through the BS and getting straight to the point or straight to the real truth of the matter is The Chicago Way. 

Of course The Chicago Way worked like a charm and won Barack Obama… 

#FourMoreYears 🙂

And yes Obama-Biden did indeed win Florida (again) in 2012 🙂

Throughout it’s colorful, exciting, pioneering, and one of a kind history, Chicago has always been known for attracting & breeding tough, smart, and charismatic winners. 🙂

“Let me tell you something. I’m from Chicago. I don’t break.” ~ Presidential Candidate Barack Obama to a crowd of supporters concerned about political attacks against him in 2008

FUN FACT: Four of the Top 5 U.S. presidential candidates with the most votes cast for president in U.S. history…

….were either born or schooled in Chicago…

…or as in President Biden’s case, was previously on the same winning ticket and the VP partner of a Chicago president:

Candidate      Year    Party         Popular Vote

Joe Biden         2020    Democratic 81,283,501  –   Winner.

Donald Trump 2020   Republican 74,223,975  –   Runner-up.

Barack Obama 2008   Democratic 69,498,516  –   Winner.

Barack Obama 2012   Democratic 65,915,795  –   Winner.

Hillary Clinton 2016   Democratic 65,853,514  –   Won Popular Vote, lost Electoral College

*Source: Wikipedia

For those who don’t know…

…Hillary Clinton was born and bred in Chicagoland.

Coincidence? I think not 🙂

And of course being the ground-breaking, pioneering, and most importantly Democracy loving city it is….

…these 4 out of 5 top vote getting Chicago affiliated presidential tickets include…

…the first Black president…

the first Black VP…

the first Asian American VP…

the first female VP…

…and the first female presidential party nominee and candidate.

Back to present day typically winning Chicago 🙂

Fast Forward to 2022:

“What are the best cities in the world? Every year, Time Out surveys more than 20,000 people around the world to identify the best cities to visit right now. This year, Edinburgh topped the list as the best city in the world, followed by Chicago, Medellín, Glasgow and Amsterdam.” ~ Forbes – July 2022

YES! In addition to being voted second most beautiful city in the world and the #1 most beautiful city in America/North America in 2021…

….Chicago was ranked the 2nd Best City in the World in 2022 by more than 20,000 Time Out survey takers from around the world.

*Edinburgh, Scotland was voted the #1 Best City in the World. Congrats Edinburgh 🙂

This means Chicago was voted the BEST City in America and North America by those same 20,000+ voters.

How cool is that? 🙂

This is the reason why Chicago keeps breaking it’s tourism records year after year with tens of millions of tourists flooding the Windy City from America and from around the world.

“Chicago does not go to the world, the world comes to Chicago.” ~ Peter Orner – Native Chicagoan

For example…

…this happened in 2015:

Curbed Chicago – April 2016 – Chicago Breaks Tourism Record With 52 Million Visitors in 2015

And this happened in 2016:

Curbed Chicago – January 2017 – Chicago Hits New Tourism Record With 54.1 Million Visitors In 2016

And this happened in 2017: 

Chicago Tribune – January 2018 – Chicago Tourism Numbers Hit Record High, Topping 55 Million Visitors In 2017

And this happened in 2018:

NBC Chicago – April 2019 – Nearly 58 Million Visitors Help Set New Chicago Tourism Records

And a record 61 Million visitors came to Chicago in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

“Going to Chicago was like going out of the world.” ~ Muddy Waters

Year after year, Chicago keeps breaking it’s own tourism records.

Chicago keeps topping itself.

How badass is that? 🙂

Chicago has fascinated visitors to it almost since it’s inception.

“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago—she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time.” ~ Mark Twain, legendary writer and humorist – (1835 – 1910)

Keep in mind as the 3rd largest city in the US, Chicago has only 2.7 million residents.

For context, Los Angeles which is the 2nd largest city in the US, has 3.9 million residents, which is 1.2 million more residents than Chicago has…

…yet even with Cali’s beaches, it’s beautiful mountains, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and the chance for star sightings, 50 million visitors visited LA in 2019, which is 11 million visitors less than Chicago had in 2019.

As the largest city in America with 8.5 million residents, New York City reached a record high of 66.6 million visitors in 2019,

….but that’s just 5.6 million more visitors than Chicago reached with it’s record 61 million visitors that same year…

….even though NYC has more than triple the number of residents Chicago has.

“As somebody who has not been right here in Chicago over the last couple years, whenever I visit, I tell people, Chicago’s never looked more beautiful. It has never sparkled more.” ~ Former President Barack Obama – (2017)

It looks like tens of millions of people from around the world know a LOT more about Chicago than the vast majority of the Windy City’s very vocal haters do.

One of many examples:

Bloomberg – September 2017: “War-Torn” Chicago Is More Popular With Tourists Than Ever

“Chicago, described by President Trump and others as a hellish, dystopian crime scene akin to a “war-torn nation” and “worse than Afghanistan” is about to shatter all of its tourism records, including the one it set last year.” ~ Bloomberg News – September 2017

*Interestingly, the following was reported that same year, (2017):

“A non-profit news outlet that focuses on gun coverage called The Trace, found that in gun violence per capita, Chicago isn’t even in the top 10 — or the top 15.” “When The Trace crunched Chicago’s five year average last October, covering the years 2010 to 2015, the city came in eighteenth among the 82 American cities with populations greater than 250,000. Updating the same calculations to cover homicide rates for the years 2011 to 2016, Chicago’s falls to twelfth.” ~ The Trace – 2017

Meanwhile, fast forward to 2022…

“News media from other cities, especially New York, are extremely jealous. That is why they continually run hit pieces on our city. Chicago’s crime rate is no better or worse than other major urban areas.” ~ Peter Bella – Chicago Now – (2013)

And then there is the following inconvenient truth:

“The rate of murders in the US has gone up at an alarming rate. But, despite a media narrative to the contrary, this is a problem that afflicts Republican-run cities and states as much or more than the Democratic bastions.

In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden.

8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century.” ~ Thirdway.org – March 2022

I want to make clear that I am in no way minimizing the fact that Chicago and other major cities in America do indeed have too much gun violence which needs to end.

