Two hundred and twenty-nine years ago, General George Washington sat with his wife, Martha, inside his cold command tent in Newburgh, New York, promised her that he would be home for Christmas, and then sent her on ahead to Mt. Vernon.
If Washington was going to keep his promise, he had a few important tasks to accomplish. He was to accept the transfer of control of New York City from the English, say goodbye to his men, and probably most important in Washington’s mind, he would officially resign his commission and give his final report to Congress then meeting in Annapolis, Maryland — and he would do it all in less than one month.
It would not seem a safe time to critique the wisdom, motivations, and character of Abraham Lincoln. Steven Spielberg’s reverential motion picture epic Lincoln fills screens across America. The public increasingly accepts him as America’s greatest leader.
Yet, such a pursuit is ever more important for a people hurtling forward into an uncertain future, to learn from past mistakes or merely become aware they made them. One growing consensus regarding Lincoln seems credible: He has exerted more influence over the development of this nation than any other person, including the Founders. If Washington be the father of our country, surely Lincoln is its stepfather.
The American Civil War was a dark chapter in America's history. Yet it did produce those who merited respect and honor. David O. Dodd was one such individual, though only a boy. He refused to betray his native Arkansas, and as a consequence was hanged as a spy by Union forces.