Keckley’s History Lesson

I have always been intrigued by the Civil War, slavery, and the fight for freedom. In Elementary School even, I was indignant when I learned some persons had to fight for a right that was given by God. It has always been an area of history that has captivated me.

Now in my 30s, we have visited many sights of the Civil War. I have read too many books to count (fiction and nonfiction) whose subject is that of slavery and/or the fight for freedom. I have watched numerous documentaries on it.

One thing that’s become more certain to me, is the more I learn, the more I have to unlearn. I think knowledge of History is essential in order to not repeat the same mistakes made in the past. However; I don’t think we study historical events in depth enough to consider ourselves always well-informed of historical events in their entirety. (That’s not easy for us to do in a time where we believe Google can make us all knowing on most any subject).

I have been reading “Behind The Scenes” by Elizabeth Keckley. She was a former slave who bought her freedom from her and her son. She made a name for herself by becoming the seamstress for Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Lincoln. Yes, the former Confederate leader’s wife and President Lincoln’s wife as well. I will note that she did work for Mrs. Davis prior to Jefferson Davis becoming the leader of the Confederate Party.

Mrs. Keckley wrote this book in the latter part of her life, so she knew what came to be of the Davis’s. Yet, she spoke fondly of Mrs. Davis. One thing that strikes me most about this book (and others I have read referring to Mrs. Keckley) is that The North wasn’t necessarily accepting, with wide open arms, of those who became freed from the South.

In an excerpt from her book, she says: “The bright dreams were too rudely dispelled; you were not prepared for the new life that opened before you, and the great masses of the North learned to look upon your helplessness with indifference- learned to speak of you as an idle, dependent race”. Now I’m not sure about you, but I didn’t often give thought to the idea that freedman weren’t compassionately welcomed up North.

Often when we think of Slavery, we limit the problems to the South. Obviously there were issues in the South, but maybe they weren’t only in the South. This reiterates, that now, more than ever, we need to learn to be people of discernment.

Yes! Learn from history! Research it. Gain all knowledge you can. But don’t assume to know it in it’s entirety. Use the knowledge you gain and stories you read to try to do better for the future. In a time of everyone assuming to be knowledgeable on everything, realize we often don’t. It’s okay to sit on the uncomfortableness of it-that’s often where growth occurs.

Thanksgiving, Sarah Hale, and Being a Woman

Today’s blog is going to be a bit different than usual, but it still serves a purpose.  One of my problems with today’s generation is our need to do away with gender differences.  I worry that by doing so, we are also doing away with being able to teach people that differences are okay.  Differences can actually be good oftentimes.

I like being a woman.  I am proud to be a woman.  Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a girly-girl.  I feel dressed up when I’m out and about in a fitted tee and jeans.  Majority of my life is spent without makeup on.  Don’t even get me started on heels.  If God wanted me to wear heels, he wouldn’t have given me big feet.  I love working out, and even lifting weights.  But I love being the maternal one.  I love that I was able to nurse.  I love that my hands are smaller than my husbands.  I love that I read into things more than my husband, who takes things at their word.

I am a woman and I don’t feel the need to change that to be able to make a difference in the world.  I know my sphere of influence will never be anything great, and honestly, I’m okay with that.  I also know that I don’t have to “act like a man” or “hide my femininity” in order to do so.

That leads me to my main point of this post.  I have been reading to the kids about the first Thanksgiving before bedtime.  In our reading, we were introduced to a woman named Sarah Hale.  She was an editor of a popular ladies magazine in 1837.  She was determined that every state in the United States should celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day each year.  Prior to this each state celebrated a day of Thanksgiving whenever they wanted to.

She wrote letters to several politicians requesting that Thanksgiving be a National Holiday.  She even wrote a letter to the then current president Zachary Taylor.  He didn’t do anything.  Every time a new president was elected, she wrote them as well.  Then she told Abraham Lincoln, following the start of the Civil War, that making Thanksgiving a National Holiday would help to bring the states together.  He agreed.  In 1863, he declared Thanksgiving Day to be a National Holiday held on the 4th Thursday in November.  Her persistence won.

Obviously I’m sharing this because Thanksgiving is coming up.  I am also sharing because I believe this is how we raise children, of both genders, to grow up to be confident in who they are.  We don’t have them get rid of all distinguishing characteristics they may have.  We teach them about people who faced obstacles, people they can relate to.  We our daughters it’s okay to be a girl and face obstacles.  It’s not just woman who face obstacles, but overcoming obstacles is often where the growth occurs.  I think we would find that not many people who did make history had an easy go of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!