December 1, 1862
President Abraham Lincoln addressed the U.S. Congress in his State of the Union Address, presenting a moderate message about his policy on slavery and speaking some of his most memorable words on the war effort.
Just 10 weeks prior, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring slaves free as of January 1, 1863.
The measure was not welcomed by everyone in the North, meeting considerable resistance from conservative Democrats who did not want to fight a war to free slaves.
His closing paragraph was a statement on the trials of the time:
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present . . . fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. . . . The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. . . . In giving freedom to the slave, we ensure freedom to the free–honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth.
Featured Image: Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), the 16th President of the United States of America (1861 - 1865), at the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave slaves their freedom. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)