Now scrolling: The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lincoln and Douglas 150 years later

The 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates is still being celebrated in the seven Illinois cities where they originally took place. These debates, from August through October of 1858, targeted the expansion of slavery in the new territories and proved that you can win even when you lose. Though Lincoln lost the senatorial election, he gained so much public favor that he ultimately won the future presidential election.

A few interesting quotations came from these debates. Lincoln called a self-evident truth "the electric cord ... that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together."
But my favorite analogy of the expansion of slavery is still in his Hartford Connecticut speech of March 5, 1860, where he compared it to a "snake in the Union bed." Finding a snake on the road and killing it, he would be a hero. Finding a snake in his children's bed, he might not kill it for fear of inciting it to bite, but deliberatey tossing a snake into a perfectly safe bed (the new territories) would be foolish. That chilling image of tossing a snake into a place of safety always gets my attention. I wonder if he would have won that senate seat had he used this analogy in 1858. Then I wonder, if he had won that senate seat, might his career have taken a different path altogether less meaningful?
Not if Mary had anything to say about it.

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