HERMISTON - Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, often is applauded as one of the country's best leaders. As the bicentennial of his birth approaches, a program by historian Richard Etulain, "Abraham Lincoln: With Charity for All," will be presented at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hermiston Public Library, 235 E. Gladys Ave.

The library is sponsoring the event through the Oregon Chautauqua Program from the Oregon Council for the Humanities.

Etulain suggests Lincoln's skills as a political leader are what set him apart, particularly his ability to work in a nonpartisan way despite his own strong party affiliation.

The historian traces Lincoln's experiences as a prairie lawyer, state legislator, party leader, and commander in chief, bringing to light the political genius and generosity of the 16th president of the United States.

More than 1,000 biographies have been written about Lincoln. He still is viewed as a model of leadership and moral courage, nearly 200 years after his birth. Lincoln's failures and human frailties only seem to enhance his status as an American hero.

He was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky on Feb. 12, 1809 to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks.

Lincoln's parents were uneducated, yet well-respected farmers. Thomas Lincoln was relatively affluent until the family lost its property in court cases.

After financial ruin, the family lived in a dugout on the side of a hill in Indiana. Abraham Lincoln no longer had the shelter of the small cabin when he was a child.

Lincoln's formal education was limited to approximately 18 months. He was self-taught by reading books he borrowed, including the English and American history, the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare.

Lincoln's parents belonged to a Baptist church that separated from a larger church when they refused to support slavery. From a very young age, Abraham Lincoln was exposed to anti-slavery sentiment.

On Nov. 4, 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd. She came from a prominent slave-owning family.

Lincoln is well known for ending slavery in the United States. In 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the 11 Confederate states.

The 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to abolish slavery, was proposed to the legislatures of the several states on Jan. 31, 1865, and was ratified by most states by the end of the year, nearly eight months after Lincoln was assassinated.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12, is observed in Illinois and many other states as a separate legal holiday. Other states celebrate President's Day, commemorating Lincoln and George Washington.

The Oregon Council for the Humanities was founded in 1971. Its mission is encouraging Oregonians to learn about social, cultural and public issues.

Contact the library at 567-2882 for questions about the program.

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