On This Day in History: Abraham Lincoln Became President

A Column from the Desk of Assemblyman Karl Brabenec (R,C-Deerpark)

As a political representative, I feel comfortable saying that for many of us in this line of work, Abraham Lincoln is a figure we stride ourselves to live up to. His poise, his confidence, his command of the English language, was the right combination of public servant and political savant that saved our country from being torn down the middle. And on his election day, November 6, I find myself thinking about what Lincoln’s leadership still has to teach us.

Many of us remember the flashcard notes of his presidency, and his tenure as a president of war during our nation’s bloodiest conflict. And his hard work is nothing to shake a stick at; he lost mother when he was only 9 years old, being raised instead by a combination of his father, sister and cousin. While his father was a laborer on farms, Lincoln worked to educate himself, through two short stints of schooling in Kentucky and Indiana, having not enough formal teaching to only read, but probably not write. His youth was spent charting his own path, which would eventually set him on the path to be a self-taught lawyer, later ascending to the Illinois State Legislature, and then to the presidency. His resilience was nothing short of remarkable.

His ability to forgive, to help heal, might’ve been what truly saved the United States of America. Described as a moderate, Lincoln’s presidency was constantly being pulled in different areas of focus, but none more pressing than the Civil War. At the end of the war, both parties in the Union were looking for revenge against the former Confederates. His determination to heal a nation through forgiveness and reunification was able to trump the dissenting voices, by way of a combination of political patronage, exploiting of mutual enmity, and appeals to the American people at large.

Abraham Lincoln wasn’t interested in forgetting the past, but he was prioritizing forging a future together. His leadership redefined what Americans thought of their country. For so long, the average American viewed the United States as still a collection of colonies working harmoniously, but tensely, and separately. Abraham Lincoln unified the nation in a new way; the people didn’t say “The United States are” anymore, they began to say “The United States is.” Under President Abraham Lincoln, we became one nation. He paid for it with his life, but his service and sacrifice has inspired millions today to come together, work in harmony, for the betterment of one nation. That’s inspiring.