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Bookend Presidents

This article focuses on our Presidents’ Day holiday and tradition.
George Washington, the original reason for the holiday was born on February 22nd…
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th…
10 days difference and worlds apart in presidential philosophy and actions.

Bookends are designed to support and contain contiguous volumes.
The following highlights two presidents that dramatically affected the creation and destruction of our Republic.


History of Presidents’ Day

Washington’s birthday was unofficially celebrated from shortly after his death in 1799, till 1879 when it became an official federal holiday. In 1968 Congress passed the Monday Uniform Holiday Act which created a number of 3 day weekend holidays around several preexisting holidays, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  The 1968 version of Presidents’ Day was also made to commemorate both Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays.


George Washington

George Washington, is remembered as the father of our country… the man who led the colonial armies to a miraculous victory… who resisted the national populaces cry for him to be king of the newly freed colonies… who patiently guided the constitutional convention through perilous months of heated and protracted debate… who became this country’s first elected president…. who guided the fledgling country through its first 2 presidential terms, shepherding the creation of the tangible structure that became the united States of America.

In his farewell address to the nation in 1796, he said, “It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”


Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, came into the national view during a very contemptuous period of our early history.  His rise in popularity and prominence was due to his highly honed oratory skills surrounding the issue of slavery, which had been festering since the revolutionary war.  The open hostility and division between the New England states and the southern states, predated the country’s founding and remained polarized.

Even during the 1787 Constitutional convention, which Washington chaired, a central point of debate was over slavery… and had the compromise not been offered, the united States would not have been formed.  Have you ever wondered why a time dependent phrase starts off Section 9 of the US Constitution?  That was the compromise. It is the only specific and non-parliamentary article in the entire Constitution.


The Division Deepens

The animosity over the slave trade reached a new level when England passed the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which abolished slavery throughout the British Empire.  News reached America and rekindled the old and deeply divisive animosity between the northern and southern states, with neither side willing to budge.

Lincoln, at this point was a Whig party leader and had successfully entered politics as an Illinois state legislator.  In the 1840’s he served one term in the US House of Representatives.  Then, through a series of debates in the late 1850’s, Lincoln gave the slavery issue new visibility and brought emotions to a fever pitch, which won him the debates and also led to his being nominated by the Republican party in 1860 as their presidential candidate.

Supported almost unanimously by the north, he won the election, which triggered an immediate formal declaration of secession of 7 southern states.  Lincoln’s response was military action, ostensibly to “preserve the union”…. but, as hindsight and history clearly shows, it had the complete and opposite effect…. and if you doubt that, spend some time in the southern states and talk with the heirs who live there now… and you will understand what I’m saying.  This becomes another example of how ‘Control’ is an ineffective management tool.  (See Definitions – Manage vs Control)

Under intense pressure from the constituency that elected him, Lincoln capitulated to the deep and pervasive fear that surrounded the slavery issue and without any legal or constitutional precedent, he unilaterally created the Executive Order… and with that single action, did precisely what Washington warned against in his farewell address.  The Executive Order ostensibly created a Despotic form of government, where Lincoln acted as a dictator. His action totally usurped the power delegated by the original constitution through the 3 separate branches of government, and consolidated it under the position of Commander-in-Chief, where his Executive Orders had the immediate force of law… thereby negating the Congress’ role.


Executive Orders Chilling Effect

Had it been an aberration used during the civil war and then discarded, it would have been bad enough, but the recently (1832) re-established political parties  (another thing that Washington warned against in his Farewell Address) saw this as an opportunity to further consolidate their power and control over the states and their citizens, and thus it continues to this day.  Current Executive Orders have been numbered since their inception…. And now exceed 13,800… since 1861.  Each one is a repudiation of the original constitutional structure that delineates 3 distinct and separate branches of government… because an Executive Order is an edict that is immediately enforceable…. which begs the question…. where is it enforceable?… in what legal venue? (See Executive Orders)

The office of the President has essentially been elevated to the very thing that Washington declined, that of a King.

So, there are the two bookends that frame and complete the brief history of the original Republic and the original 3 branch form of government delineated in our Constitution… and clearly shows that we are not operating as Washington and the other founders had envisioned.

Ponder that as you’re out there spending your “presidents” at all the sales events.

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