[Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 29 (Thursday, February 12, 2009)]
[Pages H1302-H1307]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 6, 2009, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Jackson) is 
recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, as a member of the Abraham 
Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, this commission has worked for a few 
years now to help pay homage to commemorate the life of, from my 
perspective, the most extraordinary American who ever lived: Abraham 
  Abraham Lincoln was our 16th President who, today, would have been 
200 years old. This President's impact on the lives of every American 
has been told in more books than any book written on any single figure 
in human history.
  I have been honored and privileged by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to serve 
as the Democratic representative on the extraordinary commission that 
has worked tirelessly to pay, globally, the kind of homage to the 16th 
President that President Abraham Lincoln deserves.
  I got up early this morning and went to a dedication ceremony at the 
Lincoln Memorial. And there, Mr. Speaker, I had this awesome sense of 
the impact, in my own small way, that the 16th President had on his 
generation of Americans.
  To look at that extraordinary temple, to see the figure, the enormous 
figure of Abraham Lincoln recessed into the temple with a constant 
vigilance over our Republic, even in death, the presence of Abraham 
Lincoln is felt and it is awe inspiring.
  To see President Lincoln looking out over the National Mall, looking 
out over the activities of the Congress of the United States, gives him 
a sense of divine presence in the life of our democracy. In fact, he 
becomes, and is, the most pre-eminent figure in American history.
  And as you sit there looking at the enormity of the temple, it's not 
that Lincoln is looking over us; it's also that we look to Lincoln for 
guidance. In other words, because Mr. Lincoln offered the last full 
measure of his devotion, saved the Union and saved our country, 
President Abraham Lincoln has earned the trust of the American people.
  And since his Presidency, very few Presidents of the United States 
have not ventured in deep and reflective thought upon the single 
proposition of what is it that Mr. Lincoln would have me do. Members of 
Congress and others who have entered into public life throughout this 
country, they look to the example of Lincoln knowing that he gave the 
last full measure of his devotion to keep this country together, to 
guarantee for us the future; that even as our newest President, 
President Barack Obama, said today in the Capitol Rotunda, he said, 
``It seems that the problems that we have as Americans are small 
compared to the problems that Mr. Lincoln dealt with. And yet, Mr. 
Lincoln persevered.''
  Sure. We're arguing about to vote for the stimulus or to not vote for 
the stimulus, to support the President's agenda or to not support the 
President's agenda, to help our economy, and from some others' 
perspective to not help our economy.
  But the central issues that we deal with, President Barack Obama said 
are small by comparison to the issues that Lincoln dealt with. We owe 
him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
  There have been some questions raised during the Lincoln bicentennial 
about whether or not Abraham Lincoln should be credited with freeing 
the slaves. And I came to the floor tonight, Mr. Speaker, to address 
three central issues.
  The first part of my presentation is to answer the question, Did 
Lincoln free the slaves. The second part of my presentation tonight, 
Mr. Speaker, is to answer the question, What is it that Lincoln saw. 
And it's in that second part of the presentation that we will venture 
back through American history to understand the complex issues that 
Abraham Lincoln had to deal with--and I apologize for the limitations 
upon my time to answer all of those questions.
  And I hope tonight, Mr. Speaker, to close on the future that Abraham 
Lincoln guaranteed for all of us. I hope to accomplish this in the 
allotted time frame.
  Interpreting Lincoln's life and work is extremely important. It's 
important to the past, it's important to the present, and it's 
important to the future. It's why I've come here tonight to lay before 
the House of Representatives my understanding of that interpretation.
  Recently, there have been questions raised as to whether Lincoln 
should be credited with freeing the slaves. The argument goes, given 
some of Lincoln's history, his racial attitudes and statements, his 
moderate views on the subject, his noninterference with slavery where 
it already existed, his once proposed solution of colonization, his 
gradualist approach to ending the institution, his hesitancy with 
respect to issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and using colored 
troops in the war, his late conversion to limited voting rights for 
blacks and more, why should Abraham Lincoln be credited with freeing 
the slaves?
  Some have even argued that it was the various actions taken by the 
slaves, including the power given to the Union cause as a result of the 
moral case for overturning slavery, plus the actual military role of 
working and fighting in the Union campaigns that actually freed the 
  I've heard the arguments. I've read the arguments of our Nation's 
most profound historians who make this case.
  By forcing the Emancipation Proclamation issue on to the agenda, 
first of military officers, then of the Congress of the United States--
which we all know then and now know to be reluctant--and finally of 
Lincoln, it was their actions, the actions of the slaves themselves 
that led to their freedom.
  I think when looking at this argument--clearly just as the Congress 
and President Lyndon Johnson would not have been able to pass and sign 
the civil rights and social legislation of the 1960s apart from a 
modern civil and human rights movement--so, too, the 
military commanders, the Congress, and Lincoln would not have been able 
to achieve what they did without the agitation and the movement of the 
slaves and their allies. There is no doubt about that.

