tip of the week

In the third year of the Civil War,
Abraham Lincoln ordered work to go
ahead on the completion of the dome
of the Capitol. When critics protested
the diversion of labor and money from
the prosecution of the war, Lincoln
said, “If people see the Capitol going
on, it is a sign that we intend this
Union shall go on.” Franklin Roosevelt
recalled this story in 1941 when, with
the world in the blaze of war, he dedicated
the National Gallery in Washington.
And John Kennedy recalled both
these stories when he asked for public
support of the arts in 1962. Lincoln
and Roosevelt, Kennedy said, “understood
that the life of the arts, far from
being an interruption, a distraction, in
the life of the nation, is very close to
the center of a nation’s purpose — and
is a test of the quality of a nation’s

Source: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
“America, the Arts, and the Future,”
Nancy Hanks Lecture, 1988.

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