What I am trying to show is this problem isn’t exclusive to Chicago or any other major city in America.

It’s a problem that is happening all over America, yet for whatever reason Chicago and other major cities get scapegoated for it by the corporate owned media and Republican politicians…

…while the far more prevalent deaths by guns in America get totally ignored, which are gun deaths by suicide.

“The majority of (U.S.) gun deaths in recent years, 54 per cent, are not mass shootings or the gangland-style killings you might hear about on the local news. They are suicides.”

And the majority of suicides, 53 per cent, involve a gun, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The foundation found that the top 10 states with highest rate of gun suicides — Wyoming, Arkansas, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Arkansas — are also largely rural and largely Republican, with easy access guns.” ~ The Independent UKJuly 2022

Maybe the pro-gun Republican politicians who scapegoat cities like Chicago for a gun death epidemic that is happening all over America, should begin addressing the gun carnage that is happening in their own backyards before pointing fingers at others.

Maybe they should also address the common denominator in all of these senseless and mostly avoidable deaths, whether from gun violence or from gun suicide, which is the astounding number of unregulated guns in America.

“We continue to see that the states with more gun provisions have lower homicide and suicide rates,” KFF’s Nirmita Panchal said.

Rural Americans die by suicide with a firearm as much as five times more often than as those in urban areas, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Meanwhile, densely populated urban areas in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, DC, have the lowest rates of gun suicide.” ~ Independent UK – July 2022

Source: ABC News

So to recap…

…the majority of gun deaths in America happen not from gun violence, but from gun suicide…

…yet there has been very little consistent or major focus from politicians or the corporate owned media on this extremely tragic and highly preventable epidemic which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over the past decade.

“Suicide by firearm is almost always deadly — 9 out of 10 firearm suicide attempts result in death. Every day, 64 Americans die by firearm suicide — one every 22 minutes.”

“23,941 Americans died by firearm suicide in 2019, capping a decade during which more than 200,000 people were lost to firearm suicide.” ~ Prevent Firearm Suicide org

Maybe instead of constantly scapegoating Chicago and other urban cities…

…our nation’s politicians and corporate owned media could instead focus on caring about and actually helping all of the citizens of this country…

…whether they are victims of gun violence or gun suicide…

…whether these tragic, needless, and preventable deaths are happening in Blue states or Red states…

…whether they are happening in urban cities or rural communities…

…so the corporate owned media and pro-gun politicians can contribute towards actually saving lives. 

There’s a novel idea.

*This constant scapegoating of my hometown and other major cities while totally ignoring the #1 cause of gun death in America has struck a nerve with me because I have been researching the topic of suicide in the U.S. and how astoundingly prevalent it is for years in my work.

Of course gun violence needs to stop, but this is also true in the many cities in America where gun violence occurs more often than it does in Chicago, which are cities most media outlets and pro-gun politicians are prone to ignore.

Yet the far more important question in my mind is why are politicians and corporate owned media orgs choosing to not sound the alarm on the #1 cause of gun death in America which are gun suicides?

“Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for nearly 46,000 deaths in 2020.” ~ Psychology Today – July 2022

My research on America’s suicide epidemic is one of the many catalysts which inspired me to innovate and create My Head Meets Heart Kits, which are the main topic of this website.

“In 2020, an estimated 12.2 million adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million made a plan, and 1.2 million attempted suicide.” ~ Psychology TodayJuly 2022

Although our country’s suicide epidemic is just one of the many reasons why I created My Head Meets Heart Kits…

…it is my intention for my 165 one of kind custom kits to potentially help many people from all walks of life who are dealing with a myriad of different life problems, obstacles, and issues to become less burdened from their mental (Head) and emotional (Heart) traumas…

…to hopefully get on the road to HEALING so they can live healthier, much happier, more content, more confident, more stress free, more productive, more loved, more empowered, and more inspired lives.

Back to always winning Chicago 🙂

“Chicago has disappointed her enemies and astonished the world!” ~ Erik Larson

Yet in spite of the constant and never ending (jealous) hate and over the top rhetoric constantly thrown at the Windy City from various corners of America…

…millions of average Americans totally ignore it and still know the real deal about Chicago’s true greatness.

For example, the following happened in October 2022:

“Chicago was voted the Best Big City in the U.S. again by Conde Nast Traveler. This is the 6th time Chicago has been named this title. Nearly 240,000 readers weighed in for Conde Nast’s readers choice awards. They have selected Chicago as the Best Big City in the U.S. every year since 2017. No other city has won the title more than three times in a row in the award’s 35 year history.” ~ CBS News – October 2022

CHICAGO VOTED THE BEST CITY IN AMERICA IN 2022 FOR THE SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW.

No other American city has done what Chicago has done annually SIX CONSECUTIVE TIMES. 🙂

“There seems to be a different Chicago around every street corner, behind every bar, and within every apartment, two-flat, cottage, or bungalow. City of immigrants or city of heartless plutocrats, say what you will, Chicago almost defies interpretation. In many ways Chicago is like a snake that sheds its skin every thirty years or so and puts on a new coat to conform to a new reality.” ~ Dominic A. Pacyga, author of the book Chicago: A Biography

The following excerpt is from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine representing it’s 240,000 travel loving voters:

“It’s no wonder Chicago is topping this list yet again. A world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene, it’ll take several repeat visits to get through your list of must-dos. Most people start downtown—from the Magnificent Mile to the ritzy Gold Coast to funky Old Town—but there are 77 neighborhoods to explore, where you’ll find cutting-edge restaurants, chilled-out corner bars, and, no matter where you go, some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.” ~ Conde Nast Traveler Magazine – October 2022

“….some of the most pleasant people you’ll find anywhere.”

Yes Chicago has dynamic and pioneering architecture, world-class museums and cultural institutions, a gorgeous miles-long lakefront, wonderful year round neighborhood festivals and concerts, a stunningly beautiful skyline, the best foodie scene in America, an unrivaled art, music, and comedy scene, and some of the best contemporary and historical public art in America but….

