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Lincoln: 'Some day I shall be President.'

February 11, 2009

When Abraham Lincoln was just seven-years-old, his family moved into a crude shack in the remote wilderness of Indiana. As the family was clearing the land in preparation for building a better home, Lincoln's mother died from a disease known as milk sickness (caused by drinking milk from cows who ate the poisonous perennial, White Snakeroot). Without Mrs. Lincoln, the household began to fall apart, and much of the workload fell to Abraham and his sister.

The power of his words

Abraham Lincoln's life was full of adversity.  But he would have been the last to say that this is what made him great.  He is known for saying, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Lincoln used the power granted him as the sixteenth president of the United States and president during the Civil War (1861–1865), to rid the country of slavery.

He used his statesmanship and influence to hold together a divided nation. Many people were moved by his words.  Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, and two outstanding inaugural addresses are widely regarded as some of the greatest speeches ever delivered by an American politician.

Wisdom of a forefather

These quotes from Lincoln give an inkling of the power of his words and how he used them to sway a nation of people:

Some day I shall be President.

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.

He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

In the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Most folks are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.

I don't like that man. I must get to know him better.

Lincoln's assassination

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky and died 56 years later on April 14, 1865. 

He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer who hoped to create chaos and overthrow the Federal government by conspiring to killing Lincoln, Secretary of State William Steward, and Vice President Andrew Johnson.

Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head as Lincoln sat beside his wife in the presidential box at Ford's Theatre.  Booth is said to have yelled, "Sic semper tyrannis!" the Latin Virginia state motto which means, "Thus always to tyrants." Other accounts state that he also shouted, "The South is avenged." 

It is Lincoln's eloquent words that live on, as exemplified in the Gettysburg Address in which he defined the Civil War as a rededication to the egalitarian ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and in his second inaugural address in which he urged "malice toward none" and "charity for all" in the peace to come. 

 


Contact: Melinda Swenson
E-mail: melinda.swenson@colostate.edu
Phone: (970 491-2463