The Civil War Connections Blog

That We Here Highly Resolve

Happy Birthday President Lincoln!

Happy Birthday President Lincoln!

 

Today marks what would be President Abraham Lincoln’s 204th birthday, and in honor of our 16th President, you get a two-for-one deal with blog posts today! In addition to this little refresher on President Lincoln, I will also be posting a more in-depth look at his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. As I’m sure most of you already know Lincoln led the Union through the extremely trying times of the Civil War. Born in Kentucky and raised in Illinois, Lincoln was a small town lawyer who was involved with the Illinois legislature for eight years prior to becoming the Republican nomination for president. After winning the presidency in 1860, the Civil War broke out and consumed Lincoln’s time in office. Not only did Lincoln have the support of the Republican Party, but he also was able to encourage some Democratic support for the war as well. At the start of the war, Lincoln maintained that it was not a war regarding slavery, but a war to preserve the Union. However, as the fighting progressed it became increasingly apparently that addressing the issue of slavery would be necessary. Among struggles to win both battles and support, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves within the Confederate States effective January 1, 1863. Following the end of the Civil War, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, terminating any chances Lincoln had of peacefully reuniting the divided nation.

 

On this day in 1914, exactly 99 years ago, the cornerstone to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was placed, and construction began. Eight years later, after the memorials completion in 1922, Lincoln’s only living son Robert Todd Lincoln attended the dedication ceremony. The memorial has quotes from two of Lincoln’s most famous speeches, his Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address, on its walls. As a testament to Lincoln’s enduring legacy, it was here in 1963 that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the Civil Rights movement. The quote on the Lincoln Memorial from the Gettysburg Address states, “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 and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” I know I said this in my post about Lincoln’s inauguration, but it’s always fascinating to me how something that was said in 1863 could be understood and applicable again today.

 

Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, May 30, 1922. Accessed through the Library of Congress online.

Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, May 30, 1922. Accessed through the Library of Congress online.