Random thoughts and insights – always shaken, never stirred

Something to Think About for Thanksgiving

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It had been suggested by some on the Left in the months and even years running up to the election, that President Bush would find some excuse – most likely a terrorist attack – to postpone or even cancel the 2004 election. That did not happen, of course, and most people never gave that any thought at all. It was, after all, a ridiculous notion, for even staunch Bush supporters like myself would have abandoned him in droves had he ever attempted anything so repugnant to our democracy.

Yet, there was another election which some feared might be postponed or cancelled, and with perhaps greater cause. At the time, the nation was engulfed in a catastrophic Civil War, and there was no precedent for holding a national election in its midst. Lincoln might very well have gotten away with it, but he did not even try. He defeated his Democratic rival – George B. McClellan – handily in 1864, with 55% of the popular vote and 212 electoral votes to 21. Soon afterwards, in response to a serenade, Lincoln had this to say:

It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence, in great emergencies.

On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralized, by a political war among themselves?

But the election was a necessity.

We can not have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us. The strife of the election is but human-nature practically applied to the facts of the case. What has occurred in this case, must ever recur in similar cases. Human-nature will not change. In any future great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall have as weak, and as strong; as silly and as wise; as bad and good. Let us, therefore, study the incidents of this, as philosophy to learn wisdom from, and none of them as wrongs to be revenged.

But the election, along with its incidental, and undesirable strife, has done good too. It has demonstrated that a people’s government can sustain a national election, in the midst of a great civil war. Until now it has not been known to the world that this was a possibility. It shows also how sound, and how strong we still are. It shows that, even among candidates of the same party, he who is most devoted to the Union, and most opposed to treason, can receive most of the people’s votes. It shows also, to the extent yet known, that we have more men now, than we had when the war began. Gold is good in its place; but living, brave, patriotic men, are better than gold.

But the rebellion continues; and now that the election is over, may not all, having a common interest, re-unite in a common effort, to save our common country? For my own part I have striven, and shall strive to avoid placing any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom.

While I am deeply sensible to the high compliment of a re-election; and duly grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think, for their own good, it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be disappointed or pained by the result.

May I ask those who have not differed with me, to join with me, in this same spirit towards those who have?

And now, let me close by asking three hearty cheers for our brave soldiers and seamen and their gallant and skilful commanders.

(Abraham Lincoln, November 10, 1864)

Lincoln’s wisdom is as applicable today as it was then, and reminds us how much we have to be thankful for.

Barring some major news, I won’t be blogging again until Friday evening. A happy and safe Thanksgiving to all.


Written by martinipundit

November 24, 2004 at 1:26 pm

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