February 12, 2009

A House Divided A Century and a Half Later: What Lincoln Would Say Were He Speaking Today


Where is Old Fiddler Jones
Who played with life all his ninety years,
Braving the sleet with bared breast,
Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin,
Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven?
Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago,
Of the horse-races of long ago at Clary's Grove,
Of what Abe Lincoln said
One time at Springfield.

-- Edgar Lee Masters, :The Hill", Spoon River Anthology

Abraham Lincoln, before rising to the Presidency, spoke on the dangers confronting the Republic 150 years ago: "A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND" Springfield, Missouri, June 16, 1858. **

"IF we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the seventh year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to Islamic terrorism. Under the operation of that policy, that Terrorism not only has not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, Islamic Terrorism will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed.

"A house divided against itself can not stand."

I believe this government can not endure permanently half faint-hearted and half resolved. I do not expect America to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect that it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.

Either the opponents of Islamic Terrorism 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 dominate all the nations of the world , old as well as new, West as well as East.

Does the world not tend to the latter condition? Let any one who doubts carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combination-piece of machinery, so to speak --compounded of the United Nations' doctrine and the policies of the Obama administration and their fellow travelers in Congress.

[ ....]

"There are those who denounce our war openly to their own friends and to their nations, and yet whisper to us softly that President Obama is the aptest instrument there is with which to effect that object.

They wish us to infer all, from the fact that he now has no quarrel with the present United Nations and Islamic Heads of State; and that he has never voted wisely for the security of the United States, if indeed he votes at all. They remind us that he is a great man and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this be granted.

"But a living dog is better than a dead lion."

Obama, if not a dead lion, for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one.

How can he oppose the advance of Islamic Terrorism? He does not care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the "public heart" to care nothing about it.

Our blind and complacent Obama-boosting media thinks Obama's superior talent shining forth from the Oval Office can alone revive other nations' love and respect for America.

Does Obama actually believe a revival of this love and respect is actually approaching? He has said so but, as with other things he has said, with no firm conviction but with doe-eyed sincerity. Does he really think so?

For years he has labored to prove it a sacred obligation of America to place its safety and security under the smothering hands of idle talk and the United Nations. Can he possibly show that it is less a sacred duty for his own nation to defend itself at anytime and by any means if it perceives a threat to its very existence and to millions of American lives?

President Obama holds, as he has repeatedly told us and demonstrated, that a man may rightfully be wiser to-day than he was yesterday -- that he may rightfully change when he finds himself wrong.

But can we, for that reason run ahead, and infer that he will make any particular and specific change, of which he himself has given no intimation or example?

Can we safely base the safety of our cities, our people and the future of our Republic upon any such vague utterances as he may from time to time emit?

Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Obama's positions if I could but know them, question his motives if I could descry them, or do aught that can be personally offensive to him when so much is offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together on principle, so that our cause may have assistance from his great speaking ability and the experience of a few brief years in the Senate I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle.

But, clearly, Obama is not now with us -- he does not pretend to be, he does not promise ever to be.

The survival of our nation and our ultimate, if distant, victory in the Terrorist War, then, must be entrusted 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.

Beginning in September of 2001, and not of our choosing, all true Americans mustered to this cause and swore to continue until Victory no matter how long that Victory might be delayed.

We did this under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger from an evil and remorseless enemy.

In those dark and grief-filled moments with our thousands of dead yet unburied, with the fires still blazing, with our economy crippled, with every external circumstance against us, of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, Americans of all varieties gathered from the four winds, and formed and fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, intransigent, and fanatic enemy.

Did we brave all then, 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, blind ambition, and political cowardice delay it; but, sooner or later, our victory is sure to come.

**Note: For the actual text of this great speech which foreshadowed much that the country would endure through the following decade of civil war, I refer you to The "House Divided Against Itself" Speech by Abraham Lincoln.

I confess that I have, with some reservations, altered this document for reasons that I trust have become clear

I have done so because, as in 1858, so 150 years later in 2008 this country faces another harsh test whose shape is still unclear but whose dangers to our nation will come to us over the next decade, as it came to the United States of 1858.

With minor modifications, the parallels that can be drawn are chilling. Hence I am rewriting this speech in the firm belief that Lincoln, if he would not approve, would not, at least, condemn. The evil that Lincoln speaks of is slavery. The evil of our time is Islamic terrorism. They really aren't that different, are they?

