Stolen from The Writer's Almanac

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on December 1, 2007 0 Comments

It was on this day in 1862 that Abraham Lincoln gave the State of the Union address at one of the lowest points of his presidency. An end to the Civil War was nowhere in sight. Just 10 weeks before, Lincoln had issued his Emancipation Proclamation, turning the war into war about slavery rather than just states rights. But in the recent election, anti-Lincoln Democrats had made big gains in the Congress. Many people saw that as a sign that the North didn't want to fight to free the slaves. People wondered if the war could ever be won, if the Union had been lost forever. And if the Union had been lost, perhaps the democratic experiment of the United States had actually been a failure.Instead of expressing doubts in his speech, Lincoln argued that freeing the slaves was necessary to ensure that America live up to its own ideals. In his speech, on this day in 1862, Lincoln said, "The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. … In giving freedom to the slave, we ensure freedom to the free, honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth."

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