We all know President Abraham Lincoln as the tall man wearing a top hat that changed America for the better, but how much do you REALLY know about our 16th president? Lincoln is well known as the man who fought the Civil War as the commander in chief and led the Union to victory over the Confederacy, while still keeping the United States together. He delivered famous speeches such as the Gettysburg Address, which was for the soldiers that had patriotically died during the bloody fighting. Most importantly, he created the 13th Amendment that eradicated slavery from the face of America. But behind the curtain, Lincoln had many life-changing, lesser known events from his earlier life in poverty. Throughout his younger life, he developed skills such as his sense of responsibility, his persistence, and his strategic quick thinking that built him into the great person he became.
Lincolns sense of responsibility was grown throughout his younger life in his needy family which was filled with losses and sorrows such as losing his mother while it had very little comfort. However, this trait led him to be the honest, caring, good reputed president he is well known as even through today. According to Sidney Blumenthal on Newsweek, Lincolns father had rented him out to neighbors in rural Indiana at a price of 10 to 31 cents a day, to labor as a rail splitter, farmhand, hog butcher and ferry operator. The father collected the sons wages. Lincoln was in effect an indentured servant, a slave. Even through this harsh and unfair situation that went on for quite a long time, he worked on persistently for his familys well-being. He didnt run away or retaliate, like some others would in his shoes, but worked on despite the works agony and the massive grudge against his father, and even slightly tried to understand his fathers hard situation and life. He kept his sense of duty for the family and kept his complaints mostly to himself. Later in his life, when he was 22, of legal age of independence, he held on to the family to help them settle down in the new land they were moving to to help them as much as he could before he left home to start his own life (Freedman 321). Even with the mountain of anger towards his father, his sense of responsibility and the love for his stepmother and other family members won through as he put his efforts in to lend a hand to allow the family to thrive without him. This strong feature is nurtured as his life progresses on, and finally turns Abe into a trustworthy Man of the People.
Another one of Lincolns outstanding traits that payed off from his childhood was his persistent craving for knowledge, and his intense focus to get his work done as quickly as possible to be able to pursue his dreams which enabled him to become an exceptional, successful man, not just another farmer. Such example is shown in Doris Kearn Goodwins book Team of Rivals. When Lincoln overheard a story from his father who was speaking to his friends, he always stayed up late on his bed so he could transform the story into easier words for his and his audiences understanding when he was saying it to people on another day to entertain them (Goodwin 50). This shows Lincolns unending efforts to accomplish his goals that he wants to and feels the need for, along with some pride and happiness that comes with attention from others. Another example that displays this Freedmans A Backwoods Boy such as when Lincoln could not go to school often due to piles of work to do so instead, he read and practiced writing and taking notes whenever he could to improve himself. He used every single speck of time he had in his hands and even ??? read at the end of each plow furrow, while the horse was getting its breath (Freedman 319). Later on, he even studied law all by himself by continuously reading law books for 3 years! This shows his determination to how he would stop at nothing and would persevere through all the hardships and pain to surpass his dreams. Young Abes consistent persistence and hard working entitled him to come from humble beginnings into the white house.
Lastly, Lincolns trait that was planted during his childhood and was very helpful to him in his future life was Lincolns unusually good strategic quick thinking. An example of this extraordinary trait is displayed when he first came to New Salem as a friendless, uneducated, penniless boy. According to Abraham Lincoln: From Pioneer to President by E.B. Phillips, Lincoln was mostly unnoticed in the new town of New Salem until one day when Lincoln was moving a flatboat across a river with his cousin, Denton Offut. When the flatboat got stuck on top of a dam, he unloaded some cargo, drilled a hole through the bow of the flatboat so that the water would seep out, then filled the hole up and pushed the flatboat across the dam, reloaded, and set off again, all while he performed in front of the people of New Salem because they all had flocked outside to see this disaster that was quickly and miraculously solved by Lincoln. Lincolns quick thinking and wits allowed himself to be known as his honest self throughout New Salem, which was the major foundation of all of his future life, since this was where Lincoln had all of his experiences and learning. Without this event, Lincoln could have lost all motivation and turned into a man of failure. One more piece of evidence justifying Lincolns young strategic thinking comes from when he challenged Jack Armstrong, New Salems wrestling champion, to a wrestling match out of his stable confidence, Lincoln was winning, but Jack Armstrongs gang didnt want their boss to lose this big match so they joined in and teamed up against Lincoln. Lincoln broke away and pushed his courage into saying that he could take all of them one by one, but Armstrong intervened and called the wrestling match a tie. Instead of complaining and arguing about this unfair decision, Lincoln thought of the future and what good it would do if he won this match, and quickly decided to make friends with Armstrong so that he would have a better life in New Salem with many friends (Freedman 321).This shows Lincolns critical thinking toward the future and how his different better decisions would make good outcomes for him. He chose to go for friends and being better for a longer term, not just short lasted fame and pride that would soon fade away. Abes strategic wits granted him a bright future, built up by sacrifices from his younger life.
In conclusion, Lincolns sense of responsibility, his persistence, and his strategic quick thinking was very essential to Lincolns huge success in politics in the future. Lincolns sense of responsibility allowed him to be known as the dependable man that could be trusted with the future and wellbeing of America which got him elected president by the people that needed a good stable president that was going to lead them through the time of crisis inside America. Lincolns patience and persistence helped him to be a hard-working, devoted man that put his best out for the welfare of America and let him be kind, understanding, and not rash. Lincolns quick, strategic wits permitted him to be a wise ruler that pulled the United States through the bloody civil war still united as one. With Lincoln as my example, Ive been inspired to live more like him, be more trying and less lazy, and to grow in strength and wisdom so that I could follow many of his good trails. For Lincoln had said,Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.