Emancipation Proclamation article misleadsYour article on...


January 22, 1998

Emancipation Proclamation article misleads

Your article on the 135th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation ("Lincoln's proclamation freeing slaves in 1863 recalled and honored," Jan. 5) oversimplified the meaning of this document.

This act did not free all the slaves. Not one of the approximately 80,000 people held in bondage in Maryland was freed Jan. 1, 1863, by Lincoln's edict.

The act only affected slavery within states or portions of states that were rebelling against the Union. Slavery remained intact in Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Kentucky -- slave states that never left the Union -- as well as in portions of Confederate states under Union army occupation.

The purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation was to punish the rebels without antagonizing slave owners living in areas loyal to the Union.

The Emancipation Proclamation, however, redefined the purpose of the Civil War and set in motion a chain of events that eventually ended slavery in the United States.

It also helped to convince European powers that enjoyed a trading partnership with the South, but opposed slavery, from supporting the Confederacy during the war.

Unfortunately, the entrenched institution of slavery could not be swept away by the mere stroke of a pen. Direct military intervention was necessary to put an end to America's shameful slave system.

Full emancipation did not take place in Maryland until Nov. 1, 1864, when when a new state Constitution went into effect.

Slavery in some states, such as Kentucky, was not abolished until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified Dec. 6, 1865, eight months after the end of the Civil War.

Fred B. Shoken


Schmoke should focus more on creating jobs

I was pleased to see that Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke set his agenda for the new year ("Schmoke announces 3 goals to accomplish during 1998," Jan. 9).

But is reinvigorating high school alumni associations really more important than generating jobs in the city?

John C. Reith


Vengeance is lousy reason to kill

George Will stated in his Jan. 7 column that "one purpose of punishment is to civilize the wholesome desire for vengeance against the vicious."

He was stating a case for the execution of Theodore J. Kaczynski, who is accused of being the Unabomber.

I agree with him to a point. If a person commits a crime, he or she should be punished and society has a right and responsibility to protect itself.

It comes down to believing whether the state has the right to take a life. The various faiths appear to tell us that it is wrong to take a life except in cases of self-defense or war to protect the state.

The state is not higher than that rule.

In all except an infinitesimal number of cases, society can protect itself and punish its citizens without performing executions.

Mr. Will said the accused Unabomber should be executed to fill a "wholesome desire for vengeance" and so society's confidence in assigning responsibility would not be lost.

It seems like a miserable excuse to kill someone.

David Hill


Pardon my sorry apology in Britain

Michael Breschi's letter ''Never having to say you're sorry" (Jan. 15) reminded me of an incident in London some years ago.

I accidentally bumped into someone in Paddington Station and automatically said, as I would have here, ''Pardon me." As a result I nearly got into a fight.

Fortunately a cooler-headed and wiser Englishman explained to my assailant that I was a poor foreigner who didn't know any better.

Then he explained to me that the proper apology for the jostling in Britain is, ''I'm sorry," not, ''Pardon me."

Since then, just to be on the safe side, I have changed my ways on this side of the Atlantic as well.

Robert C. Tompkins


Robert E. Lee Park is ruled by dogs

The Jan. 10 photo of a dog emerging from the waters of Lake Roland reminded me of my ill-fated family picnic at Robert E. Lee Park last summer.

Although the rules for allowing dogs to enjoy the park are clearly posted, few of the several dozen pet owners we saw obeyed these rules.

There was no evidence that anyone was cleaning up after their pet, despite the availability of plastic bags posted on trees along the path for that purpose. It took us some time to find a spot clear of dogs' "calling cards."

Our picnic was frequently interrupted by large, wet dogs curious about what we had to eat. Their owners stood and watched or talked among themselves from a distance.

It's ironic that we had to keep our small child on a proverbial short leash to protect her from the many large dogs and dog droppings.

I support open spaces where city dogs can run and play like their country cousins. Perhaps it's time the city of Baltimore declared Robert E. Lee a "dog park" and took down the much-ignored signs.

Until then, I hope responsible pet owners can help preserve the park as a place where dogs and people can enjoy a day out.

W. Murphy


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