Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln...

Dear President Lincoln,

Two hundred years ago you were born in the hinterlands of Kentucky. Who, standing along the banks of the Ohio River, on that late-winter day, knew that your life would become so meaningful? From Springfield lawyer to the highest office in the land, you left a mark. Not just anyone would have made the decisions you made in office; emancipation was not a done deal in 1862. Morally, it was a forgone evil and you knew it had to end. Politically, it took strength and courage. It would be you - along with a burgeoning abolitionist movement - who stepped up to give history a swift push toward the "better angels of our nature."

Along the way, you overcame tired-out generals and a wicked depression. You also made mistakes that other American leaders would duplicate 200 years later. Far from perfect, you were the country's leader during a time when leadership was essential and you kept a Union together.

You were also a fatalist. You knew that if someone wanted to take your life, they could - and they did. So, two hundred years later, history offers us a full view of your time on earth, including the good and the bad. In a life cut short, you made a difference, which is what we should all strive for. Thank you for your effort, your words and sacrifice.

Sleep well, Mr. President.

For a list of reviews on choice items in the Sacramento Public Library covering the life of Abraham Lincoln, click here.

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