Monday, August 25, 2008

Presidential timing

This post isn't intended to get into the debate about who would make a better president, Barack Obama or John McCain. Instead, I wanted to point out something that most reporters haven't mentioned. (In fact, I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere yet.)

If Barack Obama becomes U.S. president he will be the first African-American president, which everyone knows. He would be the first African-American president on the sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of the start of the American Civil War. The anniversary takes place April, 2011. (Most historians set the beginning of the war as April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired on Union-held Fort Sumter. The U.S. Supreme Court fixed the legal start of the Civil War as April 19, 1861, the day Lincoln ordered the blockade of all Southern ports.)

Obama would also be president on the 150th anniversary of the enacting of the Emancipation Proclamation, which would occur at the end of his first term on January 1, 2013.

If he loses the election, then then 150 years would have passed since these events occurred with an unending string of middle-aged (or older) white men holding the nation's top office.

If an African-American were to win the 2012 election, they would be in office on the 150th anniversary of the passing of the 13th (outlawing slavery) and 14th (granting suffrage to black males) Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

By contrast, the 19th Amendment granting women suffrage was passed in 1919, 89 years ago. If Obama wins, hopefully it won't be another 60-odd years before a woman becomes president.

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