The Rule of Law – Lincoln at Lyceum

“I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice.”

Lincoln spoke those words in 1837, only 24 years before civil war tore America apart. The future Great Emancipator spoke of mob justice, racially motivated violence, and attacks on American political institutions. Now in 2018, we read of racially motivated shootings at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a Kentucky store, and mail bombs sent to politicians. If 1837 seems similar to 2018, it is…and Americans should do all they can to stop it.

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National Suicide – Comments on Lyceum

In our ongoing study of Lincoln’s words to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield, IL on 27 January 1838, we have briefly examined some of the amazing blessings of America. These include her geography, her resources, her development, and her political institutions. Most people throughout history have been crushed by the boot of tyranny, from Argentina to Japan to Zimbabwe. Even today in China, Russia, Turkey, and many other nations, the light of liberty is flickering, or has gone out. The American people, working through brilliantly conceived and enduring political institutions, have lived in freedom, limited primarily by their own industry and imagination.

We have also discussed the men and women who made the United States the amazing country that it is. As heirs to their wisdom and to their labors, we must be grateful. As heirs to their folly and mistakes, we must be humble, because it is not clear that we are any wiser, or any more industrious, than they were. Looking at the United States today, one wonders if we are not greater fools and greater sluggards. Those who cast aside the Greek democracy and the Roman Republic thought they were building better societies.

Today we must explore Lincoln’s next passage, asking where the danger to America would come.

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Grateful to our Fathers – Comments on Lyceum

Showing gratitude to our fathers for American government is a good idea for us today

“We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.”

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Useful Quotations on International Relations

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

“This accession of territory affirms (Louisiana Purchase) forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival that sooner or later will lay low her pride.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect.” Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman, writer. Broadcast, 21 Oct. 1940, to the French people.

“For leaders unable to choose among their alternatives, circumspection becomes an alibi for inaction.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of a country depends on the options it is perceived to have.” Henry Kissinger

“The public does not in the long run respect leaders who mirror its own insecurities or see only the symptoms of crises rather than the long term trends. The role of the leader is to assume the burden of acting on the basis of a confidence in his own assessment of the direction of events and how they can be influenced. Failing that, crises will multiply, which is another way of saying that a leader has lost control over events.” Henry Kissinger

“Facing down a nonexistent threat is an easy way to enhance a nation’s standing.” Henry Kissinger

“Humiliating a great country without weakening it is always a dangerous game.” Henry Kissinger

“Heads of government are notoriously vulnerable to arguments that question their courage.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of the victor always diminishes with time. Whatever is not exacted during the shock of defeat becomes increasingly difficult to attain later.” Henry Kissinger

“In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), U.S. Democratic politician, president. First inaugural address, 4 March 1933.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 2 Sept. 1901, Minnesota State Fair, quoting a favorite adage and referring to military preparation and the Monroe Doctrine.

“When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, Sept. 1899, Akron, Ohio, justifying the war against Spain.

“The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 6 Sept. 1918, New York City, on the anniversary of the first Battle of the Marne.