The Irony of America The Beautiful

Due to the vicissitudes of life and constraints of time, I have been ignoring this blog. But the idea of further exposition of women already in my book came upon me yesterday. The wonderful pastor of my church asked me to speak on “America the Beautiful” and it appeared to go well. Why not expound further? So here goes:

In 1893 when Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful”, our country was undergoing turmoil. In January, the US. Marines intervened in Hawaii to overthrow their queen. In May, there was a crash and panic on the New York Stock Exchange thus beginning a depression. This followed the failures of the Reading Railroad and the National Cordage Company. New forms of racial segregation came into being. Mississippi enacted a literacy test for voting with a grandfather clause allowing illiterate whites to vote if their fathers or grandfathers could vote before 1866. Thus, the election of 1892 barred blacks from voting there. Veterans of the Civil War were still around and many lacked limbs from that conflict. Ellis Island opened in 1892 and within one year, over 450,000 came crowding into ghettos. The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. This was part of the impetus of Teddy Roosevelt’s later trust busting activities. Women couldn’t vote, but movement for women’s suffrage was underway. It was a crime to be an overt homosexual in most places. It was against this backdrop that Bates, a probable lesbian, wrote her hymn.

America obviously had and still has great physical beauty. Bates’ observation of the mountains from Pikes Peak and the fields of grain in Kansas stunned her. But she was educated and knew of all the history and issues in the country. While admiring the grandeur of our country, she also asked that God “mend thine every flaw” and that our people be “crowned with brotherhood”. The flaws of yesterday still exist in some form today. May her hymn, her prayer, be answered yet.

2 thoughts on “The Irony of America The Beautiful

  1. Marilyn Kay says:

    One thing I noticed about our hymnal is that it left that verse out. Our hymnal only has 3 verses and does not include the 4th where she mentioned “mend thine every flaw”. I enjoyed your sermon yesterday and Lesli’s comments.

    • Marilyn Kay says:

      Okay, now I reread the post and realized that this was Lesli speaking and not Tim. Again I enjoyed your comments yesterday and Tim’s sermon. 🙂

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