A Higher Law: Abraham Lincoln's Use of Biblical Imagery

39 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2011 Last revised: 13 Feb 2011

See all articles by Wilson Ray Huhn

Wilson Ray Huhn

Duquesne University - School of Law

Date Written: January 24, 2011


This article describes Lincoln’s use of biblical imagery in seven of his works: the Peoria Address, the House Divided Speech, his Address at Chicago, his Speech at Lewistown, the Word Fitly Spoken fragment, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural. Lincoln uses biblical imagery to express the depth of his own conviction, the stature of the founders of this country, the timeless and universal nature of the principles of the Declaration, and the magnitude of our moral obligation to defend those principles. Lincoln persuaded the American people to embrace the standard “all men are created equal” and to make it part of our fundamental law. This goal was formally accomplished as a matter of law in 1868 when the Equal Protection Clause was added to the Constitution as part of the Fourteenth Amendment, but it is approached in fact only through our constant application of this ideal to our society and in our daily lives. The principle of equality is a higher law, but it need not exceed our grasp. As Lincoln called upon us – “let it be as nearly reached as we can.”

Keywords: Abrham Lincoln, Lincoln, religious imagery, biblical imagery, religion, law and religion, higher law, constitution, constitutional law, Peoria Address, House Divided Speech, his Address at Chicago, Speech at Lewistown, Word Fitly Spoken, Gettysburg Address, Second Inaugural

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Huhn, Wilson Ray, A Higher Law: Abraham Lincoln's Use of Biblical Imagery (January 24, 2011). Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Forthcoming; U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1746828

Wilson Ray Huhn (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States

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