February 12, 2006

Never Call Retreat

It being Lincoln's Birthday, his era can be remembered by reading all the stanzas of The Battle Hymn of the Republic:
I have read a firey Gospel writ
In rows of burnished steel
As you deal with My contemners,
So with you my grace shall deal
Let the hero born of woman
Crush the serpent with his heel
His truth is marching on.
Its militancy is typical of an age of greater faith than ours, and a war of enormous carnage, the first modern, industrial war.

Lincoln was certainly an eloquent, witty and determined man, kind to individuals, but also the determined leader of the bloody war with its hundreds of thousands of dead and maimed, and the resultant expansion of central power. Some of the martial spirit and the sense of righteousness of the time comes through in the Hymn.

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