[[Page H1303]]

  On the other hand, the slaves would not have become freed men apart 
from what these leaders did. Because historical interpretation has 
played up the role of white male leaders while playing down the role of 
mass movements and leaders of color and women, our understanding of 
history has been skewed. Some of the current put-down of traditional 
historical interpretation is legitimate rejection and reaction to this 
past, limited, and distorted understanding and interpretation of our 
  The search now, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me, should be for a more 
balanced interpretation, which includes striving to put many forces and 
multiple players in proper balance and perspective. That, I think, is 
what is at issue with regard to the question did Lincoln free the 
  To answer this question, James McPherson says in ``Drawn with the 
Sword,'' that we must first ask what was the essential condition, the 
one thing without which it would not have happened? And the clear 
answer, the clear answer to the essential condition, the one thing 
without which it would not have happened, is the war.
  Slavery had existed for nearly two-and-a-half centuries. It was more 
deeply entrenched in the South than ever. And every effort at self-
emancipation--and there were plenty--had failed.
  He said, ``Without the civil war, there would have been no 
Confiscation Act, no Emancipation Proclamation, no 13th amendment to 
the Constitution, not to mention a 14th and a 15th amendment, and 
almost certainly no end of slavery for several more decades, at 
  Fifteen Presidents before Abraham Lincoln had failed to sustain all 
of these forces to bring the politics of a peculiar institution to a 
moral head in our Nation.
  As to the first question, what brought on the war, there are two 
interrelated answers.
  What brought on the war was slavery.

