This is where the story would normally end. Except, that Lincoln was not a normal leader. “Lincoln concluded that unless his supporters shifted to Trumbull [a senator prospect who was an anti-Nebraska democrat: same cause as Lincoln but different party], the Douglas Democrats…would choose the next senator.” Lincoln told the 47 senators that promised him a vote to switch parties and vote for Trumbull since he shared Lincoln’s view on slavery, even though he was a democrat. This move would guarantee that a senator would be elected who agreed with their cause. If Lincoln didn’t act this way, he told his floor manager that “you will lose both Trumbull and myself and I think the cause in this case is to be preferred to men.”
And so, Lincoln didn’t get elected to the senate. He decided to propel his cause instead of his career. So much so that he “deliberately showed up at Trumbull’s victory party, with a smile on his face and a warm handshake for the victor.” And yet it is moments like these that defined Lincoln and ultimately pushed him toward the presidency of the United States. “While Seward and Chase [Lincoln’s later presidential rivals] would lose friends in victory… Lincoln, in defeat, gained friends.”
A story like this causes you to reflect. What do we choose when we are put into this same situation? Is our career, or ambition in general, more important than our cause? Or, do we believe in our cause so passionately that we will advance it, even if it costs us personally? Whatever your cause may be, I hope that every leader has found something that they can support above themselves and that when the opportunity presents itself, we will choose the cause over the man.
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