Letter to the editor: A house divided

To the editor:

John Adams lived in Boston and then Philadelphia before becoming U.S. envoy to France and Holland and ambassador to Great Britain. He had never lived among slaves before moving into the White House as its first occupant. He was dismayed at the effect slavery had on people, both slave and free; promoting indolence, lethargy and cruelty. A few decades later a young Abraham Lincoln from first seeing the deep South while steering a barge down the Mississippi to New Orleans would make similar observations. The two sections were growing apart and slavery was the cause. Slave and free could not co-exist; “a house divided cannot stand.”

This rock in the national shoe became unbearable after 1850 following passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. The Act invalidated local laws that protected rights of fugitives from slavery (noncitizens) such as trial by a local jury before being returned. County ordinance often forbade cooperation by sheriffs or police, or the use of county jails. Now, under federal law, Northerners who refused assistance to Southern bounty hunters could be fined or even jailed.

We are now seeing images of cops helping ICE agents break car windows, extracting immigrants, separating husbands and fathers from American women and their traumatized children, while hearing rants against sanctuary cities. We read of high school students being deported to places they never lived, and witness caged children, while crowds chant “send her back.” With a house so divided, must we ask how long it can still stand?

William Skepnek,



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