May 29, 2013 - As far as U.S. presidents go, Abraham Lincoln was a giant in terms of his accomplishments.
Oxford resident Drew Renner poses with the trophy he received for winning the Oakland County Lincoln Club’s essay competition regarding the 16th U.S. president. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
He ended slavery, presided over the bloodiest war in the nation's history and ultimately, preserved the United States of America for future generations.
"He was definitely not the modern politician," said Oxford resident Drew Renner. "He was really dedicated to doing what was morally right rather than what was popular."
Renner, who's a junior at Oakdale Academy in Waterford, has become quite familiar with the 16th president as his essay (see below) on Lincoln won a competition and earned him a $1,000 scholarship.
He took first place in the Oakland County Lincoln Club's essay competition, which asked young writers to consider the concept of political leadership and write a piece based on the theme, "Abraham Lincoln chose to do what was right rather than what was expedient."
"Abraham Lincoln was a great choice" for an essay topic because, in Renner's opinion, his leadership style "is not very prevalent in modern politics."
"I have a lot of respect for him as a president," he said.
Essay competitions such as this are a good thing for high school students to participate in because it gets them "thinking about the great history that America has" and "what great American patriots look like," according to Renner.
"Unfortunately, in the public school system today, they don't get a lot of exposure to that," he noted.
Renner enjoyed broadening his knowledge of Lincoln because most of what he knew was the standard historical trivia – his nickname was Honest Abe, he delivered the Gettysburg Address and he presided over the Civil War.
"It was really interesting reading more about him and doing research for the essay," he said.
For winning the essay competition, Renner was recognized at the Oakland County Republican Party's 124th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner held May 21 in Novi.
There he met notable GOP big wigs like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Renner even posed for a photo with business magnate Donald Trump, who was the keynote speaker.
Renner plans to use his $1,000 scholarship to attend Hillsdale College, should he be accepted there.
He wishes to pursue a degree in economics in order to become either an analyst or a writer who covers both economics and political science.
Renner noted he has a healthy interest in politics and considers himself to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.
"I'm not a libertarian, however." he added.
The man who stands alone
Imagine a world in which Abraham Lincoln remained silent. No one ever destroyed the slavery monstrosity. The ominous, thundering cloud of torture remained over the slaves. When the nation turned to Lincoln, he did not speak out, because he was not a slave. The United States advanced further into the darkness, never to reemerge…
This hypothetical haunts our hearts. The endless, hopeless possibilities that it presents cloak themselves with silent terror, with the dreaded realization that one day, there will be no one left to speak out for us. This hypothetical tells a story of strife, hatred and dread. Fortunately, history tells a different story.
Abraham Lincoln chose to do what was right, rather than what was expedient. He made speeches; he endured battles, knowing that the liberation of an entire people rested with him. "[B]y 1860, more than half of all Americans thought slavery [was] morally wrong, and a large plurality thought it [was] so destructive that it had to be ended at any cost"1. But they knew they could not do it alone. America needed a leader, a leader whose torch would continue to blaze in every torrent of wind and whose stance would remain firm in the gust of every storm. They found this leader in Abraham Lincoln.
"When Abraham Lincoln emerged with the Republican nomination, he entered an unusual four way race…Of the four, only Lincoln stood squarely against slavery"1. If Lincoln wished to do what was expedient, he would have never dared to stand alone. Men never fight against the riptide of a changing history in order to do what is easy. Only men who wish to do what is right brave this treacherous journey in the open ocean. The waves of the ocean were the roars of America's discontent, but Lincoln stood fast in his vessel, a vessel that would bring to the continent "a new birth of freedom". Lincoln, and many others, prepared for war.
The bitter Civil War pushed Lincoln and the Union to their limits. "The valor and tenacity of the Rebels [won] battle after battle with smaller forces and [held] off the North for four years". Clearly, Lincoln was not concerned about expedience. No man who wished to take the easy road would endure four years of bitter struggle. But Lincoln did not take the easy road; he took the right road.
The words of philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand encapsulate the courage and virtue of Abraham Lincoln:
"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone."
Of the four presidential candidates, Lincoln stood alone. He did not compromise his principles for the sake of expedience. He swam against the raging current, and when he reached the shore, at long last, America experienced a new birth of freedom.
First they came for the slaves, and Lincoln spoke out, though he was not a slave. Then they came for the abolitionists, and Lincoln spoke out, though he was not an abolitionist. Then they came for Lincoln, and there are millions left to speak for Lincoln. – Oxford resident Drew Renner
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.