Gingrich, speaking before an audience in Slagle Auditorium on The University of South Dakota campus Monday night, said his recent research of the Revolutionary War for a book he is writing lead him to conclude that every citizen is a leader.
"What happens in New Jersey after George Washington's troops defeated the British at Princeton?" he said. "Militias spring up everywhere, and the British can't stay in the field because they'll be shot randomly."
The result was the British just found it impossible to wage war.
"There were too many people who just said, ?I'm going to take responsibility for my country being free on my shoulders. I'm going to do what it takes,' " Gingrich said.
Gingrich, who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999, was in Vermillion Monday to present the first-everTurn to NEWT on Page 16
Edmund Burke Lecture on the USD campus.
The lecture was made possible through a donation by Jim Bunt, an Aberdeen native and alumnus of USD. In what's hoped to be an annual lecture series, the event is named after the champion of conservatism, Emund Burke.
Burke was a lawyer, writer and politician, and considered one of the foremost thinkers of 18th century England and is regarded as the "father" of modern conservatism.
"We're going to face, in the next 10 to 20 years, enormous challenges," Gingrich said � challenges on equal footing with the George Washington's efforts to inspire a new union through the Revolutionary War, and Abraham Lincoln's struggles to save the Union through a long, bloody Civil War.
Lincoln, Gingrich said, called for the formation of a volunteer Union Army after the Civil War began.
"Had anyone walked in and said to Lincoln, ?You do know that this war will last for four years, and 660,000 Americans will be killed ? I don't think he would have quit, but he would have been shaken to the core," Gingrich said.
Our nation's current ability to respond to the challenges it faces, he said, is about equal to the first 75,000 contingent of volunteer Union troops called to fight a much larger Confederate Army.
"We saw it in (Hurricane) Katrina," Gingrich said, "where the city of New Orleans failed, the state of Louisiana failed and the government of the United States failed.
"I don't say this with any happiness," he added. "But this is not a problem for George W. Bush. This is not a problem for Hillary Clinton. This is not a Democratic or Republican problem. We are at one of those great intersections in history where we as a people are going to have to have a long conversation with ourselves, and we are going to have to decide who we are and what we are going to do."
Fortunately, Gingrich said, there is no other culture superior to that in the U.S. capable to "arouse, attract, and integrate energy, courage, and creativity coupled with the American system."
He said if every American concludes that the future welfare of the nation truly is all about them � their families, their community, their neighborhood, their children and grandchildren � the country will grow and our children and grandchildren will someday inherit a land that is as safe and prosperous as the nation we inherited from our forefathers.
"I think Edmund Burke would look down on us and say ?We have been endowed by more opportunities by God than any people in the history of the human race.'
"For us to walk off and not accept the responsibility of that endowment would truly be a tragedy of enormous proportions," Gingrich said. "I am confident that we will rise to the challenge and produce the kind of leaders we need in every aspect of life for our community to move onward to a more free and more open society."