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Thoughts From Abraham Lincoln

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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26 Comments
President Lincoln behind red, white, and blue American flag

If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would surely be telling stories, helping us recall our roots, identity, aspirations, and “better angels.” Likely disappointed, he would not be resigned, perhaps more parental – as in his day.

Lincoln would not like our tendency to bombast, cut each other down, and rewrite our past. He saw lots of that, knew where that led, and warned us against it.

Lincoln’s was a rare temperament, but one – if we chose – we could adopt, even today. And by that simple act, we would teach those around us what is possible. 

Could we? We could. Think about it. Who lived with more frustration than Lincoln? Came from more poverty? Rose with more resolve and good cheer?

Who suffered more with chronic melancholy, mother gone at nine, wife wrestling depression, and three children lost in childhood – yet carried on?

Who suffered more attacks for his love of both freedom and equality and educated his countrymen unto death? Who was more vilified for his beliefs, yet did not yield –rather like his farmer father and just kept at it, cultivating the field?

One day, reported a friend, Lincoln, returned from a meeting. Given to pondering, he mused. “I don’t like that man…I must get to know him better.”

There you have the essence of Lincoln. He knew his mind, history, and purpose. He knew power and limits. He knew too, and we can, the value of his fellow man.

Lincoln – under pressure all his life, self-taught, slow to anger, quick to stories – knew too what he did not know. By all reports, even detractors, he was humble.

What do you get from a person who sees themselves as no better than others, dutybound to teach and to learn – schooled on biblical lessons, a child when the Founding Fathers still walked the Earth, who always felt himself blessed?

You get a leader – someone so confident, so ready to improve, that he can be magnanimous, at ease, ready to embrace danger, unafraid to learn from a stranger.

Lincoln’s finest trait may be his uncanny appreciation for where he lay on the great arc of our nation’s history. No words say it better than his Gettysburg Address.

Recalling for his time and ours the arc and power of understanding, he wrote: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Tell me, is there a better way to place us on that great arc, reminding us it all began in a noble place, and so listen closely to what is due – what that means for you?

He explained, mid-war, what the battle meant, the significance of so many dying within sight of where they all stood. He explained so they could not forget.

The conflict ahead was life-and-death for the Republic. It was “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

Why specifically there? “We are met on a great battlefield…to dedicate a portion…as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.” They were there to think, pray, and give thanks.

Lincoln then checks himself. In doing so, he checks his audience. “In a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.”

Put differently, then and now, the willingness to die for freedom and equality, to risk all you have for this blessed Nation, is without parallel. It exceeds all words.

Words are just words, easily forgotten, utterances on the wind, but “the world…can never forget what they did here.” And we must never forget.

As if turning to speak to us – now eight score years since that day – Lincoln then said this: “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”

Then: “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln gave those words thinking we would understand them, recall, ingest and digest them, accept and believe them – as he did, as those standing before him did.

So, what do his character, temperament, and the Gettysburg Address mean today? It means digging deeper and thinking harder. It is a plea to all of us to lift our eyes, hearts, and minds higher and rededicate ourselves to preserving the future, as Lincoln did. That is it, nothing more, nothing less.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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PaulE
PaulE
7 months ago

RBC,

Like many of our past political leaders, if they were alive today, one of the first things they would be asking is “Where did things go so terribly off track with America and its people?” and “Why do modern American citizens simply choose to rollover and accept such clearly counter-productive, anti-American policies and unconstitutional fiats from a segment of society that hates nearly everything about the values of the United States?”.

I do like your reference at the end to the message and tone of the Gettysburg Address. That in itself demonstrates just how far large segments of American society have shifted away from what was considered at the time a message intended to be one of national healing and hoped for common ground. Today if President Lincoln were to come back and give such a speech, he would be almost universally ridiculed by most of the MSM and a number of leftist organizations as either “completely out of touch” or some sort of racist trying to insight a civil war. In short, he would face the same treatment virtually anyone else on the right currently receives from the left power structure in this country today. Most of the MSM would refuse to air any coverage of the Gettysburg Address, while at the same time having a litany of the usual leftist talking heads paraded out to paint how dangerous Lincoln is to “our democracy”. As you know, we are NOT a democracy, but rather a representative republic per the Constitution.

