Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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December 1st
“The last best hope of earth”
Late 1862 was a moment of grave danger for the republic. The nation had been torn in two by civil war, the outcome of which no one could predict. President Abraham Lincoln would soon sign the Emancipation Proclamation, and he was not sure what its effects might be. On December 1, in his annual message to Congress (a written equivalent of today’s State of the Union Address), Lincoln reminded his fellow citizens of the stakes:

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We – even we here – hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free – honorable alike in what we give, and
what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just – a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.
American History Parade
1824
The presidential election goes to the U.S. House since neither John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, William Crawford, or Henry Clay had won an electoral majority (Adams is eventually chosen).

1862
Abraham Lincoln reminds the nation that America is the “last best hope of earth.”

1903
Thomas Edison’s film company releases The Great Train Robbery, the first western movie.

1955
Rosa Parks is arrested after she refuses to give up her seat to a white man aboard a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, prompting a bus boycott by blacks.

1965
An airlift begins to bring thousands fleeing Castro’s Communist Cuba to the United States
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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