Lincoln at Peoria
The Turning Point
Getting Right with the
Declaration of Independence
by Lewis E. Lehrman
Lincoln at Peoria Lewis E. Lehrman Lincoln Institute
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  • Churchill and Lincoln: Glow Worms Walking a Tightrope (2/14/2014 - Greenwich Time)
    As young men, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill found themselves awkward among women. For much of his life, Churchill''s female confidante, in addition to his wife, was Violet Bonham Carter. She was an accomplished politician and the daughter of Lord Herbert H. Asquith, British prime minister from 1908 to 1916. Churchill and Bonham Carter met at a dinner party in 1906. "Of course, we are all worms," Churchill declared to her, "but I do believe that I am a glow worm."

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  • Churchill and Lincoln: Men of Principle; Men of Ideas (2/12/2014 - Putnam County News & Recorder)
    In February 1943, now 68 years of age, Winston Churchill flew to Algiers after meetings in Turkey and Egypt. He slept in a rigged up bunk in the hold of his very cold airplane (there were none of the comforts of Air Force One). A top British general heard Churchill’s valet tell the Prime Minister: “You are sitting on your hot water bottle. That isn’t at all a good idea.” The Prime Minister responded: “Idea? It isn’t an idea, it’s a coincidence.” Churchill was always a stickler for English usage -- even in the most intimate circumstances. His use of the English language in public speeches was especially practiced, even memorized.

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  • Lincoln and Churchhill at War (11/8/2013 - Stamford Advocate)
    As warlords, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill accepted the duty, for cause and country, to send young men to their death. In bloody conflicts separated by eight score years, both commanders-in-chief were especially sensitive to the death of their fighting men -- familiar, too, with the grief of their family and friends.

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  • Lincoln at Cooper Union (2/13/2013 - The Putnam County News and Recorder)
    Abraham Lincoln loved liberty. He said he had always hated slavery. In his Cooper Union speech of February 27, 1860, Abraham Lincoln challenged the arguments being made by Southern slaveholders in defense of the institution and in response to the Republican Party.

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  • President Lincoln and His Stories (2/12/2013 - Greenwich Time)
    Alexander H. Stephens, who became vice president of the Confederacy, met Lincoln in Congress in December 1847. Stephens recalled that Lincoln, "abounded in anecdotes; he illustrated everything that he was talking or speaking about by an anecdote; his anecdotes were always exceedingly apt and pointed, and socially he always kept his company in a roar of laughter."

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  • Reflections on Lincoln & Freedom (2/6/2013 - The Putnam County News and Recorder)
    President Abraham Lincoln's hand was shaking. New Year's Day festivities on January 1, 1863 began at 11 A.M. The hundreds of hands Lincoln shook at the White House left the nation's chief executive with a tremor he could not afford.

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  • Inspiration on the Long Road to Ending Slavery (1/2/2013 - Greenwich Time)
    On January 1, 1808, the promise of the American Founders was fulfilled. Importation of African slaves into America was banned. Over a year earlier, on December 2, 1806, President Thomas Jefferson had requested that Congress end the slave trade.

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  • The Patriotism of Abraham Lincoln (2/12/2011 - Stamford Advocate)
    President-elect Lincoln made very few public remarks before departing Springfield, Ill., for Washington for his inauguration in 1861. On Nov. 20, 1860, however, Lincoln addressed some very brief comments to supporters in Springfield.

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  • Churchill and Lincoln - Never give up (10/24/2010 - Connecticut Post)
    “Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days.”
    Thus spoke Winston Churchill to the students of Harrow School on October 29, 1941. The British prime minister visited the school, and made this speech, fewer than six weeks before the United States would enter World War II.

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  • Lincoln and liberty (7/5/2010 - New York Post)
    “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence,” Abraham Lincoln told a crowd in front of Independence Hall on the morning of Feb. 22, 1861. “I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence -- I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that independence.”

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  • Lehrman: Lincoln, a journalist from Connecticut and a horse (5/20/2010 - Connecticut Post)
    Private Henry E. Wing was mustered out of the Union army on crutches. The Connecticut native had been badly wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg of December 1862. Wing, who had abandoned the study of law earlier in the year to fight in the Civil War, returned home to Litchfield to recuperate with his family.

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  • Lincoln, Abolition and Economic Freedom (2/1/2010 - Education Update, Volume XV, No. 3)
    To read carefully Lincoln's parable of the ant suggests a lost truth: during most of his political career Lincoln focused not on anti-slavery but on economic policy. Yet anti-slavery and economic policy, in his worldview, were tightly linked.

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  • For back to school, lessons of a self-educated president (9/3/2009 - Stamford Advocate)
    Abraham Lincoln seldom got the chance to go to school. He received fewer than 12 months of schooling. Congressman Lincoln, it was reported, once said that a Georgia colleague was "an eloquent man, and a man of learning; so far as he could judge of learning, not being learned himself." Such self-deprecation came naturally. Lincoln's friend Joshua Speed noted that Lincoln "was never ashamed, so far as I know, to admit his ignorance upon any subject, or of the meaning of any word, no matter how ridiculous it might make him appear."