                              {time}  2000

  What triggered the war was disunion over the issue of slavery. 
Disunion resulted because initially 7, and ultimately 11, Southern 
States saw Lincoln as an anti-slavery advocate and candidate, running 
in an anti-slavery party on an anti-slavery platform who would be an 
anti-slavery President. Rather than abide such a black President and 
black Republican party, Southern States, led by the Democratic Party, 
severed their ties to the Union.
  Through secession, which Lincoln and the Union refused to accept, 
they went to war over preserving the Union. While Lincoln was willing 
to allow slavery to stand where it stood from 1854 when he reentered 
politics onward, Lincoln never wavered or compromised on one central 
issue, one central issue, the extension of slavery into the 
territories. And while gradual in his approach, Lincoln and the slave 
States of the South knew this would eventually mean the end of slavery.
  It was Lincoln who brought out and sustained all of these factors. 
Thus, while Lincoln's primary emphasis throughout was on saving the 
Union, the result of saving the Union was emancipation for the slaves. 
If the Union had not been preserved, slavery would not have been ended 
and may have even been strengthened.
  In fact, the first 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United 
States, the very first one, passed the Congress of the United States, 
and only the secession of States from the Union kept that 13th 
amendment from being added to the Constitution. It was the 13th 
amendment that would have allowed slavery to exist in all States and 
all territories.
  Lincoln strategically understood that the Union was a common ground 
issue. It wasn't about black. It wasn't about white. It wasn't about 
slavery versus non-slavery. Lincoln said, Whatever your position is on 
the question of slavery, no State has the right to leave the Union. The 
Union became the rallying cry, the common ground issue around which he 
could rally the American people.
  Some of us want the American people rallied around whatever we want 
them rallied around, but from the perspective of a President, 
particularly Abraham Lincoln, keeping the country together was central.
  Today, we have agreements and disagreements with President Barack 
Obama, but President Barack Obama sees something that we don't see, 
unprecedented economic catastrophe. And he's driven by saving our 
country for future generations, not by tax cuts versus spending or 
spending versus tax cuts, but a way to work our way out of the economic 
condition that we find ourselves in. And so the language that the 
President uses is about saving all of us.
  Look at Lincoln in perspective. By holding the coalition together 
around the issue of the Union, enough Unionists eventually saw the 
connection between the two issues that he could ease into emancipation 
in the middle of the war when it gave the North a huge boost.
  Even when Lincoln believed he was going to lose the presidency in 
August of 1864 he said, There have been men who proposed to me to 
return to slavery the black warriors who had fought for the Union. I 
should be damned in time and eternity for doing so. The world shall 
know that I will keep my faith to friends and enemies, come what will.
  In effect, our 16th President was saying that he would rather be 
right than President, and as matters turned out, he was both right and 
  Clearly, Mr. Speaker, many slaves did self-emancipate themselves 
through the Underground Railroad before the war and throughout and even 
during the war, but even so, this is not the same as bringing an end to 
the peculiar institution of slavery, which only the Civil War and 
Lincoln's leadership did.
  Therefore, Mr. Speaker, by pronouncing slavery a moral evil that must 
come to an end and then winning the Presidency of the United States in 
1860, provoking the South to secede by refusing to compromise on the 
issue of slavery's expansion, or on Fort Sumter, by careful leadership 
and timing that kept a fragile Unionist coalition together in the first 
year of the war and committed it to emancipation in the second, and by 
refusing to compromise this policy once he had adopted it, and by 
prosecuting the war to unconditional victory as Commander in Chief of 
an Army of liberation, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. All of these 
factors came together in President Abraham Lincoln.
  Now, did he sign the Emancipation Proclamation? Of course he did. Was 
it a political act? Of course, it may have been. In 1862, President 
Lincoln had Northern free States that were committed to staying in the 
Union where slavery was already illegal. He had border States all 
around the Nation's capital where slavery was legal, but these border 
States agreed, from their perspective, that while they felt they had 
the right to maintain slavery, they did not believe the South had the 
right to leave the Union.
  And so Lincoln had to balance the politics of Members of Congress who 
were running in mid-term election saying, you know, I'm for keeping 
slavery alive in Maryland, but I also believe that our State needs to 
stay in the Union. Now, if I catch Mr. Lincoln saying something like 
this is about slavery, then I'm going to say we need to join the South 
because this is about our property.
  Lincoln had to balance the politics of Members of Congress and 
balance the politics of Senators and balance the politics of Governors 
who were threatening to join the Confederacy but chose to stay in the 
Union because they agreed with Abraham Lincoln's position that the 
South did not have the right to secede.
  Other States in the South, before he was even sworn in as President, 
had left the Union, and yet Abraham Lincoln from the outset pronounced 
slavery a moral evil that must come to an end. And then winning the 
Presidency in 1860, some of us believe that slavery was a moral end at 
that time, and it was a moral disgrace at that time, but it's one thing 
to advocate for it. It's another thing to advocate for the slavery 
being a moral inconsistency and immoral and wrong and run for President 
on that position.
  He pronounced slavery a moral evil that must come to end, and he won 
the Presidency, and because he pronounced it and because he won, the 
South seceded. And by refusing to compromise

[[Page H1304]]

