Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Thought on Abraham Lincoln on Independence Day 2017

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That phrase, that expression said it all :
   …government of the people, by the people and for the people…

That President Lincoln, by far— among the US presidents, in a very short expression—  the most affirming Voice for the value of Democracy, and the strongest believer that democracy will bring great benefits , and the most efficient tool for governance and the general welfare of the people.

What was said in the Gettysburg Speech was not only eloquent, but dead sincere; part of that sincerity was Mr. Lincoln’s conviction that democracy will work, that government by the people will reap good harvests for them. What Lincoln was giving to the people, in essence, is a political thought which invests in people’s power, encourages them to go forth and build that strength, and believes they can do it. What Lincolnwas offering—meaning, sealing the idea with his signature on its feasibility — to the people is the Power that they can realize in themselves to create a nation which is run by the sheer force of Freedom, Free Will, exercised with their Intellect, Prudence and Good choice.

We don’t know how many nights, sleep-deficient nights included, Lincoln spent to dwell on the matters of Freedom and Democracy, but his words in the Gettysburg speech do show great effort to plough through, which, in spirit can only be equaled by President Thomas Jefferson’s thought on Freedom, but in conviction about Democracy, it seems Mr. Lincoln surpassed Mr. Jefferson in strength and fiber.


Lincoln may not be the first one who coined the above expression, but researchers are not sure who had said/written first either. Some believe that it is in the prologue to John Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible (1384), but others doubt it seriously. Even if it did appear in the prologue of Bible by J. Wycliffe below, the connection between what’s said/taught in the Bible and form of government is hard to substantiate or prove.

“The Bible is for the Government of the People, by the People, and for the People.”

Again, Lincoln may not be the one who said it first [ and Daniel Webster might] , but the Idea, I believe, impressed [im-press: imprint] in his heart and mind powerfully, stayed there frequently, and therefore, jumped out in the speech to place the trust on the people on their capability to rule by themselves.

What a feast he had served for them !




Bliss copy of the Gettysburg Speech

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

Thomas Jefferson, a spokesman for democracy, was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the third President of the United States (1801–1809).

In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."  (whitehouse.gov)

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