…in my humble opinion, the #1 reason why Chicago has won this coveted “Best City In America” title from Conde Nast Traveler Magazine for six consecutive years, more than any other city in America, is…

…the PEOPLE of Chicago.

To put it simply, Chicagoans make Chicago and vice versa. 🙂

“Chicago made me who I am.” ~ Michelle Obama

That reminds me of a quote from a legendary player for the Chicago Bulls:

“I didn’t come here to be average.” ~ Michael Jordan 

The truth is none of us came or were born on this planet to be “average” or to not strive to be true to ourselves and our abilities, but those from or associated with Chicagoland seem to know this truth better than most.

“Chicago has always been a fertile and nurturing environment for those who march not to the beat of a different drummer, but to a different symphony. Loud and proud, Chicago’s distinctive personality has less to do with its gloriously distinctive architecture than it does with the sum of its people.” “Unlike any other city in the land, Chicago accommodated its characters, celebrated them, in fact.” ~ Rick Kogan in the forward of the book “Chicago Originals” by Kenan Heise and Ed Baumann

Indeed.

I would argue that the worst place in America for you to live if you’re striving to be average, inauthentic, to live a life of pretense, or to just fit in is in Chicago.

“People who don’t fit in anywhere else fit in here. It’s a collection of square pegs.” ~ Artist, Golden Gloves Boxer and Character actor Tony Fitzpatrick as featured in the book “Never A City So Real: A Walk In Chicago” by Alex Kotlowitz

A great example of Chicago’s character is the Chicago Greeter Program a wonderful and 100% Free program where super friendly Chicagoans volunteer to take visitors on neighborhood tours of our great city.

The Chicago Greeter Program

“The most typically American place in America.” ~ James Bryce on Chicago, The American Commonwealth, (1888)

*Visitors can register for a Free tour of one of Chicago’s many unique and diverse neighborhoods with a local tour guide at the following link:

ChicagoGreeter.com

Also, anyone visiting Chicago and interested not only in Chicago’s pioneering, innovative, and colorful history, but also interested in American history in general, should be sure to stop at the Chicago History Museum when visiting.

“Chicago’s Oldest Cultural Institution

The Chicago History Museum is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers.” ~ From the Chicago History Museum’s website

Founded in 1856, this truly incredible museum is one of the top historical museums in America with a growing collection of more than 22 million historical items.

These invaluable historical items include an original copy of The Declaration of Independence, an extensive collection of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant artifacts, and an extensive Civil War collection of artifacts.

“Charles F. Gunther, a prominent Chicago collector, donated some items to the historical society (later named the Chicago History Museum). In 1920, the society purchased the remainder of the large history collection from his estate, with the intention of changing its focus from only a research institution into a public museum. Many of the items in Gunther’s collection, in addition to Chicago, were related to Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War. These include Lincoln’s deathbed, several other pieces of furniture from the room where he died in the Petersen House, and clothing that he and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln allegedly wore the evening of his assassination. The collection also contains the table on which General Robert E. Lee signed his 1865 surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant, an official act that ended the American Civil War, at the McLean House in Appomattox, Virginia.” ~ Source: Wikipedia

*This fascinating linked video gives info on some of the other priceless historical artifacts the Chicago History Museum has related to Abraham Lincoln and so much more.

*The museum is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, one of two Chicago neighborhoods named after President Lincoln.

“Sometimes words are just music themselves. Like ‘Chicago’ is a very musical sounding name.” ~ Tom Waits

Even Chicago’s name reeks art, just like the city itself.

Speaking of music, even the legendary crooner Frank Sinatra knew the real deal about Chicago.

Frank Sinatra – My Kind of Town (Chicago Is) – From 1964 film “Robin & the 7 Hoods”

“I had no particular image of Chicago in mind when I wrote ‘My Kind of Town.’ All I wanted to do was write a song in praise of Chicago, and that’s what I did.” ~ Sammy Cahn, legendary songwriter

Those that actually know Chicago know how extremely easy it is to praise the Windy City.

That may be why Frank Sinatra recorded not just one iconic song about Chicago, (like he did with “New York, New York”)…

…Frank recorded TWO iconic songs showing his undying love for the Windy City:

Frank Sinatra – Chicago, My Home Town – (written by Fred Fisher)

Take that NYC. 🙂

“I must say that it’s easy to write nice things about Chicago because it’s that kind of town.” ~ Sammy Cahn

And then there was that time in 2012 when President Obama along with Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jeff Beck and a host of other rock and blues music legends performed the iconic blues song “Sweet Home Chicago” at the White House.

Sweet Home Chicago sang at the White House

What can I say?

Chicago spawns and attracts some legendary and really cool dudes, (and gals too.) 🙂

“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.” ~ Michelle Obama

What Michelle Obama’s words demonstrates can also be called The Chicago Way.

I highlighted “I know who I am” from the above quote by Michelle Obama because it is KEY to how Chicago also operates.

Chicago also doesn’t invest interest or energy into the constant hate thrown at it from it’s plentiful haters.

Why?

Because Chicago knows itself. 

Here’s the thing:

When you truly know yourself or know who you are and what you represent, what others say or claim about you, (especially if it’s demonstrably false), doesn’t bother or impact you.

Chicago just continues to innovate, create, beautify, work hard, play hard, and have fun…

…while letting it’s amazing feats, accolades, accomplishments, awards, and tens of millions of people from America and around the world flooding into the city every year speak for itself.

At best, Chicago finds it’s many haters amusing. 🙂

We all know what the word “born” means, but what does the word “bred” mean?

Bred: “a person reared in a specified environment or way.” ~ Google Dictionary

“Whatever man undertakes here, should be either actually or seemingly without limit.” ~ Excerpt from Master Architect & City Planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago

“…seemingly without limit.”

How else could much of Chicago go from being totally destroyed by The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which was the worst natural disaster to happen in America at that time…

…to now being the #1 most beautiful city in America and North America, and currently the second most beautiful city in the world?

That doesn’t just happen by accident.

Following is a fascinating video narrated by the legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite using scenes from the 1937 Oscar-nominated film “In Old Chicago” doing a mock news broadcast about the GREAT CHICAGO OF 1871

More than 17,000 buildings burned to the ground.

