Page:United States Statutes at Large Volume 104 Part 6.djvu/821

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PROCLAMATION 6093—FEB. 12, 1990 104 STAT. 5211 of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth. GEORGE BUSH Proclamation 6093 of February 12, 1990 181st Anniversary of the Birth of Abraham Lincoln By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation A true friend of the common man and a courageous leader at our Nation's greatest hour of trial, Abraham Lincoln occupies a special place of honor in the hearts of all Americans. Each February 12, as we commemorate the anniversary of his birth, we celebrate the peace and unity of purpose President Lincoln reclaimed for this country—and the shining hope he restored to all mankind. When he became President in 1861, Abraham Lincoln was faced with a grave crisis: seven States, determined to preserve the institution of slavery and to assert what they viewed as their sovereign rights, had seceded from the Union. After a military confrontation at Fort Sxunter, the Civil War began. Lincoln believed that the success of our Nation's great experiment in self-government depended on the strength and integrity of the Union and on the degree to which Americans, as well as the national Government, remained true to the ideals expressed at the Founding, Although the War tried his skills as President and tested whether a nation "so conceived and so dedicated" could long endure, his convictions proved unshakable. In a July 4th Address to the Congress, he declared that the War was nothing less than "a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men... to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life." Abraham Lincoln knew that for the United States to endure, it must remain faithful to the noble ideal enshrined in our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Lincoln believed that excluding any human beings from this promise undermines the moral foundation on which our Nation rests. He had once argued that our Nation's Founding Fathers "meant to set up a standard maxim for a free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for ... thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere." Lincoln knew that our Nation must always strive to fulfill its great promise, or risk its very existence. Throughout the course of the War, Lincoln remained fully committed to the idea of liberty under law. For him, striving to uphold the Constitution and protect the rights of individuals was not only compatible with preserving the Union, but essential to it. In 1864, when he was elected