Obama’s Rug #3

Dear Reader,
The third quote from President Obama’s new rug is by Abraham Lincoln:
“Government of the People, By the People, For the People”

Now I have no problem with the content of this quote. It is what our government is supposed to be. We could debate the merits of various kinds of government, but the fact remains that this is how our government was founded to be. If it does not meet those goals, I am afraid a lot of the blame falls in the people themselves (who else could it fall on?).

What intrigues me most is why this quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Now, I know he said it in the Gettysburg Address, the context being that the dead slain at Gettysburg did not die in vain because we are fighting so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” But as Lincoln himself indicates, he is leading a fight to preserve something. He is not the originator of this concept. So why not quote Jefferson: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”? It is not as catchy, I suppose. But I suspect the greater reason is a desire to quote Lincoln. Lincoln freed the slaves.  Obama also chose to quote MLK, Jr. As the first black president, it is perhaps natural that he would choose to draw attention to abolition and the civil rights movement.  My biggest quibble, I guess, is that Lincoln is the earliest figure quoted, and the only one from before 1900. That ignores an awful lot of American history. Lincoln is supporting an American ideal. But what of the men who struggled to set up that ideal? They were doing something truly revolutionary, and it saddens me to think that their contributions are no longer before our national consciousness.



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