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

“Chicago expresses the truth about the United States.” ~ Marco d’Eramo, Renowned Italian Author, Journalist, and Social Theorist

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 

“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.

Just relax and chill for a few minutes. I promise it will be worth your while. 🙂

Before we get started…

A Very Important Recommendation:

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“I believe that the therapist’s function should be to help people become free to be aware of and to experience their possibilities.” ~ Rollo May, the influential founder of Existential Psychotherapy in the United States and a co-founder of Humanistic Psychology with Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

Before Part Four, here is yet another….

….Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight 🙂

“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

Continuing on to Part Four….

Lastly probably the most obvious reason why the modern day Republican Party sees Democratic voters as enemies is the fact that Black Voters overwhelming support the modern day Democratic Party.

It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the main and primary propellent which fuels modern day Republicans aka the 21st Century Confederacy is Racism.

And no topic is that made more apparent than the modern day Republicans active and open attempts to suppress and block Black voters where ever they hold the power to do so.

One out of many examples of this truth is what Wisconsin Republicans who are in power are currently doing in Milwaukee, WI:

“Voting rights advocates for years have accused Wisconsin Republicans of pushing policies to suppress voters of color and lower-income voters. Many such policies centered on the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee, home to nearly 70% of Wisconsin’s Black population.

Those claims were reinforced by an email sent to about 1,700 people in December from Bob Spindell, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Election Commission. He said Republicans “can be especially proud” of depressed midterm voter turnout in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods in Milwaukee, a heavily Democratic city.”

“The Associated Press then obtained an audio recording of a meeting in which the head of Trump’s 2020 Wisconsin campaign team talked with staff about their efforts to reach Black voters: “We ever talk to Black people before? I don’t think so,” the campaign official said to laughter.” ~ Excerpt from Associated Press article titled “Republican Election Tactic No surprise to Black Voters” – February 2023

*Honestly, modern day Republicans are so evil, they are almost comic book evil.

And since youth voters tend to be heavily Democratic voters…

I could go on and on posting receipts which 100% confirm the following:

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

When these tragic facts of American life are seriously considered…

…of course most Republicans see the rest of the country or those who are unlike them as enemies, or as people they hate or don’t give a damn about.

The Washington Post – September 2017 – Trump and Republicans Bolster Red States, Punish Blue States

“Since gaining control of Washington, President Trump and Republicans in Congress have pushed an array of policies that tend to punish states that voted Democratic in last year’s presidential election.” ~ The Washington Post – September 2017

Meanwhile over at the Biden Administration:

To put it more simply:

Republicans/MAGA/The 21st Century Confederacy hates us…

…and remember “US” also spells U.S.

Just like their Southern Confederacy forefathers.

*Not sure if MAGA/Republicans/The 21st Century Confederacy believes every marginalized group should be eradicated…

…but they/it definitely wants us made as miserable, as irrelevant, as subservient, as unequal, and as inconsequential (aka non-important) as possible.

But then again, I’m an optimist. 

Vanity Fair – August 2022 Report: Trump Wanted His Military Leaders to Pretend He Was Adolf Hitler

As was the case during the American Civil War….

…we are once again living at a time in American history where one side (modern day Democrats) absolutely must stop pretending that there is any semblance of compromise or what is popularly called bipartisanship to be had with their self proclaimed enemies…

….aka with people who clearly hate the guts of Democrats and all others in America who are unlike them.

*Let me just say as a native Chicagoan…

….Donald Trump is no Al Capone.

MAGA/The 21st Century Confederacy/The Modern Day Republican Party)…

….a minority yet powerful faction of the country which is very obviously hell bent on hurting, making miserable, or downright destroying all in this country who are unlike them…

….and intent on destroying the very foundation of Democracy in America.

“The most important threat to our country right now is an out-of-control, radicalizing, irresponsible, fascist Republican party, which has embraced insurrection and hate. Partisan opposition to that program is vital if the US is to expand its commitment to democracy, equality, and justice.”

When Democrats like Manchin or Hochul defy their coalition to ally with Republicans, they aren’t embracing comity and bridging divisions. They’re helping a rogue antidemocratic party advance an agenda designed to target the marginalized and shred America’s better values.

If opposing that is partisanship, then more partisanship is what we need.” ~ Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky in a must read January 2023 column for the independent newsletter Public Notice which can be read in full here.


Expecting the modern day Republican Party to have “unity” or to even know the concept of unity with the modern day Democratic Party is like expecting pigs to fly.

“Older Democrats sometimes seem beholden to a picture of the GOP as it existed in the 1980s (or earlier among certain much older Democrats). In their nostalgic vision, bipartisanship was an ideal that could be maintained through outrage and shaming.

By contrast, younger Democrats came of age in the aftermath of Newt Gingrich’s scorched-earth politics, conspiracy theories about the Clintons, the partisan Supreme Court’s handing of the presidency to George W. Bush, Karl Rove’s Iraq War propaganda, and the deranged “birtherism” directed at Barack Obama.” ~ Greg SargentThe Washington Post – February 2010


As I have extensively proven thus far…

…the modern day Republican Party never ever was “The Party of Lincoln”…

…but it’s also not anywhere close to being “The Party of Reagan.”

To any remaining bipartisan addicted Democrats….

….this is not your father’s or grandfather’s Republican Party, so please stop pretending that it is…

…unless you’re President Biden and you have to publicly and privately seek the compromise and bipartisanship the Republicans almost never give him just to show and prove to the American people that he is at least trying to work with the obstructionist other side…

…as a president who genuinely recognizes that he represents all Americans, not just those who voted for him.

As I’ve already detailed extensively while providing ample receipts….

….the modern day Republican Party = The 21st Century Confederacy


…if America is to soundly defeat the anti-democratic, anti-equality, anti-immigrant, anti-women, pro-racism, pro-gun, and pro insurrection modern day Republican Party…

…the modern day Democratic Party will have to firmly establish itself as pro-democracy in actions as well as words…

….and to do what was done by Lincoln’s founding Republican Party during the American Civil War…

…which is to shun any and all compromise on matters of core values, integrity, morals, and principles, or what today is called bipartisanship.

The pro-democracy voters who live in states, cities, towns, wards, precincts, etc. where elected Democrats are deliberately enabling the anti-democracy, pro-insurrection modern-day Republican Party…

…will simply have to choose better pro-democracy Democratic candidates in future elections if saving American Democracy and defeating the 21st Century Confederacy is a top priority.

Rather than trying to compromise with self proclaimed enemies

…to be civil to the uncivilized

…to trust the words, actions or intentions of the proven dishonest, dishonorable, and immoral… 

….in my opinion, in dealing with the 21st Century Confederacy…

Pro-Democracy Democrats need to lean more towards having the same uncompromising and righteous energy of Illinois’ own legendary lawman Wyatt Earp:


Whether it’s attempting to prevent the original Confederacy from tearing these United States of America apart…

…or it’s attempting to prevent the 21st Century Confederacy from destroying Democracy in the present day…

…whoever is fighting on the other side has to have this same energy for eventual success:

It All Ends Now! 

