Seven Score and 10 Years Ago…
Here at the Roundtable, we attempt to hew closely to our mission of presenting conservative and libertarian musings on the intersection of law and policy, but there are certain days of reflection that call for a slight aberration.
There have been times in our history when an event is so significant that observers seek to commemorate the occasion almost instantaneously. This was the case on November 19, 1863. Not five months after the terrible and awesome Battle of Gettysburg, we gathered at a graveyard steps from the battlefield in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. Following a headline speech by Edward Everett (former President of Harvard, and alumnus), we heard a surprise two minute address–not speech– from a President whose mere election proximately caused the South’s secession. Greater historians and thinkers than I have provided a wealth of commentary and I encourage you to seek them out. Below are some other appraisals of today’s auspiciousness. But before reading the commentary, I think the most important thing to do on November 19, 2013 is to read the words spoken on November 19, 1863:
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 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.
After you’ve read and considered the words, I encourage you to look at some others’ commentary on it:
Bret Stephens (The Wall Street Journal): From ‘Four Score’ to ‘Yes, We Can!’
David Azerrad (The Heritage Foundation): Is Our Government Still “Of the People”?
Ken Burns: Learn the Address
USA TODAY (Video): Gettysburg Marks 150th Anniversary
Associated Press: Pa. Paper: Sorry for Panning Gettysburg Address