Viking 8674
Viking 8674
7 months ago

Well put Robert. This message is what we needed today. Hopefully these words don’t fall on deaf ears. Thank you, My Friend!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
7 months ago

You made a significant contribution to American history with this article Robert. Well Done , for sure ! Abraham Lincoln had leadership qualities that continue to be relevant , and you mentioned something very important about how those leadership qualities developed — by dealing with adversity and being determined to respect a sense of duty he took upon himself. Courage to carry on as he did under circumstances that were certainly difficult on all levels — mentally, physically and in spirit .Yet he managed to hold on to an intelligent, respectful, uplifting sense of humor — and that was an indication of the strength of character he possessed.The profound statements in the Gettysburg Address, are great guidance for anyone who realizes what needed to be done then, as a Nation, to continue , as a Nation. History speaks, in many different ways — at different times, on various levels. It is good to be able to listen to the lessons spoken. It has much to do with responsibility, respect for Liberty, May God bless the United States of America, and help with the National character to continue to be the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

.

SusanW
SusanW
7 months ago

What a beautifully written and hopeful message to start my day. Thank you, Robert, for once again, encouraging us to think about a great leader from our past and what advice he might share with us during these troubling times. Being a lover and educator of history I made sure that my students learned about this great leader and the war surrounding him. They learned, by reading, writing, tasting the foods, marching in all conditions, and battling it out on the field. It didn’t compare, of course, to real times, but it did give them a sense of understanding the importance of love of country, countrymen, and unity. You learn by doing.
”May our children and our children’s children to a thousand generations, continue to enjoy the benefits conferred upon us by a united country, and have cause yet to rejoice under those glorious institutions bequeathed us by Washington and his compeers.” Abraham Lincoln, 1862

John Bass
John Bass
7 months ago

Well said RC, I think it’s one of your best messages to date. Encouraging all of us to learn from our history and not just have kneejerk reaction’s to events in our modern day lives.
Too bad the current administration doesn’t have the same respect and knowledge of our history as you do.
God save the USA

Rik
Rik
7 months ago

Can you imagine what President Lincoln MUST THINK of Jack*ss Joe Biden?

Tony
Tony
7 months ago

Excellent article! God please give us wisdom as was true of Lincoln!

CLIFFORD F GERACI
CLIFFORD F GERACI
7 months ago

150 years ago he was speaking to sane, logically thinking people who loved the United States of America and wanted her to succeed. Today the progressives are mentally deranged in their thinking, illogical, and hate who America is and want to destroy what it has built. Liberalism is a dangerous thing.

Valerie
Valerie
7 months ago

Thank you for this great reminder!!

anna hubert
anna hubert
7 months ago

Without Lincoln this nation would be a hand full of crumbs A mess same as Europe He preserved the whole pie Now we are crumbling again while others are expanding

Wayne Curtis
Wayne Curtis
7 months ago

I have always been impressed that Lincoln saw the bloody conflict of our Civil War testing, not only the endurance of our nation, but of ANY nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. And that we must resolve that, not only our nation, but ANY government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
As of now, we are struggling to preserve our own nation of the people, by the people, for the people. May God help us!

David Millikan
David Millikan
7 months ago

Excellent article.
Excellent History lesson.

Jeanette
Jeanette
7 months ago

To be truly humble as was Lincoln…Biden has a lot to learn still.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
7 months ago

If Lincoln were alive today, he’d be accused of election interference as well. Or Stormy would sue him…

Robin W Boyd
Robin W Boyd
7 months ago

Like most U.S. presidents, Lincoln did good and bad things. One of the bad things Lincoln did was one of the best things for the U.S., and that was to not allow Southern states to secede as they had the legal right to do. Lincoln forced South Carolina to take action against Fort Sumpter by not removing Union troops from that fort.

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