Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Abraham Lincoln 150: The Gettysburg Address

No one living really knows the exact wording, as actually spoken, by Abraham Lincoln in his brief prepared remarks at Gettysburg on this date 150 years ago, but here's the gist of it via the "Nicolay copy:" 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow, this ground – The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here. It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, 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.

President Lincoln worked on this on and off for months, right up to delivery, tweaking as he went. An addition often made after the fact are the words "under God." Maybe he said them at Gettysburg, maybe he didn't. (By comparison, far less is known about the real content of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" remarks delivered in 1775 -- to a shocking degree for anyone who bothers to delve into the matter).

The variations on Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" can be found in several places, but here's a reliable source for five of them one after the other is here.

So here we are now, 150 years later. The Confederacy is formally gone, the USA survives -- in a larger fifty-state form -- and still Confederate types try to undermine the federal government, as individuals and even still as a shambolic force. However, the USA for the first time in its history has an African American president twice elected, and that is worth remembering in its own right. 150 years later. Many more can vote, many more can complain -- and we're not slaughtering each other by the tens of thousands in 2013. That, too, is worth noting. 

Today's Rune:  Flow. 


Charles Gramlich said...

We are still slaughtering each other, but not at the rate of the Civil War for sure. Definitely there as been progress. One could have hoped for more but I guess we'll have to take what we can get.

jodi said...

Erik-my Dad used to kiddingly say that things just fell apart when they allowed women to vote! What a guy!