Given 6 October 2020, Gettysburg, PA—

There is no more fitting place than…Gettysburg to talk about the cost of division — about how much it has cost America in the past, about how much it is costing us now, and about why I believe in this moment we must come together as a nation. …

Here, on this sacred ground, Abraham Lincoln…spoke of the price of division and the meaning of sacrifice. He believed in the rescue, the redemption, and the rededication of the Union, all this in a time not just of ferocious division, but also widespread death, structural inequality, and fear of the future. And he taught us this: A house divided could not stand.

That is a great and timeless truth.

Today, once again, we are a house divided. But that, my friends, can no longer be. We are facing too many crises. We have too much work to do. We have too bright a future to leave it shipwrecked on the shoals of anger and hate and division. …

The refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another is not due to some mysterious force beyond our control. It’s a decision. …  And if we can decide not to cooperate, we can decide to cooperate as well. That’s the choice I’ll make as president. …

We must seek not to build walls, but bridges. We must seek not to clench our fists, but to open our arms. We must seek not to tear each other apart, but to come together.

I made the decision to run for president after Charlottesville. … It was hate on the march, in the open. In America.

Hate never goes away. It only hides. And when it is given oxygen, when it is given the opportunity to spread, when it is treated as normal and acceptable behavior, we have opened a door in this country we must move quickly to close.

As President … I will send a clear, unequivocal message to the nation. There is no place for hate in America. It will be given no license. It will be given no oxygen. It will be given no safe harbor. …

There have been powerful voices for [racial] justice in recent weeks and months. … Doc Rivers, the basketball coach choking back tears when he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot… We’ve been hung. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.” …

Think about what it takes for a Black person to love America. That is a deep love for this country that for far too long we have never fully recognized. …

[100] years after Lincoln spoke here at Gettysburg, then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson also came here and said: “Our nation found its soul in honor on these fields of Gettysburg … We must not lose that soul in dishonor now on the fields of hate.”

Today we are engaged once again in a battle for the soul of the nation. The forces of darkness, the forces of division, the forces of yesterday are pulling us apart, holding us down, and holding us back. We must free ourselves of all of them.

As president, I will embrace hope, not fear. Peace, not violence. Generosity, not greed. Light, not darkness. I will be a president who appeals to the best in us, not the worst. I will be a president who pushes towards the future, not one who clings to the past. I am ready to fight for you and for our nation. Every day. Without exception, without reservation. And with a full and devoted heart.

We cannot and will not allow extremists and white supremacists to overturn the America of Lincoln and Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. … the America that has welcomed immigrants from distant shores. … the America that’s been a haven and a home for everyone, no matter their background. From Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall, we’re at our best when the promise of America is available to all.

We cannot and will not allow violence in the streets to threaten the people of this nation. We cannot and will not walk away from our obligation to, at long last, face the reckoning on race and racial justice in the country. We cannot and will not continue to be stuck in a partisan politics that lets this virus thrive while the public health of this nation suffers. We cannot and will not accept an economic equation that only favors those who’ve already got it made. …

It won’t be easy. Our divisions today are of long standing. Economic and racial inequities have shaped us for generations. But I give you my word: If I am elected President, I will marshal the ingenuity and good will of this nation to turn division into unity and bring us together. We can disagree about how to move forward, but we must take the first step. And it starts with how we treat one another, how we talk to one another, how we respect one another.

In his Second Inaugural, Lincoln said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.” Now we have our work to reunite America, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to move past shadow and suspicion. And so we — you and I, together — press on, even now. …

Lincoln said: “The nation is worth fighting for.” So it was. So it is. Together, as one nation, under God, indivisible, let us join forces to fight the common foes of injustice and inequality, of hate and fear. Let us conduct ourselves as Americans who love each other, who love our country, and who will not destroy but will build. …

You and I are part of a great covenant, a common story of divisions overcome and of hope renewed. If we do our part, if we stand together, if we keep faith with the past and with each other, then the divisions of our time can give way to the dreams of a brighter, better, future.

This is our work. This is our pledge. This is our mission. We can end this era of division. We can end the hate and the fear. We can be what we are at our best: The United States of America.