There’s been some big news in the National Park System in recent weeks with President Obama using the Antiquities Act to add two new national parks to the U.S. National Park System, taking us to 407 total U.S. national parks. There’s also the usual monthly release of new cancellations for the Parks Passport program, which had two additions this March, one of them for the brand new Park.
The first of the two new national parks is Pullman National Monument in Chicago, located south and west of Chicago’s downtown. Parkasaurus wrote a short post on the proposal for this national park back in August. The new National Monument will include the historic administration building and clock tower, which will actually be the only part of the monument owned by the Federal Government. The administration building was badly damaged by a fire in 1999, and the higher profile of being a national park site should definitely assist fundraising efforts to repair and restore the building.
The rest of the Monument will retain its current ownership. The architecturally beautiful Hotel Florence and the old factory will remain owned by the State of Illinois as part of Pullman State Historic Site. The old greenstone church and the numerous worker houses from Pullman’s days as an old-style company town will remained owned by the residents. Full details are available in the monument’s official proclamation.
This National Monument has clearly been in the works for a long time. President Obama actually flew in to Chicago to make the announcement on-site, and as part of the ceremonies the National Park Service staff from nearby Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore already had a Junior Ranger program available, as well as a Passport cancellation: Pullman National Monument | Chicago, IL. The cancellation is available at the Historic Pullman Foundation’s Visitor Center, which is serving as the Park Visitor Center until the Administration Building is complete.
The second new national park, which was also established under the Antiquities Act on the same day is Honouliuli National Monument, located just outside of urban Honolulu in Hawaii. At first glance, Honouliuli appears to be the fifth national park telling the story of Japanese internment during World War II. The first of these is Manzanar National Historic Site in California, which was established as a national park in 1992. Manzanar was established after a detailed special resource study by the National Park Service on Japanese internment and was selected because it was the first internment camp to be established, the California desert had left Manzanar relatively well-preserved, and its proximity to the main highway between southern California and many of California’s ski resorts insured that it would be relatively accessible to visitation. The other three are:
The story of Honouliuli will be somewhat different than these other four, however, in two important ways. First, because of the very large numbers of people of Japanese ancestry in the Territory of Hawaii immediatelly following the attack on Pearl Harbor, internment was carried out much more selectively in Hawaii than the mass-internment which occurred on the American mainland. In total, only about 2,000 residents of the Territory of Hawaii were interned in World War II, and of those, only about 320 were interned at Honouliuli. By contrast, Manzanar had more than 10,000 internees at its peak, and Tule Lake had more than 18,000 internees at its peak. Secondly, Honouliuli actually held more than 4,000 prisoners of war. In that sense, Honouliuli might also develop closer ties with Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia, the site of the infamous prisoner of war camp operated by the Confederacy.
As of the date of proclamation, however, Honouliuli has become largely overgrown. Indeed, the site was actually donated to the Federal Government by Monsanto, which had subsequently acquired the site and surrounding lands. Right now there is no public access to the site. It will be at least a few months before the site is open to limited visitation, and likely several years before it is fully opened to regular visits. So no Passport Cancellation, just yet for this site.
The addition of Pullman National Monument and Honouliuli National Monument means that there are now 407 national parks in the U.S. National Park System, with another three national parks that were authorized by the Defense Authorization Act for 2015 expected to be established by the end of the year. Meanwhile, we have recalibrated our calculations of what constitutes a unique Passport cancellation, so the addition of these two new cancellations takes us to a total of 1,889 unique stamps in the Passport Program, with 79 of those being stamps for anniversaries or special events and programs associated with the Parks.
The Lincoln Memorial anchors the West end of the National Mall in West Potomac Park of downtown Washington, DC. Inside the Greek-style Temple with Doric columns is, of course, the famous sculpture of Abraham Lincoln carved by famed American sculptor Daniel Chester French. Inside the temple are two of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, on the north and south walls, respectively. As I like to describe them, one of the speeches is the greatest speech in American History, the other is the Gettysburg Address.
That “greatest speech in American History,” is, of course, Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address. Indeed, it is a remarkable testament to Lincoln’s brilliance that he would have not just delivered not one, but two of the speeches in the canon of all-time greats in American History, but that both of them would also be short enough that they could be carved in their entirety into the walls of a Memorial.
