Lincoln Inspired by Great Abolitionists

Lincoln encouraged Americans to look beyond politics and persevere in a good fight for a noble cause. With this speech he positioned himself within the international struggle over slavery, citing the example of British abolitionists William Wilberforce and Granville Sharpe. Lincoln’s stark imagery subliminally links supporters of slavery with darkness and historical oblivion.

But I have also remembered that though they blazed, like tallow-candles for a century, at last they flickered in the socket, died out, stank in the dark for a brief season, and were remembered no more, even by the smell—School-boys know that Wilbe[r]force, and Granville Sharpe, helped that cause forward; but who can now name a single man who labored to retard it?