The 4th of July and Abraham Lincoln

The 4th of July and Abraham Lincoln

Tom Stilp JD, MBA/MM, LLM, MSC

July 4th commemorates the act by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, for the passage of the Declaration of Independence.  It begins:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Invoking the Declaration of Independence, in November of 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.  It begins:

“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.”

At the time of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 87 years after the Declaration of Independence, thousands were dying on the bloody battlefield, tens of thousands more were wounded or captured, or dying of infectious diseases.

Family members split over issues of slavery or state’s rights.  President Lincoln was despised, hated and ridiculed not only in the Southern Confederacy, but in the Northern Union as well.  “Lincoln’s War” they said.  Newspapers were enormously influential and powerfully partisan.

Those opposed to Lincoln relentlessly attacked his administration and his family.  While Lincoln and his wife Mary were privately mourning the death of their 11-year-old son William from typhoid fever (believed to be from contaminated water in the White House), Lincoln was trying to get Congress to end slavery.

People usually think of success as a list of accomplishments, but with Lincoln, and perhaps more importantly, it was a list of obstacles, difficulties, defeats and losses to overcome.

Almost 250 years later, the nation “so conceived and so dedicated” has endured.  Given a unique system of laws, and despite our flaws and differences, the US has survived and is one of the most prosperous countries in the World.  Have a wonderful July 4th!