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Two Uncommon Men

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Essay title: Two Uncommon Men

Two Uncommon Men

Too often, it seems to me, people lose their courage in facing life because of past failures, or fear that they may fail in the future. One good way to cure such fears is to remember that life constantly yields second chances, and in grasping them one can put his previous failures to creative use. Edmund Burke, British orator, philosopher, and politician once said, "Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair" (Moncur). In other words, if one has the sustained courage to be persistent in the pursuit of knowledge and is willing to work through his failures and learn from them, then one will be more likely to become successful in one's endeavourers.

Not long ago when I was in high school, I did a research paper on one of my favorite people, Abraham Lincoln. The failures and experiences that punctuated his life throughout thirty years is a living and powerful example of Leonardo da Vinci's second principle, Dimostrazione, which is in part the successful use of defeat in achieving victory. According to The History Place, a website, Lincoln lost his job in 1832, was defeated for legislature in 1832, failed in business in 1833, suffered the death of his sweetheart in 1835, had a nervous breakdown in 1836, was defeated for Speaker in 1838, was defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843, was finally elected to Congress in 1846, lost re-nomination in 1848, was rejected for a position as land officer in 1849, was defeated for Senate in 1854, was defeated for nomination for Vice-President in 1856, was again defeated for Senate in 1858, and was finally elected President of the United

States in 1860 (The History Place). Both Leonardo DaVinci and Abraham Lincoln had the sustained ability to learn from their experience, and from what they learned from these failures, became arguably two of the most important men in history.

In addition to teaching one to learn through practical experience, the principle of Dimostrazione also speaks of being persistent in the quest for truth. Lincoln's adherence to this virtue is evident in the 1939 movie Young Mr. Lincoln by John Ford (Ford). As a young lawyer, Lincoln successfully defended Duff Armstrong who had been charged with murder. He did this legal feat by making use of an almanac to refute testimony that discussed the intensity of moonlight on the night of the crime. This small case demonstrates his dogged persistence to uncover the truth and his thoroughness of investigation. Moreover, it underscores and showcases his independent spirit to question what the jury blindly accepted as fact.

As brilliant as Lincoln was, he still made mistakes. Moncur describes how once Lincoln fumbled in his selection of generals when he appointed Maj. Gen George B. McClellan to lead the Army

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