I want to shine the spotlight on Addy Walker this week and in particular, the short story Addy Studies Freedom. As most of you know, Addy was born into a time where most African American's like herself were slaves. Forced into a certain way of life and would have very devastating consequences if any of them tried to change the life they were in. In Addy's first book, her family and herself were whipped, Addy was held down as a "master" shoved grubs into her mouth for not doing her job up to his standards, and her family was sold and separated. This was not just stories from a book of fiction. This was very similar to the hell slaves were put through.
Addy's family was able to escape to the northern "free states" and make a better life for themselves. Many other slaves were able to accomplish this too but a lot more were not able to. By the end of Addy's main book series, the Civil War came to an end and all slaves were from then on.. free. And all of this comes back to one man, A man that was brave enough to tell people that slavery was wrong and put an end to it. A man who spoke these famous words....
Four 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.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Those words were spoken by President Abraham Lincoln.
I was born and raised in Indiana, The birthplace of Abe Lincoln. So being raised there, being taught about him seemed to be a mandatory thing and because of that I have always been very fond of our 16th president. Today (April 14th 2015), marks 150 years since his assassination, tomorrow (April 15th) marks 150 years since his death and just a few days ago (April 9th 2015) marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the civil war. These three monumental events in our history happened right during Addy's time and impacted everyone in a big way. Addy even picked April 9th as her chosen birthday after receiving the news that slavery was no more.
|Gen. Robert E. Lee|
The celebrations were short lived though. Just five days later on April 14th, President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd went to Fords Theatre in Washington D.C. to watch the play Our American Cousin. At about 10:15pm, a man named John Wilkes Booth snuck up behind the President and shot him in the back of the head. Mary Todd Lincoln screamed in horror when she realized what had happened to her husband. One of Lincoln's guests in the theatre box with him, Major Henry Rathbone attempted to catch Booth before he escaped, in turn Booth violently stabbed at the Major with a knife, wounding him badly on the arm. Rathbone ignored his injuries and continued to grab at Booth. Unfortunately, Booth did escape by jumping off the balcony and landing on the stage (breaking his leg in the process). Because Booth was a well known actor, the audience thought that Booth jumping onto the stage was part of the performance. It was not until Major Rathbone shouted "Stop that man!" that the crowd realized that this was not a part of the play but by then, it was too late. Booth escaped on horseback.
The President was brought across the street to the Petersen Boarding House and was looked after by six physicians and the surgeon general of the US Army. They all agreed that there was nothing to be done. One of the physicians, Charles Leale was said to have held his hand the rest of the night. He later said, "I held his hand firmly to let him know, in his blindness, that he had a friend."
At 7:22am the next morning, Lincoln was pronounced dead.
In Addy Studies Freedom, Addy gets word of the presidents death when she enters her local butcher shop and notices that a woman in the shop is crying. The butcher tells Addy that she is crying because President Lincoln had been killed. On her way back home, Addy see's that everyone is upset and some crying. Now this was very much true in real life as well. Citizens of the North mourned greatly the death of the President. In the year we live in now... I cannot even begin to imagine having a president so loved that people wept in the streets for him. That is something that should show you what a kind hearted man he actually was.
On April 21st 1865, Lincolns casket was boarded in Washington DC onto a decorated train pulled by an engine called The Old Nashville. The train passed through 444 communities in 7 states. It took 12 days for the train to reach Springfield, IL where his final resting place is. (Which means Lincoln was not buried until 18 days after his death..bleh!)
|Map of Route the Lincoln Train took.|
But the day before the public viewing, there is a grand funeral parade down the streets of Philadelphia. It says this Addy Studies Freedom that Addy and her family watched from the rooftops. This also happened in real life, the streets were so crowded that some were forced to watch from their rooftops as you can see in this actual picture of Philadelphia during Lincolns funeral.
The next morning, Addy and her poppa got up at 5am to get in line at the state house to view Lincolns body. During their wait, the line had moments of chaos where people pushed and shoved and things got out of control. They had finally made it to Lincolns casket around supper time. Have you ever been to an amusement park and had to wait and hour or two in line just to ride it? Well if you have, you know how miserable it is. Now imagine waiting 12 hours or so! I know it would have been well worth it though. Addy remarked that the presidents face look "serene" which actually was a very common comment from actual people who got the opportunity to see Lincolns body.
So my final words on this book... I love the historical accurateness, even in the smallest details. It really helped you feel what people like Addy felt when these things were happening. They had just gotten word that the war had ended and slavery was no more and then with word that Lincoln was murdered, people started to worry if things would go back to the way they were before. But just like Addy's poppa said in the book, Lincoln made the first step and people were following. One of his most famous quotes says, "Be sure to put your feet in the right place and stand firm."