Today is the 203d birthday of our 16th U.S. president – Abraham Lincoln. I have been fascinated with Lincoln for as long as I can remember and have read extensively about his life, presidency and death. This past week I was in the Nashville area for work and was able to take a late afternoon detour to Franklin to meet friend, author and historian, Eric Jacobson. While we enjoyed an adult beverage, Eric said something which caught me somewhat off guard and continues to make me think…. “Maybe Abraham Lincoln was what we needed and was given to the country through some sort of divine intervention.” While I am paraphrasing what Eric said, his message was clear to me – maybe there was some sort of godly intervention. Let’s face it, there were several other strong Republican candidates vying for the 1860 nomination – two of which may have been able to win the presidency if nominated – William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase. Both of these men were much more outspoken abolitionists than Lincoln and may have caused a more virulent secession crisis if elected president. Would either of these men been able to fight the inevitable Civil War to conclusion and preserve the Union? I rather doubt it. Perhaps Eric was correct. Lincoln was the glue that kept us together and may very well have been destined to be in place to see our country through to a “new birth of freedom.”
Lincoln was perhaps the greatest communicator our country has ever had. Several of his speeches really speak to me. In remembrance of his birthday, I will leave you with one of his shortest and perhaps his most well known – the Gettysburg Address. Happy Birthday Abe!
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 do this.
But in a large sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who have 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. 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 an increased devotion to the 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.
For more on Abraham Lincoln, check out my article, “What Abraham Lincoln Means to Me.”