on the issue of slavery's expansion into the western territory, which 
would have brought more pro-Confederate congressmen to the Congress and 
more Confederate pro-States rights Senators to the United States 
Senate, the President of the United States refused to compromise. No, 
not in the western States, you do not have the right the carry the 
institution into the Western States or on Fort Sumter.
  And by careful leadership and timing that kept a fragile Unionist 
coalition together in the first year of the war, and committed it to 
emancipation in the second, by refusing to compromise this policy once 
he had adopted it and by prosecuting the war to an unconditional 
victory as Commander in Chief of an Army of liberation, Abraham Lincoln 
freed the slaves. Fifteen Presidents before him, Mr. Speaker, did not 
do that.
  And so, Mr. Speaker, I would like to now turn my attention to what 
Lincoln saw, having at least in my own mind settled the question that 
the 16th President was divinely inspired and helped define a brand new 
and very different future for America. So I think it most appropriate, 
Mr. Speaker, to start with the question: What did Lincoln see? What did 
Abraham Lincoln see?
  Well, we know that the 16th President of the United States was 
assassinated in 1865, and given the depth of his writings, the speeches 
that he delivered and thousands of books written by Lincoln historians, 
Lincoln, who passed in 1865 by assassination, understood all of 
American history up until this point, which means Abraham Lincoln 
clearly understood that just as we commemorated and memorialized the 19 
Africans who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, Abraham Lincoln 
saw that. Those 19 Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, 157 years 
before the Declaration of Independence.
  Abraham Lincoln understood that on July 4, 1776, when our Founding 
Fathers and the Founding Fathers of this Republic issued the 
magnificent words that Martin Luther King called the magnificent words 
of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal, 
that this document, this question of equality, this question of the 
idea that all men and women are endowed by their Creator with certain 
inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit 
of happiness.
  I heard a Presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin, this morning 
deliver an oration at the commemoration celebration in the Rotunda, and 
she said that as President Abraham Lincoln was riding the train from 
Illinois through Pennsylvania, he stopped in the hall where the 
Declaration of Independence had been written. And when he walked out of 
the hall, a number of people in the crowd began chanting as the 16th 
President was heading to his inauguration, Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Lincoln, 
would you please give a speech.
  And according to Doris Kearns Goodwin, as best my recollection as I 
can remember, she said this morning that Mr. Lincoln walked out of the 
Liberty Hall and said: I've often pondered what the men who were in 
this room thinking when they issued the Declaration of Independence. 
I've often pondered what was on their mind when they advanced the idea 
that all men are created equal. I've often thought about what they were 
thinking and how I would imagine how divinely inspired they were to 
utter such immortal words on that occasion.
  And yet, by 1787, when our Constitution is written, the biggest 
sticking point, even while the Founding Fathers had declared in the 
Declaration of Independence, in that Constitutional Convention was a 
sticking point about how slaves should be counted for the purposes of 
representation. In 1776, all men are created equal to the date in 1787 
about how human beings should be treated is a significant departure 
from the founding principle of this Nation.
  The other big debate at the Constitutional Convention, which Abraham 
Lincoln clearly understood, was the debate between big States versus 
small States and Northern States versus Southern States. He understood 
the questions of how Senators are elected by Representatives. At that 
time, there was no direct election of United States Senators, which 
laid the foundation for the Lincoln-Douglass debate as they traveled 
across the State of Illinois trying to elect a very different State 
House that might elect Abraham Lincoln to the United States Senate.
  He understood this question of the electoral college and how weighted 
votes could ultimately determine the President of the United States, 
not by direct election or by popular vote.

                              {time}  2015

  He had to have thought about all men being created equal when he 
looked at the Constitution and its ratification in 1788 and the 
amendments to the Constitution in 1791, known as the Bill of Rights, 
and to watch the advocates of States' rights argue for a 10th amendment 
to the Constitution creating dual federalism. Two systems. One system 
where the Constitution spoke specifically to powers relegated to the 
Federal Government. And those powers not relegated to the Federal 
Government would somehow remain in the purview of the States.
  President Abraham Lincoln recognized that this amendment, this 
question of the 10th amendment, had a lot of moral ambiguity, because 
if the Constitution of the United States is silent on a question, it 
allows the States themselves to assume responsibility for the questions 
not raised in the United States Constitution, including moral 
  While Abraham Lincoln may have never talked about it, he had to 
recognize that the 10th amendment to the Constitution, however 
appropriate--I am not anti States' rights. It has its appropriate place 
in American life. But Abraham Lincoln had to know that on the question 
of human rights, States' rights presented a profound problem. A dual 
  If all men are created equal in our Declaration of Independence, then 
States cannot treat women differently. If all men are created equal, 
then some States can't have an institution, peculiar institution of 
slavery, while other States do not allow slavery. In contemporary 
times, some States cannot be advancing health care for all children and 
some States have no children's health care program at all. Separate and 
  Some States can't be spending more per capita on public education for 
America's children while other States either can or don't, or don't 
have the wherewithal or don't have the political wherewithal to advance 
a higher quality education or an equal high-quality education for all 
Americans. Lincoln understood that the advocates of the 10th amendment 
presented a profound problem for the future of America.
  Lincoln, in 1865, looking back on his life, looking back on American 
history, understood the Nation's oldest political party was founded by 
Thomas Jefferson in 1792. The Democratic party. Abraham Lincoln 
understood that Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democratic Party, 
was one of the Nation's great advocates for local control and States' 
rights, who happened to also own slaves.
  Abraham Lincoln understood that that generation of Americans saw 
themselves identified with their States first and not as Americans. I'm 
the gentleman from Virginia; I'm the gentleman from Illinois; I'm the 
gentleman from Georgia; I'm the gentleman or the gentlelady from. They 
saw themselves identified with their States first and not with our 
  The primary party that made the arguments for local control and 
States' rights, the primary defender of the peculiar institution of 
slavery, the Democratic Party. Between 1794 and 1823, the Federalist 
Party came into existence. And, during that period, the Missouri 
  Abraham Lincoln saw the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise 
was an agreement passed in 1820 between pro-slavery and antislavery 
factions in the United States Congress. Statuary Hall is where this 
debate took place involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the 
western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana 
Territory north of the parallel 3630, except within the boundaries of 
the proposed State of Missouri.
  Prior to the agreement, the U.S. House of Representatives had refused 
to except the compromise, and a conference committee was appointed. The 
United States Senate refused to concur in the amendment, and the whole

