Copyright 1995 Don Benish
Ten Score and Seven
By Don Benish
"Ten score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal......" The video of the immortal speech played on until its famous conclusion while Miss Winter's fifth grade class fidgeted in their seats.Hopefully, they would understand more about the events of the last ten years after today's presentations.
She stood and turned off the machine. "Today is the tenth anniversary of the Gettysburg Adress. I hope that you all prepared the presentations that were assigned to you. Jackie, can you tell us when the Civil War began and why?"
The timid boy stood nervously and coughed. "Well," he started slowly, "In 1981 some states decided they didn't want to stay in the Union anymore because they were afraid that the rest of the states were going to make slavery against the law for everyone. They wanted to keep their slaves and didn't like the attitude that the rest of the nation could tell them what to do." He stopped and blushed, afraid to go on.
Miss Winter let him take his seat. Jackie had said more just now than anyone had ever heard him say at one time before. "Angela, will you tell why they were afraid of this and what happened after the states left the Union?"
The little dark-haired girl started to get to her feet, but the teacher interrupted her. "You don't have to stand if you don't want to." Angela managed to get to her feet anyway. As a baby, she had been crippled during the Confederate attack on Omaha. Her parents were killed in that attack and she now lived with her grandmother.
"In 1965, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of 1857 and gave the states the right to ban slavery inside their jurisdiction. By 1980, thirty states had done so. The remaining states were fearful of a nation-wide ban on slavery. After declaring their independence, Texas and California invaded New Mexico and Arizona even though they were free states. California wanted a land bridge to the other slave states. The war started when the Union attempted to force them to retreat."
"That's right. Very good." Angela beamed as she sat down. No one else in the room had actually been a participant in the war although the girl had been too young to remember her own brief instant of its horror. Miss Winters continued, "Tony, can you tell us about the Emancipation Proclamation and who led the armies of the Confederacy and the Union?"
Tony stood proudly to answer this question. In fact, his Uncle had been a Brigadier General on the Union side. "The President issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1982. It freed the slaves in all the United States effective on January 1, 1983. Since only four slave states had remained in the Union, only a small number of slaves were immediately affected although it was considered that slaves in the former states were to be freed as well. The General in charge of the Confederate army was Joseph Hitler, the son of an Austrian painter who emigrated to the United States in 1920. The father hated jews and negroes and passed on his hatred to the son. Hitler was a military genius who almost beat the Union in the early going. Not until General Harold Schwarzkopf was given command of the Union army, did the Union begin to rule the day. Although he was something of a drinker and had a questionable reputation, he was a also military master with the respect of his men and could control his vices when necessary. Although beaten at the first battle of Chicago, he retreated with the bulk of his force intact. This fact enabled the second attack of Chicago to be successful and brought about his promotion to General of the Armies."
"Very good Tony. You have prepared well." She looked over the rest of the class and saw some eager faces. "Jessica, can you describe some of the major battles of the war?"
The extremely tall, gangly girl stood up awkwardly, embarassed as always with her height. Several of her uncles and aunts had been involved in the defense of Colorado Springs and two had been killed in the initial attack. "The first goal of the Confederate plan was to gain control of the nuclear weapons based in New Mexico. President Nixon had closed all such bases in the various slave states eight years before. Many of the weapons were removed or destroyed before White Sands was overrun, but the Confederates managed to seize thirty warheads on ten missiles. They immediately launched an attack on Washington D.C. and New York City destroying them both. They had hoped for a surprise attack but Congress and the President were warned and fled to Cleveland. The Pentagon moved into NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs."
She stopped to clear her throat and tug at her hair before continuing. "Union forces under Schwarzkopf attacked Chicago but were beaten back when Hitler decided to use poison gas. Over three million civilians were killed in the nearby areas when the gas drifted southeast on the wind. Tactical nuclear weapons were used in the Union attacks on Dallas and San Francisco with terrible effect. The greatest loss of life occurred when a Confederate nuclear bomb exploded in St. Louis, igniting a giant earthquake that killed twenty million people along the Mississippi Valley. The city of Memphis and others were swallowed whole by the shaken muck beneath them. This marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. The bulk of the death toll was in Confederate states and the Confederacy was temporarily divided in half by the devastation. Schwarzkopf, moving swiftly, re-entered Chicago and took it with hardly a shot."
"Very good, Jessica. That was quite a bit to remember. Now, Tommy, can you tell us about Quayle's march to the sea?"
