Sunday, May 11, 2008

I’ve been reading in a book called “Leaders of Men” and in a chapter on honesty Abraham Lincoln is written about. This is a little piece –

“Abraham Lincoln was called “Honest Abe.” This sobriquet was given to him at New Salem, Illinois; whither he went to take charge of the “country store” of one Orfutt, in 1831. He was about twenty-two years of age, awkward, bashful, but strictly upright. He took no advantage of the ignorance or necessities of customers, but represented goods just as they were, gave Scripture measure and weight, and always hastened to correct mistakes.
One day he sold a bill of goods, amounting to two dollars and six cents, to Mrs. Duncan, living more than two miles away. On looking over the account again in the evening, before closing the store, he found that Mrs. Duncan paid him six cents too much. “That must be corrected tonight,” he said to himself; so, as soon as he had closed the shutters for the night, he posted away with the six cents surplus to her house. She was preparing to retire when he knocked at the door, and was very much surprised, on opening it, to see Orfutt’s clerk standing there. Apologizing for the mistake, Lincoln deposited the six cents in her hand, and slept all the better that night for having corrected the error.
At another time, a woman came to the store late in the evening, when Lincoln was closing it, for a half pound of tea, which was weighed in haste. On returning the next morning, his attention was called to the scales, which had a four-ounce weight instead of eight in them. He knew at once that he must have given the woman a quarter instead of a half pound of tea. Weighing another quarter of a pound, he closed the store and delivered it to the customer, asking her pardon, before commencing the labor of the day.
Such examples of honesty were not overlooked by the public. Men and women talked about them, and extolled the author of them. They led, also, to something more. In that part of the country, at that time, various games prevailed in which two sides enlisted; and it was the custom to appoint an umpire for each game. Lincoln became the universal umpire, both sides insisting upon his appointment on account of his fairness. His honesty won the confidence of all.
Dr. Holland says: “When Lincoln terminated his labors for Orfutt, every one trusted him. He was judge, arbitrator, referee, umpire, authority in all disputes, games, matches of man-flesh and horse-flesh; a pacificator in all quarrels; everybody’s friend; the best natured, the most sensible, the best informed, the most modest and unassuming, the kindest, gentlest, roughest, strongest, best young fellow in all New Salem and the region round about.”
This is a just encomium; but it never could have been said of him but for his unbending honesty, a quality for “which he was known from his boyhood. The honest boy makes the honest man.
I like stories like this, and I don't think young children can hear them too much.

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