Abraham Lincoln

by Sam Schoedel from Fredericksburg

Traits that I look for in a hero are wisdom, honesty, bravery, fairness, and the ability to be open minded. On top of that, a good hero is one who can be a good leader, still while keeping all of these traits. Most people have to sacrifice at least one of these traits in order to be a good leader, which is why my ideal hero is someone who has such a strong mental state that they can do everything without breaking down. Abraham Lincoln has all of these traits. Even in his childhood he was wise. He always wanted to learn, even though his family was very poor. Every book he could get his hands on he read, and the ones that were interesting to him, he memorized.

As a child, Lincoln was a storyteller. The few books he had laying around his house, which he had memorized, he told to his friends and family. He had a sense of humor in his stories. Many of his comical stories were about George Washington or other famous people, but this was not because he wanted to make fun of them. It was because he looked up to them as his heroes. Lincoln even carried his storytelling skills through the civil war, as Doris Kearns Goodwin writes, "During the Civil War Lincoln was the one, time and again, who sustained the spirits of his colleagues with his affability, his good nature, his kindness, his sensitivity and his remarkable gift for story telling." Through his childhood and into adulthood, Lincoln kept the same set of traits that helped him become one of history's most influential men.

History.com (George Peter Healy)
History.com (George Peter Healy)

Abraham Lincoln was the kind of wise man who everyone looked up to. He was like a silent, all knowing god who still had a voice full of empathy and compassion towards everything he did. He was mentally above everyone else but physically with them. A quote from Doris Kearns Goodwin's paper talks about a Russian novelist telling stories of famous world heroes to uncivilized barbarians, "But you haven't told us about the greatest ruler of all. We want to hear about that man who spoke with the voice of thunder, that man who laughed like the sunrise, that man who comes from that place called America, which is so far from here that if we should journey there as young men, we would be old men when we got there. Tell us of Abraham Lincoln." Even in lands far from America, people know about Abraham Lincoln. We all know that he was wise, but what makes someone wise? Instead of being the only person to make the calls and have the answers, Lincoln surrounded himself with specialists to do that for him. This doesn't mean that he wanted to slack off or do less work. It actually meant that he wanted what was best for his country, so he gathered the smartest people in order to answer all of the hard questions, which gave him the ability to run the country more fluently.

One of the most important characteristics of a leader, besides being wise, is being honest. A leader who is afraid to tell the truth is one whose country fails, and Lincoln knew that. He was always the person to look to the future. He knew that although telling the truth may hurt at first, it is much better in the long run. The fact that Abraham Lincoln knew this is what put him centuries ahead of any other living being in the world at the time. Because no one else knew to do this, it seemed as if Lincoln could look into the future. He gained so many people's trust, it was hard for even the South to dislike him. This is part of what made him a leader and a hero. He was so amazing that even the few enemies he had, such as the South, had a hard time hating him.

Abraham Lincoln Portrait (Time Inc. (Bettman and Corbis))
Abraham Lincoln Portrait (Time Inc. (Bettman and Corbis))

For me, the traits brave and fair go hand in hand, but not because they are similar. Someone can be brave without being fair and vice versa, but a true hero in my eyes is someone who has both of these traits. Abraham Lincoln was always brave, "After each battle was lost, he was immediately able to get himself onto a boat or a train to go to the front.  He knew he had to see his soldiers immediately, even if it meant being in the midst of the battle itself.  He went more than a dozen times to the front during his presidency, walking among the thinned ranks of the soldiers, visiting the wounded in the hospital, telling them stories which they then would tell to a hundred more people[...]" but he was also always fair, "When he was angry with someone he would write a hot letter and put it aside until his emotions had cooled instead of berating a subordinate in any way in public." If someone is only brave, they may not be able to help everyone, and if someone is only fair, they may not be able to walk into a war zone in order to aid their comrades.

This is what I believe is amazing about Abraham Lincoln. The fact that he can have all of these good traits while still being able to run a country and help his people without losing his temper makes the average person wonder how he could possibly do it. Many people can't say, except that it has something to do with his unparalleled self-control and self-discipline. Maybe it was because he read so much and had an amazing brain for memorization. Maybe it was a combination of all these things. Abraham Lincoln was wise, honest, brave, fair, and open minded, which, in my eyes, are the traits of a hero.

Related Links


Healy, George. "Abraham Lincoln." [Online] Available http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/abraham-lincoln/pictures.

Bettman, Corbis, n/a. "Portraits of Abraham Lincoln." [Online] Available http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1876750_1840184,00.html.