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Written by Leigh Anne Florence and illustrated by Donnie Mather
“I can’t believe it!” I told Chloe as we walked to work. “The Barkstreet Band wants me to be their drummer,” I said, walking on clouds since their lead singer, Bark, asked the night before.
“Think you can do it, Woody?” Chloe asked, looking concerned. “You just bought the drums and you haven’t had lessons. The Barkstreet Band plays lots of concerts.”
“Sure,” I replied. “I’ll practice every spare minute. With you on cymbals, we’ll be great! Besides, the money we’re making at the library and the money we’ll make playing gigs (I said, after hearing Bark use that term), I can pay for the window and lessons.” I was convincing Chloe when we entered the library.
“Mornin’, pups,” Mrs. Grant greeted us with a bright smile.
“Good morning,” we replied in unison as we put our sack lunch in the refrigerator. Once settled, we took our list from the day before and provided Mrs. Grant with the information we’d gathered for the “Background” section.
“The Civil War began in 1861 with 34 states. Abraham Lincoln was president,” Chloe stated. “There were two opinions on who should make laws for the states - the federal government or the state itself. One issue they were divided on was slavery. Slavery was legal in the South and illegal in the North.”
“Some Northerners wanted slavery to be illegal everywhere,” I chimed in. “They were called abolitionists.”
“Fantastic!” Mrs. Grant clapped. “Since you have a great start for the ‘Background’ section, let’s work on another section for our Civil War room we’re calling ‘Brothers.’ Compare and contrast Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.”
Mrs. Grant left and Chloe gathered up books and newspaper articles while I logged on the Internet. We knew about Lincoln but not about Jefferson Davis. I typed his name in the search box, and thousands of entries appeared. I narrowed my search to “Jefferson Davis - Civil War.” The first entry that appeared said, “Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States.”
“Chloe, what are the Confederate States?” I asked. Like me, Chloe hadn’t heard the term. We clicked on the entry, and Chloe began reading aloud.
“In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. The Southerners were afraid President Lincoln would end slavery. Therefore, 11 southern states seceded - or left - the United States, forming their own country known as the Confederate States of America.”
“Wow - two countries here in the United States! Does it say which 11 states left the United States? I asked.
“It says South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas left the United States before President Lincoln took office, and then Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina seceded after Lincoln took office.”
“Where’d they go?” I asked.
“They didn’t go anywhere,” Chloe explained. “They stayed in the same place but formed their own country and their own government. They wrote their own constitution and even elected a president. Guess who it was, Woody.”
“Uh, Jefferson Davis?” I asked.
“Yes,” Chloe confirmed. “And both United States President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate States President Jefferson Davis were born in log cabins in Kentucky. Jefferson Davis was born in Fairview, Kentucky, on June 3, 1808, and Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809. That’s interesting,” Chloe said. “Both presidents during the Civil War were from Kentucky - born about 100 miles apart, less than a year apart - yet they were on opposite sides of the war, fighting for completely different outcomes.”
“It just confirms what I always say: We small-town kids from Kentucky can do great things,” I said, puffing out my chest. “How were they different?”
We read how Lincoln had little education but became a successful lawyer. Davis’ family moved to Mississippi where he became involved with cotton planting. Davis served in the Army during the Mexican War while Lincoln, a congressman at the time, strongly opposed the Mexican War. Davis was a Democrat while Lincoln was a Whig - and later a Republican. Davis appeared to have a serious demeanor while Lincoln loved to tell jokes and stories. During the Civil War, Davis was president of the Confederate States and fought for slavery while Lincoln was president of the United States and fought to make slavery illegal, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, which began putting an end to slavery. Though different, they both loved Kentucky.
I was thinking about how people can be so alike and so different when something came across our computer screen. “Civil War Battle Reenactment. Calling for Volunteers.”
Thanks to Kentucky Utilities/LG&E, Kentucky Press Association and the KY Secretary of State for helping to make this statewide literacy project possible. Go to www.kypress.com to hear each chapter and try the chapter activities.