Lincoln's Take On The Death of Liberty: A Stunningly Relevant Speech for Today

In a world where my president sets about systematically dismantling everything that this country has ever stood for, I am finding comfort in the words of past leaders. A great battle has begun for the very essence of the American way of life and system of government, where the free market principles and personal liberties are under attack like never before.

Below is an interesting nugget from Abraham Lincoln’s speech in Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838. The subject of the speech was the “perpetuation of our political institutions.” It is an interesting read in light of current events. Lincoln, as you know, was a one-term Congressman before being elected President of the United States. In this speech, Lincoln said:

We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the state of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only to transmit these-the former unprofaned by the foot of the invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation–to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know.

He goes on to warn us that if ever this great experiment in liberty is to be dismantled, it will not be from a foreign invader, but rather from within:

At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach 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.

Lincoln goes on to argue that the “increasing disregard for law” is the growing threat to the freedoms and liberties protected since our founding. To fight this growing disdain for the law, Lincoln suggests that we all should, like the founders, pledge our “life, our property, and our sacred honor” to protect America.

Lincoln then warns against “great and good men” whose “ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair.” When people seeking power instead of principle, dominating instead of serving, should arise, Lincoln suggests the following:

Is it unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us? And when such an one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by going good as harm, yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of puling down.

Since President Obama is fond of comparing himself to Lincoln, I think these words have an even stronger meaning for today’s situation. Lincoln’s warnings have come true. A politician has risen by his “genius” or perceived genius to the office of President for no other reason than the power, and he has begun the act of liberty’s suicide by his brutal assault on the institutions that have made this country great.

Sadly, too many in leadership and the chattering class of the opposition have decided to also abandon the great principles of liberty that have so permeated our nation for over 200 years. That leadership needs to be awakened to the truth of today’s situation. They need to understand that, in the words of Governor Palin, “we don’t need a title to enact change.” If liberty is rescued from the assault of Obama’s socialist agenda, it will only by the masses rising up in defense of her. If our leaders, elected officials, and commentators do not understand this, than new “unconventional” leaders will need to rise up. It’s just that simple and at the same time, that dire.

Another President echoed Lincoln’s sentiments some 150 years later. Ronald Reagan said:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Both of these great leaders understood the cost of protecting freedom. Both of these leaders took risks, sacrificed everything and defied the conventional wisdom to accomplish that goal. We must do the same.

After all, as Lincoln also pointed out, we contain the power to frustrate Obama’s ambitions and protect our endangered liberty.

To that, we must pledge our lives, our property, and our sacred honor.