What most of us don’t know is that Lincoln’s life before his presidency was marked by one failure after another. He failed in many ventures; in business, in elections for Speaker of the House and to the state legislature, he lost a Congressional nomination, a land officer appointment, twice to the US Senate, and in a nomination for the Vice President. Finally, it was only after these eight sizeable failures that Lincoln was elected President of the United States. How many of us would have given up after so many defeats?
Many of the problems our country faces today pale in comparison to what Lincoln had to overcome as president. During his presidency, eleven states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Americans may think the divisions between parties is great today, but think of this divide which Lincoln faced. Americans on both sides were literally killing each other.
The American casualties in the Civil War during Lincoln’s presidency were greater than the America casualties lost under all the other Presidents combined. Lincoln’s responsibilities were so immense, yet he managed to keep the country together so that we can still call our nation a united states.
Lincoln also dealt with depression without the luxury of modern medicine. Nevertheless he led by example. He is known to have been one of the kindest, good-hearted presidents in the history of our nation. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln said that there should be “malice toward none” and that he intended “to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Indeed, we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for his great service to our country and for the heroic example of leadership he left for us. Clearly, our responsibilities do not match his, yet we can still meet our challenges with the fearless kind heart of President Lincoln.
We have all achieved merit in our own way. We might think it is insignificant, but somehow we learned to walk and talk, to get an education, and to overcome some memorable obstacles of our own over the years. Think about it for a moment and I am sure you will grin about at least one personal accomplishment. No matter how trivial it might seem in comparison to Abraham Lincoln’s, allow it to remind you that you too can find your own greatness within yourself if you put your mind to it.