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

The True Origin of Captain America

will smith captain america

Actor Will Smith depicted as Captain America

“You must be the puniest nigger I’ve ever seen, boy. What’s your name again?”

“Johnson, Samuel G., Private, Sir.”

Sam Johnson was the most unlikely soldier in his unit, but then again, he would have been an unlikely soldier in any army in the world. He’d suffered from a number of ailments in childhood including rheumatic fever. His family was poor. Papa died when he was only a baby and Mama had to work three jobs just to keep him fed. They had no money for doctors and his old Aunt Bessie said it was only Mama’s love that kept him alive.

He grew up but not very much. He was tall, but thin, his clothes fitting him like loose blankets. Because of his ill-health, he wasn’t fit for much hard work, but what he lacked in muscle, he made up for in heart and determination.

Like most colored folk, he expected the white folk to call him “nigger,” “coon,” and the like, and he took more than his fair share of beatings, not just because he was a colored man, but because he fought back. To say he fought back meant that he had the will, but he could no more throw a solid punch than Josephine Baker could win the Miss America Pagent.

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