Posted by Vanderleun at February 12, 2009 3:48 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.

Well done, Gerard. I think he would have approved.

Posted by: Julie at June 3, 2008 1:01 PM

"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

Posted by: Webutante at June 3, 2008 4:21 PM

"....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 (Rick Rescorla, Paul Smith, Andrew Olmstead, and so many more brave men, Iraqi and American) -- 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." - A. Lincoln.

Words to live for. Ideas worth struggling for. That this nation, that this idea, shall not perish from the earth.
...Lest we forget.

Posted by: David at June 3, 2008 7:17 PM

Moving speech, Gerard.

And this, too, from Honest Abe---speech of December, 1839...

"Many free countries have lost their liberties, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, may it be my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert her, but that I never deserted her! I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell, the imps of the evil spirit, and fiendishly torturing and taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness ol their efforts; and knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it I too may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause which we deem to be just. It shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy the Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world besides, and I, standing alone, hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. And here, without contemplating consequences, before high heaven, and in the face of the whole world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my love. And who that thinks with me will not adopt the oath that I take? Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fall, be it so. We shall have the proud consolation of saying to our conscience, and to the departed shade of our country's freedom, that 'the course approved by our judgments and adored by our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, and in death, we never faltered in defending."

Posted by: lance de boyle at June 3, 2008 7:51 PM

"How can he oppose the advance of Islamic Terrorism? He does not care anything about it. His avowed mission is impressing the
"public heart" to care nothing about it. "

Making shit up doesn't win arguments.

I would have thought you were above constructing straw men and then knocking them to the ground.

Why don't you just save yourself some white space and write in big bold font:

"Obama is an Islamist Facist and secretly plans the destruction of America!"

It would be as intellegent as the shit you just made up above.

Your type is really what's wrong with this country. making shit up on the internet in the hopes that someone will be ignorant enough to beleive it and pass it on. You are the worst form of a poisonous gossip. The Nat'l Enquirer could take lessons from you.

Is there really any difference between you and Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin or any person that uses lies and distorted facts and out-of-context quoutes to make someone out to be an Enemy of the US?

You think you look good doing this? Or wasn't your reputation a concern to you?

Posted by: timpundit at June 4, 2008 12:51 PM

"With minor modifications, the parallels that can be drawn are chilling. Hence I am rewriting this speech in the firm belief that Lincoln, if he would not approve, would not, at least, condemn. The evil that Lincoln speaks of is slavery. The evil of our time is Islamic terrorism. They really aren't that different, are they?"

IN which you then claim Senator Obama does not care about.

No, Lincoln would not credit your speech. He would probably be appalled his words were used for such lies against another American. An American that he had no small part in helping get to be the presumptive nominee, these many decades later.

Do not besmirch the good name of one of history's greatest men by suggesting he would approve of your sliming of a candidate you simply disagree with.

Posted by: Tim Pundit at June 4, 2008 1:17 PM


It seems that Gerard does no besmirching...it is Barry himself that besmirches our country's good name. Let me count the ways (ACORN,Larry Ayres, New Party, Rev. Wright(he was for him, before he was against him!) Please extol the glorious virtues of your candidate, so we might all bow down to the "change" we've been waiting for. Oh, wait a minute, because Lincoln fought for the rights of folks like Barry, we should judge him on the color of his skin and not the content of his character...right.

Posted by: Phils57 at June 4, 2008 2:08 PM

Amen, Lincoln would definitely approve, as the times are more critical for Americans to stand up and continue our fight for freedom. The media has all but pushed an affirmative action, spineless, american hating, anti-white, racist in a mesiah's cheap rack suit into a position that will weaken our country & it's ability to prevent the muslim mindset from undermining our values & beliefs like they have in France. Our fore fathers are rolling over in their graves at the debacle the media has created.

Posted by: San Diego at June 4, 2008 4:29 PM

or any person that uses lies and distorted facts and out-of-context quoutes to make someone out to be an Enemy of the US

You mean when Obama quotes McCain out of context about "100 years in Iraq"?

