Lincoln’s Lyceum address


How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? ?Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

? Abraham Lincoln, 1838.

Nine score years ago one of the most politically significant orations in recorded history was delivered by a rather tall and awkward looking gentleman on the cusp of his 29th birthday.

It was on a Saturday nearing the end of winter, January 27th 1838, when the young backwoods lawyer from Kentucky walked upon the raised stage at the Springfield Lyceum and prepared to speak to those in attendance.

The title of the speech was ?The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions? and it had been written in response to a growing level of unrest and disorder in the burgeoning nation of the United States of America.

While the years have rolled by; bringing with them the inevitable changes to our methods and understandings; some things, however, seem to remain constant.

I will not waste the reader?s time by attempting to convey my own understandings of Lincoln?s thoughts and fears concerning the erosion of individual liberty.

For, after all, surely the events of the current times reflect a growing tendency towards foisting one?s own opinions upon the lives of others.

As opposed to the alternative: ensuring information is freely available and then leaving it up to people?s individual reasonings and logic to find their own unique voice.

One thing I will say though: I believe it is not only our right but also our responsibility to those that come after us, to energetically question our so-called ?betters? who ever seek to prevent the individual from expressing their beliefs and ideas.

For whenever we encounter a person, or group, who wishes to limit the hard-won freedoms of assembly, thought and expression; you will also find a tyrant in the making.


For a full transcript of Lincoln’s speech, you can click on this link.

If you would prefer an audio version then this link can be used.