Thursday, May 13

Lincoln's Temperance Address

Springfield, Illinois
February 22, 1842

 
Abraham Lincoln caused a stir with this speech, given to the Springfield Washington Temperance Society on the 110th anniversary of George Washington's birth. Even though this organization was not a religious one, the crowd that gathered in the Second Presbyterian Church did not expect his approach.

Rather than berate problem drinkers into temperance, the 33-year-old Lincoln endorsed "kind, unassuming persuasion" and criticized earlier, heavy-handed temperance efforts. Furthermore, he advocated reason as the solution to alcoholism and other ills in his famous conclusion: "Happy day, when all appetites controled, all passions subdued, all matters subjected, mind, all conquering mind, shall live and move the monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail fall of Fury! Reign of Reason, all hail!

Excerpts:

Although the Temperance cause has been in progress for near twenty years, it is apparent to all, that it is, just now, being crowned with a degree of success, hitherto unparalleled.....................................

 In my judgment, such of us as have never fallen victims, have been spared more by the absence of appetite, than from any mental or moral superiority over those who have. Indeed, I believe, if we take habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class. There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant, and warm-blooded to fall into this vice. The demon of intemperance ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and of generosity. What one of us but can call to mind some dear relative, more promising in youth than all his fellows, who has fallen a sacrifice to his rapacity? He ever seems to have gone forth, like the Egyptian angel of death, commissioned to slay if not the first, the fairest born of every family. Shall he now be arrested in his desolating career? In that arrest, all can give aid that will; and who shall be excused that can, and will not? Far around as human breath has ever blown, he keeps our fathers, our brothers, our sons, and our friends, prostrate in the chains of moral death. To all the living every where we cry, "come sound the moral resurrection trump, that these may rise and stand up, an exceeding great army" -- "Come from the four winds, O breath! and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." 


Read the entire address at : http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/temperance.htm

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