The husky blond boy stood up, his face beaming. His Grandfather had been a colonel under General Quayle and Tommy had heard this story a hundred times. "A Confederate force under General Gore had attacked Colorado Springs but was beaten by General Quayle's Fifth Cavalry. Quayle then took his army west to Las Vegas where he met up with General Wayne's Fourth Infantry. Wayne's army went south to Needles and then west, while Quayle went west through the mountains and captured Bakersfield. He then turned south and captured Santa Barbara and Ventura. Using a brilliantly unorthodox strategy, he split his army into three parts and invaded northern L.A. on three fronts. With the high Santa Ana winds blowing, the fires started by the fighting quickly spread until great areas were devastated. The central area was completely destroyed by the march south. He met up with Wayne's army and approached San Diego where the Confederates finally surrendered."
He lowered his voice conspiratorially, "It is said that as the Union forces were approaching Los Angeles, General Hayden ordered all the slaves rounded up and murdered rather than be set free. When General Quayle later discovered this atrocity, he had Hayden drawn and quartered and her corpse thrown into the ocean. It is also said that a shark ate the pieces but died and washed up on Santa Monica beach, where it was eventually burned."
Miss Winters nodded to him as he sat down. "Good job, Tommy. Ronnie, can you tell how the war ended?"
The pale, solemn-faced boy stood up slowly. "After Quayle's victory in California, that state and Illinois were under Union control. The Confederates were quickly chased out of Arizona and New Mexico. Baker's Tenth Infantry took the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida. General Schwarzkopf advanced on Austin where Hitler finally surrendered on April 9, 1985. Five days later, President Reagan was shot while attending a performance at the Kennedy theater in Cinncinati. Secretary of War Cheney was wounded but survived. The President died the next day and vice-President Bush assumed the duties of President. The assassin was an actor by the name of Martin Fonda."
"Thank you Ronnie. Suzy, can you tell us about Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party?"
"Abraham Lincoln was a politician from Illinois who spoke out against slavery. After the Supreme Court decision of 1857 he argued that the Supreme Court had overstepped their authority and enacted legislation instead of merely ruling on the constitutionality of the case in hand. In 1860 he ran against Jefferson Davis for the presidency but lost. He became a leader of protests and rebellion against slavery during the sixties and started to raise public awareness of the innate evil of slavery. His enemies proclaimed his efforts as attempts to impose his religious beliefs on the country. Alarmed at the acceptance of the new order in his home state, he stepped up his activities, but on April 14, 1871 he was murdered by assassins in Springfield as he was visiting his wife's grave. Without his presence the Republican party wilted for a time until Theodore Roosevelt became an advocate of abolition. With his fire and fervor the party regained strength and influence."
"Thank you very much, Suzy." Miss Winters Looked around the room once more. A negro boy sat on the north side of the room. His name was Toby and although his family had been freedmen for several generations he had asked for this particular assignment. Much like the famous black orator Frederick Douglas before him, Toby's grandfather had spent his life leading the fight for negro rights.
"In 1856, a black man named Dred Scott filed suit seeking to overturn his slavery on the grounds that living in the Minnesota Territory automatically gave him his freedom. His case finally made it to the U.S. Supreme Court where his plea was denied on the basis that negroes were not considered citizens and therefore he was not eligible to protection under the constitution.'
'A second unexpected ruling came out of this case. The Supreme Court decided that since the states did not have the right to violate the property rights of U.S. citizens protected by the constitution, they did not have the right to ban slavery inside their boundaries. Thus, all existing free states had to allow ownership and trade of slaves and any interference in the commerce of slaves was a violation of the constitution. The maintenence of that ruling then became the consuming passion of the Democratic Party. Not until 1940 were the Republicans able to break the stranglehold of the Democrats on the Presidency and federal judgeships. By 1965, the section of the original ruling disallowing state bans on slavery was overturned. Only from that time forward could this nation begin to heal that evil wound which has harmed its soul and deprived my people of their humanity."
Miss Winters looked at Toby with tearful eyes. Her family had been Democrats and slaveholders until only thirty years ago. Yet, the knowledge of that made her feel dirty. How could we have been so blind! she thought. They are human beings just like we are and yet we made the choice to call them something else. She dried her eyes and said to Toby. "Very good, Toby. Can you tell us the name of that cursed decision that was thrown down?"
"It was commonly known as the Dred Scott decision, but the first part was formally known as 'Scott versus Simpson.' The second part, which has caused so much evil and grief, is for reasons unrecorded, called 'Roe Versus Wade.'"