“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series – Part Five

“It is given to some cities and to some lands to suggest romance and to me Chicago did that hourly. It sang, I thought, and in spite of what I deemed my various troubles, I was singing with it. Chicago was so young, so blithe, so new, I thought. Florence in it’s best days must have been something like this to young Florentines or Venice to young Venetians.” ~ Theodore Dreiser, legendary author and journalist remembering his newspaper days in Chicago during the late 1800s

*Access Part One at the following link:

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series – Part One

*Access Part Two at the following link:

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series – Part Two

*Access Part Three of this series at the following link:

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series Part Three 

*Access Part Four of this series at the following link:

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series – Part Four

“Start a huge, foolish project, like Noah…it makes absolutely no difference what people think of you.” ~ Rumi

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“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~ Pablo Picasso

*Important: This highly unique series contains quite a bit of linked multi-media content.

This content is extremely important in addition to the content being very interesting, compelling, and highly entertaining.

For this reason, ideally this series is best accessed by a laptop or desktop computer. 

If you are attempting to access it via your phone, please WAIT a few minutes before you begin scrolling each web page to ensure that each page and all it’s contents have downloaded properly.

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Before we get started…

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Before Part Five, here is yet another….

….Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight 🙂

“A stranger visiting Chicago seems to enter into a new world.” ~ Quote from Chicago: A Hand Book for Strangers & Tourists to the City of Chicago – (1869)

Now on to Part Five:

An important observation about Senator Stephen Douglas.

I want to make it crystal clear that I know he 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, Senator Stephen Douglas was a very good racist.

This fact may be why so many American 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 a 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 very good 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 in this series.

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…

….it’s highly likely there would have been no Civil War.

It’s also highly likely there 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


“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 I truly believe 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 I think 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…

…Senator Douglas changed the course of American history.

This reminds me of a hit song from the 80s.

“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 and bred 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: Bravery and determination ~ Cambridge Dictionary

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


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


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

Lincoln & Douglas

Two Chicago MEN had the COURAGE, the GUTS and the WILL to go the distance together in order 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, so 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 prerequisite 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 eventually 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.”

Image: 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 (who I briefly mentioned in Part One) 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 of course 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)

George Frederick Root

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 MuseumFerris 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 allowed 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.

What finally *legally* did away with Jim Crow Laws is the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1960s…

….and many Black Leaders like MLK and countless courageous Black Americans like Rosa Parks absolutely refusing to be used, abused or treated like second class citizens any longer.

“….if you can only be tall because somebody is on their knees, then you have a serious problem.” ~ Toni Morrison

Exactly, and one of those serious problems is lying to yourself.

Question: If you’re only tall if somebody is on their knees….

…doesn’t that mean you really aren’t tall?

Doesn’t that mean you’re only pretending to be tall?

Now substitute the word “tall” for superior.

You know you’re just pretending, right?

This all reminds me of a powerful scene from the must see 1988 film Mississippi Burning.

The legendary actor Gene Hackman’s performance in this must see film?

Brilliant. Chef’s kiss.

Question: If you have to kill a Black man’s mule or destroy a Black man’s dream in order for you to see yourself as being better or superior to him…

….are you really better or superior to him?

Let’s lower the bar a bit….

…are you a decent person?

If you have to discriminate against, oppress, denigrate, abuse, rig the system, etc. against an entire race of people who are just trying to live their lives in peace and prosper to be able to feel good about yourself….

….do you really feel good about yourself?

In my opinion, it all comes back to the following:

The Washington Post – February 2021 – Most Republicans See Democrats Not As Political Opponents But As Enemies

“…we have new polling from CBS News, conducted by YouGov, which explores how members of each political party tend to think of members of the opposing party.

Most Democrats say that they tend to view Republicans as political opponents. Most Republicans say that they tend to view Democrats as enemies.” ~ The Washington Post – February 2021

Of course these sobering poll findings 100% align with the following article excerpts:

The Atlantic – October 2018 – The Cruelty Is The Point by Adam Serwer

“President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear.”

Which political party does Black Americans almost exclusively support?

Think about it.

Back to West Point…

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


“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

*Looks like NPS needs to update it’s website.


The New York Times – April 2012 – New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll

For 110 years, the numbers stood as gospel: 618,222 men died in the Civil War, 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — by far the greatest toll of any war in American history.

But new research shows that the numbers were far too low.

