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Early in the Civil War, Victoria—a side-wheel steamer built at Elizabeth, Pa., in 1868 and based at St. Louis—was acquired by the Confederate Government for service as a troop transport on the waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In the spring of 1862, Union warships of the Western Flotilla— commanded at first by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote and then by Flag Of ficer Charles H. Davis—relentlessly fought their way downstream from Cairo, III. On 6 June, they met Southern river forces in the Battle of Memphis and won a decisive victory which gave the North control of the Mississippi above Vicksburg. Later that day, the Union gunboats found and took possession of several Confederate vessels moored at the wharf at Memphis. Victoria was one of these prizes.
Davis used the riverboat as a storeship and an inspection vessel for his flotilla until that organization—an Army outfit commanded by naval officers—was transferred to the Navy on 1 October and renamed the Mississippi Squadron. A fortnight later, on the 15th, Victoria was renamed Abraham and, under the command of Acting Ensign William Wagner, continued to serve the Union cause in the same capacity. While not exposed to the hazards of combat, the ship constantly suffered the perils of life on the upper Mississippi and, on several occasions, was threatened by fires on nearby vessels. For example, on the night of 7 February 1863, she moored astern of Glide when that gunboat caught fire, and Abraham only escaped when Glide was cut adrift, pushed out into the current by the tug Dahlia, and allowed to drift downstream.
On 9 May 1864, Abraham moved from Cairo to Mound City Ill., where she served through the end of the Civil War. After the collapse of the Confederacy, Abraham was taken out of service and laid up at Mound City until sold there on 30 September to L. C. and R. N. Alexander. Redocumented Lexington on 16 March 1866, the side-wheeler served private interests on the Mississippi until she caught fire at Algiers, La., on 3 February 1869 and burned until she was a total loss.
The man who really did change the course of history
There are singular personalities in the history of the world who change the course of civilization. The primary example of such a person is Abraham.
He changed the way the world thought about itself, life and especially the Creator. That is why his name, in Hebrew, means, “Father of Numerous Nations.” He is the father of civilization as we know it. From his time and onwards people would never think about themselves the same way.
He was born in a time of tremendous upheaval. We all think we live in times of turmoil – and that may be true. The human condition is dangerous, chaotic and in constant flux. The only thing constant about it is that is constantly changes. Nevertheless, there are times of turmoil and there are times of turmoil.
Abraham lived in a world with a collective memory of the Flood a world contending with the tyranny of Nimrod, the first true tyrant a world that will divide into separate nations a world deeply at conflict with itself that will endure more than two decades of war between major powers a world buried under the heel of a thousand years of idolatry a world gone mad – ultimately, a world with no hope for the future.
The Tyranny of Idolatry
He was born in Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq and Iran. His father Terach was a merchant who sold idols. Idol selling was big business in those days. There was a different one for every mood, temperament and personality.
The masses, the primitive people, believed in paganism. They were frightened of it. However, the more sophisticated people knew it was nothing they just had no other choice, as far as they could see. There was no other philosophy in the world. They did not have the tools to go beyond it.
Many times in history there were conscious efforts of individuals to raise the bar and counter the powerful influence of idolatry. Generally, those efforts were not successful because they did not have the necessary leadership.
Abraham provided the leadership.
The Times They Are Changin’
He traveled a number of times from Mesopotamia to what would become the Land of Israel. He was not alone in his travels. It was a time of great movement and migration. Great cities and city-states were springing up, each with their own unique culture and deities.
Jerusalem was called Shalem (Salem) at the time. According to the Oral Tradition, Noah’s son Shem, and his grandson Eber, started and headed an academy located there dedicated to the traditions of the Creator and morality. The knowledge and philosophy of monotheism were developed there. However, it did not have a large following. It was an ivory tower that did not influence society. One had to go to it it was not exported to others.
Abraham changed that. He had a method to his “madness.” Every place he went he opened an “inn” and offered people a free meal. When people came to thank him he told them, “Don’t thank me. Thank the One who gave us everything.”
Likewise, wherever he settled he opened a school. In our terms, we would say he established institutions of social welfare and education. Through those institutions he was able to reach thousands and thousands if not millions of people.
Historians say that a number of the Pharaohs were essentially monotheists. Not coincidentally, those Pharaohs lived around and after the time of Abraham. His visit to Egypt (Genesis 12) made an impression. The idea of monotheism took hold in the highest echelons of Egyptian society. However, they had no way to sell it to the masses, because there was a tremendous bureaucracy of idol worship. None of the priests in the temples were going to give it up. Egyptian society remained pagan because the infrastructure of idol worship was so strong that the Pharaoh himself could not turn it around. Whether they believed it or not, the priests were not going to give up their jobs.