Illinois’ Own Wyatt Earp

*Wyatt Earp and his brothers were born and raised in Monmouth, IL. 🙂

“The Earp Brothers were among the more famous characters in the Old West, due in large part to the participation of three of the brothers in the October 1881 Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.”

“Virgil Earp became the sheriff of Tombstone in October 1880. A year later, Virgil, along with brothers Wyatt and Morgan Earp, plus friend Doc Holliday, cemented their place in Western lore by battling the McLaurys and Clantons at the OK corral.” ~ Iron Brigader website

Of course my home state of Illinois birthed one of the most legendary lawmen of all time. 🙂

Even as a child, Wyatt Earp was a total badass hankering to fight on the decent, moral, and righteous side. 🙂

“As a teenager, Wyatt’s brothers, James and Virgil, went to fight for the Union side in the Civil War. At the time, Wyatt was only thirteen-years-old, much too young to enlist. Repeatedly, Wyatt ran away from home to join them in the battle, and each time he was caught and returned home.” ~ Study.com

Back to “It All Ends Now!”

Democrats (and women across America) need to show the RNC, (Republican National Committee) that it hasn’t seen “go on offense” yet when it comes to fighting against them taking away Women’s rights in this country.

Like Virginia’s Senator L. Louise Lucas putting the brakes on Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s backwards, insulting, and extremist agenda against women in her state.

“And that’s where the extremist Republican agenda belongs — in the trash.” ~ National Pro Choice Women’s Rights Group Emily’s List’s response to the above tweet

Just how extremist and hateful are modern day Republicans, particularly on issues related to women?

This extremist:

“21 South Carolina GOP Lawmakers Propose the Death Penalty For Women Who Have Abortions”

“It’s not just a lone extremist: The bill has 21 co-sponsors in the state’s House of Representatives.” ~ Rolling Stone Magazine – March 2023

If that’s not anti-women and anti-mother hate, I don’t know what is.

Michigan State’s smart and fierce Senator Mallory McMorrow is yet another notable politician fighting against modern day Republican/MAGA extremism:

GO AHEAD smart, courageous, and fierce Michigan Ladies! 🙂

“We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.” ~ Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

This is exactly what Democrats in addition to the many around the world fighting for equality, justice, and democracy need to do.

First, they need to call out the thieves who stole/hijacked the African American term “woke” and then sinisterly distorted and bastardized the word beyond recognition of it’s true meaning in addition to further devolving the word into “wokeism” to use as a weapon against them.

*The problem is there are very few authentic “journalists” in the 90% Corporate Owned Media.

If there were, the following question would have been asked of MAGA Republicans a long time ago.

We all need to just tell the truth about what these anti-woke haters are really all about just like Michigan’s fierce Senator Mallory McMorrow did.

Basically, Democrats have to call all these “wokeism” haters out on their racist BS.

“We will not let hate win!” ~ Mallory McMorrow

*Senator Mallory McMorrow’s full must see speech is linked here.

Let’s not forget the real, original, and the only authentic meaning of the word “woke.”

Woke: aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice) ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

The great “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston offers an excellent example of what being “woke” truly means:

“The other thing is, when you actually delve into when they think America was “great,” you’ll find it was also a time of strong unions and a 70 percent top tax bracket.

So, really, they don’t want that part of “great” America; they just want the racism and sexism.” ~ P.D. White via Twitter in response to Bryan Cranston

From Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:

The truth of the matter is “woke” is simply the updated version of MLK’s version of the word “maladjusted.”

“There are some things in our society and some things in our world for which I am proud to be maladjusted. And I call upon all men of goodwill to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized. I must honestly say to you that I never intend to adjust myself to racial segregation and discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of God’s children smothering in an air-tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.” ~ Excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s remarkable 1966 speech titled “Proud to Be Maladjusted”

This part:

“There are some things in our society and some things in our world for which I am proud to be maladjusted.” ~ MLK

From maladjusted to woke, I don’t know about anyone else…

…but I am proud and I absolutely love being attentive to societal problems, injustices, and wrongs…

….I am proud and I absolutely love being a decent, compassionate, and empathetic human being…

…and I am proud and I absolutely love caring about the well being and welfare of others, even if they are complete strangers or totally different from me….

….so I fully intend to #StayWoke 🙂

“The way racists co-opt things and deny it’s original meaning is incredible. Woke is a term Black people created to refer to those of us who were conscious and aware of historical and systemic realities.” ~ Olayemi Olurin

In fact, the word “woke” and it’s true meaning and use by Black Americans goes all the way back to the 1930s.

Thankfully it looks like a majority of Americans can see right through the Right Wing/MAGA/Racist distortion of “Woke.” 🙂

“The word woke is becoming more beautiful by the day. Why? Because the absolute worst people on earth use it as a slur against everything that is good. Stay woke.” ~ Jason Overstreet

Interestingly, all of this discourse about MAGA Republicans and others stealing and hijacking a truly benevolent and meaningful word of African American origin and turning it into something sick, evil, and nasty….

….reminds me of a really significant and I think a very relevant pop culture moment that happened decades ago.

It was the rock band U2’s truly unforgettable performance of the song “Bad” at Live Aid in 1985.

“I’m wide awake. I’m not sleeping.” = Woke

“If I could through myself
Set your spirit free, I’d lead your heart away
See you break, break away
Into the light” ~ Lyric From U2’s song “Bad”

Description from video: U2 performing at Live Aid in front of 72,000 people in Wembley Stadium, London on the 13th July, 1985. The event was organized by Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for the Ethiopian famine disaster. Broadcast across the world via one of the largest satellite link-ups of all time, the concerts were seen by around 40% of the global population.

So proud to be “wide awake” and “not sleeping” in regard to things, issues, and lives that really matter aka WOKE. 🙂

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

What America really needs in 2023 and beyond are elected officials and truly patriotic citizens with the character, integrity, morals, and the immense courage of President Abraham Lincoln

…elected officials and citizens who absolutely will not compromise or side in any way with a party which has made itself crystal clear that it is an enemy of Democracy…

…or in the 21st Century, side with a political party which isn’t inclusive and respectful of all Americans.

“Democratic societies emphasize the principle that all people are Equal. Equality means that all individuals are valued equally, have equal opportunities, and may not be discriminated against because of their race, religion, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation. In a democracy, individuals and groups still maintain their right to have different cultures, personalities, languages and beliefs.” ~ Excerpt from Principles of Democracy from a must read K-12 Classroom paper listing the 13 principles of Democracy which is linked here.

“Won’t it be wonderful when Black history and Native American history and Jewish history and all of U.S. history is taught from one book. Just U.S. history.” ~ Maya Angelou

“Just U.S. history = Just US.

In other words…

…wouldn’t teaching about and including the factual, warts and all historical experiences of ALL Americans in American History be wonderful?

In 2023 no less?

This brings me to a must read excerpt from the 2023 State of the State address from the current Governor of my Illinois home state, Governor Jay B. Pritzker:

To copy the title of a popular song by R & B artist Montell Jordan

“This is how we do it” ladies and gents 🙂

*I’m so happy and proud that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is leading the way…

…as Chicagoans always do.

