Saturday, July 4, 2015
The 4th Of July Is A Good Day To Ponder Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
In 1776 how did John Adams know that America would one day span the continent? It was over a quarter century later that Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase from France and sent Lewis and Clark to check out the new land, all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Those Founding Fathers, including John Adams, were very smart, very forward thinking, coming up with a democratic republic that was the first on earth.
Less than a century after those Founding Fathers founded America the world's first democratic republic was in dire straits, due to rebellious Southern states thinking they could leave the Union to start up their own new nation so as to preserve their odious practice of making slaves of fellow human beings.
Four months after the most deadly battle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln journeyed to the battle site to participate in the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
The principle orator at that Gettysburg dedication was not Mr. Lincoln. It was a guy few remember today named Edward Everett, a politician, pastor, educator, diplomat, senator and governor, known for his stirring orations.
Well, Edward Everett's Gettysburg oration lasted over two hours. And was not memorable.
And then it was President Lincoln's turn to speak, a three minute address in which Lincoln predicted "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here."
Mr. Lincoln was wrong. His Gettysburg Address is the most quoted speech in American history. And is known by democracy loving people the world over.
Most of us know the Gettysburg Address by heart, with its iconic opening line of "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", so I won't repeat the entire three minute speech here.
The Wikipedia article about Abraham Lincoln has a real good summing up of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address that I will repeat here....
In 272 words, and three minutes, Lincoln asserted the nation was born not in 1789, but in 1776, "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal". He defined the war as an effort dedicated to these principles of liberty and equality for all. The emancipation of slaves was now part of the national war effort. He declared that the deaths of so many brave soldiers would not be in vain, that slavery would end as a result of the losses, and the future of democracy in the world would be assured, that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth". Lincoln concluded that the Civil War had a profound objective: a new birth of freedom in the nation.
A new birth of freedom, with actual freedom for all the people living in America. A war to preserve what was then the world's one and only democratic republic.
Now I am wondering if people in the states which were part of the Confederacy actually do grow up knowing Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?
Lately I think we have learned the majority of the people who live in the states which made up the Confederacy now realize those state's rebellion against the Union, to preserve slavery, was not a noble cause, not then, and certainly not now, a century and a half later.
Anyway, have a safe and fun 4th of July doing what President John Adams suggested a long time ago, with hot dogs added, because I am sure if John Adams knew hot dogs were in America's future, he would have mentioned that in his 4th of July suggestions to his wife....