The Abraham Lincoln Memorial

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The Lincoln Memorial honors the 16th, and arguably the greatest United States President; in addition it is a symbol of his belief in freedom and his hatred of slavery. This monument also serves as a representation of one of the nation’s founding principles: “All men are created equal.”  The Lincoln memorial is located on the National Mall in an honorable position, at the west end of a line that extends from the United States Capitol and the Washington Monument.

In March of 1867 Congress incorporated the Lincoln Monument Association to build the monument. This memorial was modeled by Henry Bacon after the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The memorial stands 190 feet long, 120 feet wide, 99 feet tall, and was built with a Colorado-Yule marble. Thirty-six fluted Doric columns—one for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of Lincoln’s death—surround the memorial.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” –Abraham Lincoln. This quote sticks out to me because Lincoln had been given power, and his character has been tested and proved to be very good.  Although I think the quote provides insight into human nature, I disagree that nearly all men can stand adversity. I believe it takes a special kind of character, like Lincoln’s, to cope successfully with hard times. He provided strong and wise leadership through the crisis of the Civil War that was brought on by the evil of slavery.  Other people at the time, however, such as General McClellan, did not exhibit such effective leadership.

The main point of Lincoln’s quote, however, is that power is frequently not used ethically.  In my opinion, President Trump has misused his presidential power by trying too forcefully to achieve his goal of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, including resorting to shutting down the government, which has caused significant hardship for many American families.  

Lincoln made his comment about power a century and a half ago.  What would Lincoln say about power if he were a live today?  I think that Lincoln would express that the general point of his quote still remains true more than ever before–that some leaders in recent history have been able to exercise power very responsibly, but that other leaders have used their power in very awful ways.  I think that Lincoln would feel that President Franklin Roosevelt used power in a positive way to lead the country through the Great Depression and through World War II, but that Hitler used power in an extremely negative way to try exterminate an ethnic minority.

It is noteworthy that Lincoln gave voice to this thought because it contains connections to the structure of the U.S. Constitution.  Indeed, the founding fathers were afraid that too much power in the hands of just one person would lead to an abuse of power—to tyranny.  They doubtless had the various monarchs of England in mind. The Constitution gives relatively little power to the president. The president is commander in chief of the Army and Navy.  He can make treaties, but only if the Senate approve. He can appoint officers of the United States, including Supreme Court Justices, but again, only if the Senate approve.