Abraham Lincoln was born 209 years ago today in a tiny log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky. His story is one of the great American stories.
Life on the frontier was hard. His mother died when he was nine. Although he had very little formal education, he craved learning. He settled in New Salem, Illinois. He worked in a store and later bought one. It failed. In 1834 he won the election for a seat in the state legislature.
His life then took a major turn. John Stuart Todd, a Springfield lawyer and cousin of Mary’s, convinced him to become a lawyer. Once he received his license he moved to Springfield and became Todd’s partner. He served several terms in the legislature. At age thirty-six he won a term in the US House of Representatives. He only served for just two years. That was the last political office he held until assuming the presidency.
He put politics on the back burner and focused on his law practice. He might have stayed out of politics if not for the Kansas-Nebraska Act introduced by his nemesis Stephen Douglas. That put the battle over slavery front and center. There was a huge political realignment and the Republican Party was formed. He became one of its leaders. He ran against Douglas for a senate seat in 1858. Their debates made him a national figure.
We all know the rest of the story. His life was full of failure with relatively few successes. Yet he became one of the greatest, if not the greatest president in our history.
His is a story worth remembering. Unfortunately, Congress thought a three-day weekend was more important and created President’s Day. We ought to pause for a moment and reflect on the life of this incredible man.