Editor’s note: Less than three years after the Southern States of America attempted their ill-fated split from British America, Prime Minister Lincoln arrived on an early campaign stop to one of the decisive battles of the Philadelphia Rebellion of 1775, ostensibly to rededicate a cemetery to all of the fallen… British, “American,” and Indian… he could not resist drawing a parallel between the failed rebellion of the 18th century and what he saw as the faltering rebellion of the 19th. Mr Lincoln of course went on to win re-election, and within six months, the ‘Southern States’ were crushed and brought back into the United Kingdom.
Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new federation, conceived in liberty and equality, and dedicated to the proposition that Greater Britain is the refuge of all who would be equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether this Empire, or any Empire, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of our Empire’s birth. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who gave their lives so that Greater Britain might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this British-American ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our power or that of our Queen in England 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 on us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work they did, work in the danger of being undone. It is rather for us to be here, dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honoured sons of the King, we devote to that cause to which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we highly resolve that those dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth in the Greater British Empire — and that the government of God, King, and Country shall not perish from the earth.
C.J. Casey is a writer and musician. Originally from central Michigan, he spent twenty years in the US Navy and now lives and works in Atlanta. His musings can be found at http://www.cjcasey.com.