On February 12, 1808, our nation was blessed by the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Few men have changed the course of our nation as much as Lincoln. There is so much to be said about him, but I would like to focus on what our children are learning about him today.
If you have visited my website, www.bingoforpatriots.com, you may have read my article: What Does Your Child Know About Thomas Jefferson? The article describes what launched me on my mission to educate myself, my children, and others about the Founders and Founding Documents. On this day, I find myself asking the same question about Abraham Lincoln.
What do your children know about Abraham Lincoln? More importantly, what are your children being taught about Lincoln in school? Was there any type of discussion about Lincoln in your child’s classroom today? What facts can your child recite about Lincoln and his life? Only one of my three children has been required to memorize the Gettysburg Address, but it was memorable to watch him recite this 272 word speech. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, as well as his Second Inaugural Address are both referenced in the Common Core Standards which will be implemented in many states in the near future. Yet, I fear that, as with most subjects related to US History, children are learning what amounts to sound bites about this great president. Only so much as is necessary to answer questions on a standardized test. Although he was one of our nation’s greatest leaders, his birthday is not a national holiday, and it is an observed holiday in only eight states. It is therefore up to us, as parents, to add depth and complexity to our children’s knowledge base about Lincoln.
Take a moment to talk to your children about the man who guided the nation through such troubled times. Here are a few fascinating facts that you might pass along during the discussion:
At 6’4”, Lincoln was our tallest president. He was also the first president to have a beard.
Lincoln held a patent related to changing the buoyancy of steamboats.
Lincoln ran a store, and he later became a lawyer before becoming a politician.
Lincoln was only one of two presidents who wrote most, if not all, of their speeches. The other president was Thomas Jefferson.
Lincoln was a consummate storyteller. His Treasury Secretary, Hugh McCullough, wrote: “”Story-telling with him was something more than a habit. He was so accustomed to it in social life and in the practice of his profession that it became a part of his nature, and so accurate was his recollection, and so great a fund had he at command, that he had always anecdotes and stories to illustrate his arguments and delight those whose tastes were similar to his own; but those who judged from this trait that he had lacked deep feeling, or sound judgment, or a proper sense of the responsibility of his position, had no just appreciation of his character. He possessed all these qualities in an eminent degree.”
Despite being known for his wit and humor, Lincoln suffered from depression. It is said that Lincoln dreamed of his own death just one week before he became the first president to be assassinated.
Lincoln was a wordsmith. Read the words of the Gettysburg Address, and focus on how much each word matters:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Looking for more information about Abraham Lincoln? Here are a few of my favorite websites: