Abraham Lincolns Contributions
Abraham Lincoln had been given leadership at the most critical and terrible moment in the nation's history. The Civil War was by far the bloodiest war the United States had ever fought, and it was fought brother against brother, friend against friend. At the Battle of Gettysburg alone, there were more casualties than all previous American wars combined. Cousins, fathers and sons, neighbors, and former schoolmates fought and fell side-by-side.
Lincoln confronted this crisis with great skill balanced with uncommon humanity. He was a superb strategist and leader, able to take effective control of a military that, without his guidance, would have suffered an inevitable and staggering defeat. He was able to raise the morale of his people and to clearly define the issues at stake and their broader significance. Many of his speeches and writings are among the most eloquent and classic statements of the ideals of democracy and of the United States of America ever made. In war he was a genius - what he would have been in peace we will never know.
Abraham Lincoln was the first United States president to be assassinated, the first and perhaps the only one to become a true martyr to the cause of democracy.
If not for Lincoln, today the United States would be two and possibly more nations. It would never have attained the prosperity, growth, and world prominence that now distinguishes it. Most importantly to him, it would not be standing as it does, as living proof that democracy can be an enduring and vital form of government.
Lincoln never believed that what he accomplished had been accomplished without divine help and intervention. He once said: "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me." He lived with a perpetual sense that he was being swept along by forces larger than himself, to a destiny he could and would not even dare to predict.
If, as Shakespeare, said: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them," then Abraham Lincoln may be a rare example of all three. He had a natural strength of character and conviction; he worked diligently at improving his own mind and skills; and he was presented by fate with a challenge of such enormous proportions and implications, that he himself believed he was nothing more and nothing less than an instrument in God's hands.