The President’s Ill-Fated Proposal


Photo Credit: Popo le Chien – 13 Sept 2016 – Tulum’s Templo del Dios Viento (Temple of Wind God, left) and Castillo (castle, right)

President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward stood at what was called the Temple of the God of Wind at Tulum gazing northeast over the waters toward the island of Corzumel. Mexican President Benito Juarez summarily dismissed Lincoln’s proposal for American freed slaves to be relocated to that small bit of land off the Yucatan peninsula, but Seward had to see it for himself.

Lincoln was the President, and Seward did what he was told, but his conscience as a man and a Christian told him that if a man were truly free and a citizen of the United States, then his former status as slave should be wiped clean, rather than him becoming a societal pariah. If only he could convince the President of this.

The breeze in his face, Seward became a prophet. “Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google maps image and/or location as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Of course, I looked up Tulum, but consulting Google maps, I found it was fairly close to the island of Cozumel. It was a small bit of history of that island from 1861 that caught my attention, since the proposal I write about above did actually occur.

I have no idea about how the real Seward felt about it, so I made something up. Also, it seems that Lincoln did succeed briefly, in 1862, in establishing a short-lived colony of ex-slaves on Île à Vache off the coast of Haiti.

The quote I put in Seward’s mouth is attributed to author George Orwell, which would indeed have made the Secretary of State a “prophet,” since Orwell wouldn’t be born until 1903.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit

20 thoughts on “The President’s Ill-Fated Proposal

  1. Excellent piece of historical fiction, making the important point that oppressed minorities are not second-class citizens. It’s shaming that society still has not fully learned that lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

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