Presidential Wit: Abraham Lincoln

Lead: Of the weapons available to the politician, among the most powerful is humor. No one was better at wielding that weapon than Abraham Lincoln.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Few politicians can survive if they become an object of laughter and ridicule. On the other hand, those seeking office who have the ability to use humor as a weapon against opponents or as a means of giving themselves a more sympathetic and down-to-earth image, go a long way to winning the support and perhaps the affection of the electorate. A sense of humor is not required for election, but it helps, both to soften the blow of losing or, even better, to keep political success in correct perspective.

Democratic Convention of 1860 IV

Lead: The Democratic Party split at its meeting in 1860 and for a time the Southern port city of Charleston played host to two Conventions.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The immediate cause of the division was the insistence of deep South states that the Party Platform must contain a slave code, guaranteeing that neither the Federal government nor territories that had not become states could interfere with slavery. If the code was missing, they were authorized to walk out of the Convention. The Platform Committee brought in two reports. The majority report included the slave code. The committee minority, allied with the front-runner, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, produced a platform stating that the decision about slavery in the territories had to be made by the people who lived there. There was no slave code. Douglas knew that he could not be elected with the slave code. Northern states would have nothing to do with it.

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Democratic Convention of 1860 III

Lead: In the spring of 1860 the Democratic National Convention met in Charleston. It failed to achieve unity, compromise, or peace.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: A case can be made that the Charleston convention was a picture of the Republic itself. The politics of the United States were becoming rigid. Compromise, the lubricant that keeps the engine of democracy in motion, was becoming almost impossible to achieve. As if sand had been thrown into its works the machinery of American civilization was being ground to a halt by slavery.

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Democratic Convention of 1860 II

Lead: In the Spring of 1860 the national Democratic Party Convention met in Charleston, South Carolina to nominate a candidate for President and Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois was the man to beat.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: Where Stephen A. Douglas was concerned, few persons held a neutral opinion. He was said to be a passionate man who evoked passion in others, in his friends and in his enemies. His people had set up their headquarters in the Hibernian Hall not far from the Battery, where ancient twisted live oaks dripping with Spanish moss as if from another and more leisurely place and time greeted the frantic visitors from North and West who came seeking compromise in an era of impatience and incivility. Douglas had a majority but his problem was that the Democrats demanded that he secure two-thirds of the votes to carry the nomination.

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Democratic Convention of 1860 I

Lead: In the spring of 1860 the tensions of a nation that was losing patience with itself focused on the quiet port city of Charleston, South Carolina.

Intro.: "A Moment In Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: A compact and muscular man, with a square-built head and face, and an intense gaze, William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama seemed an unlikely candidate to provoke a revolution. The Democratic Party was gathering in Charleston to nominate a candidate for President. In that late April from all over the nation delegates were meeting to try and find some safe ground of compromise that might set at bay the forces of extremism that seemed bent on tearing the Party and the nation to pieces. Compromise. Yancey would have none of it. If he got his way the Democratic Party would be split and the resulting Republican victory would compel the cotton states of the South out of the Union.

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Frederic Douglass I

Lead: "All the other speakers seemed tame after Frederick Douglass. He stood there like an African Prince, majestic in his wrath."Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Elizabeth Cady Stanton knew her activists. It was an age of moral agitation and she would go on to great fame at the side of Susan B. Anthony in the service of women's rights. That day in the mid-1800s when Frederick Douglass spoke to an antislavery meeting in Boston, Stanton was as moved as the rest at the sound of his voice and the moral imperative of his message.

Douglass was an escaped slave. Raised by his grandmother on a Chesapeake Bay plantation, at the age of six he began his work under Captain Aaron Anthony, the white farm manager and, so some of the slaves said, Frederick's father. In later years, he would make vivid to audiences throughout the North the picture of life as a slave.

A House Divided: (50) The Martyr of Harper’s Ferry – II

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After capturing the Federal Armory in Harper’s Ferry in October, 1859, John Brown awaited the arrival of the authorities. They came in form of a detachment of marines commanded by Col. Robert E. Lee of Virginia. They stormed the engine house, captured a slightly wounded Brown and in less than 40 hours his grand illusion had fallen apart.

A House Divided: (49) The Martyr of Harper’s Ferry – I

Lead:  One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is A House Divided.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.


Content: He was a murderer whose grand scheme included a vast destruction of white southerners in a slave uprising, but in the white hot discourse that was the national conversation in America of the 1850s, he became for many opposed to slavery a martyr to the cause.