One thing Chicagoans know how to do very well is fight and win 🙂

This all brings me back to the very important topic regarding my home state’s and Chicago’s highly significant role in the American Civil War.

“Of the various states which contributed to the total (Civil War) victory, none gave more willingly and more unsparingly than Illinois. (Abraham) Lincoln, the towering figure of destiny , began his trial of national office when he stepped aboard the train at Springfield. (Ulysses S.) Grant, who was destined to lead the Federal armies to eventual victory, offered his first significant service to the cause from Galena. There were others, many others, including John A. Logan and John A. McClernand, and scores of generals and lesser officers who led troops from the cities, towns, and hamlets of the Prairie State (Illinois) in the cause of liberty.” ~ Excerpt from the fascinating book “Illinois in the Civil War.”

Chicago’s role in particular in instigating, provoking, and in the support and fighting of the American Civil War could be considered the victorious blueprint for no compromise….

….because that is the blueprint that in fact won.

In fact…

…in the same way the vast majority of Chicago does not pretend that there is anything good or redeemable about Trump and his insurrectionist Republican Party today…

…Chicago also didn’t pretend that there was anything good or redeemable about the pro-slavery, insurrectionist, and traitorous Confederate South back in the day.

The city of Chicago played an extremely critical role in the nation defining conflict where 11 Southern states tried to destroy the United States of America in a sinister attempt to maintain slavery.

And make no mistake….

….the primary reason those 11 Southern States went to war against America was indeed to keep enslaving millions of human beings.

In 2015, Colonel Ty Seidule, a Professor of History at the United States Military Academy at West Point, decisively settled this generations long debate in approximately 5 minutes in the following video titled “Was the Civil War About Slavery?”

For people who need things to be stated more simply:

The aggressor in The War of Northern Aggression” was the South.

The American Civil War or what many in serious denial have renamed “The War of Northern Aggression” was launched by the Southern states not the Northern states…

….and the war was launched by the Southern States because they wanted to continue enslaving millions of Black human beings, and they were willing to destroy the United States of America to continue doing so.

It’s really that simple.

The North was not the aggressor just because it fought back and in the process kicked the Southern Confederacy’s ass.

That’s not the way “aggression” works.

Aggression: an unprovoked offensive, attack, invasion, or the like. ~ Dictionary.com


The Southern states launched an unprovoked offensive, attack, invasion, etc. against the United States in an attempt to continue enslaving millions of human beings….

…and the Northern states simply responded in defense of the United States.

As we say in Chicago….

You don’t want to get your a$$ kicked? Then don’t start sh*t.

Don’t launch a war against America and just because your side lost, rename the war “The War of Northern Aggression” just because the side that defended this country against your attacks won.

“Was the Civil War about slavery? Yes, of course. The rebels cited “slave” and “slavery” a whopping 80 separate times in their own declarations of secession, and openly admitted “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.” All those documents are free online; anyone can read them, and learn the truth.” ~ A comment left on the above video “Was the Civil War About Slavery?”

Why are so many Americans to this very day still in denial about the American Civil War being solely and only about maintaining Slavery…

…while painting the Southern Confederate traitors that seceded from and declared war on the United States of America as the heroes of the war?

The following brief video gives just one example of how American history was totally re-written with bald-faced lies by a pro-confederacy group of 100,000 mostly Southern white women, although the group’s members stretched across the entire U.S.

They called themselves “The United Daughters of the Confederacy” or the UDC for short.

“Just when you didn’t think American history could be more messed up, here comes the original Karen squad.” ~ A comment from the above video

UDC = “The original Karen squad” = PERFECTION. Chef’s kiss.

*To understand why so many White women played such a HUGE role in covering up and distorting the truth about the Southern Confederacy and the true evils of Slavery, a must read book on this important topic is “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South” which you can check out here at Book Lender.

“Imagine raising your children to despise other people.” ~ Toni Morrison

“Reject a book that calls the Confederate soldier a traitor or rebel, and the war a rebellion.”

“Reject a book that says the South fought to hold her slaves.” ~ UDC’s Mildred Rutherford

In others words….

….reject the TRUTH.

In short, the UDC’s job was to try it’s best to make sure the following quote by Ulysses S. Grant never happened…

….even if the UDC had to repeatedly lie through it’s teeth to do it.

“As time passes, people, even (people) of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant

There are even some who ridiculously claim that Slavery was a choice…

…and for decades there have been actual school textbooks which have taught countless thousands of American children the blatant lie about there being such a thing as “happy slaves.”

Many American history text books also falsely taught or still teach to this day that the American Civil War was about States Rights when the Southern states declarations of secession very clearly stated that attempting to maintain slavery was the primary motivation for launching a war to secede from the U.S.

The state of Mississippi’s declaration put into concise and succinct words the primary cause for why every state in the Confederacy was choosing to “dissolve their political connection with the Government of the United States of America” as the state of Georgia put it in their Declaration of Cause for Seceding.

“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.” ~ From “A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.”

*Following is a link to a must read 2019 article written on this topic:

Vox Media – August 2019 – How History Textbooks Reflect America’s Refusal to Reckon With Slavery

*Definitely a must read book on this important topic is “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” by James W. Loewen.

**Originally written in 2007, for the latest edition Loewen has added a new preface that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems, and calls out academic historians for abandoning the concept of truth in a misguided effort to be “objective.”

You can pick up a copy of “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” at Book Lender which is linked here.


Much of what is treated as “normal” in this country really isn’t.

I highly recommend reading the must read book by Dr. Gabor Maté titled “The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture” which is linked here.

And so the nostalgia for, hankering for, and honoring of the Old Confederate South continues to live on in 2023:

News Flash, Slavery wasn’t that long ago.


NPR – June 2021 – Slavery Wasn’t ‘Long Ago’: A Writer Exposes The Disconnect In How We Tell History

Hazlitt – March 2022 – ‘The Idea That Slavery Was a Long Time Ago is Profoundly Untrue’: An Interview with Clint Smith

*A must read book on this extremely important topic is “How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith which is linked here.

Ancestor: a person, typically one more remote than a grandparent, from whom one is descended. ~ Google Dictionary

So many in this country want Black Americans to “just get over” their descendants and ancestors aka the family members they are descended from…

…the relatives that many know via stories passed down through generations within their families…

…being enslaved and all of the brutal horrors that went along with being enslaved.

Ever hear of Generational Trauma?

“By definition, generational trauma refers to traumatic experiences that happened to your relatives who have come before you. This trauma can be stored in the body and, when unresolved, passed down again and again.” ~ Physician and renowned speaker Gabor Maté, M.D., bestselling author of “The Myth of Normal” via an article from the website MindBodyGreen

Here is a must read article on this important topic:

YES Magazine – February 2022Healing Generational Trauma

For Black and Indigenous communities, it takes more than therapy and medicine to tackle Generational Trauma. We need a holistic approach.

*A book I highly recommend on this very important topic is “The Burden of Heritage: Hauntings of Generational Trauma on Black Lives” by Aileen Alleyne which is linked here.

I also highly recommend reading a fascinating book on how Generational Trauma may be impacting countless millions of people of all races who have traumatic family histories titled “It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle” by Mark Wolynn which you can check out here at Book Lender.

