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PREPOSTEROUS? AMEN

Is it preposterous to say, teach, believe, print that people with whom “you” have lived intimately, peacefully, productively for 250 years could ever become, respecting you, later, any less intimate, any less peaceful, less productive by their mere independence of thrall?

Preposterous or not that was what some abolition advocates believed, even Abraham Lincoln, who was never of the abolitionist perspective .

William Wells Brown writes in “The Black Man” (1863-1865):

“Two and a half centuries of the negro’s enslavement have created, in many minds , the opinion that he is intellectually inferior to the rest of mankind; and now that blacks seem in a fair way to get their freedom in this country, it has been asserted, and from high authority in the government, that the natural inferiority of the negro makes it impossible for him to live on this continent with the white man, unless in a state of bondage.

“In his interview with a committee of colored citizens of the District of Columbia, on the 14th of August last, [1862] the President of the United States intimated that the whites and the blacks could not live together in peace, on account of one race being superior intellectually to the other….

“I admit that the condition of my race , whether considered in a mental, moral, or intellectual point of view at the present time, cannot compare favorably with the Anglo-Saxon. But it does not become the whites to point the finger of scorn at the blacks, when they have so long been degrading them. The negro has not always been considered the inferior race . The time was when he stood at the head of science and literature. Let us see.

“It is the generally received opinions of the most eminent historians and ethnologists, that the Ethiopians were really negroes, although in them the physical characteristics of the race were exhibited in a less marked manner than in those dwelling on the coast of Guinea, from whence the stock of American slaves has been chiefly derived. That, in the earliest periods of history, the Ethiopians had attained a high degree of civilization , there is every reason to believe; and that to the learning and science derived from them we must ascribe these wonderful monuments which still attest to the power and skill of the ancient Egyptians…*

[Count Constantin-Francoise Volney (1757-1820) was a French philosopher, scholar and politician who visited Egypt in 1783-1785 and reported his observations that the ancient Egyptians must have been black, not white, as he and others had previously believed. William Wells Brown probably had read Volney’s “The Ruins , or, the Meditations on the Revolutions of Empires.”]* note 10.

“Volney assumes it as a settled fact that the Egyptians were black. Herodotus, who travelled extensively through that interesting land, set them down as black, with curled hair, and having the negro features. The sacred writers were aware of their complexion : hence the question , ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin?’ [Jeremiah 13:23] The image of the negro is engraved upon the monuments Egypt, not as a bondsman, but as the master of art. The Sphinx , one of wonders of the world, surviving the wreck of centuries, exhibits these same features at the present day. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was supposed to have been an African princess. Atlas, whose shoulders sustained the globe , and even the great Jupiter Ammon himself, were located by the mythologists in Africa. Though there may not be much in these fables, they teach us, nevertheless, who were then considered the nobles of the human race.
Euclid, Homer and Plato were Ethiopians. Terence , the most refined accomplished scholar of his time was of the same race. Hanno the father of Hamilcar , and grandfather of Hannibal was a negro. These are the antecedents of the enslaved blacks on this continent .”

P. 286-288, WILLIAM WELLS BROWN, A READER (2008) edited by Ezra Greenspan

Epilogue:

Many of my 2022 African or African American readers and contemporaries may be shocked or startled to learn that at one time, not too long ago, not only were the ancient Egyptians deemed ‘white’, despite their colors, features, on their iconic paintings , statues, monuments ; but so too , more incredibly, were the ancient Cushites or Ethiopians, deemed to be “white,” despite their colors and features on their paintings, statues and monuments.

Those racist, cretinous classifiers who denied these preeminent people of African descent, their true African identity, while beguiling the nescient black and white people, were certain wealthy “pathological syndrome”-diseased white supremacist rulers and “scholars” of the 18th and 19th century “Enlightenment Era” , the veritable heyday of African enslavement!

These historian-liars were seemingly mentally burdened, suffering from “negrophobia” and “colorphobia”, as termed by William Wells Brown in “The Black Man: His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Advancements “ (1863), in WILLAM WELLS BROWN: A READER (2008) edited by Ezra Greenspan , p. 285.

