Select Page

Don't Tread On My Site

Today in History: Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address

Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms!

Today in 1863, Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, a speech widely considered as the most recognizable and commonly recited pieces of English text.

Truthfully, Lincoln’s oratory served as an erroneous reinvention of the union that conflicted greatly with the widespread understanding reached by the founding generation. While Lincoln declared that in 1776 our fathers “brought forth a new nation,” they did not. In reality, no union of states existed until the Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781. This union, which was voluntary in nature, was perpetuated in 1788, through the Constitution’s ratification by nine requisite member states.

In 1776, independence was declared as a common cause of the states, and the Declaration of Independence noted that “Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.” The states were compared to the “State of Great Britain,” making it obvious they existed and functioned and independent countries. Prior to this declaration, two states, Virginia and Rhode Island, and various other regions declared independence prior to the adoption of the famous document and the corresponding Lee resolution that severed all ties with Britain.

Contrary to Lincoln’s perception, the American states functioned as drastically different entities, through the War for Independence and long into the 1780s. Instead of the nationalist dictum, the Declaration of Independence was, in fact, a declaration of secession that enumerated the reasons for which the Lee Resolution of July 2 passed the Continental Congress. That generation staked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors on severance from Britain, not the consolidation of a national government as Lincoln espoused.

Lincoln honored “brave men” in the collective; he spoke of a “nation” several times but avoided reference to the federal framework the Constitution acknowledged. He associated the war with an obligatory religious battle, using verbatim biblical language and allusions, and ascribed a sacred association to the union which had not existed before.

Many opposed Lincoln’s desire to suppress northern dissent, rejected wide-ranging conscription efforts, disavowed the forced closure of northern press, renounced the blockade of southern ports, protested the suspension of habeas corpus, and deemed the war as wholly unnecessary. Without question, his deeds failed to persuade many that a cause that left about 800,000 dead was a glorious one. Still, Lincoln suggested that the union men that died upon the battlefield “nobly advanced” his vision for the union – the ultimate centralization and nationalization of political power. To Lincoln, the men “gave their lives that the nation might live.”

If Lincoln looked elsewhere in the same document he used to bolster his claims, he would have recognized Jefferson’s defense of secession and self-government in overt Lockean terms. Lacking a government that protects the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

While Lincoln’s speech is possibly the most memorable American exposition in the contemporary, it failed to appreciate the original maxims widely considered to be inherent to the American republic. Lincoln conceived of the union as a sacred, superlative, national state, whereas Jefferson considered it as a utilitarian, federally-oriented league of states.

This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Tenth Amendment Center. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

-> Click Here to Read the Original Article <-

About The Author

Tenth Amendment Center

The Tenth Amendment Center works to preserve and protect Tenth Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power. Visit

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.