Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.
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 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.”

FOOTNOTES: 

[52] N. and H. vii. 389.

[53] Arnold, Lincoln, 328.  This writer gives a very vivid description of the delivery of the speech, derived in part from Governor Dennison, afterward the postmaster-general, who was present on the occasion.

[54] Mr. Arnold says that in an unconscious and absorbed manner, Mr. Lincoln “adjusted his spectacles” and read his address.

CHAPTER VIII

RECONSTRUCTION

In his inaugural address President Lincoln said:  “The union of these States is perpetual....  No State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void.”  In these words was imbedded a principle which later on he showed his willingness to pursue to its logical conclusions concerning the reconstruction of the body politic.  If no State, by seceding, had got itself out of the Union, there was difficulty in maintaining that those citizens of a seceding State, who had not disqualified themselves by acts of treason, were not still lawfully entitled to conduct the public business and to hold the usual elections for national and state officials, so soon as the removal of hostile force should render it physically possible for them to do so.  Upon the basis of this principle, the resumption by such citizens of a right which had never been lost, but only temporarily interfered with by lawless violence, could reasonably be delayed by the national government only until the loyal voters should be sufficient in number to relieve the elections from the objection of being colorable and unreal.  This philosophy of “reconstruction” seemed to Mr. Lincoln to conform with law and good sense, and he was forward in meeting, promoting, almost even in creating opportunities to apply it.  From the beginning of the war he had been of opinion that the framework of a state government, though it might be scarcely more than a skeleton, was worth preservation.  It held at least the seed of life.  So after West

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume II from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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