Trickle Down Ignorance

Posted by Reggie, Contributing Editor,

This morning, an AP article brought out the schoolmarm in me. There’s such little awareness of American history on the part of so many in this country, that this story ticked me off to the point of having to share my thoughts. So, here goes:

The AP reported that the US government has plans to revise many of the civics questions asked of immigrants as part of the process of becoming American citizens.

The article cited one of the questions on the present test as being: What was the Emancipation Proclamation? It then explained that current applicants need to know that it freed the slaves.

NO IT DID NOT. The Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 3, 1863, at a very critical moment of the war. In a very calculated move, he declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

But the Proclamation did NOT free a single slave in any state on either side of the conflict. In fact, it:

1. Declared slaves to be free ONLY in states that had seceded from the Union, and over whose freedom his government had no control whatsoever.

2. Allowed slavery to continue in the Border States that were loyal to the Union, (the slave holding states of Maryland and Delaware), where slavery could have been ended.

3. Exempted parts of the Confederacy that were under Union control at that time, and where slavery also could have been ended, and was not.

4. Made the promise of freedom dependent on a Union victory, which was by no means a guarantee at the time.

So, while being an important document that influenced the War Between the States considerably, no slave was immediately freed as a result of its existence, nor was the intent of the Emancipation Proclamation to actually end slavery at the time it was issued..

And that historical truth, which is, or should be taught to school children everywhere in the United States, has been sorely distorted by those who would teach new Americans about such an important era in our history. Alfonso Aguilar, the director of the citizenship office wants applicants to have “a better understanding of America’s history and government institutions.”

He really is not off to a very commendable good start. Ignorance at the top is not only embarrassing, it is unforgivable.

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