The unfortunate reality is it’s simply impossible for many African American descendants to “just get over” the countless millions of their ancestors being enslaved, lynched, and all of the other brutal and unspeakable horrors that went along with first Slavery and then Jim Crow.

Some African Americans even use the tragic and brutal horrors that happened to their ancestors in the past to fight for equal justice under the law today.

Case in Point:

CNN: Great-granddaughter of lynching victim becomes First Black Woman Justice on Michigan Supreme Court – (2022)

It’s interesting that so many of the same people telling African Americans to “just get over” slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, etc….

…while so many of them remember their own distant family members and the part their own ancestors played in that sinister history so fondly in the present day…

..some even joking about it.

In fact, so many powerful people for generations up until the present day fought so hard against making lynching a federal crime…

….that anti-lynching legislation only just passed last year, in 2022…

…after more than a century of countless failed efforts to try to pass it.

DPIC – March 2022 More Than a Century After it Was First Proposed, President Biden Signs Historic Law Making Lynching a Federal Crime

Note: One of the most notable campaigns to outlaw lynching over the past century was headed by the legendary First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Image: Martin Luther King, Jr., is honored at Roosevelt Day Dinner sponsored by the Americans for Democratic Action at New York’s Hotel Astor. Presenting the 1961 Distinguished Award is Herbert H. Lehman, left; with them are Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and Robert Schwartz, New York State Chairman of ADA.

“I am greatly interested in the Deerfield situation, because the problems of integration — in schools, in churches and in job opportunities — will not be resolved until all people can live anywhere in this wonderful land of ours.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt to MLK

Fascinating Fact: Throughout her trailblazing life, Eleanor Roosevelt’s vast legacy includes:

100,000 Letters, 8,000 Columns, 27 Books and 1,000 Speeches.

*Source: Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project – Columbian College of Arts & Science

*Eleanor Roosevelt, pictured here in 1933, helped create the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights and later became the first chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Bill of Rights Institute: Eleanor Roosevelt and the United Nations

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

You can learn more about former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s fierce and stanch advocacy against lynching and in support of civil rights and equal rights at the following links:

The Blog of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and MuseumEleanor Roosevelt’s Battle to End Lynching

American HeritageDavid MichaelisEleanor Fights Lynching Simmons College

Library and Information SciencesEleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World: Civil Rights

Back to Chicago and the Civil War…

One city that will never have to ponder Ulysses S. Grant’s question:

“…how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man” is Chicago.

Which brings me back to Chicago’s major role in first instigating and inciting…

….and then in fighting and ultimately helping the Union to win the American Civil War.

“Illinois, through the accident of geography, lay with it’s southern tip pointed like a sword at the heart of the new-formed Confederacy.” ~ Author E. B. Long in his foreword in the fascinating book by Victor Hicken titled “Illinois and the Civil War.

Personally, I don’t think that was an “accident of geography.”

I think it was more like Divine Purpose. 🙂

“A major contribution of Illinois was in leadership, and it is a truly impressive list: President Abraham Lincoln, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, General Ulysses S. Grant, and on down the list of the great and near great in uniform and out.” ~ Author E. B. Long in his foreword in the fascinating book by Victor Hicken titled “Illinois and the Civil War.

I believe that Illinois with Chicago as it’s Captain was destined to first strategize and target, and then LEAD the efforts against the Southern Confederacy.

“The Civil War helped make Chicago, and Chicago helped save the Union.” ~ From the must read book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History”

The following excerpts from the fascinating book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History” helps me to further make my case about Chicago’s outsized role in the lead up to the American Civil War.

The following book excerpts and my added commentary, (my commentary will always begin with a *) explains how Chicago was center stage in the debate that led up to the war. 

“As a stronghold of abolitionist sentiment and the springboard of Lincoln’s presidency, Chicago was blamed in many circles for bringing on the (Civil) war.” ~ Jeff Lyon – Chicago Tribune

And I will also make the case for how Chicago was center stage in the civil war itself…

…playing a specific and strategic role in helping the Union Army to defeat the Confederacy, and in doing so…

….how the city of Chicago played an outsized role in helping to save and prevent the destruction of the United States of America.

Following are excerpts from the book “Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History:”

“Chicagoans played a critical role in the awful sectional contest, (the American Civil War) and the four years of war were formative in the growth of the metropolis. The Civil War solidified Chicago’s standing as the capital of the emerging Upper Great Lakes region in the Midwest. As a transportation hub, it provided a critical link between East and West, North and South. Poised on Great Lakes shipping routes and access to New York via the Erie Canal, connected by waterways to the Mississippi River valley via the Illinois and Michigan Canal and by train links to all parts of the country, Chicago was able to harvest the region’s agricultural bounty and turn its natural resources into steel, lumber, and other manufactured products to supply Northern armies.”

“The Civil War shaped Chicago, but Chicagoans also fundamentally shaped war.”

End of book excerpts

*How exactly did Chicago “fundamentally shape the war?”

Well it all began with a nation-wide famous Chicago politician affectionately known as “The Little Giant.”

Senator Stephen A. Douglas

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

“Chicago was the political base of Stephen Douglas, one of the nation’s most important and powerful politicians of the pre–Civil War era.” “When Douglas moved to Chicago in 1847, he had already served as a state’s attorney, judge, and congressman. That year he was chosen for the U.S. Senate, where he quickly became the most prominent spokesman for the nation’s aggressive “Young America” movement. Young America was idealistic, energetic, and most of all expansionistic.

Through direct democracy and vigorous nationalism, Douglas promised white Americans a future of free homesteads spread over the open prairie and industrial cities linked by expanding lines of steel rails. Douglas accelerated Chicago’s rise by making it the terminus for the Illinois Central Railroad— the nation’s first land grant railroad—and he plotted to anchor the long- dreamed-of Pacific railroad there as well.

Unfortunately, Douglas and Young America carried a heavy burden on their march to political power—slavery.

For Douglas and his young Democrats to achieve their ambition, they needed a political party united, north, south, east, and west. Unfortunately, throughout the 1850s the issue of slavery increasingly divided the nation along sectional lines.”

End of book excerpts

*The problem for Stephen Douglas came when he mistakenly thought he had found the perfect solution to “the slavery problem”…

…a solution which reeked of compromise with the South, or reeked of what would today be called bipartisanship.

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

“The five-foot-four-inch senator from Chicago (Douglas) became the “Little Giant” of American politics in 1850 when he forestalled the threat of Southern secession over the question of slavery’s expansion into the territories conquered during the Mexican-American War.

Where the giants of the Senate—Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun—had failed to craft a plan that could save the Union, Douglas engineered the famed “Compromise of 1850.”

In an attempt to defuse tension, Douglas applied the pragmatic Young America principle of “popular sovereignty”—let the people of those territories vote yes or no on whether slavery would be allowed in these new possessions. He mistakenly thought that popular sovereignty would solve this issue of slavery as a divisive force in American life. On that faulty assumption, Douglas decided in 1854 to realize his dream to make Chicago the beginning point of a transcontinental railroad to the California gold fields.

