Lincoln ideals inspired him, Bush declares

President speaks in Ill. at dedication of library

April 20, 2005|By Warren Vieth | Warren Vieth,LOS ANGELES TIMES

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - President Bush dedicated a new presidential museum yesterday in Abraham Lincoln's adopted hometown and said Lincoln's ideals were a source of inspiration for policies his administration is pursuing.

Bush sought to draw a connection between Lincoln's efforts to expand the concept of freedom by abolishing slavery and America's current efforts to promote democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries with authoritarian histories.

"Our interests are served when former enemies become democratic partners, because free countries do not support terror or seek to conquer their neighbors," Bush said. "Our deepest values are also served when we take part in freedom's advance, when the chains of millions are broken and the captives are set free."

Bush, who has referred to Lincoln as his favorite president, said the opening of the $90 million Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was a reminder that the 16th president forced Americans to confront the unresolved conflict between the promise of liberty and the acceptance of slavery.

"None of us can claim his legacy as our own, but all of us can learn from the faith that guided him," Bush said.

His efforts to draw an analogy between Lincoln's ideals and his own beliefs reflect the popularity of the nation's 16th president, who guided the nation through the trauma of the Civil War before being killed by John Wilkes Booth.

Bush chose to participate in the dedication rather than attend ceremonies marking the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Vice President Dick Cheney represented the administration there.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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