Lincoln’s legacy lives on

In recognition of former President Lincoln’s 200th birthday, UH looks back on Lincoln’s achievements, which paved the way for social revolutions for the last 150 years.

‘I think Lincoln is one of the greatest and most influential presidents. He needs to be remembered,’ psychology Ph.D. candidate Katina Papathopalos said. ‘The nation has changed because of him.’

Two hundred years after Lincoln’s birth, as Barack Obama was elected as the nation’s first black president, he made distinctions to emphasize his relation to Lincoln. Obama was inaugurated with his hand on Lincoln’s Bible and had his inauguration celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

‘ As Lincoln appointed four of his former rivals to his cabinet instead of criticizing them, political science professor Robert Lineberry said, Obama also reached to opposing party members to work together with his administration.

‘Obama knows that he is a powerful symbol if he can associate himself as being somewhat like Lincoln by following his path – ‘The way Lincoln ended slavery, someone like me, an African American, can become president,” Lineberry said. ‘(Obama) is very carefully and consciously cultivating all those symbols like the Bible, quoting Lincoln, because he realizes it gives him a mystique that he would not have otherwise.’

Obama and Lincoln launched their political careers in Illinois and were propelled into national recognition when they ran for president.

After Lincoln had finished practicing law, he worked for the Illinois House of Representatives and later for the U.S. House of Representatives. Obama served in the Illinois State Senate and later the U.S. Senate.’

As Obama began his historic presidency respectfully paying homage to the man who splintered the yoke of slavery, Lincoln’s revolutionary tenure leaves a high watermark for the fledgling administration.

‘Every historian has the highest regards for Lincoln. He was clearly the best president of the U.S.,’ Lineberry said.

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is a two-year program established by Congress in Feb. 2008 to bring awareness to this president’s legacy. The Commission, which consists of 15 members, is housed in the Library of Congress.

It hosts events to honor Lincoln and exhibits his inaugural Bible and what is believed to be the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.

‘I think Lincoln was very bold and brave; he took on things that other presidents didn’t want to. He changed America forever by abolishing slavery and ending the civil war,’ biology senior Amariee Collins said.

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