Government of the People, by the People, for the People Shall Not Perish from the Earth

“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Lincoln declared in his First Inaugural Address that the Constitution came from the people, not the states. He also believed that true popular government had to be based on the consent of all the governed (“of the people”), involve all of the governed (“by the people”), and protect the individual rights of all the governed (“for the people”). This required the abolition of slavery and, as Lincoln said in his last speech, considering the idea of conferring voting rights on newly freed slaves, or at least on “the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.” Upon hearing Lincoln speak these words, John Wilkes Booth reportedly said: “That is the last speech he will make.” Three days later, Booth assassinated Lincoln.