Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.


- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 29, 1865



While Lincoln lay in state at the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, the first post-assassination Harper's Weekly was published on this day in 1865.

The prose... well let's just say that we've come a long way from the days when news was also art.

sonofthesouth.net has graciously posted all copies of Harpers Weekly from the Civil War era, so it is possible to read the paper in its entirety on that site. It is an amazing resource; not simply for news of the day, but because it offers a glimpse into Civil War culture (at least in the North,) and the obvious appreciation of language that was prevalent at that time.

Its not so hard to see how Lincoln could have produced his timeless speeches in the context of his time (not to detract from their richness and classic eloquence.) Good writing and use of English was esteemed in that era; it was something all writers and speakers aspired to perfect in their public lives.

How tragic that we have lost that appreciation for our native tongue.

From Harpers Weekly, April 19th, 1865:

THE MURDER OF THE PRESIDENT.

THE Fourteenth of April is a dark day in our country's calendar. On that day four years ago the national flag was for the first time lowered at the bidding of traitors. Upon that day, after a desperate conflict with treason for four long, weary years—a conflict in which the nation had so far triumphed that she breathed again in the joyous prospect of coming peace —her chosen leader was stricken down by the foul hand of the cowardly assassin. Exultation that had known no bounds was exchanged for boundless grief. The record upon which had been inscribed all sorts of violence possible to the most malignant treason that ever sought to poison a nation's heart had been almost written full. But not quite full. Murder had run out its category of possible degrees against helpless loyalists in the South, against women and children whose houses had been burned down over their heads, and against our unfortunate prisoners, who had been tortured and literally starved to death. But there still remained one victim for its last rude stroke—one victim for whom, it was whispered in rebel journals South and North, there was still reserved the dagger of a BRUTUS. Beaten on every field of recognized warfare, treason outdid its very self, and killed our President.

Read the entire story...

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