Happy Birthday

by

Today is the 199th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. He was one of the youngest men elected to the presidency up to that time; was the first president born west of the Alleghenies, the first president elected from the Republican Party, and the first president assassinated while in office. With his only military experience being a short stint as a militia captain in an obscure frontier Indian uprising, he directed and won the largest military conflict in the history of the Western Hemisphere.

Although largely self educated and considered a coarse backwoods hick by many of the his political opponents and eastern intelligentsia, he produced some of the most eloquent passages in American history. At the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg in November 1863, Edward Everett, one of the nation’s greatest orator, spoke for two hours. Nobody remembers what he said. Lincoln, who was only invited seventeen days before the ceremony as a courtesy, and to “formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks,” spoke for just over two minutes, and, over the following 100 years, millions of school children have committed his words to memory.

Rarely has the old quote from Shakespear better applied than to Lincoln:

“Some men are born with greatness, some men achieve greatness, and some men have greatness thrust upon them.”

Happy Birthday Abe

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