Well, today is the anniversary of an entire year of blogging on Abraham Lincoln and his critics. What have I learned in the past 365 days? First, I am impressed by all the good work being done by various bloggers (for a sampling, go here, here, and here) on the Civil War. Some of the writing is so good and informative (not to mention meticulous and frequently funny) that at times I find it difficult to believe that I have anything important or original to say. Still, I press on. Second, I am acutely aware that many of the issues that Lincoln dealt with have not gone away? The meaning of liberty? Check. The meaning of equality? Check. Matters of race? Check. Questions about suffrage? Check. Vindicating democracy? Check. The power of the federal government versus state and local governments? Check. Issues of habeas corpus? Check.
As a word of encouragement to my readers, let me close with one of my favorite Lincoln utterances, to a group of United States soldiers, from 1864:
I suppose you are going home to see your families and friends. For the service you have done in this great struggle in which we are engaged I present you sincere thanks for myself and the country. I almost always feel inclined, when I happen to say anything to soldiers, to impress upon them in a few brief remarks the importance of success in this contest. It is not merely for to-day, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives. I beg you to remember this, not merely for my sake, but for yours. I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father’s child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright—not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.