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Contents > Author > Abraham Lincoln > Response to a Serenade, July 7, 1863 1809- 1865
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Abraham Lincoln
Response to a Serenade, July 7, 1863
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Fellow-citizens:

I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say
I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty
God for the occasion on which you have called. How long ago is it
-- eighty odd years -- since on the Fourth of July for the first time
in the history of the world a nation by its representatives, assembled
and declared as a self-evident truth that "all men are created equal."
That was the birthday of the United States of America. Since then
the Fourth of July has had several peculiar recognitions. The two
most distinguished men in the framing and support of the Declaration
were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams -- the one having penned it
and the other sustained it the most forcibly in debate -- the only two
of the fifty-five who sustained it being elected President of the United
States. Precisely fifty years after they put their hands to the paper
it pleased Almighty God to take both from the stage of action. This
was indeed an extraordinary and remarkable event in our history.
Another President, five years after, was called from this stage of
existence on the same day and month of the year; and now, on
this last Fourth of July just passed, when we have a gigantic
Rebellion, at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow the
principle that all men are created equal, we have the surrender
of a most powerful position and army on that very day, and not
only so, but in a succession of battles in Pennsylvania, near to us,
through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called
one great battle on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of the month of July;
and on the 4th the cohorts of those who opposed the declaration
that all men are created equal, "turned tail" and ran. Gentlemen,
this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, but I am
not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion. I would like to
speak in terms of praise due to the many brave officers and
soldiers who have fought in the cause of the war. There are
trying occasions, not only in success, but for the want of success.
I dislike to mention the name of one single officer, lest I might
do wrong to those I might forget. Recent events bring up glorious
names, and particularly prominent ones, but these I will not
mention. Having said this much, I will now take the music.

(Speech to a crowd accompanied by a band outside the White
House, after two important Union victories.)
 

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