Yesterday was election day. There were several important elections in this "off election" year. Perhaps the most important election in our country's history was the one in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States - which did not remain united very long. Even before he took the oath to become president seven Southern states had already seceded from the union. Garrison Keillor, in The Writer's Almanac, today reminds us of Lincoln's implausible election. He had lost an election for senator of Illinois only two years prior to his presidential victory. He had never won a national office, had no formal schooling, and little administrative experience. He won the presidency with only 40 percent of the popular vote. He won it in the electoral college even though he had no Southern electoral votes. Before he reached Washington he received several threats on his life.
Down here in Florida it seems some people are still hot about Lincoln's election. Someone pointed out to me that while there are a lot of streets named after Confederates you will be hard pressed to find a Lincoln or Grant street. Rebel flags still fly from pickup trucks and houses. Civil war battles are reenacted every year and battlefields are sacred ground. One high school near us has had several heated meetings debating whether or not to change it's name from that of a Confederate general and founder of the KKK to a name without historical memories, like Westside High. Some people who want the name to stay say they are losing their heritage. These United States are still not very united and the ties that bind us are not as strong as the ideas that divide us. Lincoln saw that clearly too when he said, "If God wills that it (the civil war) continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsmen's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" If Lincoln was right, we still have a while to go. (Lincoln quote from Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power by Andy Crouch)