Of the more than 40 presidents to occupy the White House, Abraham Lincoln was the only one whose presence was essential to the nation’s future.* The Great Cataclysm that occurred under his leadership had been building for decades and had become inevitable; had it occurred under those who came before him, or those who came after him, the Union as we know it would not have survived.
With that in mind, I’ve collected some pearls of wisdom from Honest Abe that hold particular relevance for our own times and challenges:
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”
“The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities.”
“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”
“I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.”
“I don’t believe in a law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else”
*And yes, I confess that is artfully worded. We did have one other essential president, George Washington. Like Lincoln, he was uniquely qualified for the time in which he served.
But you see, Washington never lived in the White House.
– Jay Bookman