To win Southern support, Douglas pushed for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which would allow the principle of popular sovereignty in states formed in the unorganized federal lands north and west of Missouri. It seemed a simple solution to Douglas, who viewed democracy in overly optimistic terms and did not see slavery as a moral issue.

However, the Kansas-Nebraska Act tore up the revered “Compromise of 1820,” which forbade any slave state north of the southern boundary of Missouri. The act was immediately unpopular across the North. Ordinary white people saw it as a threat to the opportunity of free men to profit from the development of the nation’s western territories.

Thousands of voters in the North abandoned the Democratic Party and, together with members of the failed Whig and American Parties, founded what became the Republican Party. Douglas’s blunder likely cost him the 1856 Democratic presidential nomination.”

End of book excerpts.

*Stephen Douglas not seeing slavery as “a moral issue” would most definitely cost the extremely ambitious Chicago politician his presidential dreams…

…but more importantly, Stephen Douglas’ attempts at compromise with the slave holding South, or his attempts at what is today called “bipartisanship”…

….woke up a sleeping giant of a man previously unknown to the masses who rightly saw slavery as the nation’s most pressing moral issue.

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

“It was against this backdrop that a frustrated politician and successful lawyer chose to challenge Douglas’s reelection to the Senate in 1858.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Abraham Lincoln had largely focused on his legal career after an undistinguished term in Congress from 1846 to 1848.

He was spurred back into the (political) fray by (Senator) Douglas’s Kansas-Nebraska Act, which Lincoln saw as an open invitation for slavery to expand across the vast expanse of America’s trans-Mississippi territories.

That impression was further strengthened by the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott Decision of 1857, which seemed to overthrow popular sovereignty and opened Chicago’s Great Plains hinterland to slaveholders. Up to this time Douglas was the champion of Chicago’s westward ambitions, but the rise of the slavery issue threatened those credentials.

Lincoln launched his challenge against the “Little Giant” in stunning fashion with his famous “House Divided” speech in Springfield, Illinois, in June 1858. That provocative address foretold a great conflict between slavery and freedom for the future of not just the West but the nation and alleged that Douglas was a knowing ally of the Slave Power.

By making the Illinois Senate race a contest about the future of slavery in America, Lincoln ensured that he would garner a national audience. The renowned Lincoln-Douglas Debates elevated Lincoln from a local to a national figure among Republicans.

The genesis of those debates was a political encounter between the two candidates in Chicago on July 9, 1858.

On that occasion Stephen Douglas addressed a crowd of supporters from the balcony of the Tremont House Hotel. Lincoln was seated near the senator and offered an implicit challenge to the combative Douglas.

The “Little Giant” directly attacked Lincoln’s “House Divided” rhetoric as leading the country toward a dangerous and violent conflict. Douglas claimed to be the voice of moderation and reason and the better candidate to promote sectional reconciliation and democratic procedures.

Lincoln responded by inviting the audience to return the next night for his reply to Douglas. On July 10, before another large crowd (in Chicago), Lincoln defended his contention that slavery was a moral evil that was dividing America and that the institution’s geographic spread had to be immediately halted, as the first step toward its elimination.

In the wake of this exchange, the Chicago Tribune suggested, and the two candidates agreed to participate in, a series of seven debates in various congressional districts across the state.

These famous debates, however, largely recapitulated the exchange that had initially (first) taken place in Chicago.”

End of book excerpts

*The world changing Lincoln-Douglas Debates which were initiated in and instigated by the city of Chicago and which continued throughout my home state of Illinois at the request of the Chicago Tribune newspaper could be seen as the birth of multiple nation defining catalysts in America…

….including Abraham Lincoln’s political ascendency, the newly formed Republican Party, and the American Civil War.

“From August 21 to October 15, 1858, Lincoln and Douglas traveled to seven cities across Illinois to engage in public debates. Unlike our modern political debates where candidates go back and forth roughly every few minutes, the format for the debates between Honest Abe and the Little Giant featured one candidate talking for an hour followed by the other candidate speaking for an hour and a half before the first candidate was given thirty minutes for a rebuttal. Lincoln and Douglas alternated which candidate went first and which candidate responded, although, as the incumbent, Douglas spoke first in four out of the seven debates.

Citizens across the Midwest traveled in droves to see Lincoln and Douglas speak, and those who missed the debates would read their transcripts in Democratic and Republican newspapers the following day.” ~ Lincoln-Douglas DebatesBattlefields.org

*This part:

“…the debates between Honest Abe and the Little Giant featured one candidate talking for an hour followed by the other candidate speaking for an hour and a half before the first candidate was given thirty minutes for a rebuttal.”

These two brilliant and eloquent Chicago-affiliated lawyers basically put Slavery on Trial for America.

First Chicago audiences followed by audiences in cities and towns across the state of Illinois along with the thousands who read the transcripts from the debates in newspapers across the nation the next day were the Jury…

….Abraham Lincoln was the Prosecuting Attorney for the Abolishment of Slavery

…and Stephen Douglas was the Defense Attorney offering what he believed to be a reasonable Compromise in the interests of the Southern slave states which inevitably would allow them to keep enslaving human beings.

It was the city of Chicago which first instigated and initiated this National Trial which debated the solvency of Slavery that totally spellbound and riveted the entire nation.

“The Lincoln-Douglas Debates were one of the most significant events in American political history. It led to high tensions between the North and the South and it ended up being one of the main causes of the civil war.” ~ Bartleby Research

*A Commemorative Postage Stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service for the 100th Year Anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

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

“In the end, Douglas retained his Senate seat (although Lincoln won a larger share of the votes by citizens in the 1858 polling), because senators were chosen by the Illinois General Assembly, where the Democrats held a narrow majority. The “Little Giant” was returned to Washington.

Despite a rain-soaked election day in Chicago that depressed voter turnout, Lincoln bested Douglas there. With strong help from the rural portions of the county, Republican candidates won by more than a 1,500-vote margin in the northern Illinois district that included Chicago.

This revealed to the recently formed Republicans that they had emerged as a major force in Chicago politics, where they also retained the mayor’s office. The Republican Party had successfully shed the image of its Know-Nothing predecessor as being anti-immigrant and established a clear principle of opposing slavery’s expansion.

The great attention that the nation devoted to the race rebounded to the benefit of each of the candidates. Stephen Douglas was able to reclaim his position as the chief spokesman of the Democrats across the North. Lincoln won praise as an able articulator of Republican principles.

The Senate race, therefore, went far to setting each man on the road to the White House.”

End of book excerpts

*So the stage was now set.

Two Illinois Men…

….two Chicago affiliated Men…

….one a Chicago resident and extremely powerful nationally known and respected politician (Douglas)…

…and one a lesser known resident of Springfield, IL who also worked regularly in the city of Chicago as a lawyer, and was heavily boosted by Chicago Republicans, (Lincoln).

These two Chicago promoted and affiliated men would help to decide the fate of the entire nation…

…and the fate of an entire people when it came to millions of enslaved human beings.

Their fiery oral arguments would help to decide if this beyond sinister and patently evil SIN would remain enshrined in the very fabric of the United States of America. 

