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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The 160th anniversary of the start of the Civil War is approaching. Reading about that event, which historians unanimously view as a great turning point in our country's life, I keep coming across facts that tease my sense of Deja vu.

For instance, the Republican party's platform in 1860, on which Lincoln ran, contains the following plank:

"That the Republican Party is opposed to any change in our naturalization laws, or any state legislation by which the rights of citizenship hitherto accorded by emigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged or impaired; and in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and abroad."

In the context of the era, this provision promised repudiation of the "know-nothing" and nativist movements that were the tea party patriots of the day.

Another plank demanded:

"That appropriation by Congress for river and Harbor improvements of a National character, required for the accommodation and security of an existing commerce, are authorized by the constitution and justified by the obligation of Government to protect the lives and property of its citizens."


"That a railroad to the Pacific ocean is imperatively demanded by the interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government ought to render immediate and efficient aid in its construction; and that, as preliminary thereto, a daily overland mail should be promptly established."

Today, these planks would certainly be rejected by any Republican candidate as socialist.

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