Abraham Lincoln, wearing his signature beard and dressed in a suit, is seated for a formal portrait. He looks off to his left. He is photographed from the legs up.
Photo courtesy of Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site.

Why Lincoln Matters: Honest Abe

2 min read

One of the first things you may have learned about President Lincoln was that he was honest. To many kids, and even some adults, Abraham Lincoln remains “Honest Abe.” His honesty, humor and intelligence—these are just a few of the qualities that make him a source of inspiration for many Americans.

When preparing for the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination (April 2015) at Ford’s Theatre we asked our staff, collaborators and you “why does Lincoln matter today?” We’re fascinated by the answers. We’ve noted a few below, and we’ll continue to share more answers on social media over the coming weeks.

Sarah Bennett, Ford’s Theatre Fan:

He is an excellent example of someone who came from humble beginnings and made the world a better place so young people today have an excellent example to follow.

David McKenzie, Digital Projects Manager:

Lincoln was a leader who guided the country through its most significant crisis, one that had been brewing since the founding. He rose from humble beginnings to the presidency, seemingly out of the blue. I find him generally fascinating; he was an evolving, changing man of many contradictions—contradictions that tell us a lot about our country both then and now.

Pat Krider, Executive Director of the National First Ladies’ Library:

The fascination is with the whole package: a President dealing with controversial issues and a war tearing our country apart, who becomes our first assassinated President, with a First Lady who continually caused controversy. Take away a few of the elements and the fascination might not be there today.

Heather Hoagland, Museum Assistant:

The most personal reason Lincoln resonates with me is that he was powerful through his humility. Not only was he a powerful yet humble person—which is rare enough!—but I think his humility influenced people and was an integral part of his effectiveness as a leader.

John Morrissey, Ford’s Theatre Fan:

Lincoln is just as relevant today as he was 150 years ago. In his strength and fortitude he remains hero, role model, epitome of an outstanding leader.

Anita McBride, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush and Executive-in-Residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University:

The Lincolns are an example of great self-sacrifice. Personally, the strength of Lincoln’s example and his belief that our country must stay united appeals to my personal sense of patriotism. His example shows that protecting our democracy will always and forever be worth the sacrifice.

Kate Langsdorf, Education Programs Manager:

Lincoln was a remarkable man, but a regular dude. He struggled with “melancholy,” told off-color jokes and was awkward with the ladies. He’s a testament to the fact that imperfect people can do great things.

Find more thoughts on our website.