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lunes, 18 de febrero de 2013

Presidents' Day

Last February 12 was Presidents' Day, a day to honour the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. February 22 will be George Washington one. President Nixon declared the third Monday in February as a day of observance honoring all past presidents. Nowadays, American have a long weekend.

Let us know a little about those Presidents' lives with a rap

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865)
Photo by Fran Muñoz
If there is just a word to define this president is Abolitionism. This movement stopped the spreding of slavery in America. Although everybody agrees that his first idea was avoiding the division of an emerging country. "A house divided against itself cannot stand"

When Lincoln ran for president in 1860, the southerners put forward a candidate of their own to oppose him. That was the trigger for the Southern states to start seceding.  Not long later, in February 1861, eleven states announced that they were now an independent nation, the Confederate States of America, known as the Confederacy.

The Emancipation Proclamation
Lincoln noticed that the North would only win the war if he could arouse enthusiasm for its cause; therefore, in September 1862, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared that all slaves were to be made free. From that moment on, the struggle change its goal from preserving the Union to both preserving the Union and abolishing slavery.

Another important landmark in Lincoln's history was his Gettyburg Address, which I am reproducing entirely because it is seen as his expression of faith in the basic principles of democratic government.

"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.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation may live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

photo by Fran Muñoz
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".

About his assassination, who can do it better than Whitman, who wrote this famous poem to express his grief and you may know after the movie Dead Poet Society.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; 
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won; 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: 
But O heart! heart! heart! 
O the bleeding drops of red, 
Where on the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead. 

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; 
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills; 
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding; 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
Here Captain! dear father! 
This arm beneath your head; 
It is some dream that on the deck, 
You’ve fallen cold and dead. 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; 
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; 
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! 
But I, with mournful tread, 
Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead.

George Washington was the first president of the United States. He fought for the American Indenpendence and one one of the "Founding Fathers" who signed on July 4th The Declaration of the Independence declaring that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states".

Washington Monument ph by Fran Muñoz
Washington won the war at the battle of Saratoga in northern New York in October 1777, where Americans marched the prisoners to Boston and after making them swear never again to fight against the Americans, they were put on board ships and sent back to England. 

Then in October 1781, Washington, leading a combined American and French army defeated Conrwallis's army on the coast of Virginia. 

In the Treaty of Paris (1783), Britain officially recognized her former colonies as an independent nation.

I will be talking more about this for my students before the academic year ends, in June. In the meantime if you want to pay a visit to Washington's House in Mount Vernon, just click here and if you want to play a jigsaw puzzle with Washington, just click here.

A summary of their lives could be seem in the following webpage.

Mount Rushmore

Some fun facts at the White House, which can be found @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.
  • President George Washington  hated  New York, his first capital nor his house there. The brick house had ceilings so low that he had to hunch over and remind people that he was a man of six feet.   They were so low that the ostrich feathers in the headdress of one's of Lady Washington's guests caught on fire from a chandelier's candles.
  • Lincoln's son, Tad set up a lemonade stand in the entrance hall of the mansion. He also pulled the beards of gentlemen he disliked and even had a pet goat.
  • photo by Fran Muñoz
  • Lincoln has been the tallest president ever. His height was 1.93. This is why Mary Todd Lincoln ordered a 8 feet long and 6 feet wide bed to fit Lincoln's height. Children hold pyjamas parties in Lincoln's bedroom expecting his ghost to appear.

After a great man, there is a greater woman behind. 

As I don't know how to sing pretty well, let's Marilyn do it! Happy b'day Mr.President!!

Let's us celebrate Presidents' Day. By the way, what would you do if you were the President?

You may want to revise Second Conditional
or First Conditional.
More about A.Lincoln and his intervention in Mexico Independence, click on Cinco de Mayo.

Teaching English by Fran |4th July
Teaching English by Fran |Flag Day

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