"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln
President "Honest Abe" Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is one of America's best known presidents, remembered, not just for the key events of his political life but for the arc of his remarkable life story that saw him rise from very humble origins to become President, only to have his life cut short by assassin John Wilkes Booth.
Shortly before receiving his party's nomination for President, Lincoln spoke of his early life:
"I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families--second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks.... My father ... removed from Kentucky to ... Indiana, in my eighth year.... It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.... Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the rule of three... but that was all."
Despite having about one year of formal education, pieced together a few weeks here and there, Lincoln loved to read and learn from the few books he could get his hands on which included Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, and Aesop's Fables.
At the age of 21, standing six foot four inches tall, Lincoln was noted for his skill with an ax but, ahving no desire to be a farmer, he soon left the land to try his hand as a flatboatman, a storekeeper, postmaster and surveyor. He enlisted as a volunteer during the Black Hawk War in 1832 and was quickly elected captain of his company. From there he decided to turn his hand to the law and, having taught himself grammar and math, set to studying the law, passing the bar exam in 1836 and when into partnership in Springfield, Illinnois. He entered politics 20 years later, having established himself as one of the most distinguished and successful lawyers in Illiniois, noted not just for his shrewdness and common sense but for his unfailing fairness and honesty.
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Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power
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