Lincoln was one of the most beloved and most hated men in American history. His character and his leadership were viciously maligned, but Lincoln remained focused on the central mission of his Presidency, to preserve the Union, and eventually, despite many setbacks and numerous re-calibrations of strategy and replacements of Generals, Lincoln prevailed.
Speaking at Gettysburg, the scene of a terribly lethal battle fought years after most Americans had expected the war to be over, Lincoln exhorted his countrymen to honor the sacrifices already made by American fighting men, with these timeless words, “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.”