Our form of government does not imitate the laws of neighboring states. On the contrary, we are rather a model to others. Our form of government is called a democracy because its administration is in the hands, not of a few, but of the whole people. In the settling of private disputes, everyone is equal before the law. Election to public office is made on the basis of ability, not on the basis of membership to a particular class. No man is kept out of public office by the obscurity of his social standing because of his poverty, as long as he wishes to be of service to the state. And not only in our public life are we free and open, but a sense of freedom regulates our day-to-day life with each other. We do not flare up in anger at our neighbor if he does what he likes. In our private affairs, then, we are tolerant and avoid giving offense. But in public affairs, we take great care not to break law because of the deep respect we have for them. We give obedience to the men who hold public office from year to year. And we pay special regard to those laws that are for the protection of the oppressed and to all the unwritten laws that we know bring disgrace upon the transgressor when they are broken.
Their's not to make
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Turning and turning
in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation
is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
- William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming", 1919
# ABRAHAM LINCOLN
"'A house divided against
itself cannot stand'. I believe this government cannot endure permanently
half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved --
I do not expect the house to fall -- but I do expect it will cease to be
divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents
of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the
public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate
extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become
alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new -- North as well as
- Abraham Lincoln, Speech to Illinois Republican State Convention, 1858
"We are not enemies,
but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained,
it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart
and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of
the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels
of our nature."
"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect and defend' it."
- Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural Address
The dogmas of the quiet
past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high
with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new,
so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disentrall ourselves, and
then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.
We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite
of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one
or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us
down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We shall nobly save,
or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.
- Abraham Lincoln, "Message to Congress", American Civil War, 1862
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 battlefield 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 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, "Gettysburg Address", American Civil War, 1863
"At what point shall
we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against
it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean,
and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa
combined, with all the treasure of the earth...could not by force, take
a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of
a thousand years... 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."
- Abraham Lincoln, warning of the dangers of Civil War (1838)
"The probability that
we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a
cause we believe to be just; it shall not deter me."
- Abraham Lincoln, speech to Illinois House of Representatives (1839)
"Those who deny freedom
to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not
long retain it."
- Abraham Lincoln, writing in 1859
"The will of God prevails.
In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will
of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against
the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible
that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party
- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of
the best adaptation to effect His purpose."
- Abraham Lincoln, "Meditation on the Divine Will"
"If we'd been born
where they were born and taught what they were taught we would believe
what they believe."
- Abraham Lincoln
"Honor to the Soldier,
and Sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country's cause. Honor also
to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field, and serves, as he
best can, the same cause -- honor to him, only less than to him, who braves,
for the common good, the storms of heaven and the storms of battle."
- From the December 2, 1863 Letter to George Opdyke and others
"We all declare for
liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.
With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with
himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word
many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product
of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible
things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of
the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible
names — liberty and tyranny."
- Abraham Lincoln, speaking in 1864
"I should be damned
in time & eternity were I to return to slavery the black warriors who
have fought for the Union."
- Abraham Lincoln, rejecting calls for revoking Emancipation in 1864
"Both parties deprecated
war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive;
and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came."
- Abraham Lincoln, from his Second Inaugural Address (1865)
"Viewed from the genuine
abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent;
but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound
as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined...
Few great public men have ever been the victims of fiercer denunciation
than Abraham Lincoln was during his administration. He was often wounded
in the house of his friends. Reproaches came thick and fast upon him from
within and from without, and from opposite quarters. He was assailed by
Abolitionists; he was assailed by slave-holders; he was assailed by the
men who were for peace at any price; he was assailed by those who were
for a more vigorous prosecution of the war; he was assailed for not making
the war an abolition war; and he was bitterly assailed for making the war
an abolition war. But now behold the change: the judgment of the present
hour is, that taking him for all in all, measuring the tremendous magnitude
of the work before him, considering the necessary means to ends, and surveying
the end from the beginning, infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into
the world better fitted for his mission than Abraham Lincoln."
- Frederick Douglass, oration in memory of Abraham Lincoln (1876)
The way we live differs
in another respect from that of our enemies. Our city is open to all the
world. We have never had any aliens' laws to exclude anyone from finding
our or seeking anything here, nor any secrets of the city that an enemy
might find out about and use to his advantage. For our security, we rely
not on defensive arrangements or secrecy but on the courage that springs
from our souls, when we are called into action. Our natural bravery springs
from our way of life, not from the compulsion of laws.
We regard wealth as something to be properly used and not as something to boast about. Nobody need be ashamed to admit poverty, but it is shameful not to do one's best to escape from poverty.
- Pericles of Athens, during the Peloponnesian War, 430 BC
Would you vote for this party?
"We ask that the government
undertake the obligation above all of providing citizens with adequate
opportunity for employment and earning a living. The activities of the
individual must not be allowed to clash with the interests of the community,
but must take place within its confines and be for the good of all.
Therefore, we demand: ... an end to the power of the financial interests. We demand profit sharing in big business. We demand a broad extension of care for the aged. We demand. . .the greatest possible consideration of small business in the purchases of national, state, and municipal governments.
In order to make possible to every capable and industrious [citizen] the attainment of higher education and thus the achievement of a post of leadership, the government must provide an all-around enlargement of our entire system of public education ... We demand the education at government expense of gifted children of poor parents ...
The government must undertake the improvement of public health - by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting child labor ... by the greatest possible support for all clubs concerned with the physical education of youth. We combat the ... materialistic spirit within and without us, and are convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only proceed from within on the foundation of the common good before the individual good."
- From the political program of the Nazi Party, adopted in Munich, February 24, 1920
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