Out of Adversity LincolnAEs Greatness Took Root

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

Out of Adversity LincolnAEs Greatness Took Root


Some would say that challenge and adversity reveal greatness u if greatness exists.

Recently, U.S. Air pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III landed an engineless plane safely in the Hudson River shortly after takeoff from New YorkAEs LaGuardia Airport. Sullenberger was not a household name before the landing, but he certainly is now. Challenge and adversity enabled him to show his greatness.

Abraham Lincoln was arguably our greatest president. The Civil War began about a month after his first inauguration on March 4, 1861. His whole first term was devoted not only to the conduct of the war, but also to the intertwined issues of preserving the Union and abolishing slavery. In the process he defined the concept of equal rights. If LincolnAEs presidency had happened at a time of relative calm, would his greatness be recognized?

But we do know about LincolnAEs greatness and we have an opportunity to celebrate it this year. Born on Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky, LincolnAEs family moved to Illinois when he was a young man. Lincoln practiced law in Springfield and was elected to the Illinois Legislature in 1834.

His greatness became obvious when Lincoln sought the Republican nomination for president in 1860. Doris Kearns GoodwinAEs book, "Team of Rivals: the Presidential Genius of Abraham Lincoln" makes much of LincolnAEs ability to forge a united path with people of very different but passionate beliefs while keeping their respect. Lincoln set the stage by appointing his three rivals for the nomination, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates, to cabinet posts. Lincoln knew these were the best people and he wanted their help in addressing the nationAEs significant problems. Anyone who has ever tried to get people to work together knows that accomplishing this feat requires greatness.

Greatness is the ability to say the right thing at the right time with few words, especially if the message is unpopular. …

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