Friday, April 29, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 10

At the battle of Antietam the Union general, George McClellan, with 80,000 troops confronted the South’s 45,000 [estimated to be a mighty host in excess of 100,000]. Although McClellan stumbled into possession of the South’s master battle plan, for some reason he kept approximately 20,000 Union soldiers in reserve - they never fired a shot. The battle, Lee’s first invasion of the North, was a Union victory in that Lee was driven back to his native Virginia; it was less than the stupendous victory it would have been if a moderately competent general had pursued his advantage and destroyed the Army of Northern Virginia, far and away the more fearsome military force the South possessed. As Lincoln more than once was forced to concede, ‘we must work with the tools we are given.’

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 9

'I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the Declaration of Independence ... that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I would rather be assassinated on the spot than surrender it.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Monday, April 25, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 8

To get the people to quiet down before any one of the 1858 debates with the famous Senator Stephen Douglas itself would start, Lincoln would tell one of his by-now famous jokes. As the joke wore on, a circle of attentive silence would radiate outwards from the speakers’ platform like a pebble dropped into a still pond of water - until the punch line was reached. Then everyone who had heard the whole joke would burst into laughter, and the ones out on the fringe would be encouraged to remain attentive because Lincoln just might tell another joke! [In the process, by the way, Abraham Lincoln would have won the debate before it had even started, isn’t that right?]

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 7

‘As a general rule I abstain from reading reports of attacks upon myself, wishing not to be provoked by that to which I cannot properly offer an answer.’
- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 6

During one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 Lincoln was accused of being two-faced. He responded by saying, 'I leave it to this audience to decide: if I had a face different to the one you see in front of you, don't you think I'd be wearing it?'

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 5

One knowledgeable observer wrote in the summer of 1863: '… As to the politics of Washington the most striking thing is the absence of personal loyalty to the President. It does not exist. He has no admirers, no enthusiastic supporters, none to bet on his head. He has a kind of shrewdness and common sense, mother wit, and slipshod, low-level honesty that made him a good Western jury lawyer. But he is an unutterable calamity to us where he is.'

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 4

‘Lincoln was a man of great compassion, but that isn’t to say he couldn’t be tough. When Kansas Senator Pomeroy, an early recipient of Lincoln’s largesse, was shown, to Lincoln’s satisfaction, to have contributed too energetically to the Chase-for-President effort [Salmon Chase, Lincoln’s brilliant Secretary of the Treasury, wanted very much to be president himself in 1864, but got other Republican figures outside the Cabinet to head up his effort], Lincoln ended the Kansan’s access to the federal gravy train.’
- Arnold Kunst

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 3

‘No, gentlemen, I have not asked the nomination, and I will not now buy it with pledges.  If I am nominated and elected, I shall not go into the Presidency as the tool of this man or that man, or as the property of any faction or clique.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 2

When Lincoln received the Republican nomination for president in 1860 he ‘seemed to have come from nowhere – a backwoods lawyer who had served one undistinguished term in the House of Representatives and had lost two consecutive contests for the U. S. Senate. Contemporaries and historians alike have attributed his surprising nomination to chance – the fact that he came from the battleground state of Illinois and stood in the center of his party. The comparative perspective suggests a different interpretation. When viewed against the failed efforts of his rivals, it is clear that Lincoln won the nomination because he was shrewdest and canniest of them all. More accustomed to relying upon himself to shape events, he took the greatest control of the process leading up to the nomination, displaying a fierce ambition, an exceptional political acumen, and a wide range of emotional strengths, forged in the crucible of personal hardship, that took his unsuspecting rivals by surprise.’
- Doris Kearns Goodwin

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lincoln and Politics 1

‘This, then, is a story of Lincoln’s political genius revealed through his extraordinary array of personal qualities that enabled him to form friendships with men who had previously opposed him; to repair injured feelings that, left untended, might have escalated into permanent hostility; to assume responsibility for the failures of subordinates, to share credit with ease; and to learn from mistakes. He possessed an acute understanding of the sources of power inherent in the presidency, an unparalleled ability to keep his growing coalition intact, a tough-minded appreciation of the need to protect his presidential prerogatives, and a masterful sense of timing. His success in dealing with the strong egos of the men in his cabinet suggests that in the hands of a truly great politician the qualities we generally associate with decency and morality – kindness, sensitivity, compassion, honesty, and empathy – can also be impressive political resources.’
- Doris Kearns Goodwin

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lincoln as realist 6

Harriet Beecher Stowe one winter evening toward the end of the war asked if the president did not feel a great relief over the prospect of the war soon coming to a close. And Lincoln had answered, she said, in a sad way: 'No Mrs. Stowe. I shall never live to see peace. This war is killing me.'

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lincoln as realist 5

'I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lincoln as realist 4

'I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri, nor, as I think, Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too large for us.
- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lincoln as realist 3

‘I don’t like that man; I must get to know him better.’
- Abraham Lincoln

Friday, April 1, 2016

Lincoln as realist 2

'First convince a man that you are his sincere friend. Therein is the drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what you will, is the great high road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgment of the justice of your cause.'
- Abraham Lincoln