[[Page H1305]]

measure was lost. These disputes involved the competition between 
southern and northern States for power in Congress and for control over 
the future territories.
  There were also different factions emerging as the Democratic-
Republican Party began to lose its coherence. In a letter, April 21, to 
John Holmes, Thomas Jefferson wrote that, ``The division of the country 
created by the compromise line would eventually lead to the destruction 
of the Union.'' This is April 21, 1820.
  And I quote, ``But this momentous question, like a fire bell in the 
night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as 
the knell of the Union. It is hushed indeed for the moment, but this is 
a reprieve only, not a final sentence, a geographical line coinciding 
with the marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held 
up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every 
new irritation will mark deeper and deeper.''
  The Missouri compromise between northern and southern Congressmen. 
Abraham Lincoln in 1865 had to have understood the consequences of 
Jefferson's thinking in that compromise.
  In 1834, another party comes into existence. The Whig Party. And 
though the Federalist Party has now expired, we are now left with 
Democratic Party and Whig Party between 1834 and 1856. The most notable 
pieces of legislation that advanced through this body were the 
California Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
  The California Act. The Compromise of 1850, which Abraham Lincoln had 
to have understood, was a series of bills from Congress aimed at 
resolving the territorial and slavery controversies arising out of the 
Mexican-American War. There were five of these such laws.
  California was admitted as a free State. Texas received compensation 
for relinquishing claims to land west of the Rio Grande, what is now 
New Mexico. The territory of New Mexico, Arizona, and portions of 
southern Nevada was organized without any specific prohibition of 
slavery. The slave trade, but not slavery itself, was terminated in the 
District of Columbia, and the stringent fugitive slave laws were 
passed, requiring all citizens to assist in the return of a runaway 
slave, regardless of the legality of slavery in the specific States.

