Abraham Lincoln and Intergenerational Equity

Ted Hsu
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Abraham Lincoln and Sir John A. Macdonald will be making a joint appearance in Kingston, Ontario today, July 4 2012, 2:00 pm, at the Kingston Visitor’s Centre on Ontario Street across from City Hall.

On this occasion I would like to quote from the opening of Mr. Lincoln’s Lyceum address of 1838 where he eloquently addresses Intergenerational Equity. We would do well to be inspired by his words today.


In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only to transmit these — the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation — to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

Congratulations to local actors David Rockne Corrigan and Matthew J. Donovan for re-creating these two nation builders, and to the Sir John A. Bicentennial Commission for organizing this event.