All of this is how it can be convincingly argued that the city of Chicago was the initial catalyst for, and played center stage in the lead up to the American Civil War.

And if that wasn’t enough…

Chicago also went the extra mile in ensuring that Abraham Lincoln came out on top as the first Republican Party nominee to win the presidency.

Chicago has hosted more national political conventions than any other city in the nation, (11 Democratic and 14 Republican), including what has been called the most important convention in U.S. history, the convention where Abraham Lincoln won the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1860.

As is typical with Chicago, there is a very colorful and audacious story as to how the Windy City went all out to secure the Republican presidential nomination for Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln won the nomination with crucial “help” from the editor and owner of the Chicago Tribune newspaper Joseph Medill…

…and the Mayor of Chicago at that time, John Wentworth, in addition to many other key Chicagoans.

American Heritage Magazine described it this way:

“In the crowded months between the beginning of the 1860 presidential campaign and the attack on Fort Sumter, it is easy now to see the emergence of Abraham Lincoln as something preordained, as though the issues had manufactured a figure commensurate with their importance.

Or at the least, one might imagine a dramatic, hard-fought campaign with Northern and Southern states rallying around their respective candidates. But that’s not quite how it happened.

There is drama enough in the 1860 campaign, but most of it does not spring from the election itself. The moment Lincoln was nominated, the issue was settled: He would become the President; he would be faced with the dissolution of the federal Union.

The crucial steps on Lincoln’s road to the White House came earlier, during the most important party convention in our history a convention that seemed, at the time, certain to nominate William Henry Seward as Republican party candidate for President of the United States.” ~ American Heritage Magazine (1988)

So how did New York’s Senator William Henry Seward go from being an almost certainty to capture the Republican nomination for president in 1860…

…to longshot Abraham Lincoln securing the presidential nomination instead in a surprising upset victory?

That question requires just a one word answer: Chicago

“Lincoln had already demonstrated one quality vital to a presidential candidate: he was lucky. Chicago had been chosen as a compromise site before Lincoln was considered a serious candidate. If he had been seen as a contender, the city would have been unacceptable to (Senator William) Seward’s people; and if any other place had been chosen, it is (highly) unlikely Lincoln’s Illinois team could have swung the nomination (to Lincoln).” ~ American Heritage Magazine (1988)

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

“Thanks to the labors of his friend (Chicagoan) Norman B. Judd, the head of the Illinois Republican Party, Lincoln had the good fortune that the Republicans held their 1860 national convention in Chicago. The city edged out St. Louis for the honor in part because of its forty-two hotels and in part because Illinois was a critical swing state.

Lincoln’s supporters in the city, with a conscious eye on influencing the delegates, built one of the largest public halls in the country so they could pack it to the rafters with vocal Lincoln supporters.

The Wigwam, as it was known, was capable of holding 1,200 people. Highly touted candidates for the nomination, William Seward of New York and Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, sent hundreds of streetwise supporters to the Chicago convention in anticipation that strong vocal support from the galleries might stampede the delegates to support the “dark-horse” candidate from Illinois.

The Chicagoans, however, outmaneuvered them by printing duplicate tickets and by other means to get the Lincoln supporters seated while their opponents were left outside, mumbling invectives in the muddy street.

More important, Lincoln’s (Chicago) lieutenants worked cleverly to secure second ballot commitments from supporters of Ohio’s Salmon P. Chase and Missouri’s Edward Bates, should their candidates falter.

Therefore, when on the day of the voting William Seward narrowly missed securing a first-ballot nomination, Lincoln was able to build “irrepressible” momentum in the convention hall.

By the third ballot, Lincoln had won enough votes to upset his better-known rival and secure the presidential nomination, and the Wigwam erupted into celebrations that quickly spread across the city (Chicago.)”

End of book excerpts

*So the city of Chicago engaged in some clever tricks and hijinks to ensure that Abraham Lincoln secured the nomination for president for the newly founded Republican Party.

“Sen William Seward of New York was the heavy favorite, (for the Republican nomination). But Lincoln had Chicago’s political muscle – and it’s finest mischief makers behind him. Including (Chicago Tribune editor) Medill, of course. And they made no little plans.” ~ The Chicago Tribune

“What Seward and his followers didn’t know was they were about to be present at a historic event. They were about to witness the birth of Chicago’s reputation for hardball politics.” ~ WBEZ Chicago

Definition of the term Hardball: forceful uncompromising methods employed to gain an end.” ~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Emphasis on the word “uncompromising.”

Going back to the Lincoln-Douglas presidential showdown….

…along with Chicagoan Stephen Douglas having secured the presidential nomination for the (at that time) pro-slavery Democratic Party…

…the stage was set even further with the city of Chicago also sending Abraham Lincoln…

…two of the Windy City’s favorite sons to battle it out for the nation’s presidency in 1860…

…and in doing so deciding one way or the other if Slavery would be abolished

….or if it would live on in America for the foreseeable future.

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

“Chicago reveled in the major party nomination of two “favorite sons” to the White House. Unfortunately for Stephen Douglas, his prospects were dimmed by the presence of two other candidates in the race:

John C. Breckenridge, the sitting vice president, was the candidate of the splinter Southern Democrats; and former senator John Bell was nominated by the hastily formed Constitutional-Union Party.

Both of these candidates cut into Douglas’s natural conservative electoral base. Faced with this unprecedented challenge, Douglas responded in a manner that was typically energetic but otherwise unprecedented.

Dating back to the example set by George Washington, no presidential candidate before 1860 actually campaigned for office. Candidates left the majority of the speechmaking and handshaking to be done by their supporters. For that reason neither Stephen Douglas nor Abraham Lincoln had even been present at the national conventions at which they were nominated.

After the convention Lincoln respected the tradition of not campaigning for votes. Douglas did not have this luxury. His party was divided by Southern radicals who threatened secession if the Republicans prevailed.

Stephen Douglas waged a heroic campaign of personal appearances warning both North and South of the dangers of civil war. From New England to the shores of the Great Lakes, from old Virginia to Mobile Bay, Douglas addressed crowds large and small warning of radicalism and disunion.

Unfortunately, Douglas used large doses of anti-black racism to try to build a bridge between white working men, particularly the poor immigrant Irish, and Southern planters; one legacy of his campaign was a Democratic Party that was virulently racist.

By the fall of 1860, however, despite his exertions, the Little Giant’s cause was clearly doomed. His voice, overly strained from repeated orations, was a mere croak, his once-confident stride reduced to a limp after an accident on the campaign trail, Douglas ended his efforts on election day looking, as friend recalled, “more hopeless that I had ever before seen him.”

End of book excerpts

*Even though Stephen Douglas continued to maintain popularity in Chicago largely because of the many major accomplishments Douglas had secured for the city…

…and also because Chicago just loves a larger than life character and a smart and fierce fighter like Douglas undoubtedly was….

…a slim majority of Chicago was solidly behind Abraham Lincoln, the Illinois man which the city had actively and deliberately boosted into the Republican nomination for president.

