Was today, 14 April, in 1865, when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
In some ways, this tragic event is subdued by the fact that the Civil War was essentially over by that point with Robert E. Lee having already capitulated. It seems as if his major task in life, winning the Civil War and re-uniting the country, had been achieved.
But his greatest task still lay ahead and he was the only one who could do it and it the only time it could be done: rewrite the Constitution and get it ratified.
We know that was the golden moment because it has not happened since and our country is unraveling because we are still using a base document where every word was written incorporating the original sin of slavery.
We live with many of the anachronisms from that flawed document that needed to be thrown out and redone. Here are a couple of keys ones.
The electoral college.
The Senate where a fraction of our population has an oversized influence.
Additionally, we see a surging movement of “state’s rights”, part of what allowed the Confederacy to fester. Texas and Florida are in a race to the bottom with governors whose ambition cares little for the lives or livelihoods of their citizens. We see the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of hate and sedition, carried into our capitol on behalf of a president who lost the popular vote and was not the will of the people.
Lincoln was the one person, smart enough, crafty enough and understanding the foibles of human nature to pull off scrapping the Constitution and replacing it with one that didn’t have the horrible taint of slavery sewn into every word. He could have achieved this with a defeated South and in the glow of victory.
Rarely in history has the pull of a single trigger changed the course of history so much and definitely not in the history of our country.