Politics

The Gettysburg Address: Inspiration For Our Time


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... government of the people, by the people, for the people

Licoln’s Gettysburg Address

We all recognize the opening of Licoln’s famous Gettysburgh Address and, perhaps, part of its conclusion. Spoiler: it was not written hurriedly on the train from DC to Gettysburgh. But most of us don’t know the speech itself. Lucky for us social media denizens with our dimenished capacities for sustained concentration, it is a short speech, albeit, still too long for a tweet, but not so long that it could not be reproduced comfortably in a tweet thread. I’ve copied the entire speech at the end of this post for those with the daring do necessary to go have a read.

It is its concluding passage that gives it its real mimportance: that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Shall not perish from the earth

At the time of the address, it had looked like our government would perish from the earth. It looked like the North would lose the war, the South would win, and slavery would prevail. Instead, the South merely paused in its pursuit of slavery of Black people.

If we are now fighting for our very democracy, our country, against the biggest threat since The Civil War as so many have characterized it including President Biden, then we need the vision and inspiration of a Lincoln to lead us to victory.

In the absence of transcendent oratory and decisive strategy by our current crop of leadership, we must look to We the People and the past to rise to the occasion and put the threat of white supremacy to rest once and for all.

The Republican attempt to replace government of the people by the People for the people with a single party pseudo-democratic minority-rule autocracy has to be fought as passionately and valiantly a as we fought the slavers of the South during The Civil War.

Comparing the US Now and the US at the Time of Gettysburg

The parallels not only to the war but to the time of Gettysburg are as amazing as they are instructive.

  • In our time, the GQP pass voter suppression and nullification laws like they are a foregone conclusion, and Democrats at the nationa!, state, and local levels seem powerless to stop them. Just as the Union Army seemed unable to stop the rebels during the first two years of the war.The
  • Wherever there are GQP majorities in state legislatures, they pass racially oppressive laws and enforce systemic racism. Across the nation the spread racially divisive rhetoric and encourage open acts of racism. Whenever the Confederate Army encountered free Blacks or runaway slavers they sent them to the slave auctions.
  • Joe Biden and the Democrats won the House, Senate, and Presidency on the strength of the Black vote. The Union Army recruited Blacks soldiers into their ranks and was impressed by their valor during battle. Lincoln considered the largest force available for.preserving the Unio.
  • The North didn’t begin to win the war until after the Emancipation Proclamation and the war was framed in moral terms as a fight against slavery and to preserve the union. We will not begin to win this fight unless and until we can frame it as a fight to preserve our democracy.

Because of the Union losses, people were dispirited, ready to give up and accept slavery, to return to the nation that was. But Lincoln had a vision of what the nation should be — ALL PEOPLE WERE CREATED EQUALLY BEFORE GOD — and a strategy for winning the war. Gettysburg have him the opportunity to sell the People and his generals on both. It was transformational.

After Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg, Lincoln had thought his army would be pursued and destroyed, but the Union generals failed to grasp the opportunity and allowed Lee.to escape.

To win the war Lincoln needed generals who could crush the Confederates completely and decisively. He promoted Grant and Sherman to accomplish the task. Just as we need

Inspiration For Our Trying Times

Lincoln’s Gettysburg address elevated the nation’s discourse as opposed to appealing to the lowest common denominator of instinct and impulse as so many in the right do now.. It is the embodiment of Michelle Obama’s “go high” rhetoric.

What do we need in this moment of existential threat to our democracy?

  • An inspiring vision of what America should be
  • A definitive statement of the threat we face
  • A unified strategy of combating that threat
  • The resources to implement that strtategy

We need to be rallies to our cause. We need to be reminded of why every generation had fought and died to preserve democracy.

We are not getting those things on the scale we need from our elected or part leadership. If we can’t get what we need from our present leadership, we need to get from the past, from Lincoln, the Gettysburg address, and the Civil War. And, this time when we win, we need to put an end to the slavery-inspired white supremacists once and for all.


The Gettysburg Address

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 should do this.

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 consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did 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 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 — 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.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


This post was inspired by the Jon Meacham, the presidential historian, podcast, Hope ,Through History, season two episode, ,A New Birth to Freedom focused on Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

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Image Attribution

“Period Photo of Gettysburg Battlefield” by Gary Lee Todd, Ph.D. is marked with CC0 1.0

25 replies »

    • Howdy Bob!

      Great analogy. MAGA Nation really is like a zombie apocalypse. Thought is unimportant and unnecessary. The only thing that is important is the mindless pursuit of a vague and poorly defined goal.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 2 people

        • Howdy Bob!

          I’m reminded that the only way democracy succeeds is with people of intelligence, education, integrity, and discipline being voted to office. Otherwise,, we’re bound to lose our democracy.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 2 people

              • Dear CalicoJack,

                2021 is more than half gone and the GOP is still on trial and has fared no better and seems to be getting (much) worse.

                Consequently, any reasonable person can conclude that the USA has been plagued by ignorance, dogma, falsity, blind faith, spiritual stagnation and epistemological impasse . . . . .

                The underlying opposition is not so much between the Democrats and the Republicans as between the rich plutocrats and the rest of the population. The Democrats need to (re)form their party to unite the 90% of the people living at an entrenched economic and political disadvantage in order to deal with the Plutocrats. In any case, it is going to be a very tall order for Biden to turn things around. It would have been much easier if some Republican senators had been far more honest and incorruptible, for they have been very greedy, uninspired, cowardly and lack criminal, moral and political accountabilities. It is all quite a big mess in danger of getting bigger still. Even a global pandemic still cannot unite folks in the USA and wake them up. Perhaps it will take an even bigger crisis to do so, such as a series of climate change disasters.

                I have been featuring an exemplar of a politician, statesman and chancellor so upright and unflinching in their integrity and honesty that if any of those senators had even just a fraction of his goodness and decency to perform their duties and to go against the former POTUS, the USA would not have sunk to such an intractable, dangerous and protracted quagmire. The upright character of this particular politician, statesman and chancellor has been immortalized in a poem, which is featured and explained in my post entitled Strong Wind Knows Tough Grass” published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/strong-wind-knows-tough-grass/

                This politician, statesman and chancellor had been fired six times and rehired six times, and still he persisted in his upright approach and upstanding ideal. He even surrendered and dedicated his own lands, real estates and military power! If only many more people in the financial, business and political spheres can learn from the upright character that I feature in my said post. In my own words, this historical figure is the personification of enduring loyalty, integrity, bravery and forthrightness achieved with benevolence and righteousness, but without favouritism and transgression. He was certainly not afraid of being fired half a dozen times. And such a person would certainly speak up and oppose corrupt politicians without any fear of losing their job and reputation.

                I look forward to reading your feedback on my said post there.

                Yours sincerely,
                SoundEagle

                Liked by 1 person

                • Howdy Sound!

                  That’s the real issue. That no matter what happens, mass shooting, pandemic, locking children in cages, the GQP has figured out how to blunt the emotional impact of the event and then sow just enough confusion and chaos around what really happened to keep about a third of the population in their corner. And, that third is enough to keep us immobile and tied up. Now, they have succeeded in writing voter suppression and nullification laws that will guarantee them a minority government for a generation. They don’t care about democratic ideals or equality. They care about money. And, they will transfer the wealth of the nation to the 1% and that will be that.

                  Huzzah!
                  Jack

                  Liked by 1 person

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