By combing through newly digitized census data from the 19th century, J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York, has recalculated the death toll and increased it by more than 20 percent — to 750,000.

The new figure is already winning acceptance from scholars. Civil War History, the journal that published Dr. Hacker’s paper, called it “among the most consequential pieces ever to appear” in its pages. And a pre-eminent authority on the era, Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University, said:

“It even further elevates the significance of the Civil War and makes a dramatic statement about how the war is a central moment in American history. It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

With all the uncertainties, Dr. Hacker said, the data suggested that 650,000 to 850,000 men died as a result of the war; he chose the midpoint as his estimate.

“But wars have profound economic, demographic and social costs,” he went on. “We’re seeing at least 37,000 more widows here, and 90,000 more orphans. That’s a profound social impact, and it’s our duty to get it right.” ~ The New York Times – April 2012

750,000 deaths

Just think….

….all those hundreds of thousands of deaths, all those widows, all those orphans, all those grieving moms, dads, sisters and brothers, etc. would have never happened if Southern States hadn’t thought upholding their right to enslave millions of innocent human beings was more important than America itself and keeping the United States of America safe, solvent, and intact.

Anyone wondering why it seems the 21st Century Confederacy seems so hell bent on destroying America today need look no further than it’s Confederate forefathers.

And about this part:

It helps you understand, particularly in the South with a much smaller population, what a devastating experience this was.”

And instead of doing like Germany admirably did in relation to Hitler and the Holocaust…..

….instead of learning from it’s mistakes, admitting it was wrong, seeking reconciliation, evolving, and learning to do and be better, etc….

…what did the Confederate States do instead after they launched a war against America with the specific intention to tear these United States apart to continue enslaving millions of human beings which they devastatingly lost?

They blamed the North

….aka they blamed the folks who saved the United States of America from their attacks.

The Confederate States re-labeled the war that they started “The War of Northern Aggression” made the traitors who launched that war into sainted heroes to this very day, building monuments and statues in their honor, creating holidays to celebrate in their honor, re-wrote history books claiming the civil war was about states rights not slavery, books that installed themselves as the victors while claiming slavery really wasn’t all that bad.

Gotta give credit where it’s due and admire the immense depth of the con.

Seriously, I don’t see how anyone can be shocked that modern day Republicans are more likely to believe in QAnon or Trump as a chess playing genius and the like since they were conditioned and bred to believe total and absolute BS.

By the way, this is how I 100% knew Trump was going to win in 2016…

…so much so that the day before the 2016 election, I sat my elderly parents down to tell them not to believe the media’s hype and false narratives because Trump is going to win.

I wanted to prevent a shock that could enable a heart attack. 

I knew this especially after seeing that in spite of her many laudable traits, Hillary Clinton’s unfavorables with the American public were just as high as Trump’s were, (a hard lesson I’m hoping Dems have learned not to repeat. Republicans can carve out an electoral college only win with highly unpopular candidates. Dems can’t.)

Many Dems may not have liked that inconvenient truth, but that didn’t change it from being true aka real.

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 ARMY and the hundreds of thousands of incredibly brave Union soldiers who gave their lives to save America and to abolish the enslavement of millions of innocent human beings…

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

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 still had flaws and were not very honorable in other aspects of their lives.

Yes, they were much more honorable and much more moral and righteous than the pro-slavery Confederates who wanted to keep enslaving and brutalizing Black human beings as part of America’s culture and identity…

…but in my opinion, being more honorable and more moral than brutal and racist enslavers is a very low bar to step over.

An 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.

Also this one:

*I am simply in awe of this kid. #JonahHands 🙂

Continuing on and going back 165 years to 1858

…during those pivotal debates, Senator Stephen Douglas asked Lincoln a vital and extremely important question….

…and the failure to come up with a good, fair, and equitable answer is in my opinion the reason why America is still dealing with the ghosts and the die hard offspring of the original 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?” ~ Senator 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 be kidnapped from the African continent, put in chains, and enslaved here in America.

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?

The following details one proposed solution:

“One of the pro-slavery arguments posited by southern slave owners was, “What would we do with all the slaves if they were free? Where would they live? What jobs would they take?” This question weighed on President Abraham Lincoln’s mind as he considered the slavery issue.

By 1863, Lincoln penned the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in rebel-controlled areas, and offering slaves a place in the Union army. This gradualist approach was followed by the January 1865 Special Field Orders No. 15 issued by (Union Civil War Commander William Tecumseh) Sherman, and then the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution later that year.

