Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The next year, Lincoln ran for his second term on the slogan "No Peace Without Victory," against the Democratic nominee Gen. George McClellan, who ran on a peace platform.

Lincoln won.

He won because, as Ronald White Jr. wrote in his biography of Lincoln, "A. Lincoln," the people "believe in him."

Late in his presidency, Lincoln wrote the following private note, "The will of God prevails. ... In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party -- and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are for the best adaptation to effect his purpose."

This sentiment, that he was an instrument in a larger contest to be determined by God, is echoed throughout his second inaugural address.

"Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other."

Lincoln also noted that we, the people, were not to be the judgers, but that that judgment is left to God alone. "Let us judge not, that we be not judged." And finally that "the Almighty has His own purposes."

Lincoln concluded with an offering of peace to the South and a request for charity rather than punishment. "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ... to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Lessons to remember: We are instruments in the hand of God. Act without malice, but with charity, leaving judgment to God. Honor those who have sacrificed for us, by ensuring that "that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.