“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
— Abraham Lincoln
Regardless of politics, a group of friends agreed we wish we had a modern-day Abraham Lincoln to lead our nation.
Ironic, isn’t it, that Lincoln was not highly regarded during his White House days?
Called a fool and accused of being too removed at times, it is now known that Lincoln was deep in thought and often deep in the stronghold of depression.
His contemporaries were mistaken when they felt his demeanor was one of aloof disinterest.
Completely self-educated, Lincoln grew up at odds with a stern father, Thomas.
Lincoln’s mother had died when he was 9, and he felt fortunate to have bonded with the step-mother who often supported him in fiery battles with his demanding father.
The lanky lad lived in poverty, working hard on the Illinois farm cutting down trees and completing farm chores, and reading by firelight whenever possible.
As he grew older, the money he was able to earn through his own business ventures had to be turned over to his father.
There was always a resentful distance in Lincoln’s relationship to his father. As soon as he was able, he set off on his own.
Politics was never a driving force for this brilliant man who preferred reading and studying mathematics to almost anything else.
He took a job as a general store clerk in New Salem, Illinois, and amazed people with his strength, integrity and quick wit. His ability to read and write proved valuable.
He began studying the law after having served as temporary captain of a volunteer army in the Black Hawk war, elected by his peers — something that he felt honored by even more than his nomination for president years later.
He threw his hat in the ring for election to the state legislature just prior to the Black Hawk war. He lost this first stab at politics, but when deciding to try again in the election of 1834, he won with support even from Democrats.
From his early political run all the way through to his election to the presidency, Lincoln succeeded by remaining a man of few words at all times.
He felt it was better to give no comment than to be misquoted.
Even the Gettysburg Address found him the lesser grandiose speaker of the day, as Edward Everett spoke for 2 hours.
At the end of that day, the long-winded orator told Lincoln he envied his way with words, which he felt certain would be remembered far longer, perhaps for eternity. It is written that Lincoln likely thought the man was just being polite.
It is ironic, in that light, to note that some of the most often used quotes of all time come from the life of Lincoln.
- “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
- “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”
- “You cannot help man permanently by doing for them what they could do themselves.”
- “If we magnified our success as much as we magnify our disappointments we’d all be much happier.”
- “No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
- “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
- “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because rose bushes have roses.”
- “My dream is of a place and time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of Earth.”
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