At first glance, these two people seem doomed to failure.He was born in poverty. When his mother died, he dropped out of school to work. He taught himself to read, worked at a series of jobs, and opened a general store with a friend. But his friend was an alcoholic who died, leaving him so deeply in debt he had to auction off all his possessions. He studied law, began practicing, ran for Congress, lost, was elected, then voted out of office. He ran for the Senate, but was defeated twice in a row. Elected president of the United States in 1860, Abraham Lincoln rose above adversity to become one of our nation’s greatest leaders.
She was raised in a dysfunctional family. Her mother rejected her, ridiculing her as “ugly.” Her father was an unstable alcoholic. Bothparents died by the time she was 10, so she went to live with her maternal grandmother and two alcoholic uncles. At 15, she went away to high school, where a wiseteacher recognized and nurtured her strengths. She married a distant cousin, who was later disabled by polio, yet became one of our greatest presidents. Throughout her life, Eleanor Roosevelt persevered, writing, teaching, working ardently for social justice, and after Franklin Roosevelt’s death, served as chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.