In 1838, nearly 15 years prior to the start of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln delivered his now-famous Lyceum Address. This speech was written to bring attention to the current threat to the American government – the inner division within America.
While the entire speech by the 16th President of the United States is worth reading, the following excerpt sums up Lincoln’s thoughts:
“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach[es] us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.”
While this may seem like a morbid ending to a picture of America’s strength, it is anything but. Here, Abraham Lincoln is expressing the only true threat to America’s longevity: itself. He makes it clear that no foreign force could ever conquer America when we stand united, but when we are divided – much as we are now – we will be our own ‘author and finisher [of destruction].
As we all know, the division got to a point that caused the American Civil War and subsequently, over 615,000 American lives. But it did result in a stronger United States. We must learn from our history as a nation and come together to heal from the division that currently exists. When we stand together with God at our center, no enemy that can come against us!
Dr. Derek Grier
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