Outside of Egypt, however, Abraham’s name spread rapidly among the masses. His ideas, character and personality became the talk of the civilized world. He roused the world from the slumber of paganism. Now there was an echo within countless individual families that there is a God, morality and a greater purpose to life.
Abraham married Sarah, who was a great person in her own right. Even without Abraham she would have been a tremendous force to reckon with in the world. God told Abraham to listen to Sarah, because, Tradition has it, she was greater in prophecy than Abraham was.
Nevertheless, these two great people had a long and difficult life together. Sarah was barren for many years. In trying to remedy the situation, Sarah asked Abraham to bear a child for her through her maidservant, Hagar. Ultimately, the child born from her, Ishmael, caused many problems. Eventually, God told Abraham to banish Hagar and Ishmael from his household, which was extremely difficult for him.
Abraham had a nephew, Lot, whom he hoped would be his heir apparent, but once Lot tasted success he decided to go his own way and settle in Sodom. Lot is not necessarily an evil person he just does not want to shoulder any responsibilities – and Sodom is the ideal place for a person who wants to escape responsibility.
Domestic strife in Abraham’s house is omnipresent. All he wants to do is build civilization through his family and all his family does is fall short of the task or forsake him.
Finally, when Abraham was seventy years old he had a great vision known as the “Covenant between the Parts” (Genesis 15). This covenant singled out him and his family for a special existence in humanity. It is really the beginning of the Jewish story. Indeed, Jewish history cannot be understood properly except through the lens of covenantal theory.
This special covenant is a two-way commitment between God and the Jewish people that will unleash forces to compel it to continue, including horrific suffering. And that is why Abraham is at first terror-stricken by the vision. He sees darkness, vultures and fire. He sees the enslavement in Egypt and the destructions that will come upon the Jewish people throughout history. He sees Auschwitz.
Nevertheless, far from a punishment leading to annihilation, the suffering of the Jewish people will ultimately make them stronger and bring them back to their commitment to the covenant. And we have seen this borne out in history again and again. Just look at the enormous advances of the Jewish world after the Holocaust, which is only the most recent example of this phenomenon.
Once Abraham accepts Jewish history begins. Whatever happens to the Jewish people is a result of that covenant. All the ups and downs are based on its predictions.
In reality, Abraham’s choice is the choice that faces each and every generation, indeed each and every Jew. The struggle within the Jewish people to live by the covenant and pursue its goals or to give up on it — as well as the struggle of the world to break the covenant from them – is part and parcel of the struggle implied by acceptance of the covenant.
Of course, at the time Abraham is offered to enter into the covenant there is one technical problem: he has no children and his wife is incapable of having children. She is infertile.
That, too, is part of the covenant: under normal circumstances there is no Jewish future. The Jewish people are always “infertile,” coming face-to-face with the impossible. There cannot be another generation. And the world counts upon it it is a sure thing that they will disappear.
After 3,000 years they are still waiting for it to happen.
The future of the Jewish people is that there is no future. On paper it will never add up. The covenant does not rely on logic. It is a truth that exists on a different plane. Who could imagine that after so many years we are still here?
That is the covenantal nature of Jewish history.
Arguably, the epitome of this is the Binding of Isaac. Nothing like it illustrates the miraculous thread that Jewish existence relies upon. Even after Abraham is willing to take the covenantal journey and finally grants him the child he has been waiting his whole life for it is all still in danger. Only the breath of an angel – which says, “Do not stretch forth your hand against the boy” (Genesis 22:12) — stands between a Jewish future and extinction.
The covenant, impressed in the flesh of the Jew, emanates from a realm beyond human reason. It is our commitment to our God and a higher morality. It is our faith and our responsibility our history and destiny.
And it all originates in the great person, Abraham, who single-handedly changed the course of civilization.
History Crash Course #3: The World of Abraham
By understanding the character of Abraham, the "proto-Jew", one can understand what Jews are all about.
Jewish history doesn't happen in a vacuum. No people's history happens in a vacuum. So before we take a closer look at Abraham, we must first zoom out and get a little understanding of where Abraham fits in the world of his time.
Abraham appears at a period of time commonly known as the Middle Bronze period, around the 18th century BCE. (Early civilization is characterized by the metals they predominantly used and the Middle Bronze period of the Near East covers the period of time from 2200 BCE until 1550 BCE.)
