Lincoln Blogs


John C. Calhoun: Father of Secession
February 23, 2009, 1:57 pm
Filed under: History, School Papers

I recently finished a paper on John C. Calhoum, a nineteenth century statesman from South Carolina who was very influential in bringing about the American Civil War. Click here to read it.

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Symbolism in ‘Moby-Dick’: Brilliance Between the Lines
October 30, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Books, School Papers

There are a number of important symbols in the famous Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. The story is told somewhat allegorically, with each character or object in the tale having its own meaning. Among these things are the whaling ship the Pequod, which symbolizes doom, Moby-Dick the whale, which stands for contradiction and the uncontrollable things in life, and a sailor’s coffin, which represent both life and death. All of these symbols are used brilliantly by Melville, and help the reader to understand the meaning of the book.

One of the important symbols is the Pequod, a whaling ship that is captained by Captain Ahab. Ahab’s mission in life is to kill the great white whale, Moby-Dick, who had once taken Ahab’s leg. In the story, the Pequod is in the hunt for Moby-Dick, an effort which is destined to fail. The ship’s very name depicts failure, as it is named for an Indian tribe in Massachusetts that did not survive after the arrival of the white men. Painted a morbid black and adorned with whale bones and teeth, the ship contains images of death everywhere the sailors look. It is decorated like a coffin, and that is what it eventually becomes.

The next example of symbolism in Moby-Dick is Moby-Dick itself. Moby-Dick is a great white whale whom Ahab has been unable to kill for years. We learn that it once took off Ahab’s leg, for which the captain has always hated him. One of things it represents is everything in the world that is random and uncontrollable. In a way, it simply stands for nature. It is massive and destructive, but nonetheless beautiful and awe-inspiring. It cannot be stopped or controlled by the sailors, like a violent storm, yet there is a sense of wonder about him, like a beautiful sunset. Moby-Dick’s color is also symbolic. It is white, which expresses contradictions. White is used to signify purity and goodness, but also emptiness. Each member of the crew has his own view of the whale; some are afraid, others are amazed, and Ahab is hateful.

Another symbol used in Melville’s classic is a coffin that belongs to Queequeg, a sailor on the Pequod. It’s meaning changes from death to life as the book progresses. Queequeg first has the coffin built when he is seriously ill and fears death. However, when Queequeg recovers, he uses it as a chest to store his possessions. It is later rigged as a life buoy, representing life for the sailors on the Pequod. When the ship sinks and Ishmael, a sailor on the Pequod and the narrator of the story, uses the coffin to stay afloat, it ends up saving not only his life, but the life of the tale.

Moby-Dick, a priceless, timeless piece of literature by Herman Melville, contains deep symbolism that helps the reader understand the meaning of the book. Melville uses the Pequod to symbolize doom, Moby-Dick to symbolize random and uncontrollable nature, and Queequeg’s coffin to symbolize first death, then life. Without these symbols, Moby-Dick is good read. With them, it is a though provoking masterpiece that has been enjoyed by several generations, and will be enjoyed by many more to come.



John Locke and Natural Rights
October 20, 2008, 3:38 pm
Filed under: History, School Papers

John Locke was an English philosopher who lived in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries; his beliefs and writings helped bring about the American Revolution. A devout protestant, Locke strongly believed in the natural rights of man. His basic thesis maintained that in a state of nature, men have a “perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of law and nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.” He professed the idea that man has a natural right to life, to liberty, and to property, and he justified his beliefs on the foundation of natural law. Locke’s view of natural law was simple: there are certain laws whose content is set in nature by God and that have validity everywhere.

Locke believed in the natural rights of man, but he also believed in the sin nature of man, which is why he saw the need for government. He said that we should have government because due to the “corruption and viciousness of degenerate men” they would not be able to defend their rights. Without government, man’s sin nature would overcome their sense of natural law, and their rights would be exploited for evil. “The great chief end” for men to have government “is the preservation of their property; to which in the state of nature there are many things wanting,” he wrote. It was his strong opinion that men should give up as much power as is needed to defend themselves in exercising their natural rights, an idea called the “social contract theory.” His beliefs on government can be summarized in the following statement:

“[The] freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society and made by the legislative power erected in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things where that rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, arbitrary will of another man; as freedom of nature is to be under no other restraint but the law of nature.”

John Locke’s writings were extremely influential in bringing about the American Revolution. The list of his major works includes An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, and Two Treatises on Government. Clearly, he was highly knowledgeable in many fields. Two Treatises on Government, perhaps his most famous work, had a great impact on many of America’s founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and others. As mentioned above, he wrote of man’s right to “life, liberty, and property,” a belief that is also explicitly stated in the Declaration of Independence. His social contract theory, promotion of governmental separation of powers, and belief that revolution is a right had a significant effect in bringing about the American Revolution against England, as well as in writing the Constitution of the United States.



