Happy Birthday, Abe

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, a man who has been a source of great controversy among conservatives. They are divided: some respect him greatly, while others consider him a violator of the Constitution and a tyrant.

In my early years, I tended to lean in the latter direction. I was so devoted to states’ rights and so distressed over the growth of the federal government that I felt Lincoln was a large part of the problem. There’s a remedy for that point of view, though. It’s called research.

I held those views of Lincoln without any real knowledge of the man, his writings, or the circumstances under which he took office. I wanted to believe that slavery was not the real issue in the Civil War, but when I read the statements of Southern leaders, I had to conclude that states’ rights was only important to them in the context of maintaining the institution of slavery.

Ultimately, I had to alter my views on Lincoln. The more I read about him, and the more I examined his speeches and saw the spiritual growth in the man over the years, particularly after he became president, the more respect I gained for him. I have come to believe that he was one of the greatest of American presidents.

So, happy birthday, Abe. And I sincerely hope that the spiritual awakening you seemed to experience in your later years was genuine. I’d like to speak with you someday.