Close to 100,000 Chicagoans were left homeless.

Almost 300 Chicagoans tragically died.

The fire burned for TWO DAYS, from October 8 to October 10, 1871…

…and the day after the fire finally burned out, the Chicago Tribune newspaper’s editorial said the following to the frightened, grief-stricken, and totally devastated citizens of Chicago:

“CHEER UP! In the midst of a calamity without parallel in the world’s history, looking upon the ashes of thirty years’ accumulations, the people of this once beautiful city have resolved that CHICAGO SHALL RISE AGAIN.” ~ Editorial from the Chicago Tribune newspaper on Oct. 11, 1871, which was the first edition of the paper published the day after the Great Chicago Fire

“CHICAGO SHALL RISE AGAIN.”

Of course Chicago did just that. 🙂

“With woe on every hand, with death in many strange places, with two or three hundred millions of our hard-earned property swept away in a few hours, the hearts of our men and women are still brave, and they look into the future with undaunted hearts. As there has never been such a calamity, so has there never been such cheerful fortitude in the face of desolation and ruin.” ~ Editorial from the Chicago Tribune newspaper on Oct. 11, 1871, which was the first edition of the paper published the day after the Great Chicago Fire

*The Chicago History Museum has an incredible but temporary exhibit on the Great Chicago Fire called “City On Fire: Chicago 1871” which anyone visiting the museum should check out while it’s still there.

Smithsonian Channel: How The Great Chicago Fire Of 1871 Actually Benefitted Chicago.

“Anthony Trollope, an Englishman, visited Chicago. He said: “These businessmen in Chicago are reckless, and they fail a lot. But failure doesn’t bother them. Catastrophe doesn’t bother them. They bounce right back.” And that seems to be ingrained in the character of the city. The (Great Chicago) fire happens, and believe it or not, in the newspapers its seen as an opportunity. Chicago hops right to it after the fire and rebuilds itself in an astonishingly short period of time. It’s about a two year period.” ~ Author Donald L. Miller – (PBS)

Question: Do you know who designed your city or town?

*Most* Chicagoans definitely know Daniel Burnham. 

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. THINK BIG.” ~ Daniel Hudson Burnham, the Legendary Chicago Architect and City Planner who is responsible for the 1909 Plan Of Chicago

FUN FACT: Chicago’s own Daniel Burnham was also the man responsible for designing the breathtaking National Mall on Washington in DC.

“Architect Daniel Burnham was the Chairman of the Senate Park Commission, which created a comprehensive redesign of the National Mall and DC parks system in the early 1900s. At that time, he was also working for the Pennsylvania Railroad to design a new station. Burnham helped convince the Railroad to relocate their station from the Mall to a nearby site; the building he designed on that site is Union Station. In 1910, President Taft appointed Burnham Chairman of the US Commission on Fine Arts, which advised the Federal Government on the location and design of monuments like the Lincoln Memorial.” ~ Mall History.org

Flashback: Check out this wonderful linked video featuring highlights from President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inauguration where President Obama took his oath of office on the same Bible which President Lincoln took his oath of office on.

President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration drew a massive, record-breaking crowd of almost TWO MILLION PEOPLE on the National Mall which was designed in large part by Obama’s fellow Chicagoan Daniel H. Burnham.

Image: The people packed Daniel H. Burnham-designed National Mall during President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration

*It almost seems like Burnham intentionally designed the National Mall to hold such a massive crowd.

#MakeNoLittlePlans 🙂

Daniel Hudson Burnham  

“The prairie and the lake, each immeasurable by the senses, dictate the scale of possibility in Chicago. Whatever man undertakes here, should be either actually or seemingly without limit.” ~ Excerpt from Master Architect & City Planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago

Indeed.

Daniel Burnham mandated that Chicagoans be or act as if they are LIMITLESS…

…and the City of Chicago eagerly picked up Burnham’s baton as is illustrated by one of the city’s multiple and most cherished mottos “I Will.”

“In the history of American urban planning, Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan Of Chicago stands alone not only in it’s innate elegance, but also in it’s astonishing ambition. With near hubris, it counseled that the people of Chicago “must ever recognize the fact that their city is without bounds or limits” and that they themselves are “a population capable of indefinite expansion. More astonishing, much of it was implemented. Today’s Chicago is a living monument to the plan – which called for replacing chaos, filth and congestion of industrial turn-of-the-20th century Chicago with a formal downtown of skyscrapers, an accessible 20 – mile public park along Lake Michigan, and a necklace of parks and handsome boulevards uniting neighborhoods.” ~ Wall Street Journal

Following is one of countless examples of Chicagoans heeding Daniel Burnham’s “LIMITLESS” mandate:

These quoted words which ended a truly iconic and globally successful film could have only been written by two people born and bred in Chicago:

“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid. You’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change.

I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how this is going to begin. I’m gonna hang up this phone, and then I’m gonna show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m gonna show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders and boundaries… a world where anything is possible.” ~ An excerpt from Neo’s final words in the original film “The Matrix.”

FUN FACT: The writers and directors of The Matrix film franchise, The Wachowskis, were born and bred in Chicago.

*The following Chicago Tribune article, which was published in 2003, talks about the distinct and multiple references to Chicago in the film’s original script.

Chicago Tribune – May 2003 – Chicago Roots Show in ‘Matrix’

In fact, the Wachowski siblings attended and graduated from the same high school as former First Lady Michelle Obama, which is Whitney Young High School. 🙂

Speaking of the former First Lady…

…Burnham’s “Make no little plans” mandate to Chicagoans is why both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama accomplished so much during the 8 years they were in the White House.

“Daniel Burnham said, “Make no little plans.” And that’s the spirit behind his bold and ambitious designs unveiled 100 years ago this month that helped transform Chicago into a world-class city. That’s the same spirit which we have to approach the reinvention of all America’s cities and metropolitan areas.” ~ President Barack Obama in a speech to urban leaders in July 2009

Having the guts, courage, and audacity to “Think BIG” is how Chicago birthed, innovated, and created the Skyscraper out of the ashes of the fire, which some have said is the most important structure created for the world since the Egyptian Pyramids.

