A wonderful song at all times, and especially around Independence Day, especially this year.
“The Battle Cry of Freedom” was written during the Civil War, and sung by Union troops going into battle. This video pays tribute to Ulysses Grant, the General most responsible for winning the war for the Union. Elected President of the U.S. in 1868 and re-elected in 1872, U.S. Grant vigorously enforced federal civil rights laws to protect the freedmen. Not until Lyndon Johnson in 1963-69 would an American President work with such determination for civil rights. After leaving the White House, Grant served as the 8th President of the National Rifle Association.
The National Rifle Association’s brief in McDonald v. Chicago quoted President Grant:
Subsequently, President Grant issued a report on enforcement of the Civil Rights Act which noted that parts of the South were under the sway of the Klan, which sought “to deprive colored citizens of the right to bear arms,” and to reduce them “to a condition closely akin to that of slavery * * *.” Ex. Doc. No. 268, 42nd Cong., 2d Sess., 2 (1872).
The brief likewise quoted a report from General Grant about the conditions in Mississippi which had helped convince Congress of the necessity of the Fourteenth Amendment, to make the Second Amendment applicable to all state and local governments:
“The statute prohibiting the colored people from bearing arms, without a special license, is unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional.” Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 2d Sess., 33 (1866).
McDonald v. Chicago brings the United States an important step closer to accomplishing a central purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment: making all of the Bill of Rights applicable to every state and local government in America. It was a national tragedy that the Supreme Court essentially nullified much of the Fourteenth Amendment for so long. It is a national blessing that America’s many civil rights organizations were able, over the long term, to revitalize the Fourteenth Amendment, and change the Supreme Court from a nullifier of the Amendment into an enforcer of the Amendment.