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Learning from Lincoln


Shiv Kumar Sharma spacer
Abraham Lincoln: the 16th President of the United States
 

Abraham Lincoln became the President of the United States in 1861. He was well known all over the country as a kind hearted gentle man and as a lover of truth and justice. Even as a child Abraham Lincoln liked to help and serve people in need. Before he became president, Lincoln spent twenty years as an unsuccessful Illinois lawyer - at least he was unsuccessful in financial terms. But he was very rich in the way he led his life. For example, Lincoln didn't like to charge people much who were as poor as he was.

For example, an old woman in dire poverty, the widow of a Revolutionary soldier, was charged $200 for getting her $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension agent and won the case for the old woman. He didn't charge her for his services and, in fact, paid her hotel bill and gave her money to buy a ticket home! He was known at times to convince his clients to settle their issue out of court, saving them a lot of money, and earning nothing for himself.

He and his associate once prevented a con man from gaining possession of a tract of land owned by a mentally ill girl. The case took fifteen minutes. Lincoln's associate came to divide up their fee, but Lincoln reprimanded him. His associate argued that the girl's brother had agreed on the fee ahead of time, and he was completely satisfied. "That may be," said Lincoln , "but that money comes out of the pocket of a poor, mentally-challenged girl; and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner. You return half the money at least, or I'll not take a cent of it as my share."

Before he became a lawyer, Lincoln managed a country store. Late one night, when he counted his cash, he found that he had taken a few extra cents from a customer. He closed the store, and walked a long distance to return the money to the customer.

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President Lincoln with his family

At another time, he discovered that there had been a weight on the scales when he weighed out a package of tea for a woman the night before, thus giving her too little for her money. He weighed out what was due, and carried it to her, much to the surprise of the woman.

Lincoln had compassion for all living creatures. Once, while riding through the country with some other lawyers, Lincoln saw two young birds that the wind had blown out of their nest. He stopped to put them back in their nest. "I could not have slept unless I had restored those little birds to their mother," he said.

Once when he was president, he went out with his friends for his daily walk. While returning home, he saw behind him a horse with a saddle and no rider. Lincoln asked his friends if anyone knew whose horse it was and why it was roaming about in this strange condition. The friends suspected that the horse belonged to a person they knew. "He is a drunkard," they said, "and he must have fallen down somewhere on the road."

Lincoln suggested that they might all go back and search for him. "Why should we?" asked the friends. "It is getting dark. Let us hurry along. We are already late. Let the drunkard learn a lesson." They started moving on, but Lincoln did not join them. He turned to go back, saying "I feel the man needs help. He might have fallen and even gotten badly injured."

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SIgning the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery
 

As his friends walked away, Lincoln went back along the road and looked for the unfortunate man. After walking some distance, he saw the drunken man lying unconscious on the roadside. Lincoln helped him up with some difficulty and brought him home. Everyone in Lincoln 's home were angry with him for bringing in a drunken man. But Lincoln did not mind their harsh words. He calmly told them, "Look, he may be drunk, but he is a human being like us. It is our duty to help him." Lincoln took the drunken man to the bathroom and put him under the shower of water. When he regained full consciousness, Lincoln served him food. Then he was allowed to go home.

Lincoln believed that service done with love to man is service to God. He was unhappy to see slavery. He therefore fought to end slavery. Many people afterwards said, "God in heaven and Lincoln on earth - we have only these two to look after us."

April 15 is the death anniversary day of this great soul; as we remember him on this day let us also get inspired by his life and instil self-confidence and compassion in our lives.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 5 Issue 04 - APRIL 2007
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