On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) delivered his most memorable speech at a ceremony dedicating the cemetery for the Union dead at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, site of the great victory in July of that year which marked a turning point in the Civil War. Lincoln used the occasion to offer his interpretation of the war and the reasons for which it was being fought. To do so, he revisits the Declaration of Independence, summoning the nation to achieve a “new birth of freedom” through renewed dedication to the founding proposition of human equality.
“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Diana J. Schaub is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where her work is focused on American political thought and history, particularly Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, African American political thought, Montesquieu, and the relevance of core American ideals to contemporary challenges and debates. Concurrently, she is a professor of political science at Loyola University Maryland, where she has taught for almost three decades.
An expert in political philosophy, Dr. Schaub has lectured on a variety of topics and participated in conferences around the country. She has contributed chapters to multiple books on Shakespeare, liberal education, women, and religion, and she is the author of two books: “What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song,” coedited with Amy and Leon Kass (ISI Books, 2011), and “Erotic Liberalism: Women and Revolution in Montesquieu’s ‘Persian Letters’” (Rowman & Littlefield, 1995). Her monograph, “Emancipating the Mind: Lincoln, the Founders, and Scientific Progress” (AEI, 2018), is based on her remarks at the 2018 Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture.