President’s Day: Celebrating the Legacy of Two Outstanding Christian Leaders

Abraham Lincoln and George Washington are the presidents whose birthdays we celebrate annually on President’s Day. Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 and Washington was born on February 22, 1732.  

This year, February 16th, is the date set aside to commemorate the great contributions of these outstanding leaders of our country.

Time has not tarnished nor years decayed the reputations of this duo who represent the finest of U.S. statesmen. 

In fact, CNN annouced this weekend the results of a recent survey constructed and given by C-SPAN that reported that Lincoln and Washington still rank first and second at the top of presidential ratings among historians.  CNN reported “It’s been 145 years since Abraham Lincoln appeared on a ballot, but admiration for the man who saved the union and sparked the end of slavery is as strong as ever.”

Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley, who helped organize the survey of 65 historians for the cable television network stated, “As much as is possible, we created a poll that was non-partisan, judicious and fair-minded”  And he added, “It’s fitting that for the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln that he remains at the top of these presidential rankings. Lincoln continues to rank at the top in all categories because he is perceived to embody the nation’s avowed core values: integrity, moderation, persistence in the pursuit of honorable goals, respect for human rights, compassion”

In the ranking by historians of the 42 former White House occupants Abraham Lincoln finished in first place.  Founding father George Waxhington finished second, followed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, in that order.

In my opinion it is no coincidence that both Lincoln and Washington were also devout Christian men.  Lincoln in his second inaugural address communicated the following paragraphs which I believe are particularly fitting considering the context of the challenges that our nation faces today.  Lincoln spoke candidly from a clearly Christian mind mind set and called for a repentance amongst his fellow country men.  We still need that repentance today, let’s reflect on the truth Lincoln penned so long ago.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” [March 30, 1863]

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2Chronicles 7:14

Do you have any comments, prayers or opinions as you contemplate President’s Day please share them with us!

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2 Comments

Filed under Christian History

2 responses to “President’s Day: Celebrating the Legacy of Two Outstanding Christian Leaders

  1. I posted on this topic as well: http://diapersandstilettos.blogspot.com/2009/02/under-god.html.

    Lincoln divided our country (arguably) greater than any other man in history. Yet, he also brought about (arguably) the most change and propelled us toward a decidedly better future. Some politicians stand on a platform of change that espouses peace and unity and a smoothing over of sorts. But, change isn’t always about bringing people together. Often it’s about first causing division between what is right and what is wrong. Then standing up and fighting for that right, making a stand that “change” can truly inhabit. It is this change Lincoln is best known… and loved… for.

  2. Maryellen Stipe

    I agree with Angela’s comment completely. The most outstanding leaders are those that will risk to lead in changing the status quo. They will risk for what is “right” and “true” no matter what the personal cost– and sometimes that vision of change toward righteousness does not bring peace unity or popularity. A case in point, is Jesus Christ Himself who admitted to bringing division in order to establish His Kingdom, Luke 12:49-53.

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