On Feb. 12, 1809, a boy was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. No one could have predicted at the time that he would rise from poverty to the presidency, from the log cabin to the White House; that he would save his country from the two scourges of civil war and slavery. That boy, of course, was Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln gave us such wise sayings as, “He who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.” He also said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Lincoln went from being anti-slavery but tolerant to being aggressively anti-slavery, to being assassinated for supporting civil rights for all. He always loved the Constitution, the Founders, and hearing from ordinary voters. The Democrats began seceding from the Union before he even took office, and his whole tenure as president dealt with war and crisis. But Abraham Lincoln was greater even than the crisis, and he brought America through it and then paid the ultimate price.
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address are justly famous. In the former, he said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds.” In the latter, dedicating a Union cemetery, Lincoln urged, “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.”
But one of his most prophetic and insightful speeches was given long before he ever ran for president, in 1838.
“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
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