On the eve of Civil War, Abraham Lincoln concluded his First Inaugural Address with two sentences of incandescent eloquence: “Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
These words remind us that Lincoln—whose birthday we celebrate February 12th—became one of the greatest English prose writers in history. The fact that such mastery came from an impoverished frontier boy with only a year of schooling constitutes one of the many miracles that should inspire anyone willing to look with open eyes at our amazing past.
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