Caldron. Jeroboam. Atramentaceous

Posted by: Sacred Trust at June 4, 2008 7:44 PM

Despite his sweeping oratory; Obama is much more like Stephen Douglas than Lincoln. This is a man
who voted "Present" 130 times when he was in the
State Legislature; to avoid stating a position on issues like abortion. His brief tenure in the Senate, is equally shallow. He recites every trite
cliche from the 60s, as if it was newly recovered
wisdom. On every major issue, he is conventional in his 'bete noires' oil companies, the military,
the CIA, and shows remarkable empathy to the enemy.(whether they be Iranian Quds Force, AQ, FARC, or William Ayres. This is not unique to Obama; Dick Durbin cries 'crocodile tears' for Muhammed Manea Al Quahtani's treatment, the man whose 'mission accomplished' would have meant the death of many of his colleagues.

Posted by: narciso at June 5, 2008 6:40 PM

Well done, Gerard. It is a chilling comparison.

And Lance's comments is equally impressive in comparison. Both of you keep up the good work.


Posted by: Subsunk at June 6, 2008 5:44 AM

Well done, Gerard. It is a chilling comparison.

And Lance's comments is equally impressive in comparison. Both of you keep up the good work.


Posted by: Subsunk at June 6, 2008 5:44 AM

The speech you propose is missing a punchline.

"Therefore, warriors of the United States, you have the reason and the justification for the order about to be given by your Commander in Chief as sanctioned by Constitution and law. You have your targets. LAUNCH!"

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at February 12, 2009 3:44 PM

And this: "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." (January 27, 1838)

Abraham Lincoln Birthday Bicentennial

Posted by: ELC at February 12, 2009 6:18 PM

What reaction was Osama Bin Laden hoping for from 9/11?
Did he think Bush was going to say "oh dear, we'd better do what they say and stop interfering in the Middle East"?
Of course not. It's well known that the leaders of Al Queda pay very close attention to American politics, and were certainly well aware of the foreign policy views of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. It would be pretty easy, in fact, for them to guess that Bush would not only invade Afghanistan but follow that with an invasion of Iraq, thus inflaming the Islamic world with hatred against Americans, and sending thousands of new recruits to Al Queda. They also knew that the Bush administration wouldn't think of imperiling the flow of oil money that forms the basis for the funding for Al Queda, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups, whereas a Democrat might. They also probably had a pretty good idea that Bush and co. would resort to torture, secret prisons, and pretty much everything else imaginable to create anti-American hatred in the Middle East.
And that is why Al Queda waited until a Republican was in office to make what became the 9/11 attacks. They knew that Bush would do EXACTLY what Bin Laden wanted him to. Islamic terrorists have never had a better friend than George W. Bush.

Posted by: DrJay1966 at February 12, 2009 7:40 PM

"Art. 82.

Men, or squads of men, who commit hostilities, whether by fighting, or inroads for destruction or plunder, or by raids of any kind, without commission, without being part and portion of the organized hostile army, and without sharing continuously in the war, but who do so with intermitting returns to their homes and avocations, or with the occasional assumption of the semblance of peaceful pursuits, divesting themselves of the character or appearance of soldiers - such men, or squads of men, are not public enemies, and, therefore, if captured, are not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but shall be treated summarily as highway robbers or pirates."


Prepared by Francis Lieber, promulgated as General Orders No. 100 by President Lincoln, 24 April 1863.

From the acts of President Lincoln we forget about. That remained in place until the 1890's.

Posted by: ajacksonian at February 13, 2009 6:05 AM

But you are not describing a war on terror, but the war we committ upon our own liberty. Islam is only Thomas Paine's 'Evils, like poisons, have their uses, and there are diseases which no other remedy can reach'.
Lincoln: 'America will never be brought down from without'.

We see the Dutch and English Left arresting people for addressing Islam as a religion of conquest. That is our future if we are distracted from fighting the right people.

Posted by: james wilson at February 13, 2009 9:03 AM

We cannot hope to defeat Islam until we first defeat and DESTROY the Left in the United States and Western Europe. The Left is a mortal enemy of Western Civilization, and is a much more immediate threat than Islam.

We didn't kill enough Communists here at home during the 50s and 60s, and that has come around to bite us. They are now taking over our society, and they must be stopped before they consolidate their power any further.

Posted by: rickl at February 13, 2009 5:58 PM

To the author,

I hope you do not mind but I put this piece on my site. I linked to it of course. I thought it was a fitting tribute and very appropriate for our times.

Posted by: Jason at February 16, 2009 7:03 PM