Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving!

Please enjoy these words of Thanksgiving from my hero, President Abraham Lincoln.

October 3, 1863

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget thesource from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary in nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.


In the midst of civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore is as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

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Oh Captain! My Captain!

Oh Captain! My Captain!

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Two recent coincidences inspired the words you are reading right now. In a trip to Springfield, IL for my nieces wedding, I visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. I found the museum to be informative, moving, illuminating and emotional. While it has been 150 years since his death, Abraham Lincoln and his legacy will live forever. Walt Whitman’s poem, Oh Captain! My Captain! was written as a tribute to President Lincoln and his stance on keeping the United States of America “united” while simultaneously abolishing slavery. Whitman’s poem is a tribute to the tremendous courage Lincoln demonstrated along with the ultimate sacrifice he made for accomplishing these goals.

Honest Abe

After returning home, I was channel surfing and landed on one of my favorite movies, The Dead Poet’s Society. Robin Williams plays the character of John Keating, an English teacher at a private school for boys. Keating tells the boys that they can refer to him as “Oh Captain! My Captain” if they feel daring enough. At the end of the movie, the students stand on their desks and shout out “Oh Captain! My Captain!” in defiance of the school’s headmaster and a tribute to Mr. Keating.


Both of these references to Oh Captain! My Captain! refer to a person taking a stand, speaking up, letting it be known to others that something isn’t right, that something needs to change. Oh Captain! My Captain! is a tribute and inspiration to speak up.

If you truly value your organization, speaking up is essential. Speaking up or going against the grain is a clear indicator that everyone is NOT on the same page. Oftentimes those who speak up are considered rebels, however, loyal group members need to feel free to express a dissenting opinion if they think it is in the best interest of the group.

Dominic Packer at Lehigh University has studied this phenomenon and suggests that the ambivalence of rocking the boat is tied to tension between short-term and long-term goals. Group members are more likely to not rock the boat when it affects short-term goals, but more likely to speak up when it concerns long-term outcomes. Leadership needs to create an environment that empowers group members to speak up, to stray from the norm, to rock the boat, because doing so will benefit the organization in the long-term. Leaders need to encourage group members in the same way Abraham Lincoln and Mr. Keating did. Empower your followers to take a stand and shout, “Oh Captain! My Captain!”

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O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

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Words = Power = Revenue

Words = Power = Revenue

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

What can I say?  I’m an Abraham Lincoln geek!  Abraham Lincoln is one of my heroes.  From as early as I can remember, I have always held Honest Abe in high esteem.  Not only did I grow up in the “Land of Lincoln,” I have read numerous books about him and have visited his birthplace in Kentucky, the homestead where he grew up in Indiana, New Salem, IL, where he lived as a young man, his home in Springfield, IL, the bed where he died across the street from the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C., and other Lincoln landmarks.  Abraham Lincoln—the life he led, the man he was, the things he accomplished and the words he spoke are all sources of inspiration.  Lincoln’s oratory skill is something I aspire to.  His words carried great power during his life and still do to this day.

In 1858, a series of seven debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas took place around the state of Illinois.  At the time, U.S. senators were elected by the state legislature.  Lincoln and Douglas were attempting to help their respective parties win control over the Illinois legislature which in turn would determine which one of them would become the next U.S. senator for Illinois.  The debates previewed the issues that Lincoln would face when he became president in 1860.  The primary issue of all the debates was slavery.

Large crowds gathered to hear the debates as slavery was such an important topic of the times.  Newspaper coverage was intense and articles were reprinted in newspapers across the nation.  Lincoln ended up losing his bid to the senate, and later edited the texts of all the debates and published them in a book.  The widespread coverage of the debates and popularity of the book helped Lincoln receive the nomination for President of the United States in 1860 which led to his becoming President.


The very first Lincoln-Douglas debate took place in Ottawa, IL, on August 21, 1858, at 2:00 pm.  It just so happened that I was in Ottawa, IL, last week on August 21, and I went to the town square around 2:00 in the afternoon where that first debate is memorialized with a statue.  It was incredible to stand there and to absorb the history on the same date and time it took place 156 years ago.

Abraham Lincoln provides us with a great example of leadership and the power of words.

Leadership communication can influence others with impact.  Adam Grant, Ph.D., at the Wharton School of Business, examined that impact by having the leader of a company give a motivational speech to a team of new employees at one of the company’s call centers.  What happened?  Afterwards, revenue at that call center had a nice increase, 300% to be exact, as compared to a control group that didn’t hear the speech.  Now that’s an impact!  Words to have power!  Many companies would be very satisfied with this result, but wait, there’s more!

A team hearing a message from the leader AND a beneficiary of the work being done at the company increased revenue by a whopping 700%!   Leadership communication can be highly effective, and hearing a similar message from someone who has been authentically affected and benefited from the content of the leader’s message puts that leadership communication effectiveness on steroids.  Leadership effectiveness through effective communication includes finding a beneficiary to help your message echo through the halls of your organization for greater revenue and greater success.  After all, who better to share your message than a person who has benefited from it?

All great leaders need to be great orators.  Lincoln’s oratory skills led him to become the 16th President of the United States and a President who had a tremendous impact on shaping our country’s history.  This wouldn’t have been possible if not for his effective and compelling communication skills.  Likewise, today’s leaders need to be effective communicators to spread their message and motivate their teams to have a positive impact on the world.

What is your message?  Who is your beneficiary who can help echo that message?  Once you know the answers to those questions, in collaboration with that beneficiary, you can deliver a powerful message with a huge impact!

Words = Power = Revenue


To subscribe to Bill’s newsletter go to www.BillAuxier.com.

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