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President's Ponderings: Lincoln's Birthday

By Edward Luttrell - President's Ponderings Blog (2/13/11)

  FEBRUARY 14, 2011 --

Yesterday was Lincoln's birthday. I took a bit of time to reflect on why Lincoln was one of our great presidents. To me, greatness for a president means that they made significant and lasting changes to America while dealing with the situation that existed in their world.

Most people think of Lincoln as the president who saved the union. I tend to think of two traits that set him apart and allowed him to save the union.

First he suffered more defeats than victories. From the time of his birth in Kentucky, Lincoln seldom had it easy. He lost more elections than he won, he even doubted his own presidential re-election in 1864 until the western army achieved a major victory. The word perseverance describes Lincolns actions perfectly.

It is the way he dealt with defeat that showed his strength. He would pray and then start over the next day. During the war he kept pushing and evaluating his generals until he found the combination of leadership that gave the North the victory. No matter how bad the defeat, Lincoln believed that tomorrow would give him success and he would then work hard to achieve it.

Second he never strayed from his view of what was right. Even during the darkest days of the Civil War, he never wavered from his view that the Union must be preserved. He never compromised his principles nor forgot to keep his eyes on his goals. Even while consumed with the Civil war, he found time to advocate for other issues that he saw as critical. While Grant drove the gold spike in the transcontinental railroad, Lincoln signed the enabling legislation.

I look at the Grange and see Lincoln's spirit every day. In spite of being declared dead, weak, and not relevant many times over the past 140 years, the Grange continues to grow and serve thousands of communities across the country. The principles and goals of our organization remain the same as when our early members wrote them into our declaration of purposes and rules. While many amendments have been made to our governing documents, we've never lost sight of why we exist as an organization and what we are to be doing.

Lincoln as a man and president should inspire every American. In my view, he and Washington stand together as our greatest presidents.


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