August 20, 2010

Lincoln ReLoaded

abelincolnsmall.jpgIf our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, who brought us united through our first great trial as a nation, could speak on our present discord today, this is perhaps what he might say:

Fellow Citizens of the United States of America.

If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.

We are now far into the second year, since a policy was initiated to reduce Americans to tax servitude and penury, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of installing the principles of Liberty with the base conditions of Socialism.

Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.

In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half socialist and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved -- I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be divided.

It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of socialism will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as South, East as well as West.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts the aim [of the traitors among us,] carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination -- piece of machinery so to speak -- compounded of the the Congressional Democrat Majority, and the election of Barack Obama. Let him consider not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted; but also, let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, the evidence of design and concert of action, among its chief architects, from the beginning....

We cannot absolutely know that all these exact adaptations are the result of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different portions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and places, and by different workmen, and when we see these timbers joined together, and see they exactly matte the frame of a house or a mill, all the tenons and mortices exactly fitting, and all the lengths and proportions of the different L pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, and not a piece too many or too few, -- not omitting even scaffolding -- or, if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted and prepared yet to bring such piece in -- in such a case we find it impossible not to believe that all understood one another from the beginning and all worked upon a common plan or draft drawn up before the first blow was struck.....

Our cause [which is to reverse and eliminate this threat to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness among free Americans,] then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own undoubted friends -- those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work -- who do care for the result.

[This November] the Republicans of the nation [must muster all their strength from all corners of the Republic.]

We do this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every external circumstance against us.

Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, we [must gather] from the four winds, and form and fight the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, proud, and pampered enemy.

Did [all our forbearers] brave all to falter now? -- now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail -- if we stand firm, we shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to come.

Only slightly modified from Lincoln's House Divided Speech: Delivered on 16 June, 1858 at The Statehouse in Springfield, Illinois.

Posted by Vanderleun at August 20, 2010 8:21 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Thanks for that, V.

Posted by: james wilson at August 20, 2010 9:33 PM

"This necessity had not been overlooked; but had been provided for, as well as might be, in the notable argument of "squatter sovereignty," otherwise called "sacred right of self government," which latter phrase, though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if any one man, choose to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object."

Good of you to brush off this speech and polish it up for us in the 21st century, Gerard.

The argument now before us amounts to Just This: That if the Federal Government choose to enslave us all, none of us shall be allowed to object.

Posted by: Jewel at August 20, 2010 9:55 PM

Over my dead body...

Posted by: Cheezburgrrr at August 21, 2010 6:41 AM

By a nice bit of timing, Wretchard draws another most appropriate historical analogy here.

Posted by: Cris at August 21, 2010 7:40 AM

The cycle of human events gives much to some generations, but requires much of others.

This generation of Americans may have a rendezvous with destiny.

Posted by: Robert at August 21, 2010 10:16 AM

One thing I always liked about Lincoln was his abiding respect for the Declaration of Independence. That is why he would never have offered up an Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, even though he would have understood and accepted that there were such creatures as fat lesbians.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at August 21, 2010 12:30 PM

If you think the House Divided speech holds lessons for the present, you should check out the address he gave two years later in New York City (exactly 150 years ago)…

Honest Abe's Cooper Union Speech Described the Way Members of the Republican Party Were Demonized

Remember four months ago, when James Carville smeared Republicans as "reptiles"?

Abraham Lincoln, February 1860: "…when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to [Republicans]. In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of [Republicanism] as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite — license, so to speak — among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all."

Read the whole thing

Posted by: Erik Svane at August 21, 2010 1:08 PM

Well done, Erik. Excellent!

"That 'country bumpkin' from the Wild West is stating the Republican Party's positions and goals better than any East Coast establishment politician that I know of."

Heh. Now where have I heard that before?

Posted by: rickl at August 22, 2010 6:34 AM

We don't have to imagine what Lincoln would say about Socialism.

"What is the true condition of the laborer? I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don't believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. When one starts poor, as most do in the race of life, free society is such that he knows he can better his condition; he knows that there is no fixed condition of labor, for his whole life." (Speech at New Haven, Connecticut, March 6, 1860)

"There is not, of necessity, any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in their lives, were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all — gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty — none less inclined to take, or touch, aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost." (Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861)

Note, the first quotation is from a speech Lincoln gave the year he was (first) elected president, and the second is actually from his first State of the Union message.

Posted by: ELC at August 22, 2010 12:03 PM

SORRY, I DON'T READ ARTICLES THAT CLAIM LINCOLN IS ANYTHING OTHER THAN A BIG GOVERNMENT REPUBLICAN of the worst order. He was (or ties with FDR and Wilson for) the worst president of all time, including Bushes, Carter and Obama, because he not only expanded the power of the federal government but also was willing to let over 600,000 of his fellow countrymen die in order to do it.

Posted by: Cary Nunnally at September 4, 2010 1:08 PM