Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas presented the keynote address to a two-day conference, "Lincoln for the Ages: Lessons for the 21st Century," telling a Lee Chapel audience at Washington and Lee University on Friday (Sept. 25) that today's citizens must live up to the example set by Lincoln "to ensure that the principles on which our nation was founded continue to exist."
The conference focused Lincoln's character, politics and war leadership and was organized by Washington and Lee politics professor Lucas Morel, a Lincoln scholar.
In his address, Thomas said that Lincoln and his generation "turned back a mortal threat to our democracy by opposing efforts to convince the public not to care about the question of slavery. Lincoln, joined by countless soldiers and citizens, put their lives on the line to show that they cared indeed and cared very much. In so doing they taught us that our democracy, our government by consent, can succeed only to the extent that each of us is committed to holding our leaders, all of us, to the task of defending the liberties that our government exists to protect."