(Union Commander) Sherman’s field order, approved by Lincoln, seized portions of the south to redistribute to current and former slaves. In addition, it offered military service opportunities for current and former slaves, encouraging slaves to flock to Union territory to receive commissions and land.”

“Special Field Orders No. 15 provided a framework for post-Civil War living conditions and resettlement for former slaves. By offering young, able-bodied black males a position in the Union army, Sherman and Lincoln created encouraging conditions for slaves to abandon their work on plantations and with smaller southern farmers, doubly assisting the Union cause by weakening the south and strengthening Union forces.” ~ Encyclopedia.com

So “Special Field Orders No. 15” was at least one of President Lincoln’s answers to the “…what shall be done with the free negro?” question repeatedly asked by Senator Stephen Douglas.

Unfortunately President Lincoln was assassinated, Vice President Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency and then he proceeded to sinisterly betray President Lincoln’s wishes by revoking “Special Field Orders No. 15.”

“However, after Vice President Andrew Johnson assumed the presidency after Lincoln’s assassination, he overturned Sherman’s order in the fall of 1865. In 1867, Republican Thaddeus Stevens attempted to pass a bill distributing land to former slaves, but the bill failed.”

“The 40 acres (16 hectares) noted by Sherman became part of the “forty acres and a mule” promise cited by historians as one of the great unfulfilled promises made by the U.S. government to former slaves (a later order issued by Sherman called for the loaning of mules to former slaves). While Sherman’s field order was short-lived, it provides an example of Lincoln’s approach to Reconstruction….” ~ Encyclopedia.com

If President Lincoln had not been 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…

…the history of African Americans in this country would have been 180 degrees different and much, much better than what it ended up being.

In addition, because of the highly unlikely friendship President Lincoln had struck up with Frederick Douglass during the latter part of his first term as president…

…I can’t help but wonder how things would have played out for the millions of newly freed Black people and for millions more of their Black American descendants for generations to come…

…had President Lincoln not been assassinated.

Frederick Douglass – (1860)

The following excerpt from a fascinating NPS.gov article titled “Confronting a President: Douglass and Lincoln” details their second White House meeting together:

“One year later, President Lincoln invited Frederick Douglass back to the White House. On August 19, 1864 Douglass and Lincoln were together again. The President was facing re-election soon and told Douglass he did not expect to win. If he lost, there would be a new President. With this in mind, Lincoln wanted Douglass to help with a special mission. Secretly, a revolution was afoot. Since the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln hoped for a mass exodus of enslaved individuals out of the states in rebellion. This had not happened on the scale he hoped.

Now, Lincoln asked Douglass to lead a network of folks into the rebellious states to help every last soul possible escape enslavement. In language that must have reminded Douglass of his conversations years before with John Brown, the President of the United States was tasking him to help save thousands of lives, if not more. Douglass was asked to help destroy what remained of slavery. As a biographer observed, “Over night, Frederick Douglass went from frustrated outsider and fierce critic to special presidential advisor and organizer of a radical military mission.”

After their meeting, Lincoln won re-election and this mission was unnecessary, but “for those hours at least the former slave from the Tuckahoe and the Indiana dirt farmer’s son were making a revolution together.” Though it never happened, it was now clear to Frederick Douglass that President Lincoln realized what was at heart of this war: the millions enslaved.” ~ NPS.gov article titled “Confronting a President: Douglass and Lincoln”

So President Lincoln was afraid of the Emancipation Proclamation being revoked if he wasn’t re-elected president and he feared millions of former slaves being re-enslaved again as a result.

President Lincoln enlisted Frederick Douglass’ help to try to save as many of the formerly enslaved as possible from that extremely dark fate if he wasn’t re-elected president.

Thankfully he was.

Douglass and Lincoln’s third and final meeting together was at Lincoln’s second inauguration:

“Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had one final meeting in March 1865. Douglass attended the inauguration, positioned very close to the President. At the end of the day, Douglass went to an inaugural event at the White House. After a few issues with police, Douglass got into the East Room where the President was.

“Recognizing me, even before I reached him, he exclaimed so that all around him could hear, ‘Here comes my friend Douglass.’ Taking me by the hand, he said, ‘I am glad to see you. I saw you in the crowd to-day listening to my inaugural address; how did you like it?’ I said, ‘Mr. Lincoln, I must not detain you with my poor opinion, when there are thousands waiting to shake hands with you.’ ‘No, no,’ he said, ‘you must stop a little, Douglass; there is no man in the country whose opinion I value more than yours. I want to know what you think of it?’ I replied, ‘Mr. Lincoln, that was a sacred effort.’”