Whereas most anthropologists believe that hominids, forerunners of human beings physically, originated in Africa, human civilization begins in the Near East in the Fertile Crescent, which is where Abraham was born.
When we say civilization, we are talking about sophisticated arrangements of people living together, not hunter/gatherers or simple agrarian settlements, not just a few people living in a few huts. About 5,500 years ago in the Near East, there was a dramatic evolution of humanity from mostly nomadic hunter/gatherers -- people who spend their whole day looking for food -- to people who were able to domesticate livestock and crops. This meant they could raise animals to eat them or to use them for their milk and their hides, and to plow the land to grow crops.
Once this occurred, there was a surplus of food, which led to population growth. People had time to do more than constantly search for food. They started specializing in different types of labor -- you had craftsmen, scholars, priests and warriors. That, in turn, led to the creation of cities, social and political development and the creation of the arts, literature, science and the like. The earliest civilizations in the world, according to most opinions, began in the area called the Fertile Crescent.
The Fertile Crescent encompasses the area that extends from the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Levant (the middle section where Israel is located), to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.
The three great rivers contribute mightily to the fertility, and consequent desirability, of this area. The Nile is an incredible river, the largest river in the world. Without the Nile, Egypt would be a desert. In ancient times, 3% of Egypt was arable land, 97% was desert. Also the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers are two tremendous rivers they run through what is today basically Iraq and into Turkey, but what historians have dubbed Mesopotamia, which is Greek for "in the middle of two rivers."
There is some debate whether the first civilization sprang up in Egypt or in Mesopotamia (specifically in the section of Mesopotamia called Sumer) but we can be fairly sure that the first hallmark of civilization -- writing -- originated in the Fertile Crescent.
Writing was a tremendous invention though we take it for granted today. It began with pictographs. You drew a stick figure and that stood for "man." Later those pictures evolved into more abstract symbols which stood for phonetic sounds, until eventually there came about a system of three "letters," each representing a sound and combining together to make a word that conveyed an idea. (To this day, Hebrew is based on a three-consonant root system.)
Writing was the single greatest human invention and is the hallmark of civilization. All the technology and knowledge of today depends on the collective accumulation of accurately transmitted information, which now comes so fast we can't keep up with it.
From the Jewish perspective the ability to express oneself -- whether through writing or speech -- personifies what human beings are all about. We learn that when God created the first human being -- Adam -- He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:7) The Hebrew phrase l'nefesh chayah, "living soul," can also be translated as "a speaking soul." (Targum Onkelos, Genesis 2:7)
The Crossroads of Civilization
Of the two earliest civilizations that developed, Egypt is unusual because it's surrounded by desert and so it is virtually unapproachable. Egypt as a civilization survived for close to 3,000 years. This is an incredibly long period of time for civilization to survive. Why did Egypt survive for so long? Because of its isolation it was very difficult to invade. (1). It took the Greeks -- specifically Alexander, the Great -- to finish Egypt off, and then it became a Greek colony.
Mesopotamia had no such natural defenses. It was a giant flood plain sitting in the middle of the great migration route of many ancient peoples. Any conqueror who came out of Asia or out of Europe usually set foot there. It had no natural defenses -- no mountains, no deserts -- and it was a very desirable fertile land.
We see the land changing hands many times and a huge number of civilizations in this part of the world -- Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and then, of course, the Muslims.
This tumultuous place is where Jewish history begins -- at the bottom of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in the cradle of civilization. This was the logical place for civilization to begin in terms of the development of agriculture and culture. And it's also a logical place for Abraham to appear, because if it is Abraham's destiny to change the world, he has to be at the center of civilization. If he were born an Eskimo or a Native American, all of human history would have been different. So our story begins in Ancient Mesopotamia and from here Abraham's journey begins.
1)In the 3,000 year history of ancient Egypt, it was conquered only three times: by the Hyksos, the Assyrians and finally the Greeks. Compared to the Land of Israel, which has been conquered and destroyed dozens of times.
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Mourning, manhunt, and aftermath
The next day was Easter Sunday, and throughout America sermons in Christian churches equated Lincoln’s martyrdom with Jesus’ sacrificial death. A period of national mourning ensued. Observers reported that African Americans felt Lincoln’s loss particularly keenly. Historians have noted that Lincoln—whom many even in the North deeply disliked—became much more revered in death than in life as the myth surrounding him grew. After public viewing in both the White House and the Capitol, Lincoln’s body, in an elaborate open coffin, was taken on a 13-day train journey across the country to his home in Springfield, Illinois, stopping en route to lie in state in Independence Hall in Philadelphia and to be paraded in a hearse down 5th Avenue in New York City, among other stops. Millions of people lined the train route to pay their respects.
