One hundred and fifty years ago, President Abraham Lincoln linked the concept of our nation’s founding with the structure of the Constitution asserting that this nation was conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great political war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are eternally grateful that this nation has passed far beyond a resort to violence and bloodshed disputing the rights and responsibilities of free men and women of all races and creeds. Yet we still are tempted by willful political whim, rather than the rule of constitutionally tested law and the results of broad-based elections.
Lincoln gave his all. He struggled, he consecrated, he hallowed our Constitutional Union, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember our budget disputes of today, but it can never forget what Lincoln and so many others did in sacrifice for the ideals of this nation. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who sacrificed have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.