Politicians Take Polls, Leadersâ€¦
Feb. 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In the initial years of his presidency, few would have guessed that he’d later be considered a good president, much less celebrated as one of our greatest leaders.
For starters, he did not enjoy broad support and was elected as our 16th president without even appearing on the ballot in nine states in the South. And what he stood for so angered so many, that before he could even take office, seven states withdrew from the Nation.
Hatred of him was so intense that he had to disguise himself on his way to his inauguration because of a planned assassination â€” hardly a propitious beginning and was downhill from there.
The problem was, many in the nation disagreed with the ideas he and the Republican Party held. He was convinced that the nation could not continue in stale-mate over the slavery issue, stating, “A house divided against itself cannot standâ€¦cannot endure permanently half slave and half freeâ€¦It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
He dedicated himself to addressing the issue. He convinced the majority in the nation that it was better for them to suffer now because future generations would benefit by living in a united country.
His stance brought the nation to civil war; even this did not break his will, although it caused him enormous grief.
In fighting the war, he was vehemently criticized for violating the Constitution, overstepping the bounds of executive power, refusing to compromise on slavery, declaring martial law, suspending habeas corpus, order-ing the arrest of thousands of public officials and a number of newspaper publishers and killing hundreds of thousands of young men.
His prosecution of the war and the measures that he was using to win it were so very unpopular that his reelection was greatly in doubt.
His faltering public support did not prompt him to waver. With time it was the justness of the cause which finally convinced the United Kingdom and other coun-tries that they could not support the Confederacy.
Toward the end, the tide of war changed and his place in history was secured.
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As we attempt to assess our current difficult national situation, certain parallels can be drawn to that time in our history. Above all, let us not fail to remind our-selves that we hire a leader to lead, not to be popular; politicians take polls and blow with the wind while leaders take stands and hold their ground.
Art Hall, publisher
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