A little over a month later, President Lincoln was murdered. Douglass lamented, “A simple leaden bullet and a few grains of powder are sufficient in the shortest limit of time to blast and ruin all that is precious in human existence.” ~ NPS.gov article titled “Confronting a President: Douglass and Lincoln”

Frederick Douglass, a brilliant Black man and former slave who rose to unimaginable heights in the late 1800s as a writer, orator, statesman and abolitionist was a living and breathing testament against the idea of one race being superior to all other races.

I believe that had President Lincoln not been assassinated shortly after he won re-election…

….via his friendship with Frederick Douglass and likely with other Black men and women like Douglass who Lincoln no doubt would have been introduced to by Douglass…

…being the honest and fair minded man that he was, I believe President Lincoln’s opinions on the superiority issue would have most definitely evolved.

“Perhaps nowhere are (Frederick) Douglass’s memories of Lincoln more poignant than in a dedication speech for the Emancipation Memorial in Lincoln Park in Washington, DC in 1876. Highlighting the complex legacy of Lincoln, Douglass noted that “in his interests, in his associations, in his habits of thought, and in his prejudices, he was a white man…You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are at best only his step-children.”

Douglass recognized the question facing generations looking back upon Lincoln. To some, he was “tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent.” To others, he was “swift, zealous, radical, and determined.” To Douglass, Lincoln – whose portrait hung in his study – was both…at different times.” ~ NPS.gov article titled “Confronting a President: Douglass and Lincoln”

Abraham Lincoln was a very brilliant, courageous, righteous, but highly complex white man…

…yet how he was viewed by the millions of our formerly enslaved ancestors at the time of his assassination speaks volumes, and in my opinion says all that needs to be said.

Excerpt from Chicago Tribune article about President Lincoln’s funeral procession:

“Yet when the (Lincoln’s funeral precession) train arrived at its final destination, (in Springfield, IL) a Civil War veteran had a sense that Lincoln’s work was not yet complete — that without him, the road to equality would be long and hard for the thousands of blacks who came to Springfield for his burial. “As the bier passed, almost every one of them either knelt or prostrated himself or herself upon the ground and gave way to touching demonstrations of grief,” said Maj. Robert McClaughry. “They knew that their greatest friend was passing to his rest, and the future seemed dark enough to their vision.” ~ Excerpt from Chicago Tribune article titled “Lincoln’s Assassination Stunned a Nation” – April 2015

From my own personal perspective, in the end…

…Abraham Lincoln did what he came here to do.

Vox News – February 2019 – How Abraham Lincoln’s Foreign Policy Helped Win the Civil War

President Lincoln did his great work brilliantly and courageously.

Lincoln freed millions of people from bondage and saved America from being torn apart…

….and he was killed as a result of those very actions.

In my opinion, that’s the only thing that matters because everything else pales in comparison.

“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, more distraught, or more heartbroken than the city of Chicago was when President Lincoln was so tragically assassinated.

Excerpt from Chicago Tribune article titled “Lincoln Assassination Stunned a Nation” – April 2015

“The “Terrible News,” as the (Chicago) Tribune’s headline simply stated, hit Chicagoans particularly hard, for Lincoln “was identified with us” and “had laughed and talked with us, had labored for us.”

Many Chicagoans knew him.

The shocking news, a deed so wicked the (Chicago) Tribune said its only comparison was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, came in so late Friday that most people learned of it in their Saturday morning newspapers.

Distraught residents took to the streets seeking comfort and crowded newspaper offices for the latest news. “Strong men wept in the streets,” the Tribune reported, describing eerily silent city byways where sobbing was the only sound heard.”

“As the (Lincoln’s funeral procession) ceremony in Washington coincided with others across the North, the Tribune reported: “The tears which flowed so lavishly on the announcement of his death broke out afresh, and the national sorrow knew no bounds.” In Chicago, even the elements seemed to mourn: “The clouds lowered black as night, as if refusing to admit one ray of sunshine on the scene of affliction.” ~ Chicago Tribune article titled “Lincoln’s Assassination Stunned a Nation” – April 2015

About this part:

“The shocking news, a deed so wicked the (Chicago) Tribune said its only comparison was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, came in so late Friday that most people learned of it in their Saturday morning newspapers.”