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  • Abraham Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence (7/3/2009 - Connecticut Post)
    "I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it," asked Abraham Lincoln in July 1858, "where will it stop? If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it, and tear it out!" Speaking to Chicago supporters of his campaign against Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln repeated himself: "If it is not true, let us tear it out!"

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  • 1809-2009: A New Birth of Freedom (4/29/2009 - Abraham Lincoln's Bicentennial)
    "The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor against whatever robber assails him." This parable expressed Abraham Lincoln's belief in the dignity of human labor. The right to the fruit of one's labor was so fundamental that "all feel and understand it, even down to brutes and creeping insect," wrote Lincoln.

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  • Black Friday: Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth (4/10/2009 - Greenwich Time)
    President Abraham Lincoln had just given the final speech of his life. Two days earlier, Robert E. Lee had surrendered the Confederate Army at Appomattox. But in Lincoln's speech, from the second floor window of the White House, the president did not dwell on victory.

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  • Douglass, Lincoln had historic relationship (3/3/2009 - Stamford Advocate)
    Frederick Douglass, the great black abolitionist, did not like to be told no. On March 4, 1865, he lined up at the White House to greet President Abraham Lincoln after his second inauguration. No African-American would go with him.

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  • In Lincoln's Hand - His Original Manuscripts (3/1/2009 - Publication of the Library of Congress)
    William Wilberforce could not be indifferent to slavery. For twenty years, the wealthy heir to a merchant fortune worked unceasingly to end slavery in the British Empire. His labor bore fruit when Parliament acted in 1807 to abolish the slave trade.

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  • Lincoln liked Confederate Vice President - Unlikely Friend (2/16/2009 - Montgomery Advertiser)
    On Feb. 18 1861, the new leaders of the Confederacy were inaugurated in Montgomery. A wizened, prickly Alexander H. Stephens and a lean, proud Jefferson Davis took office as vice president and president of the Confederacy.

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  • Future President Pressed Antislavery Theme In 1860 Visit (2/15/2009 - Hartford Courant)
    In the week after Abraham Lincoln's speech at Cooper Union in New York on Feb. 27, 1860, the future president passed through Connecticut on the way to visit his son at Exeter, N.H. Lincoln agreed to stop in Hartford on his return. By the time he arrived in the Connecticut capital on March 5, speaking requests had piled up as a result of the publicity that the Cooper Union address received across New England. Republicans wanted to hear Lincoln's antislavery message to rally support for state elections in April.

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  • State brought out the best in Lincoln (2/12/2009 - The Carlisle Sentinel)
    Abraham Lincoln did not spend much time in Pennsylvania. His ancestors had already done that; grandfather Abraham Lincoln was born here in 1744. By the time the future president was born in 1809, the Lincoln family had moved on, first to Virginia, and then to Kentucky. Pennsylvania would be the place President-elect Lincoln passed through on the way to Washington.

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  • Lincoln's man from Connecticut (2/11/2009 - Greenwich Time)
    "Father Neptune" was Connecticut's representative in President Abraham Lincoln's Cabinet. Gideon Welles was an uptight, self-righteous newspaper editor who was the compromise choice to represent New England -- perhaps, Welles thought, as postmaster general. A former Democrat, Welles had a reputation as a solid opponent of slavery, but his Cabinet appointment seemed shaky. The future Navy secretary remained unsure of his nomination until the newly-inaugurated president forwarded it to the Senate.

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  • Holding the president's hat (1/20/2009 - Stamford Advocate)
    When in 1861 Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated president, a longtime rival from Illinois held his hat. For nearly a quarter century, Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas had opposed each other in politics. On three occasions -- 1839, 1854 and 1858 -- they had squared off in debates that helped define the issues of economics and slavery that faced the nation.

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  • Man of Springfield Found Inspiration From Monticello (12/7/2008 - Richmond Times Dispatch)
    Barack Obama will not be the first American president to find his political model in a predecessor from a different political party. Even after he became a Republican in 1856, Abraham Lincoln described himself as an "old line Whig." But the Whig Party had elected only two presidents, both of whom soon died in office. Lincoln's own "beau ideal of a statesman" -- Kentucky's Henry Clay -- had often run for the presidency and repeatedly lost either the Whig nomination or the general election.

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  • A Tall Order (11/23/2008 - Harrisburg Patriot-News)
    Barack Obama is hardly the first president to take office at a time of national crisis. No one confronted a greater crisis than Abraham Lincoln, who watched the South secede in the four months between his election in 1860 and his inauguration on March 4, 1861.

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  • A House Divided Against Itself (4/22/2008 - New York Sun)
    On April 23, 1860, 148 years ago, the Democratic National Convention opened in Charleston, S.C. There, the Democratic Party disintegrated over the possible nomination of Stephen Douglas, a senator from Illinois.

