"Honest Abe" he was called. Scores of books and movies and documentaries have been produced about his life. His words and actions have been celebrated and scrutinized for generations. He is one of the most controversial and criticized, as well as one of the most honored, figures in history. He has been bronzed as a hero and caricatured as a buffoon. His actions in times of extreme adversity have become a template by which we measure true leadership. His speeches still inspire the masses and rival scripture in the minds of today's greatest thinkers. His ability to turn a phrase can be likened to a force. His compelling words bore images that still ring with pure life today. He not only knew how to harness his thoughts and turn them into moving and powerful statements, but he also knew how to ask an honest question.
This is one of my favorite Lincoln moments.
He sat in his typical regal and stoic quietness in the company of his hosts. His manner was fatherly, his words were kind. He was awkward with the delicate cup and his furrowed brow seemed to react to each sip. His large hands were comfortable with an axe-handle, not so much with a silver spoon. Quite often he found himself in the company of the pomp and circumstance that accompanied his title. For after all, being President of the United States of America was no small thing. The gilded parlor was a long way from the backwoods of Larue County, Kentucky where fried squirrel and fat-back would have been highly prized fare.
Those present were accustomed to the fineries and conducted themselves with the utmost grace and opulence. When the hostess leaned forward to refill Mr. Lincoln's cup, he politely placed his large hand over the vessel. In his kindest and most respectful tone he said, "Madame, if that is coffee, I'd like some tea. If that is tea, I'd like some coffee." Honest Abe knew how to ask a question... Honestly...