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Rapid-Fire History: Abraham Lincoln - Rise to Greatness


On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin (now LaRue) County, Kentucky. Cast into the world with hardly any advantages, Lincoln endeavored to shape his own destiny. Although he received less than one year of formal education, Lincoln developed into a lifelong autodidact, enthusiastically reading and borrowing whatever books he could get his hands on. Lincoln’s father was frustrated by his son’s apparent desire to put reading over working, but Abraham was never one who shied away from exerting himself. Whether working as a farmer, rail-splitter, river flatboat man, store clerk, mill hand, postmaster, surveyor, or a partner in a general store that failed, Lincoln did it all, earning the nickname “honest Abe” in the process. Lincoln’s dedication to self-education and hard work enabled him to launch a successful career as a lawyer and forged the wisdom, moral courage, and unwavering leadership that served him so well as the 16th President of the United States. His rise to greatness was anything but certain, but by shaping his own destiny, Abraham Lincoln rose to the ultimate position of power and responsibility in the United States. Guided by the words and lessons of America’s Founding Fathers, Lincoln saved the Union, sparking “a new birth of freedom” for the nation and ensuring “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln’s life is a reminder that regardless of the circumstances we are born into, every American has the power to shape their own destiny. If we apply ourselves like Lincoln, we too can rise to greatness.


Abraham Lincoln by James M. McPherson.

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