I have always believed that anyone can do anything.  You just have to set your mind to it.

Abraham Lincoln is someone who makes me think this is true.

He was born into a family without money or connections.  He went to a log cabin school to learn the basics of writing and math, but had to drop out at age 9 when his mom died.

He got involved in politics at age 24 and served four terms as a General Assemblyman in his State. He always loved reading and would borrow books to devour as a young boy.  He taught himself about law and when he was 27 years old he wrote the bar exam and became a lawyer.

He was elected to U.S. Congress at the age of 36.  Then, in 1861 at the age of 52, he became President of the United States.  Four months later a Civil War broke out in America and more than 620,000 people died before it was over.  While leading the country though this war, Lincoln accomplished the following things…

He signed the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves.

He delivered the Gettysburg Address, which is one of the most quoted speeches in history.

He signed the Pacific Railroad Acts to build the first transcontinental railroad from San Francisco to Iowa.

He signed the National Banking Acts to standardize currency and create a network of national banks.

He signed the Morill Act to create agricultural and technical colleges in each State.

He signed the Homestead Act which encouraged people to migrate west by offering them land.

And he helped preserve the United States of America as one nation.

He was arguably one of the greatest leaders of all time.  And he had no money, connections or education to speak of.

So what’s stopping us?  How can we change the world?  We have all we need.  We just have to take action and put one foot in front of the other.  Lincoln said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”  Is your chance here today?

As our American neighbours caucus this week and come together to decide who their next leader will be, I leave you with the words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg where he shares the importance and cost of freedom and democracy.

“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.”

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863