Can Lincoln's example inspire today's leaders?

We know our nation to be divided between red and blue states, between Republicans and Democrats and between competing visions of the future.

But after the bitter election just concluded, it is worth noting that our country has been far more deeply divided than it is today and faced challenges much more daunting than the "fiscal cliff."

With the film "Lincoln" in local theaters this week, it is worth reflecting on the task Abraham Lincoln faced near the end of the Civil War, when Americans didn't just argue and debate, but took up arms against each other.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin described Lincoln in his final months as a leader with "the rare wisdom of a temperament that consistently displayed an uncommon magnanimity to those who opposed him."

While leaders of Lincoln's stature and wisdom are clearly few and far between, we pray that our leaders can similarly see beyond our differences to the many things that unite us as a proud country.

Today we thought it appropriate to remember Abraham Lincoln's ability to give thanks for the nation's blessings even in the midst of a horrible and divisive civil war.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

By the President of the United States of America.

A Thanksgiving Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.

To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. 

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger or our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Oct. 3, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln

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Comments

Jason Theriault's picture

I agree

Our politicians should hunt and kill vampires with axes.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Lincoln's mission was to

Lincoln's mission was to preside over the country as a statesman and a leader with much of his presidency occurring during a time of war.
Today's so called 'leaders' are not leaders at all. They are nothing more than perpetual campaigners.

 's picture

Can Lincoln's example inspire today's leaders?

No.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Well stated.

Well stated.

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