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EACH LIFE MUST ANSWER FOR ITSELF

Is the life of any one man or woman worth or equal to the lives of millions of their fellowmen? This query further asks is any life, even your life, equal to, or worth, what hangs in the battle-balanced- scales in Ukraine? Such a question is one that Volodymyr Zelensky may have asked himself.

Is my life worth giving up, sacrificing for others?

Admittedly the question is macabre , distressing.

Such also is war. What is the point of surrendering or negotiating ceasefire, if the basic issues of rule of governance, of power, are not resolved initially?

The answer remains the same, if there were tens of millions of lives lost or but one archetypal life.

A single leading life has great worth in political life, family life, business life, academic, scientific, life; cultural, artistic life.

That is because the fire-sparkling essence of life; that which makes inert matter come alive, is of divine origin, like stars .

Soldiers, sailors, airmen give up their lives easily for glory’s greater good.

Everyday people are not so malleable, devoted to military self-destruction, as are heraldic warriors; nor as transcendentally inclined, nor motivated.

Were the leaders to fight it-out like David-Goliath, Samson-Philistines; Gideon-Midianites; King Saul-David; and Burr-Hamilton; it might be that fewer lives would ultimately be lost. Will
this translate into gains? Or but merely defer more violent future eruptions?

Rarely are such epic personal battles fought outside of mythology , in actual history, basically because people prefer to lead than to be glorified!

Where greater material values are involved than those of those concerning the electric, emotional, human personality, sovereignty over land, laws, legions, ships, culture, power, fame, wealth, trade, families, historical happiness, hold sway, was the case of the four-year African American Civil War. Sovereignty matters more in war than personality. Thus the symbolically pitting of the North’s Abraham Lincoln against that of the South’s Jefferson Davis, mattered less about who would lead, the nation than about what would lead at last.

What the question under consideration in Ukraine may get down to, also, is whose life most matters in the destiny of people?

Each life must answer this query about itself.

MAMA’S COOKING

Over our five decades, Mama’s home-cooking seemed to have evolved from the ordinary to the extraordinary! Her and Daddy’s baked paprika chicken was delectably divine and “grandma’s greens,”as Imhotep calls them, are still hopelessly beyond of my reach. But I am still trying, reaching, working, aspiring! Amen.

RAYMOND L JOHNSON

My beloved bison 🦬 brother, Raymond Lymon Johnson, Esq., called me today, exultant about a piece that I had written about Abraham Lincoln’s adept use of “Euclid’s Elements” in speeches.

I had often wondered if any of the nexuses that I make in my readings are of any present value; never doubting their eventual value , when “a new earth arises.”

Well, brother Raymond L. Johnson has gone a step beyond me, yet again, by securing an actual book that treats of the subject of Lincoln and Euclid!

“A recent book by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften, Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason (El Dorado Hills, Calif.: Savas Beatie, 2010), attempts to illuminate Lincoln’s Euclidean logic and rhetoric as reflected in his speeches and a few letters, but it is really an exegesis on how to achieve effective courtroom argumentation by using the rhetorical logic laid out in Proclus’s (412–485 A.D.) commentary on Euclid’s first book of The Elements. Lincoln is not known to have ever read Proclus. Nor did he ever explicitly say that studying Euclid helped him frame the logic of his courtroom arguments, political speeches, political or private letters, or legal briefs and other documents.” The above quotation is from an essay on Lincoln and Euclid by Glenn W. LaFantasie (2020).

The book by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften is the one that Raymond bought after my initial references.

It is an excellent essay, one of the best, yet, that I have read upon the topic of Lincoln and Euclid.

