Salena Zito

When he decided in the middle of war that the best thing for the country (although not for him or his family) was to run for re-election, he faced daunting odds; no sitting president had won re-election in almost 40 years.

It is hard to imagine Lincoln jetting off in Air Force One to raise $1 billion for his campaign while a war tore the country in half, or golfing 62 times in his first two years in office.

President-elect Barack Obama drew heavily on Lincoln imagery during his 2008 presidential campaign. He retraced the train trip from here to Washington for his inauguration; the night before his swearing-in, he appeared at the Lincoln Memorial for a televised concert. He took the oath of office on a Bible used by Lincoln and lunched on the 16th president’s favorite foods.

Last week, Obama kicked off his second-term campaign just days after ordering U.S. forces into a third Middle Eastern conflict.

It will be interesting to see if he compares himself to Lincoln as he hits the invitation-only, pre-screened town hall meetings, or if he continues drawing parallels between himself and Lincoln.

Lincoln ended his impromptu speech at Independence Hall by wondering aloud if he had revealed too much to Philadelphians, then concluded: "I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, in the pleasure of Almighty God, die by."

Until that moment, no one – not even Lincoln – knew who he really was or what he might sacrifice for the republic’s sake.

More than 10,400 battles were fought during the Civil War, many of them on land that today is under strip malls, housing developments or parking lots – and too many of them forgotten by the people who make use of them.


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.