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 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.
The Second Inaugural Address (Excerpt)
March 4, 1865
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it
has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict
might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each
looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid
against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a
just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's
faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both
could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. 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 with 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
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.
Message to Congress (Closing Paragraphs)
December 1, 1862
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
disenthrall 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 say we are for the Union. The world will not
forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we
do know how to save it. We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the
responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the
free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall
nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may
succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just --
a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must