testing that nation
so conceived dedicated
how long can endure?
Mr. Thomas Jefferson, explaining the reasoning behind the Declaration of Independence, wrote that all men are created equal.
I feel that Mr. Jefferson really meant what he said.
But I also feel that Mr. Jefferson accepted that all men are created equal in the abstract, he could not figure a way of how it might be achieved in reality.
Mr. Jefferson saw that the wieght of human history and the current lifestyle of most Americans was proving his statement that all men are created equal to be, if not wrong, at least wistful thinking.
A fire bell in the night, Mr. Jefferson called it.
When the bell rang and the United States was called on for an answer, their answer was to fight the Civil War.
Review the history of that war and you can understand why Mr. Jefferson was reluctant to even look for an answer of how to achieve a country where all men are created equal.
It was left to Abraham Lincoln to try and explain why the Civil War was being fought.
It was 158 years ago today that Mr. Lincoln, in a short, short, short 272 word speech explained, “. . . 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.“
Mr. Lincoln was speaking at the dedication ceremony of a vast cemetery on the battlefield of Gettysburg.
Mr. Lincoln recognized that great as the battle, the struggle that the country was in at that moment, that there was more to do.
Somehow back in 1863, Mr. Lincoln spoke to us.
Mr. Lincoln said, “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work.“
The unfinished work.
This country is a work in progress.
The testing, every day, the testing goes on.
Here is the full text, all 272 words of Mr. Lincoln’s Remarks at Gettysburg.
“Fourscore 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 cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate – we cannot 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 here 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.”