Thirty-nine years ago, President Richard Nixon, in the very same hall Abraham Lincoln used to deliver his famous “House Divided” speech that would lead to his nomination and election as President, remarked on signing a bill establishing the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. Building upon Illinois’ efforts to preserve the Lincoln heritage, the act certified the Lincoln home – the only real home he had ever owned, where he lived for 17 years and where his three sons were born – as an official historic landmark. Other notable establishments in the Land of Lincoln, such as the Lincoln tomb and the Lincoln law office, further provided a glimpse into the intricate and war-torn mind of a great American hero for millions of people, particularly young Americans.
RN went on to state that of the innumerable international guests who visit the White House, the overwhelming majority would readily claim that Abraham Lincoln was the most distinguished and venerable of all the American Presidents. And when asked to defend their choice, they would answer with something along the lines of “Because he was such a good man. He was a kind man. He was a compassionate man. He was a man who was a leader in war who deeply believed in peace. He was an idealistic man who believed deeply in opportunity for all Americans, all people on this earth, regardless of their background and race or creed or color.”
RN believed that the entire nation, even the world, could benefit greatly from Lincoln’s legacy and ideals. Not only was his fortitude in times of crises unmatched, but his morals were righteous and actions justified. Above all, Lincoln was persevering. Despite battling a civil war that was ripping the nation apart, Lincoln never lost sight of a promising American destiny. Lincoln’s efforts laid the groundwork that transformed America from a divided, rebellious nation, denounced by its Europeans counterparts, into the most prosperous and wealthy nation in history.
RN praised Lincoln as a man “who could see beyond war and beyond strife and beyond weakness to the periods ahead” and who “stood tall and said America was man’s last, best hope on earth.” At a time when the American economy was suffering from cutthroat competition abroad, RN urged the American people to hold fast to the competitive spirit that Lincoln had instilled in the nation during an era when all seemed lost but ultimately yielded immeasurable prosperity.