The title of this political fable of course is a borrowing from Abraham Lincoln's most famous speech. It is used here a bit ironically: it isn't "the people" who preserve democracy, but one inspired individual, V.K. Ratliff, who has battled Snopesism so often before. Snopesism here is represented by Clarence Snopes, who in true Snopes fashion "uses and betrays and makes capital of everything he ever touched" (138). Clarence had already appeared in Sanctuary. Here Faulkner provides an outline of his backstory: an outlaw youth followed by a stint as a constable, leadership of the local Ku Klux Klan and a successful campaign for the state legislature as an anti-KKK crusader, a habitue of the brothels of Memphis and a leader among Mississippi's Baptists. Now he is a former draft-dodger running for the U.S. Congress against a genuine war hero, and certain to be elected - until Ratliff finds an appropriately demeaning way to stop him.

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Clarence Eggleston Snopes - "By the People"
Clarence Snopes' Grandmother - "By the People"
Snopes - "By the People"