Thursday, February 12, 2009

The forgotten bicentennial: Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

As Matthew Franck notes, there is a surprising dearth of coverage in the media relating to the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. And that's just a tragic failure to remember our history and one of the men most responsible for shaping it.

Lincoln is consistently rated as the best or second-best president in American history by scholars and historians (The Monk's list says: Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Reagan, Truman). He fought to keep the United States united, defeated the Confederacy, and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

His birthday used to be a holiday all on its own, which is how it should still be. But Congress opted for giving everyone a three-day weekend instead of honoring Lincoln on Feb. 12 and Washington on Feb. 22. Thus, it created the travesty holiday of Presidents' Day, which presumably also honors such asinine fools as Carter, Wilson, LBJ and Hoover, no-effect presidents like W.H. Harrison and Garfield, overrated presidents like JFK and FDR, and presidents who affirmatively helped plunge the nation into Civil War like Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan.

The Monk offers his salutations to the man who saved the Union, and preserved the United States. Happy Birthday President Lincoln.

In remembrance, here's the text of the Gettysburg Address:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon 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 here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it 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 can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. 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 here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

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