Celebrating The American Dream And Service In Abraham Lincoln’s Life

Welcome back to The Sunstone Way.

Monday, Feb. 12, was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – he was born 215 years ago in a log cabin in Kentucky.

Many call him the greatest president in American history. He is credited with beginning the end of slavery here and keeping our country from splitting in two. The Civil War raged throughout his tenure.

And it is fair to say he made the ultimate sacrifice, dying for his country.

The American Dream

Abraham Lincoln is the embodiment of the American Dream. Born to poor farmers, he had to work early in his life, receiving little formal education. Lincoln learned to read and taught himself little by little while working the land with his father, splitting rails and taking on odd jobs.

In his mid-20s, Lincoln decided to study law – and did so as he had learned everything else, by reading. He passed the bar in Illinois and became a successful attorney before turning to politics. That in itself is a long and interesting story, but we have no time for it here.

Lincoln’s American Dream seemed to collapse after he lost the U.S. Senate race to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858 – that campaign included the legendary Lincoln-Douglas debates. But Lincoln resurfaced in 1860 as the presidential candidate for the then-new Republican Party, and with the issue of states’ rights to determine whether to allow slavery swirling around every discussion, won the highest office in the land.

Fighting The Good Fight

Lincoln had made it clear in his campaign that he would fight expansion of slavery, so it came as no real surprise that Southern Carolina announced its withdrawal from the Union even before he had been inaugurated. The Confederates attacked Fort Sumter on April 12, just more than a month after Lincoln took office.

From that day on, Lincoln became a wartime president, sacrificing all to attempting to keep the country whole. The Civil War would rage through Lincoln’s election to a second term, with the surrender of Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee coming just days before his assassination.

In the middle of the bloody fight, Lincoln made the determination that slavery could not be contained and must be abolished. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Jan. 1, 1863. The philosophy for that decision can be found in one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches during the Lincoln-Douglas debates:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe the government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.”

What It Means Today

Sorry for the history lesson, but I hope we can agree it is an important one. I learned many things from studying Lincoln’s life, not the least of which is in that last quote. We are stronger when we are together.

You’ve heard me say it before – to go fast, go alone. To go far, go together. Bringing all sides together is essential to The Sunstone Way. Our three-legged stool – founders, funders, friends – falls if one of those legs is not there. We are the connector that makes it all happen.

Here is Lincoln’s rationale for making sure new territories in the young United States were free. The new states were “places for poor people to go and better their condition.” In other words, everyone regardless of ethnicity were to have a place to pursue their own American Dream.

Sunstone is all in on that one. We are proud that the accelerators we support emphasize founders from under-served communities, be that ethnicity or gender. We look for the same in our funders and friends. We come together and are better for it.

Moving Ahead

February is Black History Month. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12 has a lot to do with that. Add that Frederick Douglass, the leading abolitionist of his day and a former slave, was born in February, and you have the reason for the month.

Or rather, you have the reason African American history is emphasized this month. We will mark the period by featuring some of our many ethnic minority founders, but rest assured, we keep that approach front of mind throughout the year.

That’s because when I say we go farther together, I mean we go farther when we are ALL together. That’s The Sunstone Way. And as always, be a Sunstone!

John Keisler

CEO & Managing Partner

Sunstone Management, Inc.

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More About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Southern California that invests in diverse early-stage technology entrepreneurs who seek to build great companies. We believe in the aspirational power of the American economy to attract and inspire investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the world. We deliver new and exciting opportunities for economic growth through the creation of innovative public-private partnerships, and our unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the second quarter of 2023, PitchBook ranked Sunstone the seventh most active early-stage venture capital firm in the country, and 18th overall.

© Sunstone Management Inc., 2024

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