During the Civil War, which was a war for freedom in a truer sense than most of the wars which have been so called, Abraham Lincoln laid bare the essentials of the dilemma which has baffled the philosophic understanding of freedom and which has made it appear that there was always something left to be desired in its political realization. On April 18, 1864, Lincoln gave a brief and unpretentious address to the crowd assembled at the Sanitary Fair in Baltimore.
“The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty,” he said,
and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatable things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatable names—liberty and tyranny.