Best Lincoln Stories Tersely Told
by J. E. Gallaher
Pub. in 1898

 

Lincoln's Specific Life Work
 

One often thinks of his life as cut off, but no great man since Caesar has seen his life work ended as did Lincoln. Napoleon died upon a desert rock, but not until Austerlitz and Wagram had become memories, and the dust of the empire even as all dust. Cromwell knew that England had not at heart materially altered. Washington did not know that he had created one of the great, perhaps the greatest, empires to be known to man. But Lincoln had a specific task to do—to save his country and to make it free—and on that fateful 14th of April he knew that he had accomplished both things.

There are those who would say that chance put this man where he was to do this work. To the thoughtful mind it was not chance, however, but design, and that the design of which all greatness is a part. War is indeed the crucible of the nations. It is the student of a century hence who shall properly place the civil war in

American history. But, whatever that place be, there can be no doubt of the position in it of the war President. Like William the Silent, his domination of all about him was a matter not of personal desire, but of absolute and constant growth. There are few more interesting characters in history than Lincoln. There is none who in quite the same manner fits himself so absolutely into his circumstances. It is the highest form of genius that so produces as to make production seem effortless, and it is perhaps the greatest of all tributes to Lincoln that what he did seems sometimes only what the average man would have done in his place.

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