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  • Lincoln of Illinois (2/12/2008 - The New York Sun)
    In 1860, two of the four candidates for president of the United States came from Illinois. The Republican, Abraham Lincoln, stopped all public communication in March after completing a tour through New York and New England. His Illinois Democratic opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, spoke out extensively. The quiet Republican won the presidency, maintaining a disciplined silence until he left Springfield for Washington on February 11, 1861. The Vermont-born Democrat, Senator Douglas, had broken political tradition by campaigning almost full time. It was his third try for the presidency.

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  • Lincoln in New York (2/12/2007 - The New York Sun)
    The leading Republican candidate for President in 1860 was Senator Seward of New York, distinguished by decades of experience in state and national government. But there was another candidate, relatively unknown nationally, but a recognized anti-slavery lawyer from Illinois. Some of his opponents delighted in calling Abraham Lincoln a "black Republican".

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  • Lincoln Prize 2004: “To give all a chance” (4/14/2004 - Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
    To read carefully the Lincoln economic parable of the ant (reprinted here) suggests a lost truth about our sixteenth president: during most of Abraham Lincoln’s political career he focused not on anti-slavery but on economic policy. Yet anti-slavery and economic policy, in his worldview, were tightly linked. As Lincoln explained, slavery was grounded in coercion. It was, and is, an involuntary economic exchange of labor. In commercial terms, slavery is theft: “The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him…the most dumb and stupid slave, that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged.” Slavery differs from free labor as a beast does from a man. Thus Lincoln assailed slavery not only on moral grounds but also on economic principle. This principle, he asserted, is a truth “made so plain by our good Father in Heaven, that all feel and understand it, even down to brutes and creeping insects.” We must not be misled by Lincoln's simple metaphors, for one of the profound strengths of Lincoln's political philosophy was his self-taught and masterful grasp of economic theory; more sophisticated than that of any President before or since. This is, I think, an inescapable conclusion from any careful study of Lincoln's collected writings, speeches and state papers.

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  • The Party of Lincoln (2/16/2004 - Weekly Standard)
    To reassess Abraham Lincoln on his 195th birthday is to learn a lost truth: During much of his political career, Lincoln focused not on the moral issues of slavery but on economic policy. Yet slavery and economic policy were tightly linked in his worldview.

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  • Abraham Lincoln (1/27/2004 - Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History)
    To study Abraham Lincoln is to learn a lost truth about our first Republican president. And it is this… During most of Abraham Lincoln's political career he focused not on anti-slavery but on economic policy. Anti-slavery and economic policy, in his worldview, were tightly linked. As Mr. Lincoln explained, slavery was grounded in coercion. It was, and is, an involuntary economic exchange of labor. In commercial terms, slavery is theft. "The ant, who has toiled and dragged a crumb to his nest, will furiously defend the fruit of his labor, against whatever robber assails him…the most dumb and stupid slave, that ever toiled for a master, does constantly know that he is wronged." Slavery differs from free labor as a beast does from a man. Thus, Lincoln assailed slavery not only on moral grounds but also on economic principle. This principle, he asserted, is a truth "made so plain by our good Father in Heaven, that all feel and understand it, even down to brutes and creeping insects." We must not be misled by Lincoln's simple metaphors; for one of the profound strengths of Lincoln's political philosophy was his self-taught and masterful grasp of economic theory.

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  • Lincoln and War Leadership (2/17/2003 - Greenwich Time)
    “In a great national crisis, like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable — almost indispensable… We are gaining strength, and may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely.”       Lincoln's last message to Congress, Dec. 6, 1864.

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  • Lincoln and the Civil War (2/12/2002 - Greenwich Time)
    In his annual message to Congress in 1862, Abraham Lincoln wrote, “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not be responsible through time and eternity.”

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  • Lincoln: Master of Man (2/19/2001 - Greenwich Time)
    One of the keys to Abraham Lincoln's character was his discipline. In the last two decades of his life, it is difficult to find occasions when Mr. Lincoln did not carefully monitor his public comments or gauge their public impact.

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  • Lincoln: Man of Honor (2/15/1999 - Greenwich Time)
    He was called “Honest Abe” for a reason, but he detested the nickname. None of his friends called him that to his face. But in a profession full of dissimulation, he came by the title honorably. It fit. As his wife once wrote, “Poor Mr. L. is almost a monomaniac on the subject of honesty.”

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  • Lincoln: The Self-Made Man (2/20/1995 - Greenwich Time)
    Pity poor Abraham Lincoln. Behind the legend, there was certainly much to lament. Lincoln's grandfather had been killed by Indians while tilling his field; his father had nearly been kidnapped in the same attack. Lincoln himself was born 186 years ago this month in a rustic Kentucky log cabin—surely substandard housing by anyone's definition.

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  • Abraham Lincoln: An American for All Time (2/10/1995 - Wall Street Journal)
    Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday we celebrate on Sunday, is generally remembered for winning the Civil War and freeing the slaves. He should be. But the great lost truth about our 16th president is that during most of his political career he focused, not on slavery, but on a policy for economic growth and equal opportunity for the new nation. As Lincoln explained over and over, slavery was an involuntary economic exchange of labor, based on coercion; and, therefore, it was theft. Slavery, in short, was the antithesis of free labor, and thus Lincoln opposed it on moral and economic principle.

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