  I want to talk about that for a moment, the fugitive slave laws. Not 
really to make anyone feel bad about this very unique and special 
moment in American history, Mr. Speaker, but to show you us how the 
government functioned during this period.
  Here we had a government, a central government, that was unwilling to 
end the peculiar institution of slavery, relegating through most of its 
arguments the power over slavery to the States. But, if one slave 
escaped from slavery, the Congress of the United States would pass a 
law allowing anyone in the country to return that slave back to the 
State from which it escaped.
  Now this is an amazing expansion of Federal power over the lives of 
one individual. Imagine that. A Federal Government with the power, when 
someone escapes from slavery to freedom, to pass a law to take that one 
person who made it to Massachusetts, the one person who made it to 
freedom, the one person who got out of slavery by his own admonition 
and his own efforts, the Federal Government hunted him down and sent 
him back to slavery.
  Now that's an amazing amount of Federal power over the life of one 
individual. I'd like to put the reverse on that. I'd like to imagine a 
little differently. I'd like to see the Federal Government having the 
power to go into a community on the south side of Chicago and give one 
person health care. And I don't want to hear from the other side or 
even from some Democrats that there's never been a moment in the 
Federal Government's history where it's not been able to have the power 
over a single individual. That's just not true. It hauled a slave to 
slavery. Now why can't it provide, in a positive sense, health care for 
someone who doesn't have insurance? Why someone is going to tell me 
that's not a Federal responsibility, it's not a State responsibility, 
it's a private sector responsibility. That's old, tired argument. At 
one moment in American history, the Federal Government had the power 
over one individual's life who escaped to freedom. Now why can't the 
Federal Government have the power to find one person in a coal mine in 
West Virginia and give them a better job?
  And who are we to be making the argument that we can't imagine a 
Federal Government that doesn't have that? That's just too much power. 
Too much power to give a man a job? To provide a higher quality of life 
for an American from a government of, for, and by the people?
  Well, there has been a moment in American history where the Federal 
Government had the power to do something similar but, however, in a 
negative way. Rather than helping someone get to freedom, it returned 
someone back to slavery.
  The Kansas-Nebraska Act. Abraham Lincoln had to have seen it. The 
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and 
Nebraska. It opened new lands, repealed the Missouri Compromise of 
1820, and allowed settlers in those territories to determine if they 
would allow slavery within their boundaries.
  Now, how about this? The Kansas-Nebraska Act. Talking about moral 
leadership. Look at what Congress did. We passed legislation that said, 
We don't want to deal with it here in Washington any more. We're going 
to turn this fight over to the people. You determine for yourself how 
you're going to handle the moral issues of our day. We're not going to 
show any national leadership. When we create these States, we're going 
to create a movement, the Ruffians and everyone else who can run to the 
west. If you get to the State before someone else, you can set up a 
free State or you can set up a slave State. What kind of leadership is 
  Well, that actually happened. And Abraham Lincoln saw it.
  Abraham Lincoln saw the Dred Scott decision. That decision, Dred 
Scott versus Sanford, by the United States Supreme Court, that rules 
that people of African descent imported into the United States and held 
as slaves, or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves, were 
not legal persons and could never be citizens of the United States.
  It also held that slavery, which had been illegal in some States, was 
now legal everywhere. Justice Taney, in this building, in this building 
where the Old Supreme Court Chambers are still preserved, ruled in this 
building that slavery was legal everywhere.
  Lincoln, even while constructing the Capitol during the Civil War, 
fully understood that Members of Congress knew the Dred Scott decision 
about the same time the Dred Scott decision was being made because 
Justice Taney worked in the building.
  And that Congress, specifically in the Dred Scott decision, had acted 
beyond the boundaries of the Constitution. That is, if the Congress of 
the United States--and this is important for contemporary times--seeks 
to provide health care for all Americans, or it seeks to expand its 
authority in these difficult economic times, Justice Tawney at that 
time could have easily argued that Congress is acting beyond the 
boundaries of the Constitution.
  Of course, we have gone through several and subsequent amendments to 
the Constitution that have expanded Congress's role in these affairs.
  Interestingly enough, I want to say something kind about Justice 
Taney. Justice Taney was a nationalist who rendered decisions that 
expanded our Nation's railroads. He rendered decisions that helped 
establish a single currency as opposed to the bartering system of just 
trading wears, but the establishment of a national infrastructure.
  Justice Taney, actually, one of our court's most profound jurists 
towards the idea of building a more perfect union for all Americans, 
until it came to the decisions of race. And, on decisions of race, 
Justice Taney was a product of his time. The Dred Scott decision 
remains one of the most infamous and dreaded decisions in the history 
of the United States Supreme Court.
  Lincoln, in the Lincoln-Douglas debates--remember, we're not 
discussing 1860, we're not discussing 1861. In 1858, Lincoln had heard 
all of these arguments and he had watched Senator Stephen Douglas play 
a role in the Kansas-

[[Page H1306]]

Nebraska debate. He had watched these guys play roles in California. 
And he is questioning what it is about Members of Congress in these 
discussions that would lead to the suggestion that Congress did not 
have a role and that the Federal Government did not have a role in 
stopping the expansion of slavery into the western States.

