Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): View of American History & Legacy
Lincoln lived according to the motto that, “…your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.” Lincoln’s ability to persuade was also personified in his ability to become empathetic towards those that disagreed to comprehend their position so he could allow himself a position of persuasion.
Lincoln also had the ability to reduce complex ideas into simple sentences or paragraphs. He could then continue in his communication until he would return to his simplified idea to continue building a framework for his position. Further, his perception of political timing bordered on phenomenal. He felt that if the emancipation proclamation was to have been issued even six months before it would have failed. His chance legacy came when he stood to speak at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg (Goodwin, 2005). Here he delivered the famous words, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.” Ulysses S. Grant stated that Lincoln was “…the greatest man I ever knew.”
On the morning Lincoln passed into eternity, Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, made the most memorable quote, “Now he belongs to the ages.” According to Goodwin (2005), Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. “He was bigger than his country – bigger than all the Presidents together” (p. 748).
It seems he does have a Christian/quasi-Christian view of American history. I believe Lincoln’s view of history evolved, as does everybody’s, as his worldview evolved. It seems he did have a God-conscience in his early years but being the leader during the Civil War led him to search deeper into his inner convictions, if I may. However, was he a revival breathing Holiness believer? I don’t see that either…yet strong inner convictions of right and wrong prevailed in his Old Covenant laced Second Inaugural Address (1865).
I have no idea how history, during the reconstruction era, would have proceeded if Lincoln had sidestepped his premature entrance into eternity. I also wonder if Lincoln would have lived to be 80 or 90 years old how his “voice” might have changed other legislation/judicial rulings during the later part of the 19th century. It may have moved along a bit quicker but I don’t see the speed of the 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments moving much quicker or Martin Luther King Jr. coming along any sooner to proclaim the freedom of the “black American” which was supposed to have come in the 1860’s.