Glenn W. La Fantasie also writes, for example:

“Rather than being attracted to Euclid for the purpose of learning what the word demonstrate really meant, or for wanting his achievement to transform him into a better lawyer, Lincoln’s desire to master the first six books of The Elements came from several different catalysts, some of them the outcomes of social and cultural forces of his time, others stemming from his personal crusade to better himself, and still others coming from the man he already was, as opposed to the man he wished to become. Surviving pages from his childhood copybook, for example, reveal that even as a boy he had an aptitude for mathematics.[29] As a surveyor living in New Salem, he encountered Euclid’s plane geometry out of necessity. During those years he is known to have “studied . . . a little” two surveying manuals, one by Abel Flint and the other by Robert Gibson, both of which contained geometric elements drawn from Euclid.[30] It was also in New Salem that Lincoln read—and became profoundly influenced by—Thomas Paine’s revolutionary disquisition The Age of Reason, originally published in 1794 and 1795. Besides challenging organized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible, Paine described Euclid’s Elements as “a book of self-evident demonstration, entirely independent of its author, and of every thing relating to time, place, and circumstance.” If, said Paine, one dismissed as absurd the incredible happenings described in ancient writings, such as the parting of the Pamphilia Sea to enable Alexander the Great and his army to pass through it, then it must be “self-evident like Euclid” that the miracles of the Bible were not to be believed, either. The Elements, wrote Paine, was the one “ancient book that authoritatively challenges universal consent and belief.”

As I have informed and influenced my beloved Howard University bison 🦬 brother, Raymond Lymon Johnson, Esq., at Howard undergrad and Howard Law, he, as has been as customary, has informed and influenced me, from September 1969! His March 1, 2022 phone call led me to the excellent essay by Glenn W. LaFrancie that I have quoted copiously.

FACTS HAVE FEELINGS

Slinging a fact, sneering a fact, deprecates facts.

But stating facts bluntly, declaratively, energizes facts, releases facts’ own momentous energy .

“Slinging” is arrogance . “Sneering” is contempt. “Declarative” is honesty.

COMPONENTS OF LAWS

Cosmology, genealogy, spirituality, sociology, all play major parts in our makeup. Like a bicycle’s training wheels they do carry us along on guard rails enabling, protecting, growing , inspiring, teaching us of and about peculiarities of the sphere we are in.

Cosmology is divine universal nature, cosmic essence. Genealogy is coded physical presence. Spiritually is self concept. Sociology is self-conduct, control.

Tide rolls out. Tide rolls in. Day comes, night falls. Beset by duality are we: Fertility and infertility. Lubricity, non-lubricity. Sanity and insanity. Practical, impractical. Opposition cooperation . Contrasts, elaboration liberation compensation.

Our makeup is framed and invigorated by the foregoing components, but their mesh, overlay, leaves vulnerabilities in the space of our senses and sensibilities that are unique to the individual.

In the “end”, laws known, unknown, Heaven-sent, man-made, become the rubric guiding governing persons, groups, relation, perceptions, conception of self, of neighbor, God.

LAWS is the name of one of Plato’s major books of philosophy explaining us to ourselves while being.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS: EXCURSUS

When both sides claim to “deprecate war”, how could war have come, lest “one side would make war , rather than let the nation survive , and the other side would accept war rather than to see the nation perish,”notwithstanding; and notwithstanding? Amen.

This lucid observation paraphrases the Second Inauguration Address of President Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865.

Welding malleable wills, and weals, of mankind makes for very unstable bonding, bondage. It is better to base mankind’s melds upon inscrutable essences based on God as evidenced in nature , in geometry, astronomy.

For permutable melds do not satisfy avarice; which, naturally, are all greedy, wanting more, forever contending for a greater bite, advantage.

The act of compromise, bargained-for exchange, as the South did with its obtaining the mythical “3/5’s” representative addendum in Article 1 , sec. 2, of the 1789 Constitution, to implicitly count African slaves in determining Southern Congressional representation, though African slaves, as persons, individually did not count; “placeholder” “units” as in geometry.

“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. “ Lincoln stated.

The North used, wielded its population majority as basic to its national unity counterpoise edge.

The unraveling came to the fore almost invisibly, immediately, with the “Yellow Fever” epidemic of 1793, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then the nation’s capital, from which the very highest esteemed national leaders all fled, south, leaving the dead and dying lesser whites behind in the care of African Americans, who had been falsely, slyly, lied to, when elicited on a promise of consideration of black constitutional equality made to them, representatively, by Dr. Benjamin Rush. It was made to the Free African Society’s Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others, the nativist spiritual nesting place of the African Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church and others.

There still remained the western territory, future States, congressional representation to decide matters deferred by the 3/5’s compromise, slave and free power nomes.

