Thursday, November 16, 2006

Destruction amongst us

Abraham Lincoln, 28 years old, speaking in 1838 before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
To be clear, he was not talking about particular people. He was thinking of the American people, and how they themselves might allow decay to set in. The passion (as he puts it) that drove the original fight for freedom cannot now be relied upon.
Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.--Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws.
(Emphasis in the original)

No comments: