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On his way to Washington, DC, President-elect Lincoln spoke at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence had been signed eighty-five years earlier. An ardent admirer of Jefferson and the Declaration, Lincoln said, “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to our distracted country. I can say in return, sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated, and were given to the world from this hall in which we stand. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. (Great cheering) I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence – I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that Independence. (Applause) 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. (Great applause) It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. (Cheers) This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
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