“It was in Chicago that the world’s first skyscraper rose up – and the city’s energy and dynamism has had a lasting impact on architecture throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries.” ~ From BBC October 2015 article titled “Chicago: The City That Changed Architecture Forever”

Chicago more than any other city in America knows that you have to work to achieve your big visions, your seemingly impossible goals, and your far fetched dreams.

“I’m impressed with the people from Chicago. Hollywood is hype, New York is talk, Chicago is work.” ~ Michael Douglas

“The City That Works” isn’t one of Chicago’s mottos for nothing. 🙂

The Chicago Way aka the art of constantly initiating challenges was on full display during the 8 years of the Obama administration, and that’s why President Obama’s administration ended up accomplishing more than any other presidential administration had in decades.

Only a presidential administration led by and filled with people from Chicago could have pulled off the many BIG and truly consequential things that were accomplished during the Obama years.

President Elect Obama brought a large group of Chicagoans to Washington, DC to work with him in the White House to help him clean up the absolute mess he inherited from the previous administration.

Harper’s Magazine – June 2010 – In the Loop: Obama’s Hometown Takes Washington

It’s important to remember just how bad things were in America when President Obama first took office in 2009.

Actually President Elect Obama was forced to begin working on the total disaster he inherited from the last administration even before he left Chicago to be sworn in as president in Washington, DC.

The following brief video is an important reminder of all President Obama and his Chicagoan packed administration had to deal with on DAY ONE…

…and also all they managed to accomplish after being in the White House less than four years.

*Yes, that’s actor Tom Hanks doing the narration.

The Road We’ve Traveled – Narrated by Tom Hanks

That was witnessing The Chicago Way in action, ladies and gents.

The New York Times – January 2017 – The Most Successful Democrat Since FDR

Vox News – July 2017 – Barack Obama Is Officially One of the Most Consequential Presidents In American History

Image: W.H. photographer Pete Souza captures President Obama’s reaction on hearing the Supreme Court’s affirmative decision on upholding Obamacare – June 2015

Strengthening yourself, making yourself sharper, stronger, smarter, more resilient, more patient, more persistent via challenging yourself over and over again can lead to you possibly pulling off some herculean feats…

….like doing something that many presidents had tried yet failed to do over many decades.

Like passing Health Care Reform.

What made President Obama’s job even harder is the fact that he was 100% obstructed by the modern day Republican Party and received ZERO support from them while trying to accomplish this beyond difficult feat which all the media and pundits said would never happen.

“Everything looks impossible to the people who never try anything.”~ Jean – Louise Etienne

Yet like The Chicago Way teaches…

…still President Obama persisted.

The following brief highlight video from National Geographic on Obama White House photographer Pete Souza captures just a taste of both the extremely hard work that went into achieving this extraordinary feat…

…and the amazing feeling of triumph after finally accomplishing it.

Excerpt from National Geographic: The Obama White House Through the Lens

“You run and hopefully win elected office not just for the sake of being something, but for the sake of doing something.” ~ President Obama on why he considers passing and signing Health Care Reform into law his most gratifying moment in public life

*Recently I was thinking about how even more horrible and more devastating this deadly pandemic we are all still living through would have been for Americans if Health Care Reform had not been signed into law.

#ThanksObama 🙂

Pew ResearchJuly 2018 – Obama Tops Public’s List of Best President in Their Lifetime, Followed by Clinton, Reagan

“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president.” ~ Pew Research – July 2018

In addition to the many unavoidable and unwanted challenges the Obama White House faced….

…being from Chicago, the Obamas also took the extremely rare step to seek out, initiate, create, and launch intended challenges during their 8 years in the White House.

For instance, the following video features the Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s #GimmeFive Challenge for the 5th anniversary of her highly accomplished childhood obesity initiative Lets Move.

Here is just a small sampling of other Challenges launched by the Obama White House during the 8 years they were there:

The GreenGov Challenge $100 Million Savings Challenge

Student Debt Challenge

The Healthier US School Challenge

Native American Youth Challenge

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

Summer Fitness Challenge

Communities on the Move Video Challenge

Joining Forces Community Challenge

Youth Sustainability Challenge

White House Healthy Campus Challenge

Green Flight Challenge Campus Champions of Change Challenge

Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge

A 100-Day Challenge To End Youth Homelessness In Three Cities

60 Communities Tackle Barriers to Learning Through the President’s ConnectED Library Challenge

Why were Challenges such a plentiful and crucial part of the Obama Administration?

I suspect its because the Obamas are from Chicago.


“We had just arrived at the helicopter landing zone in Chicago and instead of walking right to the motorcade, the President and First Lady walked past their vehicle to the edge of Lake Michigan to view the skyline of their home town.” ~ Pete Souza, White House Photographer – June 15, 2012

To actively seek, create, or rise up to CHALLENGES is The Chicago Way.

4,000 Schools Meet the First Lady’s Challenge!

“As the school year starts again, Let’s Move! is celebrating a major accomplishment. More than 4,000 schools have achieved certification in the Healthier US School Challenge, a voluntary initiative that awards schools for creating healthier school environments for America’s schoolchildren. In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama issued a challenge to certify 1,250 schools in the Healthier US School Challenge by the end of June 2011 and then to add 1,000 schools per year for the following two years. This summer, we hit the First Lady’s 2012 goal as well as the 2013 goal, a year ahead of schedule!” ~ From the Obama White House Archives

In 2010, the Chicago led Obama White House launched a government website called Challenge.gov geared towards encouraging federal workers and the public to take on the challenge of trying to solve some of the federal government’s and nation’s most difficult problems for prize money.

The following excerpt about this revolutionary government website is from the Obama White House archives:

The Challenge

President Obama has recognized that “the challenges we face today – from saving our planet to ending poverty – are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need all hands on deck.”

The Federal government seeks to harness the expertise and insight that lies “outside the beltway” support the broad adoption of community solutions that work, and form high-impact collaborations with researchers, the private sector and civil society, to solve tough problems.

