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Before I die I want to…

Saturday, September 15, 2012 3 comments
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BusinessWeek’s Featured User: February 24th, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Jason was BusinessWeek’s Featured User on February 24th, 2010. There was a mention in the upper right corner on the site and it was also tweeted on their Twitter profile.

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What’s so honest about Abe?

Friday, February 12, 2010 Leave a comment

(Image: Michael J Deas)

Abraham Lincoln had many nicknames during his lifetime—the Rail Splitter, The Great Emancipator, The Liberator, Father Abraham, Uncle Abe—but perhaps none of these is as widely recognized and referenced today as the nickname, “Honest Abe.” But do you know why people called Lincoln “Honest Abe?”

Stories of Abe’s Honesty:

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln worked as a general store clerk. One evening he was counting the money in the drawers after closing and found that he was a few cents over what should have been in the drawer. When he realized that he had accidentally short-changed a customer earlier that day, Lincoln walked a long distance to return the money to the customer.

On another occasion Lincoln discovered that he had given a woman too little tea for her money. He put what he owed her in a package and personally delivered it to the woman–who never realized that she was not given the proper amount of tea until Lincoln showed up at her doorstep!

Lincoln’s integrity and insistence on honesty became even more apparent in his law practice. In his book, An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, Mark Steiner notes that: A relative by marriage, Augustus H. Chapman, recalled: “In his law practice on the Wabash Circuit he was noted for unswerving honesty. People learned to love him ardently, devotedly, and juries listened intently, earnestly, receptively to the sad-faced, earnest man…I remember one case of his decided honest trait of character. It was a case in which he was for the defendant. Satisfied of his client’s innocence, it depended mainly on one witness. That witness told on the stand under oath what Abe knew to be a lie, and no one else knew. When he arose to plead the case, he said: “Gentlemen, I depended on this witness to clear my client. He has lied. I ask that no attention be paid to his testimony. Let his words be stricken out, if my case fails. I do not wish to win in this way.”

Lincoln didn’t like to charge people much who were as poor as he was. Once a man sent him twenty-five dollars, but Lincoln sent him back ten of it, saying he was being too generous.

He was known at times to convince his clients to settle their issue out of court, saving them a lot of money, and earning himself nothing.

An old woman in dire poverty, the widow of a Revolutionary soldier, was charged $200 for getting her $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension agent and won the case for the old woman. He didn’t charge her for his services and, in fact, paid her hotel bill and gave her money to buy a ticket home!

He and his associate once prevented a con man from gaining possession of a tract of land owned by a mentally ill girl. The case took fifteen minutes. Lincoln’s associate came to divide up their fee, but Lincoln reprimanded him. His associate argued that the girl’s brother had agreed on the fee ahead of time, and he was completely satisfied. “That may be,” said Lincoln, “but I am not satisfied. That money comes out of the pocket of a poor, demented girl; and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner. You return half the money at least, or I’ll not take a cent of it as my share.”

“When I do good, I feel good, and when I do bad, I feel bad, and that’s my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

(Image: The Warren Report)

Lincoln carried his regard for the truth through his years at the White House. He, himself, was forthright and deeply sincere. It seems as if some of his colleagues wondered if he could ever tell a lie. During the Civil War, President Lincoln stated, “I hain’t been caught Lying yet, and I don’t mean to be.” [Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Lincoln Among His Friends: A Sheaf of Intimate Memories (Philip Clark, “A Friend of Lincoln’s New Salem Days”), p. 65.] For Lincoln, the truth was not worth sacrificing for any gain, no matter how large that gain may have been.

Lincoln didn’t need to lie to save the Union, to unite the people, to free slaves or to lead a nation. Perhaps that is why he remains a hero to so many around the world, and an inspiration to leaders well into the future. From his work as a clerk to his duties as a president, Lincoln’s honesty was unwavering, showing that telling the truth is an essential lesson for all, no matter who you are or what you do.

Thank you for the influence you still provide us more than 200 years after your birth.
Abraham Lincoln: February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865

What can you do to be more honest in your life?

Story Adapted from:
Why Honest Abe?. By Kathy Crockett, The MY HERO Project
Honest Abe. By Adam Khan, Stuff That Works

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