You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me;
you stoop down to make me great.
The truly great go low. They go low and exalt others.
Our Lord took on the nature of a servant. He humbled himself. Lincoln did too.
His humility only began in a Kentucky log cabin. For Abe, success bred humility. From farm and flatboat to law and orator-and peaking as President- Lincoln lived it. The way up is down.
Honest Abe was also Humble Abe. You don’t have to mine long or deep to find proof. He declined titles and elephants gently. He said thanks and sorry freely. Proud people don’t say either.
The following quotations are taken largely from Harold Holzer’s, Abraham Lincoln The Writer.
In April 1848, in Washington as an Illinois Congressman, Lincoln wrote home to Mary:
Suppose you do not prefix the “Hon” to the address on your letters to me any more. I like the letters very much, but I would rather they should not have that upon them. It is not necessary, as I suppose you have thought, to have them to come free.
Lincoln left Springfield for Washington in February 11, 1861. He was not to see his hometown again. From the back of the train, with friends and neighbors standing before him, he gave this farewell address.
My friends-No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried…Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him [Washington], I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will be well. To his care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell[.]
On July 4, 1863 Vicksburg surrendered to General Grant. This letter was sent a few days later.
My dear General
I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further…I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port-Gibson…I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgement that you were right, and I was wrong.
Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN
This letter from Lincoln to the king of Siam exudes grace and goodwill. It was Lincoln’s response to two letters from Siam’s king. Two letters addressed not to Lincoln, but to President James Buchanan.
Despite being hard pressed within and without-by month’s end his son William would die of typhoid fever-Lincoln took precious time to reply to an obscure dictator in a far-away kingdom.
I appreciate most highly Your Majesty’s tender of good offices in forwarding to this Government a stock from which a supply of elephants might be raised on our own soil. This Government would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the object were one which could be made practically useful in the present condition of the United States. Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient agent of transportation in internal commerce.
I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this Government entertains of Your Majesty’s friendship.
Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, and for the generous and emulous People of Siam the highest possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty God.
Your Good Friend, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Washington, February 3, 1862.
Finally, on the verge of Union victory and mere weeks before his death, President Lincoln spoke these words in his second inaugural address:
Fondly do we hope-fervently do we pray- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said:
The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
Lincoln could, and did. Strong, he stooped low and preserved a nation.
Ten-score and six years ago today, at just the right time, God brought forth Abe Lincoln. Uncle Abe. Our Humble Uncle Abe.
And I am so very thankful He did.