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Union League of Philadelphia

140 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

 

The Union League was established in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War, to galvanize the support of Philadelphia for the Union cause advocated and defended by President Abraham Lincoln. Because of Philadelphia’s successful business of turning Southern cotton into manufactured cloth, the loyalty of Philadelphia to the Northern cause was not assured. So, several patriotic businessmen banded together to urge Philadelphia’s leadership to support the Union. The Union League took as its motto: “The love of country leads.”

Within the Lincoln room of the Union League, there is a statue of Lincoln standing under his immortal Gettysburg Address. Therein he speaks of “a new birth of freedom” and in so doing alludes to Jesus’ words in John 3:5: “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit” (NIV). The Gettysburg Address also has other allusions to scripture. His phrase, “Of the people, by the people, for the people” seems to reflect the language of Paul’s conclusion of Romans 11: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (NIV). The parallel suggests that just as God is sovereign over history, so the people are sovereign over creating their government.

The Union League also reflects another speech that Lincoln had given earlier based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (NIV). The Union League was a concerted attempt to have a united house so that the American Union of States would stand.

Lincoln also employed significant biblical allusions and quotations in his second inaugural address, which are carved in the stone of the Lincoln Monument in Washington D.C.