Saturday, February 12, 2022

Young Lincoln

On the anniversary of his birth, an appreciation of Lincoln before he became President, "A genius for friendship.":
Lincoln is such an imposing figure that his stature obscures the man. As we view him historically, from the end of his life to the beginning of his career, he remains a figure whose greatness makes him difficult to know or understand. If we can follow him as a young man, as he finds his vocation and his calling, he may become a more familiar and accessible if no less admirable man.

In 1831 Lincoln left home at age 22 to strike out on his own in the struggling frontier town of New Salem, Illinois. He had no trade and few prospects. The single most striking fact about him as a young man is his genius for friendship. As one of his New Salem contemporaries recalled (as recorded in the interview notes of William Herndon quoted by David Herbert Donald), “Lincoln had nothing[,] only plenty of friends.” He was obviously one of the most likable men who ever lived, a man who radiated decency. Moreover, the better his acquaintances got to know him, the more they liked him. Those who got to know him best, such as the acquaintances with whom he shared boarding rooms as an impoverished young man, became lifelong friends. The student of Lincoln who can see him through the eyes of these friends will have a similar experience. .... (much more)
Scott Johnson, "A genius for friendshaip," Powerline, February 12, 2022.

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