Since yesterday was January 6, there has been a lot of attention on the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and the crime of “insurrection or rebellion.” This amendment was ratified in 1868, 3 years after the end of the Civil War in 1865.
The section of the Amendment about “insurrection” was written to prevent officers and others who fought for the South from being eligible to run for Federal office. (A few exceptions were approved individually by Congress and those men were elected and served honorably.)
Now, I know that about half the country will applaud what I have written below. And half will condemn it. That’s pretty much how the country is divided as we ramp up the 2024 election season.
On January 6, 2021, protesters supporting President Trump stormed the Capitol, starting about 12:45. The protest turned into a riot, and ended 4 hours later when 155 National Guard members arrived to clear the Capitol. During those 4 hours, one protester was shot and killed by a Capitol policeman. No other deaths occurred that day although one Capitol policeman died the next day. Four Capitol police died by suicide in the next seven months. About 175 police were injured defending the Capitol. No Congress members or Senators or their staff were harmed. Everybody condemns this protest-turned-riot that caused $1.5 million damage to the Capitol. Was it an insurrection?
Back to the source of the 14th Amendment. The Civil War began when Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. The war lasted 4 years and the country suffered 360,222 Union deaths and 258,000 Confederate deaths. Now I would say the Civil War definitely qualifies as an “insurrection and rebellion.”
Let’s imagine for a moment that the attack on Fort Sumter had been repelled in a few hours by Union soldiers in the fort with help from reinforcements. One attacker was killed but the others accepted defeat and went home. About a thousand of the attackers who managed to enter the fort were later arrested, tried, and many were sent to prison. The rebellion would have ended and there would have been no “War between the States.”
However, slavery would have continued as a top issue, argued over for 3 more years. And in the 1864 Presidential election, incumbent President Abraham Lincoln would have been opposed by a pro-slavery Democrat from Mississippi, Jefferson Davis. A fair election is how you solve a threat to Democracy.
Let’s return to the present… President Biden delivered a 30-minute speech near Valley Forge on Friday, evoking the heroics of George Washington. He lambasted former President Trump, naming him 44 times in the speech. I think he would have been better off if he had spoken at Gettysburg and emulated Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln spoke for less than 3 minutes, used 268 words, and not one of them referred to Jefferson Davis.
With so much attention on Jan. 6, 2021, I decided to look back a year earlier, Jan. 6, 2020 (two months before COVID shut down the country). Gasoline averaged $2.57/gal. The rate on a 30-year mortgage was 3.7%. Today it’s 7.5%. The inflation rate that month was 2.5%, and the total inflation for 4 years had raised prices 8.7%. Unemployment was 3.7% (same as today). Annual real wages had increased by about $6000 under Trump. Under President Biden, because of total accumulated inflation of about 17%, real wages have decreased.
Are you excited to see what the country will be like in a year? Or worried?
A personal note: my mom, Hazel Lowther Reeder, was born on Jan. 7, 1919. And one of her nieces is celebrating a birthday. Happy birthday to my cousin Sandra.
Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“On account of us being a Democracy, and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.” DT #1116, Feb. 21, 1930