As for the perpetrators, the fleeing Booth had his leg treated in Maryland by Dr. Samuel Mudd, who would later be convicted of conspiracy, though his descendants waged a protracted battle to prove his innocence. While a massive manhunt, fueled by a $100,000 reward, filled the countryside surrounding Washington with troops and other searchers, Booth and Herold, aided by a Confederate sympathizer, hid for days in a thicket of trees near the Zekiah swamp in Maryland. While hiding, Booth kept a diary in which he recorded his incredulity at the almost universal condemnation of his actions. He had expected to be heralded as a hero. Having undertaken further efforts to escape, Booth and Herold were tracked down by federal troops on April 26 at a farm in Virginia, near the Rappahannock River. There Herold surrendered before the barn in which he and Booth were hiding was set aflame. Refusing to surrender, Booth was shot, either by a soldier or by himself, and died shortly thereafter. Rumours persisted that it was not Booth but another man thought to be him who was killed, but there is no acceptable evidence to support that notion.
Eight “conspirators” were tried by a military commission for Lincoln’s murder (several of them had participated in the plot to kidnap Lincoln but were less clearly involved in the assassination attempt). Herold, Powell, Atzerodt, and Mary Surratt, who ran a boarding house in Washington frequented by members of the Confederate underground, were found guilty and hanged. Also found guilty, Mudd, Michael O’Laughlen, and Samuel Arnold were sentenced to life in prison, and Edman Spangler received a six-year sentence. Another conspirator, John Surratt, Jr., fled the country but was later captured and stood trial in 1867, though his case was dismissed.
History of Hymns: "The God of Abraham Praise"
The God of Abraham praise,
Who reigns enthroned above
Ancient of Everlasting Days,
And God of love
Jehovah, great I AM!
By earth and heaven confessed
I bow and bless the sacred name
What hymn brings together the Hebrew Yigdal (doxology), a Welsh Wesleyan preacher and John Wesley? The answer is "The God of Abraham praise" -- a hymn that has made a fascinating journey.
In the 12th century, Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides codified the 13 articles of the Jewish Creed. These articles of the Jewish faith were later shaped into the Yigdal around 1400 by Daniel ben Judah, a judge in Rome.
Fast forward to 18th-century London. In about 1770, Thomas Olivers (1725-1799), an ardent follower of John Wesley, heard cantor Meyer Leoni sing the Doxology of the Yigdal at Duke's Place Synagogue. The Sabbath-Eve service and the music so impressed Olivers that he wrote a Christian hymn based on the Yigdal with the tune LEONI named after the cantor, Max Lyon -- Leoni being his professional name.
Some think that Leoni himself transcribed the tune for Olivers following the service. John Wesley included it in his Sacred Harmony (1780), and the tune has been paired with Olivers' paraphrase ever since.
Olivers was one of the many people from the middle and lower classes that were converted through the evangelical ministry of George Whitfield. He was orphaned at only 4 years of age and became an apprentice to a shoemaker. Young Olivers was known for his truly appalling behavior.
One day Olivers heard Whitfield preach on the text, "Is this not a brand plucked out of the fire?" from Zechariah 3:2. He was converted and his life changed dramatically. John Wesley recognized Olivers' talents and persuaded him to become one of his evangelists. Though he often experienced fierce hostility, Olivers traveled extensively throughout England and Ireland.
The opening stanza of "The God of Abraham Praise" is based on Exodus 3:6, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham," and Exodus 3:14, "I AM THAT I AM." Each of the original 12 stanzas is packed with scriptural allusions. UM Hymnal editor Carlton Young notes that "Olivers' stanzas 9, 11 and 12 are explicitly Christian, fulfilling the poet's purpose to give the paraphrase 'a Christian character.'"
The hymn found in the UM Hymnal makes use of stanzas 1, 4, 6, and 10, drawn from the version published in Augustus Toplady's Psalms and Hymns for Public and Private Worship (1776).
Some readers may be acquainted with another translation, beginning "Praise to the Living God." It was composed around 1885 by Unitarian minister Newton Mann and Jewish Rabbi Max Landsberg. That translation appeared in The Union Hymnal for Jewish Worship (1914) and served as the basis for the hymn in the 1966 Methodist Hymnal.
