That’s how President Abraham Lincoln saw the Declaration of Independence, as the promise of liberty for all people that would emanate from this new nation with a universal reach and hopefully, grasp.

Lincoln revered the Declaration and its ideals of
liberty and equality. In an 1858 speech in Chicago, he said it was “the
father of all moral principle” in the American republic, and its spirit
“the electric cord . . . that links the hearts of patriotic and
liberty-loving men together.”

He spent much time pondering the hardships endured by those who had
fought for independence. In that speech he called them “iron men.” As a
boy, he read accounts of the patriots’ battlefield struggles in Parson
Weems’s “Life of Washington” and thought, as he told the New Jersey
state Senate in 1861, that “there must have been something more than
common that those men struggled for.”…

Lincoln understood that if the American experiment of
self-government were to succeed, the country must be saved on the basis
of the Declaration of Independence. It was no accident that in the
first sentence of the Gettysburg Address, he quoted the Declaration,
reminding Americans that from the beginning the nation had been
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

It’s time to remind ourselves again of that eloquent claim on rights conferred by the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....