But with Lincoln having won the presidency, the talk of a civil war quickly went from threats to reality:

“On November 6, 1860, Lincoln defeated his opponents with only 40 percent of the popular vote, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.” ~ History.com

And make no mistake…

….without Chicago’s hijinks and it maneuvering an upset victory for Lincoln during the Republican’s 1860 nominating convention…

…there would have likely been no civil war, because the candidate who it was initially thought to be the widely popular favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, New York Senator William Seward reportedly had an extremely convoluted and very unwise idea on how he would handle it as president if the Southern states seceded:

“Lincoln proved to be a better leader than Seward. For example, when the South seceded, Seward proposed that Lincoln evoke the Monroe Doctrine to justify a declaration of war on France and Spain–which he believed would cause the South to come to the North’s aid and re-join the Union. Lincoln ignored this foolishness. “The President is the best of us!” Seward would admit later.” ~ Great American History.net article titled “Lincoln Outfoxed Seward for the Nomination”

Had Seward won the Republican presidential nomination and then the presidency….

…and then upon the South seceding, proceeded to go to war with France and Spain…

…I’m sure France and Spain would have been like:

In my opinion, just one of many reasons why America, (in addition to France and Spain) should still be saying:

“Thanks Chicago!” 🙂

And actually it wasn’t Abraham Lincoln who “outfoxed” Seward for the Republican nomination for president in 1860.

As noted earlier, Lincoln wasn’t even at the Republican convention in Chicago which would eventually nominate him in an upset victory.

In reality, it was a lot of smart Chicagoans who did the outfoxing. 🙂

“The paper credited Lincoln’s nomination to his “shrewd and determined (Chicago) friends, masters of all political arts. They were a little unscrupulous in some of their methods, or at least they seemed so to the friends of Senator Seward. Yes, maybe a little unscrupulous.” ~ The Chicago Tribune

Outfoxed indeed, and maybe it *seemed* a tad bit unscrupulous to the losers…

…but I believe Chicago was guided by the arch of history, the cause of freedom, and keeping America intact as the saved UNION aka the still United States of America will eternally prove.

“The Tribune peered back and wondered “what if?” Had the delegates known the fiery ordeal that awaited the 16th President as he struggled to save the Union, Lincoln might not have been chosen, the paper said. “And yet as the event proved, he was of all men the one who should have been chosen.” ~ The Chicago Tribune

Going back to that fateful day of the nomination of Lincoln, I guess it should come as no surprise considering their creative determination for him to succeed, that no group of people was more joyful and proud that Lincoln had secured the Republican nomination for President than the city of Chicago was.

Abraham Lincoln’s shock nomination for President was a very, very proud day in the history of the city of Chicago.

In fact, it was quite momentous. 🙂

“A cannon boomed from the roof of the Wigwam signaling the choice of Lincoln – and Chicago celebrated! “Stout men wept like children” the Tribune reported.” ~ The Chicago Tribune

“In 1910, a Tribune editorial called the day of Abraham Lincoln’s nomination the most illustrious in the city’s history. It still is.” ~ Chicago Tribune in 2009 Editorial

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

“Chicago exploded in celebrations when news was flashed that Lincoln was elected. Douglas’s personal popularity and his long record of accomplishments for the city were not enough to prevent a slim majority of voters in his hometown from supporting Lincoln. The returns showed Lincoln with 10,697 and Douglas with 8,094 votes.

Shortly after the bonfires and fireworks debris were cleared from the streets, Lincoln made what would turn out to be his last visit to Chicago. He touched base with some of the Chicago Republicans who had played a role in making his nomination possible, including the influential newspaper publishers Charles Wilson of the Chicago Daily Journal and Joseph Medill of the Chicago Tribune.”

End of book excerpts

*Proving that no one is perfect, Lincoln had his own prejudices, particularly on the issue of race, as the vast majority of white people did in the 1800s.

Because of this fact, when Abraham Lincoln visited Chicago for the last time before he assumed the presidency, he made a pivotal yet unfortunate decision.

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

“Unknown to the public, the president-elect (Lincoln) used his trip to Chicago to meet secretly with several confidants from the South. In addition to hoping he might be able to place a Southerner in a prominent role in his administration, he was interested in gauging the attitude of the Southern people. Within days of his election, the Southern states of South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi had called for conventions to decide the question of secession from the Union.

Determined not to give the secessionists any provocation, Lincoln eventually took an action that had a profound effect on Chicago’s African American population.

In April 1861, less than a week after his inauguration, he ordered federal marshals to strictly enforce the controversial Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Although warning of the marshals’ sweep of Chicago’s runaway slave community was leaked in advance, a panicked flight was nonetheless set off.”

“Now with the country teetering on the edge of civil war, abolitionists and black leaders in the city were forced to organize an exodus from Chicago. They chartered a special train, and more than 100 refugees out of an estimated black population of 955 were loaded onto boxcars for Canada.

On the very eve of the Civil War, the peculiar institution of the South (Slavery) still had the power to reach into Chicago and uproot lives on the shores of Lake Michigan.”

End of book excerpts

*Needless to say, Lincoln’s less than honorable last minute decision to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 in Chicago in a last ditch attempt to prevent the South from seceding from America didn’t work.

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

“The painful African American flight from Chicago did little to impress secessionists, who by that time had united the Deep South into the so-called Confederate States of America and had selected Jefferson Davis as their president.

The secession crisis, coming on the heels of the divisive presidential election of 1860, found the North divided and unsure how to respond. Those uncertainties dissipated, however, when the secessionists attacked the U.S. troops at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.”

End of book excerpts

*Any uncertainties the North had about what to do most definitely dissipated once the South launched it’s attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

In Chicago in particular, it was ON.

“For the people of Chicago, the year 1861 would be an especially momentous one, The State was inflamed with war fever because the seven Southern states which withdrew from the Union and set up a separate, hostile government had now fired on the United States flag. By force, they took Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina, harbor.

The South’s response to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers to quell the insurrection was the defection of four more Southern states.

“But one sentiment prevails, and that is for war on traitors,” declared The Chicago Tribune. United States flags flew from homes and shops all over the city. Country boys rushing to the city eager with thoughts of punishing the “traitors” by joining the army found highways and trains thronged with others like themselves.

Outside the State Street Armory, headquarters for the Ellsworth Zouaves, a crowd was so dense potential enlistees could not get to the door. The first recruiting station opened on April 18 at the corner of Clark and Randolph Streets to raise enough men for a company, and in two days the quota was filled.”

“It was not long before Chicago recruiting stations bore placards with rejection notices: “No more men wanted.”

Some would not be denied and left the state to enlist in outfits being raised in Kentucky or Missouri. In fact, the entire 9th Missouri was recruited from Illinois men.” ~ Dennis Kelly – NPS History websiteAugust 1989

Reportedly there were even “a surprising number of women” in Chicago and Illinois who hid their gender to pass as male soldiers to enlist in the Union Army to fight:

“Mary Livermore, whose work with the U.S. Sanitary Commission in Chicago brought her into contact with Illinois soldiers, claimed that a surprising number of women passed as soldiers during the war. Miss Livermore later claimed that she personally discovered such a case in the 19th Illinois, one of the toughest and best disciplined Chicago regiments.