The UM Hymnal has wisely chosen not to include the stanzas with an explicitly Christian focus, making this hymn useable for interfaith services with Jews and Christians. One of the omitted stanzas transforms the deliverance from Egypt and crossing of the Red Sea, a central event for Jews (and Christians), into a particularly Christological event:
Though nature's strength decay,
And earth and hell withstand,
To Canaan's bounds we urge our way
At his command:
The watery deep we pass,
With Jesus in our view
And through the howling wilderness
Our way pursue.
Such an approach to Scripture provides insight not only into Olivers' compositional process, but also into the spirit of early Methodism. English hymnologist J. R. Watson notes that such passionate texts produced some controversy in the early movement: "[Olivers'] daring hymn shows why Methodists were distrusted on account of their enthusiasm: its verses proceed from earth to heaven in an ecstasy of imaginative excitement."
Dr. Hawn is director of the sacred music program at Perkins School of Theology.
Concert and events
There are several concerts that happen on the grounds at the Plains of Abraham between June and August. The Edwin -Bélanger Bandstand hosts performances by budding artists as well as recognized talent. The Month of the Dead and Halloween celebrations happen full swing during October with activities like Garden Decoration, Haunted Towers, Tales of Bad Old Days, and the Ghoulish Walk happening at various locations across the plains.
The Haunted Tower experience brings in amazingly scary décor at the Martello towers, including scenes such as the mysterious forest or an astronomical laboratory. Tales of Bad old days is a show that speaks of horrors like witch hunts, fires, epidemics, and corporal punishment. The Ghoulish walk is an awesome and interactive walk down the trails at the Plains of Abraham at night, with lanterns in hand.
National holiday celebrations, too, are held with much fervour at the park grounds.
What impact did Abraham Lincoln have on US history?
Time and again, Lincoln has been identified as one of the most influential presidents of the USA. His leadership style has been analyzed and several arguments made for and against his style. One of the impressive aspects of his leadership was his sense of discipline. He was thus able to focus on his strengths and to many, this, was what was needed during the Civil War.
Lincoln claimed that he had been shaped by the events that happened to him, and not the other way around. Analyzing his strategy, it is right to say that indeed it is the events that occurred that shaped Lincoln and his leadership style. Lincoln used his past experiences, his strengths and also personal principles to devise his leadership strategy. In this sense, thus, Lincoln was not a follower of events as he claimed.
His policies on slavery, military leadership and civil liberties show that he used his principles, among other things to shape the outcome of the events. Lincoln reorganized the function of words in politics. He even wrote anonymous letters to newspapers criticizing his opponents and colleagues. Additionally, his policies on slavery helped end slavery. There is no way one can justify the act of slavery and claim that it is this particular act that made Lincoln passionate about human rights. He was already passionate about human rights, and that is why he fought for the end of slavery. It is difficult to wholly reject the idea that events might have shaped the principles held by Lincoln. It is common to find people learning from past events and using these experiences to shape their current ideas.
Three candidates who could inherit Abraham’s estate
In Abraham’s family, there were three candidates who could inherit Abraham’s estate. The first was Eliezer the servant, the second was Ishmael, and the third was Isaac.
At first, Abraham thought that Eliezer would be his heir.
Ge 15:2-4 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”
God said that Eliezer was not Abraham’s heir but a son coming from his own body would be his heir.
Ge 16:15-16 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
Hagar was a maidservant of Sarah, the wife of Abraham (Ge 16:1). Ishmael was born of Abraham, but his mother was a slave woman. God said Ishmael could not become Abraham’s heir.
Ge 17:18-19 And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”
God said that the one who would be the heir had to be born of Sarah. And He made the son who was born of Sarah as the heir of Abraham.
Map of the Journeys of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Abraham, originally Abram, was called by God to leave his father Terah's house and native city of Ur of the Chaldees in return for a new land, family and inheritance in Canaan, the Promised Land.
Abraham, with Terah (Abraham's father), Sarah (Abraham's wife) and Lot (Abraham's nephew), then departed for Canaan, but settled at first in a place named Haran, until Terah died.
When Abraham arrived in the land of Canaan there was a severe famine, so Abraham and his household, journeyed down to Egypt, before coming back and settling in Canaan.
Isaac was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah he was the husband of and Rebekah and the father of the twin brothers Jacob and Esau. He was the only biblical patriarch who did not journey out of Canaan.
Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born and Sarah was past 90.
Jacob had twelve sons and at least one daughter, by his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and by their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah and they became the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel.