Lincoln was a Failure, But Still Changed the World


** This is a reposting of a story I wrote many years ago.  But today, on Presidents Day, I thought a little encouragement from one of our Presidential greats, Abraham Lincoln, could brighten your day.**

This morning, as I gaze out my window onto an unusually foggy day, I’m somehow reminded of the great failure that was President Lincoln.  For much of his life, Abraham Lincoln was an abject failure – but with perseverance, he was able to achieve what had seemed impossible at the time.  

He didn’t quit when he failed at business or when he lost election after election.  He had a nervous breakdown after his sweetheart died of typhoid fever.

Though depressed and discouraged, he never gave up. And his suffering wasn’t in just being poor and born into poverty, we’re talking tragedy throughout his life.

“That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain–that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Think of this.

  • His mother died “in his tenth year,”according to the White House.  Wikipedia says he was 9 years old, but either way, he was a child when he lost his mother.
  • Then his sister died.
  • Three of his four children (all boys) didn’t live to maturity.  Two of them died before Lincoln himself.
  • His wife, Mary Todd, was known to have had severe mental illness.  I remember my Dad telling a story about how Mary ran out in the streets, freaking out, and essentially, President Lincoln told her, ‘not here’ or something like that, and they went back to the house.
  • Lincoln himself was known to suffer from chronic depression.

Oh, not to mention his country was being torn apart by the issue of slavery, and the Civil War ensued, still to this day – the bloodiest battle in America’s war history.

But it’s not how many times you fall down – it’s how you recover. Look what he accomplished starting with nothing – being knocked down – and getting up and continuing the fight.

Let this be a thought today as we wake up to the challenge of a new day.