All that is definiately fitting because as far as I’m concerned, the list of greatest-speeches in American History would have to have these three speeches, Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural, King’s “I Have a Dream,” and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as 1, 2, and 3 in some order – and you really can’t go wrong with whatever order you choose. Yes, there are some other notable speeches in American History, such as John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address – “ask not what your country can do for you,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1st Inaugural Address – “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Lou Gehrig’s Farewell – “today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth,” and Ronald Reagan’s Speech at the Brandenburg Gate – “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”; but in my view these four are all in a second tier below the first three.
Top honors, for me, however, go to Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address – the 150th Anniversary of which is being marked this week. Back in the 19th Century, Presidential Inaugurations were held on March 4th each year (unless it was Sunday), before being moved to the present date of January 20th (unless its a Sunday) in the 1930’s.
Back in 1865, when Lincoln was delivering this speech, the Civil War had raged for nearly four years since the first shots had been fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. What everyone thought would be a short war at the 1st Battle of Manassas had proven to be anything but. By this point, some 700,00 soldiers on both sides lay dead, with many more civilian casualties on top of that. All of this in a Nation that had numbered just 31.5 million in the 1860 Census, including nearly 4 million enslaved African-Americans.
Over the years of warfare, as technology advanced and war-fighting tactics improved, a new kind of total warfare had developed. By the time that Lincoln was delivering his Second Inaugural Address it was clear that the end was imminently near. Indeed, Lee would surrender at Appomattox Courhouse just one month later, on April 9th. At this time, though, General Ulysses S. Grant was entering the 10th month of his siege campaign to surround the Conferederate capital of Richmond, and its adjacent railroad hub of Petersburg. This was an intense trench warfare campaign of the sort that would prefigure the terrible trench warfare of the First World War that would come some 50 years later.
With the Nation having suffered so much, Lincoln chose this occasion to try and make some sense of the sensless carnage which had ravaged the country and to try and give some meaning to all the suffering the Nation had endured. One year into the war, in April 1862, Lincoln famously wrote in a letter to New York City newpaperman Horace Greeley “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it.” Now, nearly three years later, Lincoln uses this occasion to articulate that a war which had been begun to save the Union, was now definitively also about the higher purpose of ending the institution of slavery. And although there is not really any evidence that Lincoln was himself a religious man, he finds in allusions to Biblical texts that would have been well known by his audience, some semblance ofan answer as to why this war had lasted so long and caused so much suffering.
Lincoln then ends the speech with his famous closing lines, “with malice towards none, and charity towards all,” articulating a vision for how the Nation should be reunited, and directly rebuking those in the North who wanted to inflict punitive retribution on the South. In a way, this is Lincoln articulating his own dream, a dream that would ultimately not be realized. His Vice President that day was Andrew Johnson, unusually, a Democrat (Lincoln was, of course, a Republican), and a Southerner, from Tennessee. With the election of 1864 being conducted during wartime, and with half the country in open rebellion, Lincoln had sought to run on a “national unity” ticket. As such, he had dropped his Vice President from his first term, the Republican Hannibal Hamlin from Maine, and replaced him with Andrew Johnson, who had been a Senator from Tennessee, and whom Lincoln had apointed as military governor of Tennessee when the Union Army had largely recaptured the State.
Unfortunately, Abraham Lincoln’s dream would largely die with him after being shot at Ford’s Theatre. Less than two months after Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address, Andrew Johnson would find himself President of the United States. As the ultimate outsider, however, a Southern Democrat who had largely been elected by Northern Republicans, he would quickly find himself largely unable to execute Lincoln’s vision for Reconstruction. In that sense, Lincoln’s unfulfilled dream prefigures the more profound unfilfilled dream of a country where “all men are created equal,” and a country where his “four little children… will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” that would be echoed some 98 years later on August 28, 1963.
Indeed, those connections still echo today. As I write this post on March 7th, earlier today the National Park Service held a commemorative program marking the 150th Anniversary (plus two days) of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address, on the same day that so many people gathered in Selma, Alabama to mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights March to Montgomery back in 1965.
So with all that being said, here are the words of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address, some 150 years later:
At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil-war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.