Lincoln: Duty & Divine Rule Forbids Groping for Middle Rule Between Right & Wrong

Abe LincolnThey Were Believers, Abraham Lincoln

If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored – contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man – such as a policy of “don’t care” on a question about which all true men do care – such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the Divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance – such as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington said, and undo what Washington did.

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes right, and in that faith, let us, dare to do our duty as we understand it.


Source: Abraham Lincoln. “Cooper Union Address,” delivered at Henry Ward Beecher’s Church, Brooklyn, New York, February 27, 1860.


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They Were Believers is researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional commentary and introductory notes) by The Moral Liberal Founder and Editor In Chief, Steve Farrell. Copyright © 2013 Steve Farrell.


The Moral Liberal recommends George Washington’s Sacred Fire