September 30, 1859: Shall Not Pass Away

On September 30, 1859 Abraham Lincoln addressed the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society at the Wisconsin State Fair.  Most of the speech is fairly forgettable, as politicians’ speeches tend to be when they are addressing some particular interest group.  However, at the very end we have a paragraph which reminds us why Lincoln is a diamond among dull gray stones as a speech maker compared to most other politicians.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet let us hope it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.

Go here to read the entire speech.  In this story we find a foreshadowing of the statement that ends Lincoln’s greatest speech: 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Published in: on September 30, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  


  1. My favorite Lincoln speech. Thanks.

  2. Thank you hemlock.

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