Simply Electric

by Hadley Arkes

Just after the Fourth of July in 1858, Lincoln was speaking in Chicago, and he recognized that not everyone in the audience was descended from the families who had fought the Revolution.  And yet, they understood that “proposition,” as he called it: “all men are created equal,” and to the extent they absorbed that principle as their own, they were “blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [of Independence].” That was, he said, the “electric cord” that connects the generations,  here and abroad, “as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.”