NOW that in the interests of a religious despotism the Declaration of Independence is openly attacked, it is well to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln as to the merit of that document and the meaning of those who framed it, spoken when it was attacked in the interests of the civil despotism of slavery.
He said that by the Declaration its framers “meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and referred to by all, constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and, even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life of all people of all color everywhere…. Its authors meant it to be, as, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to all those who, in after time, might seek to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should reappear in this fair land and commence their vocation, they should find left for them at least one hard nut to crack.
“In those days our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all, and thought to include all; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro [and now the bondage of the consciences of all—EDITOR SENTINEL] universal and eternal, it is assailed and sneered at, and construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from their graves, they could not at all recognize it.”
It is well for the American people to know, and forever to bear in mind, that the Declaration of Independence can never be assailed, or sneered at, or hawked at, except in the endeavor to turn a free people back into the hateful paths of despotism.