Lincoln on the Purpose of Government

“This is essentially a People’s contest… It is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and substance of government, whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men – to lift artificial weights from all shoulders – to clear the paths of laudable pursuits for all – to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.”

Message to Congress, July 4, 1861

“It is not merely for today, but for all time to come that we should perpetuate for our children’s children this great and free government, which we have enjoyed all our lives.”

Speech at Washington, D.C., August 22, 1864


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