Interestingly, President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary.

“When President Abraham Lincoln took his wife, Mary, on a carriage ride April 14, 1865, the first lady said she could scarcely remember seeing him so lighthearted as he was on that Good Friday.

“We must both be more cheerful in the future,” Lincoln replied, recalling the constant misery brought them by the Civil War and the death of their 11-year-old son Willie three years earlier.”

Events had been looking up. Five days earlier, on April 9, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered.

On April 11, Lincoln gave a speech at the White House that talked of reconstruction and a new constitution in Louisiana.

He also for the first time publicly supported voting rights for black men, if only for the “very intelligent, and on those who served our cause as soldiers.”

That infuriated at least one man listening in person to the president’s comments.

“That is the last speech he will make,” vowed John Wilkes Booth. ~ From Chicago Tribune article titled “Lincoln’s Assassination Stunned a Nation”April 2015

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

“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 President Lincoln’s horse-driven casket was ushered through the streets of Chicago in the funeral procession

Some of our eyes are still streaming.

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

….the city that gave him his nickname “Old Abe”…

…the city that believed in him before any other city did….

…the city that boosted him into the presidency…

…..the city where his grieving widow Mary Todd Lincoln would move to after her husband was slain….

…the city where their son Robert Todd Lincoln went to law school and would become a successful practicing attorney, just like his dad was….

…the city that loved him beyond measure.

It was the city of 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 children 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?

YouGov America – July 2021 – Abraham Lincoln is the Most Popular US President

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

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. 🙂

Crowds Celebrate Obama at Valois in Hyde Park – (2008)

“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.” 

“It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.”

That is most definitely truth.

I can’t forget how implausible the rest of the country (including many Democrats) thought the idea of America electing it’s first Black president was when Barack Obama first declared his candidacy for president on February 10th 2007 in Lincoln’s hometown before a crowd , Springfield, IL…

….but just like Chicago believed in Abraham Lincoln before anyone else did…

….Chicago also believed in Barack Obama before anyone else.

Side Note: Chicago has a very long history of believing in extremely talented and destined people who don’t fit the traditional mold first.

Case in point:

Chicago’s legendary Old Regal Theater was an extremely pivotal launching pad in 1962 for the budding career of an unlikely and then totally unknown 12 year old blind boy.

Little Stevie Wonder

“The Lord that I serve says the impossible is unacceptable.” ~ Stevie Wonder

Chicago’s Old Regal Theater is where “Little Stevie Wonder” recorded his famous live number-one hit single “Fingertips” at a Motown Revue at the Regal in June 1962.

*The single was released in May 1963, and the rest, as they say, is music history.

The legendary song “Fingertips” recorded live in 1962 at Chicago’s Regal Theater was what first put 12 year old Little Stevie Wonder on the road to the super stardom he enjoys to this very day at 72 years old, soon to be 73 years old this year, (2023)

It’s where little 12 year old Stevie recorded his very first #1 hit, (the legendary Marvin Gaye is on the drums.) Enjoy!

Little Stevie Wonder Live at Chicago’s Old Regal Theater – (June 1962)

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.” ~ Stevie Wonder

*Access a digital download of the classic 1963 song “Fingertips” by Little Stevie Wonder here.

Back to Barack 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 invented and 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 2020 ticket.

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

Fancy that 🙂

“Trump’s America is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

Trump’s America is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and afraid. There is no hope in it; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.

And that is a vision of America that most of the people in this country cannot and will not abide.” ~ Charles M. Blow

I would say the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket receiving more votes than any other presidential ticket in American history means the majority of American voters most definitely did not accept Trump’s vision of America.

*And let’s also remember that Trump did not win the most votes in 2016 either.

Trump only won the electoral college in 2016, while Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots.

U.S. News & World Report – December 2016 – (Hillary) Clinton Wins Popular Vote by Nearly 3 Million Ballots

“The final vote tally is embarrassing for President-elect Donald Trump.” ~ U.S. News & World Report – December 2016

And on that amusing note, I will end Part Five of this highly unique series with another…

…Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight 🙂

“A facade of skyscrapers facing a lake and behind the facade, every type of dubiousness.” ~ E.M. Forster, prolific English author on Chicago

A Special Spotlight:

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

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You can access Part Six of this one of a kind series at the following link:

“Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Series – Part Six