So war came. Now the flimsy ephemeral melds binding North & South were being sundered on multiple flying feet, self-purchases, revolts of the enslaved Africans. The melds became further sundered as the first, 1793, Fugitive Slave Law proved too ineffective to reliably staunch the self-liberating tendencies of African human property!

The South demanded, and got, more; beginning with the Statehood of Missouri in 1820, above the Mason-Dixon Line. “A fire bell in the night” was Thomas Jefferson’s phrase for this national breach of 3/5’s contract.
Not merely content with Missouri, the South got still more! Much more.

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, followed, as did the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, the Dred Scott decision of 1857; John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859; and Ft. Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861. War! Appomattox in April 9, 1865, Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865.

Lincoln here aptly adds:

“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 offenses for it must needs be that offenses come but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses 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 offense 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 bondsman’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.’”

President Abraham Lincoln concludes his epic “Second Inaugural Address” with these words:

“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 lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

DOLLAR BILLS Y’ALL

I was appalled to learn of the extent to which fraud and abuse have plagued federal covid relief programs, billions of dollars. Then I read: “Americans of every political persuasion , North and South, always stood ready to convert public goods to private use” in “The Mississippi River and its Tributaries, 1861-1863,” in William A. Dobak’s FREEDOM BY THE SWORD: THE U.S. COLORED TROOPS, 1862-1867 (2013), p. 167. That revelation made me feel better! All federal government money comes from the people and returns to the people eventually, in one form or another, by some means or another!

SLAVERY’S PINIONS

“When slavery thought to reap the fruits of the war into which she had plunged the nation with Mexico, lo! mere was a lion in her path, not a Bunyan lion either, for this kingly beast wore no collar, no chain held him. The roused North had laid her labor paw on California gold fields and stood showing her teeth while the serpent with raised crest was poised to strike, and the world waited and wondered.

“Henry Clay, the synonym for compromise , was still in the United States Senate, and, with his cat-like tread , stepped in between the belligerents with a cunning device—a device similar to that one by which boys disposed of the knife they had found jointly—one was to own , the other was to carry and use it. So by this plan, the lion was to own California, and the snake was to occupy it as a hunting ground; nay, not it alone , but every State and Territory in the Union must be given up to its slimy purposes. In other words, California was to be admitted as a free State, upon condition of passage of the Fugitive Slave Bill, which authorized the slave-hunter to follow the fugitive into every home, every spot of this broad land; to tear him from any altar, and demand the services of every ‘good citizen’ in his hellish work. Men by thousands, once counted friends of freedom, bowed abjectly to this infamous decision….

“While abolition was scoffed at by hypocritical priests as opening the door to amalgamation, here, in the nation’s capital, lived some of our most prominent statesmen in open concubinage with negresses, adding to their income by the sale of their own children, while one could neither go out nor stay In without meeting indisputable testimony of the truth of Thomas Jefferson’s statement: ‘The best blood of Virginia runs in the veins of her slaves.’ But the case which interested me most was a family of eight mulattoes, bearing the image and superscription of the great New England statesman, who paid the rent and grocery bills of their mother as regularly as he did those of his wife.

“Pigs were the scavengers, mud and garbage rule, while men literally wallowed in the mire of licentiousness and strong drink. In Congress they sat and loafed with the soles of their boots turned up for inspection of the ladies in the galleries. Their language and gestures as they expectorated hither and thither were often as course as their positions, while they ranted about the ‘laws and constitution’ and cracked their slave-whips over the heads of the dough-faces sent from the Northern States.

“Washington was a great slave mart, and her slave pen was one of the most infamous in the whole land. One woman who had escaped from it, was pursued in flight across a long bridge, and was gaining on the four men who followed her, when they shouted to some on the Virginia shore, who ran and intercepted her. Seeing her way blocked, and all hope of escape gone, with one wild cry, she clasped her hands above her head and sprang into the Potomac, and was swept into that land beyond the River Death, where alone was hope for the American slave. Another woman with her two children was captured on the steps of the Capitol building, whither she had fled for protection. “

P. 83, 86-87, HALF A CENTURY: THE MEMOIRS OF THE FIRST WOMAN JOURNALIST IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE (1880, 2005)