In the last days of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln gave his second inaugural address to a country divided, an address abolitionist Frederick Douglass would later call “a sacred effort.”
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in,” said Lincoln. “[t]o bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
With this speech, Lincoln would attempt to establish a basis on which the nation could heal from its wounds, inflicted in both war and chattel slavery. Later that year, on December 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment was adopted, officially abolishing slavery in the United States.
Many challenges remained for the nation, but this didn’t negate Lincoln’s words. Lincoln had a vision for the country’s future; he didn’t speak of justice and peace among the American people as if it was already accomplished. Rather, he believed that America was to “strive on to finish the work” our founding had called us to, one in which all men are granted equal rights under the law because all men are made in the image of God.
Fast-forward over a century and a half later, and there is a growing movement that believes America was born in shame and must be torn asunder. This movement seeks to redefine America’s founding principles and restrict our most cherished liberties.
But this movement neglects a major aspect of America’s founding. Watch below:
The Declaration of Independence didn’t describe the country as it was when the document was drafted. Instead, it described the kind of country the Founders knew America should be and the way everyone should be treated by the law.
Throughout our nation’s history, Americans have achieved progress through an ongoing commitment to live up to the promises laid out in our founding documents, not by tearing them down. The same holds true today. We can’t improve our nation if we do not commit ourselves to this truth: Each of us is made in the image of God, endowed with dignity and inalienable rights.
These are the truths our Founding Fathers left us with, a legacy which should make all of us proud.
Share this video with friends and family members to spread the word about the truth of America’s founding. America is a work in progress, and it’s our founding principles that have helped guide us through turmoil and polarization.
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