The Atlantic

Abraham Lincoln’s Warning

The 16th president of the United States knew what the 45th does not. The Declaration of Independence is at the core of our political inheritance.
Source: George Peter Alexander Healy / National Portrait Gallery

An American can always benefit from rereading the Declaration of Independence. But I suspect that this Fourth of July is better spent with that document’s best interpreter, Abraham Lincoln, beginning with words he uttered after worrying that his countrymen were losing touch with the core ideals of their political inheritance.

“Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines in conflict with the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence,” he declared in 1858, “if you have listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur and mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined to believe that all men are not created

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