                              {time}  2030

  Lincoln would obviously not be elected to the United States Senate. 
But in 1854, before the Lincoln-Douglas debates by about 4 years, a 
little known party would come into existence, a little known 
antislavery party called the Republican Party in Ripon, Wisconsin. By 
1860, Abraham Lincoln would be elected the Nation's first Republican 
President. Before he can even be sworn in as President of the United 
States, southern States would begin leaving the union because he would 
be perceived as an antislavery candidate who ran on an antislavery 
ticket who was committed to the idea that all men are created equal.
  And so, Mr. Speaker, this is what Lincoln saw. Between 1860 when he 
was elected President and 1865, we could go through the details of the 
American Civil War, but I purge the timeline to make this point. 
Abraham Lincoln sustains important forces in our Nation's public life 
to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He pronounced slavery a moral 
evil that must come to an end. And then he ran for President. And he 
won. And because he won, States who believed in the 10th amendment and 
the rights of States to make judgments about their internal affairs 
would leave the union, and then he would press the question, provoking 
the South to secede by refusing to compromise on the expansion of 
slavery and filling Congress with even more pro-slavery Congressmen. 
And because the South knew that Abraham Lincoln was expanding States 
into the western territories, he just didn't want them to be pro-
slavery States, that eventually, through his gradual approach, more 
Members of Congress would come here and Members of Congress who had 
been brought into the union, one free and one slave, would now confront 
a majority in Congress of people who understood the immoral nature of 
the peculiar institution. So this question of States rights has 
dominated our Nation's history until Abraham Lincoln gave us a sense of 
national union.
  Mr. Speaker, may I inquire as to how much time I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Lujan). The gentleman has 16 minutes.
  Mr. JACKSON of Illinois. I thank the Speaker.
  Toward that national union, around July 4, 1863, a couple of 
extraordinary events converge at a battlefield not far from here in 
Gettysburg and in Vicksburg in the South. Tens of thousands of 
Americans, both North and South, have lost their lives. And yet Abraham 
Lincoln understood that while some States were in the union because 
they believed in union, other States remained border States but 
believed in union and fundamentally believed that the southern States, 
our countrymen, did not have the right to secede from the union, he 
offered a redemptive tone to redefine our national existence. Look at 
what Abraham Lincoln says on November 19, 1863, in a eulogy in a 
battlefield not far from here, with the dead still unburied, with 
thousands of men still unburied and with the stench having been smelled 
for miles from that battlefield and that battle on July 4. He says:
  ``Four score and seven years ago--at that eulogy--our fathers brought 
forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and 
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are 
engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation 
so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great 
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that 
field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that 
the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we 
should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot 
consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and 
dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our power to add 
or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say 
here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the 
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they 
who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to 
be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that we are 
highly resolved that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this 
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government 
of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from 
the earth.''
  Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg eulogy, better known as the 
Gettysburg Address, in 3\1/2\ minutes. He redefined July 4. Watch this, 
Mr. Speaker. On July 4, 1776, African Americans found themselves in a 
position of chattel slavery. And women could not vote.
  On July 4, 1854, I believe it was, Frederick Douglass delivered an 
oration talking about how hypocritical the nation's independence 
celebration was given that African Americans found themselves in a 
position of chattel slavery.
  By July 4, 1863, Abraham Lincoln is saying that the men who died in 
this battlefield have paid a price higher than any of us can ever add 
or detract, but the future belongs to us.
  By July 4, 2007, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were locked in an 
unprecedented campaign for President of the United States, a 
beneficiary of the events on July 4, 1863.
  By July 4, 2008, Barack Obama would be the presumptive Democratic 
nominee of the Democratic Party, the very party that was responsible 
for States rights and localism and denying people of color their basic 
freedoms, including the right to vote.
  And by July 4, 2009, he's the 44th President of the United States.
  Here's what Abraham Lincoln saw. He saw all the other July 4ths, all 
those Americans who were stuck in time and could not move on. That's 
part of what Lincoln saw. And so in the Gettysburg Address, he decided 
to give all of us a brand new July 4.
  And so July 4, 2007, we saw Hillary and Barack running.
  And July 4, 2008, we saw President Barack Obama, the Democratic 
  And by July 4, 2009, he's the 44th President of the United States.
  And by July 4, some date in the future, your child will be President 
or could be President of the United States.
  And by July 4, some distant future date, all Americans could have 
health care.
  And by July 4, some distant future date, all Americans could have 
decent, safe and affordable housing.
  And by July 4, we're not just known by our States, but we will be 
known as Americans.
  That's what makes Abraham Lincoln the greatest American. That's why 
we commemorate his 200th birthday, because the gift that Abraham 
Lincoln gave us, he keeps giving us. It just never goes away. That the 
America that we once were is not the America that we are. And it's 
certainly not the America that we will be. Oh, yes, there are some 
efforts at regression. As President Obama says, some of the old, tired 
arguments that we've heard over and over and over again. Some of the 
old adherents to dogma. Some of us don't even know why we're 
Republicans. Some of us don't even know why we're Democrats. We're just 
out of habit up here speaking and doing things. Some of us. Others of 
us are clear on the history and clear on the ideologies--in both 
parties. And yet there is a part of us, Mr. Speaker, that wants to 
build a more perfect union for all Americans, to move beyond the past, 
to forge a new future, where we turn to each other and not on each 
other, and bring about change for everybody. That somehow we rise 
together and we fall together, that who cares what color the hand is 
that reaches into the hole to pull you out of the hole that you find 
yourself in, as long as someone extends a hand.

