As we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, it’s a good time to note that Chris Christie quoted Lincoln at the end of his inauguration speech in January:
When Abraham Lincoln came to New Jersey in February of 1861, awaiting his swearing in as president of a nation on the verge of rupture, he said while visiting the people of Newark: “Without the people I cannot hope to succeed; with them I cannot fail.”
So today, the time for change has arrived. Today, change is here. And I ask not only for God’s blessing, but for your help.
Christie was not the first New Jersey Governor to reflect upon the nation’s 16th President in an inauguration speech. Eight years before Christie took the oath, Jim McGreevey also talked about Lincoln’s visit to New Jersey:
In the winter of 1861, on his way to his first inauguration, Abraham Lincoln came through New Jersey, at a time when our country was on the verge of its greatest crisis. Lincoln stopped here, in Trenton, and in a speech to the state Senate, he talked about the struggle for liberty during the Revolutionary War.
Lincoln remembered as a boy reading about the Battle of Trenton – the crossing of the Delaware, Washington’s battle with the Hessians and the great hardships endured by the Continental Army here in New Jersey. As Lincoln said, “There must have been something more than common that those men struggled for … something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world for all time to come.”
Lincoln knew America had confronted obstacles and endured because our nation rests on a few basic principles. Liberty. Democracy. Community. Responsibility. These ideas were extraordinarily powerful then. And they will fortify us again today.
Although Christie and McGreevey – two lifelong New Jersey residents – quoted Lincoln in the inaugural speeches, Jon Corzine, the Governor who held office between them made no reference to him when he delivered his inaugural address. Ironically, Corzine was born in Illinois and grew up in the state known as the Land of Lincoln.