I was recently tooling on Facebook this week and noticed an advertisement for the movie “Lincoln” that is scheduled for general release next month. After clicking on the ad, the individuals promoting this film will be happy to know that I was among those converted to a fan of their Facebook page (as of today, numbering around 44,000). I was prompted by this Facebook ad to write about Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln is a personal hero for several reasons. Of course, Lincoln died a national hero in service to the country. He served at one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history when pretty much no one else wanted to be president. And he remains well-known for a number of sound-bites from his speeches that continue to resonate with the public today. However, he’s a hero to me for several other reasons.
First, he was an attorney for most of his career, and as an attorney, handled many humdrum business disputes, and represented a number of clients over the years. Such a caseload is not terribly dissimilar today for many small and solo practitioners today like me who make an effort to help the clients that come to them. Second, Lincoln was, for the most part, a failed politician for most of his career. While he served as a local politician early in his career, his attempts at federal office and as a presidential candidate outnumbered the times he was elected to such offices. And, for those students of history out there, Lincoln’s prosecution of the Civil War involved a series of hard losses for the union, at the cost of the lives of many. Lincoln, however persevered in the face of failure. I think to myself that if Lincoln could manage to bear the tremendous loss of human life (both during the civil war and also in his personal life at the death of two of his children), surely I can manage when I lose a trial or a client decides to not pay his bill!
Finally, Lincoln was able to change his mind, particularly on the major issue of the union: slavery. Lincoln did not start out as an abolitionist, even though today I think most would agree that slavery is plainly wrong. I think it took Lincoln most of his life to come to that conclusion publicly, well after the civil war had started. Even at the outset of war, Lincoln’s argument was not that slavery was wrong, but that states did not have the legal right to secede. I aspire to be open to changing my mind, even on ideas I might hold quite dear.
I look forward to the movie next month, and hope you will too!