A new book called Humility focuses on five historical figures who remained humble, even though they had every reason to become arrogant. The author, David Bobb, contrasts the humility possessed by great Americans with the empty arrogance or pride, which he suggests is rampant and even rewarded today. As a 12-year-old boy, George Washington hand-copied a centuries-old Jesuit book on “civility and behavior” to improve his penmanship. This set him on the road to developing the characteristic of humility. Although given multiple opportunities to become vain and self-satisfied, Washington twice chose humility and walked away from power.
The Bible started Frederick Douglass on his journey from being a humiliated and brutalized slave to becoming a renowned reformer, journalist, and American hero. When one slave-master chided his wife for allowing Douglass to read the Bible, saying it would make him “unfit to be a slave,” Frederick Douglass resolved to read the entire book and ensure his unsuitability for slavery. Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln met on two occasions and admired each other. Both overcame any tendency toward personal arrogance. Lincoln possessed an “admirable intellectual humility” that allowed him to listen to all sides, and put together a coalition to end slavery and save the republic. Lincoln tempered his ambition with humility. There was a “spiritual dimension” to Lincoln’s humility that was tied to his relationship to God.
Abigail Adams was a wife, mother, farmer, and businesswoman. Her devotion to humility meant that even when Adams was President, the family never changed its lifestyle. James Madison was the embodiment of humility. He willingly wrote anonymously and worked behind the scenes to guarantee the success of the young republic, and to obtain the cooperation he needed to create the nation’s foundational documents. The author states that humility “signifies strength, not weakness,” and is “the crown of the virtues.”
Get your copy of Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue
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Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.
Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.