On September 7, 2010, Challenge.gov was launched, making it easy for federal agencies to launch challenges and for the public to share their solutions and innovations with the government.

On Challenge.gov, agencies can use challenges and prizes to find innovative and cost–effective solutions or improvements to ideas, products and processes. The public can find challenges that interest them, support, share and discuss those that are important to them with friends, and solve them. ~ From the Obama White House Archives

And guess what?

Many Americans accepted the Obama White House’s challenge:

Government & Technology – September 2010 – (Obama) White House Launches Challenge.gov, Offering Prize Money for Innovation

Forbes Magazine – February 2014 – Incentivizing Innovation: How The White House Uses Challenge.gov To Solve Big Problems

“In January 2011, Obama signed the America Competes Reauthorization Act, which allowed all federal agencies to set up challenges. Known by the shorthand Challenge.gov, its central Web address, Washington’s prize program trickled into all corners of government, from $500,000 to create vascular tissue in a test tube for NASA, to $5,000 for a white paper on using the new blockchain technology in health care, to a $1,500 prize for a high school kid who designed a comic-strip nanotechnology hero. The law was extended in 2016, and as of this writing, dozens of agencies had held more than 770 competitions, producing innumerable cool gadgets and software—from a robocall-blocking system invented by a retired engineer in Peru, to an app that lets you read medical records online, to a portable sensor for air pollution. In 2015, Congress got in on the action, with individual members offering small prizes to app-designing high school students in their districts.” ~ Politico – June 2017

Note: Challenge.gov is still active in 2022, and it even remained active during the Trump administration?

Why?

Because it was (and still is) highly effective.

Challenge.Gov

“In the years since the idea was reinvigorated by Obama, government prizes have attracted thousands of entrepreneurs and inventors; their breakthroughs include improved algorithms for asteroid detection and preparing coastlines to recover from hurricanes, to better maps of the universe’s dark matter and a gadget that could prevent fatal accidents during high-speed police chases. Many of the big payoffs have been in science and technology, such as the $50,000 prize sponsored by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012 that led to a technology to block robocalls. The winner, NomoRobo, is now in business as a private company, offering a free landline service ($1.99/month on mobile phones) that had blocked 236 million calls from 530,000 robocallers as of June.

NASA has used prizes to develop flexible astronaut gloves, space elevators, unmanned aerial vehicles capable of exploring other planets, robotic construction of moon buildings, and systems for managing space poop.

The Department of Energy’s SunShot Catalyst program has put up over $1 million in prizes to incubate cutting-edge solar tech companies working from discoveries spun out of its national laboratories. Prizes are also used widely in health care. The Department of Health and Human Services has run 140 contests since 2011. Competitions have inspired makers of apps that speed identification of dangerous pathogens or respond to asthma attacks, creators of wearables that collect health data, and efforts to improve patient matching through electronic records.

The competitions have fostered dozens of new companies and partnerships. A Breast Cancer Startup Challenge, funded partly by the Avon Foundation and private NGOs, encouraged inventors to develop products from the National Institutes of Health’s collection of patents related to the disease. Eleven companies have been started as a result. An NIH Debut challenge, aimed at firing up undergraduate scientists, led to a prototype device for measuring lung function that plugs into a smartphone.

A group of kids from Washington University in St. Louis created a company, got their product approved by the Food and Drug Administration and now market it. The U.S. Agency for International Development provided $2 million to its Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, which drew 1,500 proposals and led to development of new diagnostics, tracking apps and protective equipment for health workers, including cool packs allowing them to comfortably treat Ebola patients while wearing hazmat suits.

“It’s been exciting for me to watch,” said Kittrie.

“In the beginning it was apps, websites. Now we’re doing much bigger things.” The NIH, for example, just launched a $1 million, multistaged competition to develop human retinal tissue in a dish.” ~ Politico June 2017

In other words…

…this is one of many ways America has been made so much better by having a Challenge loving Chicago Couple in the White House for 8 years.

Why do so many Chicagoans actively seek out Challenges, something 99% of average people try hard to avoid?

Are we nuts?

Answer: Living in the REAL world, many Chicagoans know that, as with any challenge or difficulty in life, you can only truly overcome it if you ditch fear, make big plans, and fight to overcome whatever is standing in your way.

There are many examples of Chicagoans time and time again creating or accepting challenges to accomplish a specific goal, or personally challenging themselves as Barack & Michelle Obama constantly did the 8 years they were in the White House.

….like the time when then President Obama accepted the challenge to go up against former All American basketball star, now sports commentator Clark Kellogg in a game of HORSE….

…and look how competitive Michelle Obama was when challenged by comedians Dave Chappelle, Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon on one of her last late night TV appearances as First Lady.

This necessity to regularly ditch fear to meet challenges, whether external or self-made, is a distinctly Chicagoan trait….

….like these guys who challenged themselves to swim in all 32 of Chicago’s beautiful beaches all in only ONE day…

…and like local fitness expert and entrepreneur Shea Vaughn, (actor Vince Vaughn’s mom), who challenged herself to jump out of an airplane over Chicago

…and like this Chicago resident who is originally from Australia who challenged himself to break the “Chicago L Train Challenge” record….

….and like this fearless woman who challenged herself to do a dance every day in a public location in Chicago for 30 days. One take, no edits…..to dance like nobody is watching.

…and like this mob of young people who challenged themselves to freeze in place for 5 minutes as a unique flash mob in February, one of the coldest months of the year in Chicago. Brrrr 🙂

….and like these tough and fun Chicago women who periodically get together to arm wrestle each other for charity.

…and finally like these cute Chicago school children being challenged by comedian Conan O’Brien to help him write Chicago Blues songs. 

Again *most* Chicagoans aren’t afraid of challenges, (of course, there are exceptions to every rule).

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” ~ Michelle Obama

Living in or being from Chicago inspires many people to actually look for or create their own challenges just to see if they can master them….

…..to regularly TEST themselves to see just how fearless, strong, courageous and innovative they really are or can be.

What this does is it REVEALS to you exactly who you are, not who you think you are or pretend to be.

