"(I)t is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."
In Illinois, a local Springfield lawyer who had sworn off future involvement in poltics after serving a disappointing term as a U.S. Representative, was so disillusioned by the Dred Scott decision, he decided to run for 1858 Illinois U.S. Senate seat on an anti-slavery platform. Abraham Lincoln lost his Senate race to Stephen Douglas, but two years later he was astonishingly and unexpectedly elected President of a divided United States - running on the same anti-slavery platform. The majority of other Presidential candidates, including Stephen Douglas, were ambivolent on the issue of slavery. Lincoln, who had long admired the herculean efforts of English politician William Wilberforce to rid England of slavery, could not understand these "don't care" politicans who pretended indifference. Lincoln reminded his "do-nothing" political contemporaries:
In the Republican cause there is a higher aim than that of mere office.
Using even harsher, and possibly self-prophetic language, Lincoln wrote in a July 1858 letter that such do nothing politicians remind him of Wilberforce's opponents who "blazed," "flickered," and "died," whereas the memory of Wilberforce endured.
On this anniversary of the Dred Scott decision, we pastors, men with a cause even greater than that of the Republic, would do well to remember the words of Lincoln when we are tempted to clutch to the recognition that comes with an "office" and avoid the work necessary to see to it that those things which are good, and right, and true, and just are done through our ministries.
In His Grace,
P.S. The photograph is from Lincoln's swearing in ceremony at his first inauguration in 1861. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the Dred Scott Decision, swore Lincoln into office. Nothing evil in God's world survives forever.