  This, I believe, Mr. Speaker, is the spirit of our 16th President. It 
makes him the greatest American, as he sits at one end of the national 
mall recessed into a temple, forever enshrined in the Nation's memory, 
as someone who loved his country so much that he would carefully use 
the power of the Commander in Chief, the great powers of his office, to 
bring wayward States back into the union and at the conclusion of the 
war to treat his countrymen

[[Page H1307]]

as countrymen again. Sure, from the perspective of African Americans 
and as an African American, I have a lot of misgivings about how 
national reconciliation during that period was handled. If the 
northerners fought the war to save the union, they never had to 
acknowledge the underlying moral cause of the war--slavery. So it's not 
about freeing African Americans. And many northerners fought the war to 
save the union, not to free the slaves. Southerners, many of them argue 
they weren't fighting to preserve the institution of slavery, they were 
protecting their way of life down here, that big government doesn't 
have a right to come down here and tell us what to do, a very different 
principle. And so at the end of the war, the northerners can forgive 
the southerners because, well, we've settled it on a battlefield. 
Except the central issue for which the war is fought, the issue of 
slavery from a northern perspective and the issue of slavery from the 
southern perspective, the people for whom the war is being fought over 
are never brought into the reconciliation: When are we going to get the 
right to vote? When are we going to get housing? When are we going to 
get equality? When are we going to help the nation live up to the true 
meaning of its creed? And that process would begin immediately after 
the Civil War during reconstruction--I wish the House of 
Representatives would let me line up the rest of my charts--through 
reconstruction and then through Jim Crow and the struggle by the NAACP 
which the House of Representatives passed legislation commemorating the 
100 years of their existence because many of the promises of 
reconstruction had never come to fruition for all Americans and women 
were still struggling for equality in our country beyond the war. But 
it was Abraham Lincoln who ordained the human rights movements that 
would allow us to come to Washington, Mr. Speaker, and begin to argue 
our case that this nation must live up to the truest and the highest 
means by which it was founded.
  And so there sits Abraham Lincoln, and just a few steps down from 
Abraham Lincoln would stand Martin Luther King in August of 1963.

                              {time}  2045

  ``Today we stand in the shadow of a man who, 100 years ago, set the 
slaves free,'' that 100 years later, Martin Luther King, Jr., would 
say, 100 years later, that is 1963, we would still find ourselves 
trapped in segregation with Governors using words like 
``interposition'' and ``nullification,'' that if Congress passes a law 
to extend people's civil rights or if the Supreme Court would render a 
decision that might expand people's human rights in 1963, it is hard to 
imagine that we still had Governors using words like ``interposition'' 
and ``nullification'' meaning that their State had the right to ignore 
a decision of Congress or a decision of the Supreme Court of the United 
States. Because in 1963, some of our leadership was showing more 
adherence to their State than they were to that Union, to that Flag, to 
that one country for which those men in a battlefield in Gettysburg had 
already paid the price for us not to have to revisit again. We already 
paid the price that we are going to be one Nation, not multiple 
nations, not 50 different States, all separate and all unequal.
  Oh, the problems for President Obama are even more complex today. 
Because our system is still separate and unequal. Yes, we have a 
Federal system. And yes, we have respect for our State system. Some 
States are in surplus. Some are in deficit spending. Most are in 
deficit spending. And in deficit spending, it is very difficult to 
provide a high quality education for every single child in every single 
county. Even before the economy was in the condition that it was in, we 
had problems. And the problems now are only more exacerbated by the 
fact, any adherence to dogma that doesn't allow the Federal Government 
and the States to work cooperatively to bring relief to the American 
people should be seen as problematic by any side of the aisle. Why are 
we adhering to old dogma about what the States can do and about what 
the Federal Government isn't supposed to do? The American people at 
this hour are asking of us to do something for them. But the fact that 
President Barack Obama can even say that our problems today are small 
by comparison to the problems that Mr. Lincoln confronted is a 
statement about the magnitude of the problems that Abraham Lincoln, our 
16th President, confronted.
  And so, Mr. Speaker, even as we come to the floor and I stand here as 
the 91st African American to ever have the privilege of serving in a 
Congress where more than 12,000 people have served, and I'm just the 
91st, I owe my service in the Congress to the unsung heroes, to the men 
and women, the sheroes and the heroes, who fought to advance the idea 
that all men are created equal, to Medgar Evers and Schwerner, Goodman 
and Chaney, two Jews and a black, to Viola Liuzzo, to those martyrs, to 
those champions of equality and equal rights. But all of us owe a 
tremendous debt of gratitude to the 16th President who allowed our 
generation and those succeeding generations to fight for what is right, 
to have the right to agree to agree and agree to disagree in the 
context of our magnificent Republic. And so, Mr. President, Mr. 
Speaker, on the 200th anniversary of the greatest American who ever 
lived, and on behalf of the American people, we say thank you. And we 
say happy birthday.
  I yield back the balance of my time.