Bill Clinton will become the first former president in history to receive the Lincoln Leadership Prize when he is honored for his lifetime of service at a ceremony in May, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation announced Monday.
"We are delighted to present this year's Lincoln Leadership Prize to former President Bill Clinton, whose successful presidency and stature as an international statesman truly exemplify President Lincoln's conscience, spirit and leadership," said Wayne W. Whalen, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. "His lifetime commitment to public service defines the very characteristics of President Lincoln's legacy as one of the great leaders of our country."
Criteria for the annual award include great strength of character, individual conscience, and an unwavering commitment to the defining principles of democracy.
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The award announcement noted that, while in the White House, Clinton spearheaded an economic upturn, which saw the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years and the creation of 22 million jobs. He also converted the largest budget deficit in history to the largest surplus, decreased the national debt, and had the lowest government spending in nearly three decades.
His commitment to service continued long after his presidency ended in 2001. He founded the William J. Clinton Foundation with the goal of improving global health and economies, and promoting healthier childhoods.
In 2005, he launched the Clinton Global Initiative, a collaboration between global leaders that aims to plan and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues.
Though the prize has been awarded since 2006, this year marks the special 150th anniversary of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address.
"The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Foundation created the Lincoln Leadership Prize to not only honor individuals who carry on President Lincoln's legacy, but to celebrate the freedoms and ideals our country enjoys today because of him," said Dr. Carla Knorowski, CEO of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. "We look forward to honoring President Clinton on May 4 as this year's recipient. The legacy of his historic presidency and continued public service greatly embody President Lincoln's spirit."
Clinton will join past honorees like Sandra Day O'Connor, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, astronaut James A. Lovell Jr., and the late television journalist Tim Russert.
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