Thomas Hooker and the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut
September 15, 2008, 12:31 pm
Filed under: History, School Papers

Thomas Hooker was a prominent Puritan and Colonial leader who is well known for his role in founding Connecticut and creating the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut in the 1600s. He was a very pious man with strong character, and was once called “The Light of the Western Churches and the Pillar of Connecticut Colony.” An independent thinker, he became a Puritan and devoted himself to God. His influence on the American colonies was great; in 1636 he and his congregation formed the Hartford colony in the Connecticut area. Later, Hartford and two other colonies merged to form Connecticut. Hooker was also significant in the future of the United States, as he assisted in creating the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut is considered to be the first written Constitution in the Western tradition, and many of its ideas are seen in the American Constitution. Perhaps the most important point in the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut is the first, which lays out the method for electing the officials of the Colony, and the duties of these officials.

The first [of two yearly assemblies] shall be called the Court of Election, wherein shall be yearly chosen from time to time, so many Magistrates and other public Officers as shall be found requisite: Whereof one to be chosen Governor, which being chosen and sworn according to an Oath recorded for that purpose, shall have the power to administer justice according to the Laws here established, and for want thereof, according to the Rule of the Word of God.

This section is important because it describes a means of electing official that is still used today in America. Its ideas were used in the United States Constitution over one hundred years later. The concept of democracy is one of the things that makes America great, and it is and was very important in the colony of Connecticut, and the United States of America. This section in the Fundamental Orders also speaks of “the Rule of the Word of God,” which shows that the very earliest founders of the United States believed the Bible, and used it as their basis for all of their actions.



First Essay of the School Year
August 20, 2008, 6:16 pm
Filed under: History, School Papers

King John reigned as king of England from 1199 to 1216. He was despised by his subjects for his injustice towards them. They had reason to hate him, for though they were punished harshly if they did not follow the law, he was above the law in his own mind. The evil king is said to have murdered his nephew with his own hands, a crime for which he should have been severely punished. However, he was not prosecuted in the least. As well, King John taxed his subjects unfairly, causing many of them to starve. He grew more and more wealthy by stealing from the dying commoners. Finally, John imprisoned those who he thought deserved it, without even giving them the right to a fair trial by jury.

The actions of King John were the direct cause of the writing of the Magna Carta. All of the provisions in the historic document were responses to specific injustices of the king. For example, the Magna Carta stated that the king could not collect new taxes without the agreement of the barons and the bishops. This was the effect of John’s harsh taxing of the people. Also, it was written in the Magna Carta that no man could be put in prison without a proper trial with a jury. John’s unfair imprisonment of people brought about this provision in the Magna Carta. Another section in the Magna Carta said that the king would be subject to all laws, a response to King John’s belief that he was above all laws. Lastly, the Magna Carta also provided for the separation of Church and State. Since John’s officials had attempted interfere with religious officials and ceremonies, it is clear that this section of the Magna Carta was written with this fact in mind.

The Magna Carta contains many important themes and ideas, many of which would be significant for the future of both Europe and North America. One of the main points in the Magna Carta is that the king must be under the law. This is an idea still found in Europe and America today. This document also prohibits the king from taxing the people unjustly, one of the main theme in the Declaration of Independence. The Magna Carta gives people the right to a fair trial by jury. This system is still used in the Europe and the United States today. The Bill of Rights, which give the people of the United States many liberties, contains many ideas first seen in the Magna Carta. Samuel Adams, one of America’s founding fathers, mentioned the Magna Carta and its importance in the Boston Gazette in 1769.



Justice for All
May 4, 2008, 8:26 pm
Filed under: School Papers
Under the Athenian system of ostracism, every free man could specify who he wished to see ostracized by writing the name on a and dropping it into an urn. An illiterate Athenian, not recognizing Aristides, once asked him to write on his potsherd on his behalf. Asked what name the man wanted written, he replied, “Aristides.” Surprised, the statesman inquired whether Aristides had ever injured him that he should wish to see him banished. “No,” replied the man, “I don’t even know him, but I am sick of hearing him called, ‘The Just.’” Aristides, in silence, wrote his own name and handed it back to the man.

Aristides was an Athenian statesman, general, and founder of the Delian League, which developed into the Athenian Empire. Plato once called Aristides, who was nicknamed “the Just,” the only man in Athens worth admiring. He lived up to his nickname in this anecdote, and was just even though he knew it would hurt him.

Consider also Regulus, a Roman who was taken prisoner by the Carthaginians. The Carthaginians were trying to make peace with Rome, so they sent Regulus along with several ambassadors to try to make terms. Regulus made a promise to Carthage that, if the terms were not accepted, he would return. When he reached Rome and was asked for his opinion, he gave what he thought was a just answer, namely that the Romans should decline the terms because they were bad for Rome. He was taken back to Carthage and tortured for his answer. The reply of Regulus was the right and just one, even though it cost him his freedom and his life.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.”

Whether serving as a statesman or a general, or founding the Delian League, Aristides was a just man. We should strive to follow his example, and obey Deuteronomy 16:20 by “follow[ing] justice and justice alone.”



Edward Jenner: The Great Lifesaver
April 11, 2008, 6:04 pm
Filed under: History, School Papers

I wrote this paper on Edward Jenner for biology class. I found that he was a fascinating person to write about. Click here to read the paper.