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Lincoln warned how a 'cunning tyrant' could take over

Lincoln warned, Jan. 27, 1837: “At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Lincoln stated at Edwardsville, Illinois, Sept. 11, 1858: “What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny. All of those may be turned against us. … Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. … You have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.”

Lincoln wrote to William Dodge, Feb. 23, 1861: “Freedom is the natural condition of the human race, in which the Almighty intended men to live. Those who fight the purpose of the Almighty will not succeed.”

On April 6, 1859, Lincoln wrote a letter to H.L. Pierce and others, insisting: “This is a world of compensation. … Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God, cannot long retain it.”

Lincoln closed a debate with Judge Douglas, 1858: “That is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between these two principles – right and wrong – throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle.”

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Lincoln stated in his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861: “If the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made … the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.”

Lincoln stated at Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Feb. 22, 1861: “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled … and adopted that Declaration of Independence – I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army. … I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother land; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can this country be saved? … If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle … I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it.”

On Feb. 11, 1861, newly elected as president, Abraham Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, D.C., never to return.

He stated: “I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me and remain with you, and be everywhere for good. … Let us all pray that the God of our fathers may not forsake us now.”

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