Lincoln’s “Better Angels of Our Nature”: For Wisconsin 150 Years Later?

It’s easy to overlook, especially if you’re not a student of U.S. history. But once upon a time, before the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, presidents were inaugurated on March 4. Which makes today the sesquicentennial (that’s the 150th anniversary, for Buckeye fans) of Abraham Lincoln swearing the oath of presidential office in a moment of profound national crisis and delivering his First Inaugural Address:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Union, eh? No, not that kind of union. Someone must have Labor on the brain. Ripped out of context, though, the powerful conclusion to Lincoln’s inaugural could almost speak to the current heightened domestic political strife with its bulls-eye on Madison, Wisconsin. Not that we have nearly approached the level of crisis in 1861. Nor do we wish for such an outcome.

But maybe the appeal to “the better angels of our nature” might lend itself to a more cost-effective cleanup of the Wisconsin State Capitol after the budget-repair bill passes and the Lefty protesters go home.

It’s Friday. Go enjoy the weekend.

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