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Abraham Lincoln once said, "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." This is the beginning of one of the most well-known speeches in history, given by someone considered to be one of the greatest presidents in United States history: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He became President on March 4, 1861 and four years later was assassinated on the night of April 16, 1965 while at Ford's Theater in Washington DC. Lincoln in an inspirational figure to men and women everywhere-against all odds, he changed the lives of African-Americans, and all Americans, forever. Lincoln made a difference by leveraging his personal characteristics of courage, determination, and kindness to lead the United States during a time of great turmoil.
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Lincoln's boldness as a leader is one of his many well-known qualities as a man. He also had an eagerness and determination to bring about change. Lincoln was valued for these qualities, but was very well known for his specific stand on slavery. "In the early stages of the war, Lincoln revoked orders by John C Fremont and David Hunter, freeing the slaves in their military departments" (Abraham Lincoln, Infoplease). This is an inspiration because he could have been judged harshly and had his political career at risk. But he saw all men as equal and wanted to reflect that in his policies. Lincoln's eagerness to bring about this change had saved/changed the lives of African-American men within the northern state boundary at the time, but Lincoln would not just stop at freeing a few thousand men during the war. "Though he was personally opposed to slavery, he had been elected on a platform that pledged to allow slavery to remain where it had already existed. However, wartime pressures drove Lincoln toward emancipation of the slaves" (Abraham Lincoln, Infoplease). Although the nation was split and there was much external pressure to maintain slavery as it was, Lincoln relied on his personal strength to lead the nation through the pressures and towards emancipation. Even within his own party there was turmoil and he had to make personal adjustments to be able to further his agenda. "The Whig party fell apart over the slavery question. In 1856, Lincoln joined others opposed to slavery from both the Whig and Democratic parties in the newly formed Republican party" (Amar, Akhil Reed). This is an inspiration because Lincoln had to forgo his existing political affiliations and join others with the courage to identify new paths and inspire those around them. His personal dedication and repetition of the value of a unified nation inspired other men and women to follow his directive politically on the emancipation of slaves.
Another characteristic of Lincoln that brought about change in the nation was his ability to bring about good in the world. "Lincoln was rarely bested at trial, a fellow lawyer noted, "he arrogated himself no superiority over anyone-not even the most obscure member of the bar' and that there was no 'lawyer who ever practiced in the courts with Mr. Lincoln who did not in all his afterlife have a regard for him akin to personal affection'." (Urquhart, Quentin F., Jr). The ability to connect with people at all levels is an important feature of a good leader. To be able to guide the nation through difficult turmoil, his respect and example affected those around him so he could bring about the change he saw necessary for the nation. Lincoln leveraged his personable demeanor to overcome differences in opinion and cement his legacy of change. "As time passed Lincoln became more and more the object of adulation; a full-blown 'Lincoln Legend' appeared. Yet even if his faults and mistakes are acknowledged he stands out as a statesmen of noble vision, great humanity, and remarkable political skill" (Abraham Lincoln, Infoplease). By relying on building relationship with those around him, he was able to compensate for differences in opinion as well as any personal faults.
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Lincoln inspires men and women across the globe and he is my hero. His courage, determination, and kindness have changed the world for the better. Lincoln once proposed that "this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom" (Lincoln's Gettysburg Address), his actions and example ensured that not only did certain experience a rebirth of freedom, but all in the nation had the opportunity to be united. By exemplifying features of a great leader, Lincoln set the path for many positive changes-but by also displaying features of a great person, he inspired and unified in a way no one did before, or since.
"Abraham Lincoln." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context. Web. 7 May 2013.
"Abraham Lincoln." Infoplease. Infoplease, 19 February 2013. Web. 10 May 2013
Amar, Akhil-Reed. 2001. "Abraham Lincoln and the American Union." University of Illinois Law Review (October). (accessed 7 August, 2009)
"Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865)." Presidential Administration Profiles for Students. Student Resource Center - Junior. Gale.
Urquhart, Quentin F. Jr. "Reflecting Lincoln." Defensive Counsel Journal. April 2013: 115+. Academic Onefile. Web. 10 May 2013.
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Last edited 5/25/2013 12:00:00 AM