So many people are all talk, but when actually challenged to be who they claim to be, they fold like a chair.

In short, rising to challenges = The Chicago Way

Case in point:

The iconic rock song “Eye of the Tiger” could have only come from a band from Chicagoland named Survivor. 🙂

“Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the eye of the tiger.” ~ Lyrics from “Eye of the Tiger”

That song is The Chicago Way in a nutshell.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ~ Mark Twain

And Chicago is a dog with a LOT of fight.

“Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive.”

How else could Chicago rebuild so quickly and better than ever after The Great Chicago Fire?

That may be one reason why Chicago has spawned so many icons, legends, innovators, creators, and pioneers. 🙂

“Take the challenges you face and own them.” ~ Michelle Obama

This brings me to a riddle of sorts from an episode of the 90s hit television series “The West Wing.”

Here is the relevant quote from the script from that West Wing episode:

Leo: “You’re scared of Babish.

President Bartlet: Oh, like you’re not.

Leo: No, because we are both men of Chicago.

President Bartlet: What is it with people from Chicago that they’re so happy to have been born there? I meet so many people who can’t wait to tell me they’re from Chicago and when I meet them, they’re living anywhere but Chicago.

Leo: You wouldn’t understand.”

*Here is a link to that scene from West Wing on YouTube. 

“What is it with people from Chicago that they’re so happy to have been born there?” ~ West Wing’s President Bartlet

Leo’s response to President Bartlet was 100% correct.

Most people wouldn’t understand…

…..but after reading this heart-felt tribute to my beloved hometown, and also to Chicagoans everywhere, hopefully many more people will now understand. 🙂

Last but not least….

In my opinion, the following video represents Chicago’s character, spirit, and nature better than anything else…

…and also demonstrates why Chicago was also rated the second BEST city in the world…

…and the #1 City in America and North America for Community Spirit by 27,000 Time Out Index survey voters from across the globe.

This amazing thing happened on Chicago’s Michigan Ave in September 2009 on an Oprah Winfrey Show episode which featured the band The Black-Eyed Peas.

“In 25 years of doing The Oprah Show, Oprah says the best example of joy rising is when 20,000 audience members learned a choreographed dance in just hours for the Season 24 kickoff-party flash mob.” ~ Description from a Behind the Scenes video on this amazing and unforgettable flash mob which took over Chicago’s Michigan Ave in 2009.

“…20,000 audience members learned a choreographed dance in just hours”

Only 20,000 Chicagoans could have pulled this incredible feat off and with so much energy, fun, passion, and joy while doing it.

Chicagoans are just different, and proudly so. 🙂

As The Black-Eyed Peas’ leader Will.i.am, said after it was all over:

“Only in Chicago.” ~ Will.i.am.

*Check out an amazing 5 minute behind the scenes video on how it all came together here.

Cool huh?

“The most American place in America.” ~ The Telegraph UK on Chicago – October 2017

Chicago will always be America’s top model for what America was founded to be….

…and for this reason Chicago’s beauty is more than it’s incredible and pioneering architecture or it’s astonishing surface beauty….

….but is also the beauty of the city’s HEART.

“I adore Chicago! It is the pulse of America.” ~ Sarah Bernhardt – Legendary French Actress – 1844 – 1923

How fitting because Chicago is the city which most represents America’s “Heartland”…

…and is a city which is commonly called “The Heart of America.”

“Chicago is the heart of America. It is the quintessential American city. We do not fear. When the going gets rough we work harder, we innovate, we rebuild, retool, and we survive. Chicago knows how to rebuild and innovate. Chicago has continued on a path of survival since its inception. If any city has an exclusive claim to be survivalist it is Chicago.” ~ Peter Bella – Chicago Now Magazine

One last point on the extremely important topic of Democracy:

American Democracy currently being under very serious threat is a hot topic right now in this country.

Forbes – October 2022 – Poll: A Majority Of Americans Think Democracy Is In Trouble

And in the same way the mainstream media gets it wrong when it is constantly demonizing Chicago…

….the media is also predictably 100% wrong and way out of touch about how tens of millions of Americans feel about the topic of preserving American Democracy.

Case in point:

The media’s narrative BEFORE the 2022 Midterm Elections:

The New York Times – Voters See Democracy in Peril, but Saving It Isn’t a Priority – (October 18, 2022)

The media AFTER the 2022 Midterm Elections:

The Associated Press – Future of American Democracy Loomed Large in Voters’ Minds – (November 10, 2022)

Incredibly before the midterm elections, the vast majority of the corporate owned mainstream media along with many of the pollsters and media pundits they bankroll thought most Americans were simply “meh” on the nation defining issue of preserving American Democracy.

Needless to say, the 90% corporate owned U.S media was dead wrong.

It looks like millions of voters bypassed the U.S. media’s false narratives and instead listened to the president.

About a week before the midterm elections, President Joe Biden gave a pivotal speech on the important topic of Democracy and how we are currently in jeopardy of losing it in this country.

Although the bulk of the U.S. media chose not to broadcast this important speech by President Biden, all while many media pundits gave incorrect opinions about how wrong and how out of touch his speech allegedly was…

….apparently many Americans bypassed the media’s false narratives and made up their own minds on the president’s speech.

Here are some excerpts from President Biden’s speech on Democracy just 6 days before the midterm elections:

“I’m not the only one who sees it. Recent polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy is at risk, that our democracy is under threat. They too see that democracy is on the ballot this year, and they’re deeply concerned about it.

So, today, I appeal to all Americans, regardless of party, to meet this moment of national and generational importance.

We must vote, knowing what’s at stake is not just the policy of the moment, but institutions that have held us together as we have sought a more perfect union are also at stake. We must vote knowing who we have been, and what we’re at risk of becoming.”

“This is the struggle we’re now in: a struggle for democracy, a struggle for decency and dignity, a struggle for prosperity and progress, a struggle for the very soul of America itself.

Make no mistake — democracy is on the ballot for us all.”

“We must remember that democracy is a covenant. We need to start looking out for each other again, seeing ourselves as “We the People,” not as entrenched enemies.”

