Lincoln’s ‘New Birth of Freedom’

Louis Petrich + George Russell

In the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln proclaimed that soldiers gave their life at the Battle of Gettysburg for a “new birth of freedom.” But what did he mean? In this episode, Annapolis tutor George Russell joins host Louis Petrich in a conversation that on the surface explores important Lincoln speeches and ideas within their Civil War context. But on a deeper level, it is a discussion about the often-conflicting ideas of freedom and equality, the complexity of justice, and the value—and difficulty—of freeing one’s mind from the shackles of accepted notions. It is also a conversation between two tutors of different races, practicing the art of questioning authoritative opinions, particularly those concerning race in America: how did the Civil War bring about a new birth of freedom? What about the lynchings, segregation, and deep economic inequalities that followed? Did Lincoln foresee that the nation would need multiple new births to maintain its ideals and opportunities for all citizens? How has—and hasn’t—the nation realized Lincoln's vision at Gettysburg?

In this Episode

  • George Russell
    Guest George Russell

    George Russell is a tutor at St. John's College. This semester, he is reading Woolf in senior seminar and studying musical theory in the sophomore music tutorial.

  • Host Louis Petrich

    Louis Petrich is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, he is exploring Euripides in freshman seminar, teaching Pascal in freshman laboratory, and leading a philosophy and theology tutorial in the Graduate Institute.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

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Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


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