In another instance, Albert D.J. Cashier, who served in the 95th Illinois and who participated in the battles of Brice’s Crossroads, Spring Hill, and Franklin, was found to be a woman – but only on her deathbed, long after the war had ended. Cashier was revealed to have been a Miss Jennie Hodgers, a girl who had emigrated from Ireland prior to the conflict.” ~ Excerpt from the fascinating book “Illinois in the Civil War.”

*Needless to say, Chicago was HOT and LIVID at the South for declaring war on America…

….and I personally don’t think there’s any city in America more ready to throw down and fight in general.

Needless to say, Chicago was READY….

…and many in the Windy City as well as in Illinois did whatever was necessary to defeat the Southern Confederacy:

“Virtually every one of the new regiments, despite their proximity to combat, faced an early shortage in the supply of adequate firearms. The original supply of guns located in Illinois armories, which included a few old muskets, rifles, and musketoons, was insufficient in quality as well as quantity.

The situation was somewhat relieved in late spring, when Chicago merchants cleared their shelves of firearms, and Captain James Stokes of Chicago rescued 10,000 weapons in a daring night raid on the St. Louis Arsenal.

The latter equipment was at one time in actual danger of seizure by pro-Confederate mobs which roamed the streets of that city.” ~ Excerpt from the fascinating book “Illinois in the Civil War.”

*The threat of pro-Confederate mobs seizing those 10,000 weapons in St. Louis was a very real one considering that although it never seceded from the Union, “…the Confederacy recognized Missouri as its twelfth state.”

Back to Captain James Stokes of Chicago.

Leave it to a clever, brave, and badass Chicagoan to stage a daring and audacious raid to *remove* those 10,000 weapons and keep them out of the hands of the pro-Confederate mobs said to roam the streets of St. Louis at that time. 🙂

It’s been said that Captain James Stokes’ daring, wily, and courageous raid “….crippled the secessionist cause in Missouri and helped to arm Union troops.”

Here’s some of the back story:

“Secessionists in St. Louis, which is located just down the Mississippi River from Alton, (Illinois) stood poised to seize that city’s federal arsenal. These secessionists relished the irony of Union troops being slain by firearms that had originally been intended for their own use.

Captain Nathaniel Lyon, commander of the arsenal, realized the tenuousness of his position and sent a messenger to Illinois governor Richard Yates to suggest that its firearms and ammunition be removed and sent to Springfield, (Illinois) for issue to the Unionists, who were gathering in that city in response to (President) Lincoln’s call for volunteers to put down the (Confederate) rebellion.

Yates agreed and without even bothering to contact Washington for official approval, delegated the task of rescuing the arsenal’s weapons to (Chicago’s own) Captain James Stokes.

After coming to Alton and chartering the steamer (aka boat) “The City of Alton”, Stokes slipped down to St. Louis while disguised as a civilian and gained entrance to the besieged arsenal. He then had the arsenal’s telegraph operator contact an Alton telegraph operator with a message for Leander Mitchell, the captain of the “The City of Alton”.

Mitchell was instructed to be at the St. Louis riverfront at 11 p.m. to receive an arms shipment from the arsenal. After pressing into service every man inside and outside the arsenal who was loyal to the Union, Stokes ordered the first of the firearms to be removed and loaded onto another moored boat. The secessionists saw what they thought was their opportunity to hijack those coveted firearms.

They seized the guns and made off with them — just as (Captain James) Stokes had hoped!

The wily captain had ordered that the first firearms to be removed should be some five hundred decrepit flintlock rifles that had least seen service during the Mexican-American War.

Time-consuming to load and possessing limited range, flintlock rifles would compose a limited danger in Confederate hands. While the secessionists were running away with these almost-useless antiques, the arsenal’s defenders began loading the modern, more lethal weapons onto “The City of Alton.”

“By 7:00 a.m., the contents of “The City of Alton” had indeed been loaded and safely locked into cars of the Chicago and Alton Railroad:

10,000 muskets; 100 new rifles; 500 revolvers; 110,000 musket cartridges and several cannons.” ~ An excerpt from an interesting article by John J. Dunphy titled “The Moores of Madison County, Illinois: A Pioneer and Civil War Saga”

Who knows what would have happened in the war if Chicago’s own Captain James Stokes hadn’t totally outfoxed those Pro-Confederate mobs in St. Louis? 🙂

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

“Upon hearing of the (Fort Sumter) attack, Stephen Douglas immediately offered his support to President Lincoln. Douglas played a large role in unifying Democratic Party support in Illinois for a military response to the attack. Back in Chicago, before a Wigwam packed with longtime supporters and recent enthusiasts, Douglas thundered that it was time for Republicans and Democrats to close ranks: “There can be no neutrals in this war: only patriots—or traitors.”

End of book excerpts

“There can be no neutrals in this war: only patriots—or traitors.”

Damn straight.

*One could say that Senator Stephen Douglas ended his complex, controversial, and highly consequential political career on a very high note. One reason why Senator Douglas’ fighting words were extremely important in the state of Illinois in particular was because of Southern, Illinois, where many transplants from Southern states lived, and still to this day is considered extremely conservative.

Even with that being the case, more Southern IL men signed up to fight against the South by joining the Union Army than in any other part of the state which is pretty remarkable.

“While Southern Illinoisans emigrated largely from southern states, few joined the Confederacy during the Civil War. Many were poor, did not own slaves, and had not left behind any assets in the South. During the first sixteen months of the Civil War, forty percent of eligible men from Southern Illinois volunteered for the Union, compared with only twenty-eight percent from the rest of the state. The largest number to volunteer for the Confederacy were thirty-four men from Marion, most of whom had been born or raised in the South.” ~ From a website on the History of Southern Illinois

*Senator Stephen A. Douglas’ stirring and fiery campaign against the Confederacy which he launched almost immediately after it’s attack on Fort Sumter, is considered a major reason why almost the entire state of Illinois fell in line in support of President Abraham Lincoln and in support of the preservation of the Union aka the United States.

“By the time the (34) secessionists left Marion to join the 15th Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, Union troops controlled the Illinois Central Railroad, the East St. Louis waterfront and rail lines, the city of Cairo, regional bridges, and parts of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Ulysses S. Grant had already mustered a Union Army regiment of Southern Illinoisans at Anna by the time John A. Logan made his famous August 19, 1861 recruitment speech at the Marion square to raise the 31st Illinois Volunteer Infantry.” ~ From a website on the History of Southern Illinois

*Senator Douglas was credited with helping to unite the state of Illinois behind the Union, and in doing so reduce to only a few dozen the number of Southern Illinois men who left to join the Confederacy.

“Although (John) Logan is often credited with countering rebel sentiments (in Southern Illinois), defeated Democratic presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas was more proactive, speaking in Springfield and Chicago just after the war began on April 12, 1861.” ~ From a website on the History of Southern Illinois

That concludes Part Four of this highly unique series which ends with yet another…

…Chicago the Beautiful Spotlight 🙂

“One of the hallmarks of Chicago is that we do so many things in an original manner.” ~ Mike Royko, Pulitzer prize winning columnist and native Chicagoan

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 Five of this unique series at the following link:

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