“Democracy is imperfect. It always has been. But we are all called to defend it now. Now.”

“We believe we should leave no one behind, because each one of us is a child of God, and every person — every person is sacred. If that’s true, then every person’s rights must be sacred as well.”

“This is also the first national election since the events of January 6th, when the armed, angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. I wish — I wish I could say the assault on our democracy had ended that day, but I cannot.”

“In our bones, we know democracy at risk — is at risk. But we also know this: It’s within our power, each and every one of us, to preserve our democracy.

And I believe we will. I think I know this country. I know we will.” ~ Excerpts from President Joe Biden’s speech on Democracy 11 – 2 – 2022 

*A must read full transcript of President Biden’s pivotal speech on Democracy can be found here.

In spite of the media and pundits criticizing and castigating President Biden for his very important and timely speech on the importance of protecting American Democracy which most of the media failed to even broadcast…

…American voters from both political parties thankfully saw how important this pivotal and nation defining issue is to our country:

And the pro-democracy force in the American electorate continued to show up with a record number of voters voting in the Georgia Senate Runoff Election several days after the mid-terms:

“After a hard-fought campaign—or should I say campaigns?—it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: The people have spoken.” ~ Sen. Raphael Warnock addressing supporters after his projected victory in the Georgia Senate runoff – December 6, 2022

“The people have spoken.”

Those 4 monumental words bring me back to President Biden’s speech on Democracy.

In his pivotal and must see/read speech, President Biden said the following:

“From the very beginning, nothing has been guaranteed about democracy in America. Every generation has had to defend it, protect it, preserve it, choose it, for that’s what democracy is: It’s a choice — a decision of the people, by the people, and for the people.

We must, in this moment, dig deep within ourselves and recognize that we can’t take democracy for granted any longer.

With democracy on the ballot, we have to remember these first principles. Democracy means the rule of the people — not the rule of monarchs or the monied, but the rule of the people.” ~ From President Biden’s speech on Democracy – November 2, 2022

That’s it in a nutshell.

American Democracy is about “The People…”

…We, the People to be exact…

….and in the 21st century that finally means all of the people in this great, diverse mixing pot of a nation.

May we never forget that and always fight for it.

On that note…

…in the following video, Poetry In Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand recites a legendary poem from Chicago’s own Carl Sandburg at the Griffin Poetry Prize awards ceremony.

Who is Carl Sandburg?

He’s an American Icon.

Carl Sandburg’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery:

*Carl Sandburg was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime—the first in 1919 for his poetry collection Corn Huskers, the second in 1940 for his biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, and the third in 1951 for Complete Poems.

The following classic Carl Sandburg poem recited by Poetry In Voice 2016 winner Marie Foolchand titled “I Am the People, the Mob” celebrates what American democracy is mainly and truly all about….

….the People. 

In recognition of Carl Sandberg’s brilliant Ode to the People/Workingman/women…

…in my opinion, in addition to Abraham Lincoln’s plentiful remarks on the issue of Slavery…

…the following quote proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the modern day Republican Party is no longer the “Party of Lincoln.”

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” ~ Abraham Lincoln via Britannica.com

As was typical of him…

…Abraham Lincoln spoke 100% truth.

FUN FACT: The legendary Walt Disney was a native Chicagoan whose workingman father was a carpenter who worked 7 days a week earning only a dollar a day.

The Disney family saved up, purchased land, and Walt’s father Elias Disney built their family home in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side.

Pic: Disney fans in front of the family home built by Walt’s father which is now a museum and has been classified a historical landmark on the honorary “Disney Family Ave” in Chicago.

“Three of the five children were born here, and this was the place in which the Disneys spent the most time together as a family of seven.” ~ Better.net

Walt’s father Elias also worked on the 1893 World Columbian Exposition also known as the 1893 Chicago World Fair.

Elias reportedly told his children stories about that legendary and magical Fair which likely became a guiding inspiration in Walt’s mind for creating Disneyland.

“Walt Disney was, quite literally, born into the world of expos. His father, Elias Disney, worked as a carpenter at Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. That same year, Elias built the family’s home, where Walt was born in 1901. The 1893 World’s Fair had a huge impact on American culture which reverberates even into the present. We can have no doubt that a young Walt heard many stories about that magnificent exposition.” ~ Bie-Paris.org

“Elias worked as a carpenter for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, a global spectacle that would set the precedent for future events of this kind, later referred to as “World’s Fairs.” ~ Walt Disney.org

*Inspired by his father’s work on the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago…

…decades later Walt Disney would go on to create four attractions for the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair.

“The idea that a kid who grew up in this modest home in a working-class Chicago neighborhood could, through a combination of creativity, confidence, and hard work, go on to become the man who brought us Mickey Mouse, Disney theme parks, and the global media empire Disney continues to be today, is a story that continues to move all who’ve been touched by Disney’s legacy. Benadon and Young want this museum to be a place that lights a creative spark for young visitors and reminds them that they can too be anything.” ~ Better.net

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ~ Walt Disney

A Special Spotlight:

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

This website will be linking to many awesome books/audiobooks which I highly recommend.

For this reason, (or if you’re simply a book lover), here is an extremely valuable and smart resource which I highly suggest you check out:

Dubbed the “Netflix of Books”…

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“We read to know we’re not alone.” ~ William Nicholson

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Back to Chicago:

“Here I saw a city rise and say to the peoples round world: Listen, I am strong, I know what I want.” ~ Carl Sandburg on his beloved Chicago

What does Chicago want?

Answer: To be awe inspiringly BEAUTIFUL 🙂

Here is one last Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight:

The late, great noted chef, international foodie, and famous world traveler Anthony Bourdain said all that really needed to be said about Chicago:

“Chicago is a town, a city that doesn’t ever have to measure itself against any other city. Other places have to measure themselves against it.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Speaking of the late, great noted chef Anthony Bourdain…

…now on to the Main Course which is…

…My Head Meets Heart Kits: “When you FEEL, you HEAL.” 🙂

Please click the following link:

Introducing My Head Meets Heart Kits: Begin To Heal Yourself On A Mental, Emotional & Feelings-Based Level