Lincoln and Learning

Abraham Lincoln was an extremely intelligent man. Well read, measured, and able to stand toe to toe with America’s greatest minds, one might assume that, like many Presidents before him, he was born into fortune and attended the most prestigious schools in the nation. In reality, Lincoln was born to an average family in a frontier town in Kentucky. His family later moved to Indiana to escape massive slave owning plantations that swallowed up smaller farms like that which Lincoln’s father owned. Frontier life was not known for its leisure. Lincoln received very little formal education growing up. He would occasionally attend lectures at small schools, but he was needed at home to help work and provide for the family alongside his father. Lincoln did not fit in with other boys his age in Indiana. Despite not having the opportunity to attend school regularly, Lincoln was constantly learning. He devoured any book he could get his hands on, and was considered lazy by anyone who saw him because he was constantly reading instead of working. Lincoln did not let his circumstances determine his future.

He took his education into his own hands, feeding his natural curiosity with book after book. Eventually, Lincoln struck out on his own. After trying his hand at owning a general store, which failed, he became interested in politics and law. He decided that he would become a lawyer, and, like before, he taught himself everything he would need to know. Again, he read book after book, until he had a masterful understanding of the law. He did not attend a famous law school or study under a great lawyer, he taught himself.

Whether it is the system you are stuck in, or lack of opportunities available, take a lesson from one of the greatest figures of the 19th century. Believe in yourself, make the opportunities that aren’t available, chase your desires. If you stick with what you love, opportunities will open before you. Lincoln read and learned things he loved, and, despite growing up in the middle of nowhere, through his dogged determination, a young man born into a one room wood cabin went on to become perhaps the most powerful and revered President in American history.

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