Thursday, February 12, 2004

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!

Abraham Lincoln would be 195 today. Our nation was truly blessed to have a man such as this in the White House during the Civil War. In recent years, many people have tried to cast aspersions on his character, claiming that he was an evil racist or that he only used slavery for political gains. I will admit that there are actions and quotations that can support these claims when taken out of context. However, I think that Mr. Lincoln was a man who grew in wisdom and in his Christian faith as he moved through adulthood.

Lincoln's Second Innuagural Address is an excellent example of President Lincoln's true feelings on slavery, the Civil War and Divine Providence. Please, please, please follow the link and read this speech. It is short, but it's eloquence is only magnified by its brevity. And as you read, keep in mind that this speech was delivered more than a month before the surrender at Appomatox Court House took place. Knowing that historical context adds to the reader's appreciation of Lincoln's feelings of tenderness and mercy towards his brothers in the South.

For those of you who will inevitably not follow the link, here is an excerpt:

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.