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Abe Lincoln: An Extraordinary Leader 

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Perhaps noted as one of the greatest United States presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln's early life may not have reflected his potential greatness. Lincoln failed in business. He lost the election to the state legislature, Speaker of the House, nomination for Congress, the appointment of land officer, U.S. Senate twice, and a nomination for Vice President. After those eight major failures, Lincoln was elected President of the United States. How many of us would have kept going like Lincoln did?

Many problems that we think of today pale in comparison to what happened in the late 1850s and mid-1860s. Lincoln dealt with eleven southern states that had seceded from the Union. Eleven states formed the Confederate States of America during his presidency. Americans may think that there are divisions among our country today. There was an enormous division during the Civil War era.

Americans died on both sides of the war: North and South.

There were several key challenges that Lincoln faced as U.S. President:

1. Lincoln was president during the American Civil War, which lasted four years.

About five weeks after Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th United States President, the American Civil War began. Lincoln was president when the country was literally falling apart. Division may exist between families. Unfortunately, some family members may go years without talking to one another. Are problems within families really that terrible compared to the unrest during the Civil War? Some families were divided so much by the war that one son may have fought for the North while another son of the same family fought for the South.

2. The most American casualties happened during the Lincoln Administration.

~ 600,000 to 700,000 lives Americans died in the Civil War. The American Civil War casualties exceed the United Statesí losses in all of its other wars from The American Revolution to the present. Do any of us think that we have such an enormous responsibility? Lincoln had an insurmountable responsibility of having the most American casualties during his term as president. More Americans died from war during Lincolnís presidency than all of the other American presidents combined.

3. Lincoln suffered from depression.

Lincoln, who lived in the nineteenth century, did not have access to antidepressants, such as Prozac, to take as prescription medication nor could he go to a drug store and purchase St. John's Wort over the counter.

Lincoln never had the luxury of having access to modern treatments. Lincoln's job was to deal with a country that was divided by war. At times, your problems may seem as monumental as Lincolnís struggles, mainly because you are the one who is currently enduring a particular problem. All of us have common and unique problems. Can you imagine if you werenít so lucky and had limited access to treatments like Lincoln? Fortunately, we do have the luxury of modern medicine.

4. Lincoln was assassinated.

The North, The Union, defeated the South, The Confederacy. The South surrendered to the North on April 9th, 1865. Lincoln was assassinated five days after the Civil War ended and died the morning after he was shot. Do you think you feel unappreciated by the work youíve done? Lincoln united his country as president, issued the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery, inspired numerous people while suffering from depression, was one of the kindest and good-hearted presidents our nation has ever had, and what was the thanks that he got? He was killed.

Numerous times, Lincoln was a leader. He kept America together so we could still be called ìThe United States of America. He led by example. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln said that he wanted malice toward none and he wanted to bind up the nation's wounds. Unfortunately, Lincoln never got to see any of his efforts and results implemented. The United States owes Lincoln a huge debt of gratitude.
Like Lincoln, every one of us has overcome problems and has achieved greatness in our own way. You may not remember some obstacles that you overcame, such as when you learned to walk or talk. There are challenges you overcame that you probably do remember very well, such as finishing a project, winning a race, graduating from school, or establishing a career. Every one of you has a potential for greatness like Abe Lincoln. It is up to you to find the greatness within yourself.
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