Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Allen C. Guelzo

Language: English

Pages: 160

ISBN: 0195367804

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Beneath the surface of the apparently untutored and deceptively frank Abraham Lincoln ran private tunnels of self-taught study, a restless philosophical curiosity, and a profound grasp of the fundamentals of democracy. Now, in Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction, the award-winning Lincoln authority Allen C. Guelzo offers a penetrating look into the mind of one of our greatest presidents.

If Lincoln was famous for reading aloud from joke books, Guelzo shows that he also plunged deeply into the mainstream of nineteenth-century liberal democratic thought. Guelzo takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of problems that confronted Lincoln and liberal democracy--equality, opportunity, the rule of law, slavery, freedom, peace, and his legacy. The book sets these problems and Lincoln's responses against the larger world of American and trans-Atlantic liberal democracy in the 19th century, comparing Lincoln not just to Andrew Jackson or John Calhoun, but to British thinkers such as Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham, and John Bright, and to French observers Alexis de Tocqueville and François Guizot. The Lincoln we meet here is an Enlightenment figure who struggled to create a common ground between a people focused on individual rights and a society eager to establish a certain moral, philosophical, and intellectual bedrock. Lincoln insisted that liberal democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. But how to interject that sense of moral order into a system that values personal self-satisfaction--"the pursuit of happiness"--remains a fundamental dilemma even today.

Abraham Lincoln was a man who, according to his friend and biographer William Henry Herndon, "lived in the mind." Guelzo paints a marvelous portrait of this Lincoln--Lincoln the man of ideas--providing new insights into one of the giants of American history.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

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kinship, deference, and outright corruption. They expected to find this new republican adhesive in virtue, which meant a self-denying, disinterested dedication to the welfare of the entire republic. The image uppermost in their minds was the classical, self-denying Roman glorified by Thomas Babington Macauley in his Lays of Ancient Rome in 1842—Cicero at the rostrum, Cincinnatus at his plow, Horatius at the bridge: Lincoln Confidence in the victory of virtue required granting to human nature a

this Union where we do not live.’’ On the other hand, he countered, the ‘‘question of the extension of slavery to new territories of this country is a part of our responsibility and care, and is under our control.’’ What the next step would have to be, once Southerners came to see reason and emancipated their slaves, was a consideration Lincoln was happy to put off for another day. 61 Liberty What the federal government could do, however, was prevent the further extension of slavery into the

Emancipation Lincoln tried to assure whatever Southerners were still listening that he intended to use the militia only for restoring federal authority in the lower South, not for tampering with slavery. And if the militia could be formed without delay into a strike force that would boldly march straight at the new Confederate government (which had, conveniently for Lincoln’s purposes, established itself only one hundred miles from Washington, in Richmond, Virginia) and knock it backwards with a

make it go on just as you wish— I believe that Providence is carrying on this thing.’’ And Lincoln replied ‘‘with great emphasis . . . Stuart that is just my opinion.’’ And if Providence was indeed carrying the war forward, Lincoln’s task was not to worry about whether it would turn out right, but to carefully observe and calculate all the little ways in which God was arranging the events of the war and interpret them to the people and the politicians. ‘‘He believed from the first, I think, that

Independent Whig’’ and ‘‘Cato’s Letters.’’ Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965. 129 Paine, Thomas. ‘‘Common Sense,’’ Tracts of the American Revolution, 1763–1776. Edited by Merrill Jensen. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1967. Richter, Melvin, ed., Selected Political Writings [Montesquieu]. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett, 1990. Lincoln Chapter 2: Advancement Angle, Paul M. ‘‘Here I Have Lived’’: A History of Lincoln’s Springfield. Chicago: Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, 1971. Blake, Robert. Disraeli. New

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