Linda A Cowdrick
An American Presidency and Our Nation
In the summer of 1844, future President Zachary Taylor married Miss Gardner. The White House welcomed the happy couple and visitors to pay their compliments. It was an open door kind of day at the presidential home, at least to elite society. Imagine that! No taking of social security numbers. No heavy security. Just love, cake and champagne.
I try not to post too many political opinions through social media. I am, after all, a professional. However, as I read about President Tayler's Wedding, almost 180 years ago, I can't help but feel sad. Lately I feel like although we crave for positive change as a country, I am seeing an increase in division of our nation. It feels to me like we are going backwards more than we are going forward. I do not have the answers. I want to say we should focus on ways to acknowledge the good of our nation, instead of what is broken. But if we do that, how do we fix the problems that exist? How do we acknowledge the wrongs of our ancestors (and Presidents!) without destroying some of the good history too?
Many you of you may know that I am a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR). I joined in my early 20's. I joined because I have such pride not only in our nation, but that I am a direct descendant of someone who fought for our freedom against the British. When the DAR accepted their first Black members (and officers!), I couldn't be happier. It was progress. It was an acknowledgment that an elite national society was open to all persons, as long as you could prove your lineage of course. I was overwhelmed with pride.
I am a daughter of this nation. I want it to be whole again. I also (eek) want a President who has the purpose of bringing our beautiful melting pot together and keeping it that way. Our nation is not perfect. No nation is. We began as a people who wanted freedom. We also began as a people who took freedoms away. The Native Americans lost their lands and homes. The Irish were enslaved. The people of Africa were enslaved. The people of China were enslaved.
We cannot rewrite our constitution but maybe it is time to put in some new amendments. Maybe it is time for major reform. I believe in my heart that it can be done without hate. Without pain. That it can be done with the same love that President Taylor gave so many years ago. Maybe Pride month needs to extend beyond gender to persons of all distinction - skin color, religious affiliation, disabilities - maybe we just need to have pride in who we are as a people of one nation and fight for all the love. Find those peace signs from 1969. Woodstock take two, anyone?
In that short time that Taylor was president, his top priority was preserving our Union and making progress on the status of slavery. Unfortunately his untimely death of stomach disease prevented him from making true change. However, he fought in 4 wars - War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. There is something to be said for a person who has fought for a nation and its people. Taylor was the first president to be elected without having served in a prior political office. He was a slave owner, as was his upbringing. He spent his short term avoiding may issues through conflicted subjects and has been described as a more "forgettable president than a failed one." How will our current president be remembered? Will he be remembered as a leader who fought for its people?