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Abraham Lincoln, the Only Honest Politician? Essay

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Abraham Lincoln is unfailingly the second president students learn about in grade school, right after George Washington. As far as I can remember, the only thing taught about "Honest Abe" was that he was born in a log cabin and had to walk 12 miles to the library, uphill both ways, "unlike you little brats who have a library in your own school and don't even use it." Of course, I learned more faceless, boring facts about our 16th president in eventual class notes about names and dates. President during the Civil War who was killed by John Wilkes Booth in 1865. Author and deliverer of the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. In a word, the faceless president sounded noteworthy yet unworthy of the title "second president taught in grade school."

Of course, in my cynically skeptical mind, "second best" was still unremarkable for a politician. The ignoble profession notorious for lying, selling out, and smirking could not possibly lay claim to an "honest" man, much less a great president. Perhaps grade school teachers celebrated Lincoln because he died before his sell-outs caught up to him and sooner than anyone could find any dirt on the president. Or Lincoln was a mythical fluke. Early on, I had learned about his biblical height and majestic beard, as well as his improbable self-education and remarkable eloquence. Yet he remained a politician sly enough to finagle into the presidency, a job with no room for greatness. Thus a contradiction arose: either politicians could achieve greatness, or Lincoln, too, fell short of it. My solution called for the latter. Douglas Donald's Lincoln altered my solution and convinced me of the greatness of the sixteenth president and, potentially, of his profession.

Despite hi...


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...illed him. Lincoln's irrefutable morality and evident greatness provide the one counter-example necessary to debunk a theory. The theory was my own, my conception that politics and its practitioners are hopelessly corrupt by their very nature. My conclusions from a humble biography showed that my human stereotype was invalid. Lincoln simply proved that greatness could and can triumph in politics, and the example should be followed in life's every aspect. In a deeper sense, Lincoln was a counter-example to my cynical view of human nature. Perhaps there are others out there, conquering the irresolute, the amoral, and the wavering with resolution, action, and eloquence. Abraham Lincoln is the potential of every human being. The moral may never be so recognized, but they will certainly die, martyrs, alongside their great brethren who proved the human mission possible.


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