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The pragmatic views of Abraham Lincoln - Essay Example

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Abraham Lincoln has been the most debated, analyzed, and scrutinized President in the history of the United States. He was a complex political genius who carried with him the charm of the average citizen.For this reason, Lincoln has often been misrepresented by anecdotes or attributed writings…
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The pragmatic views of Abraham Lincoln

Download file to see previous pages... Abraham Lincoln has been the most debated, analyzed, and scrutinized President in the history of the United States. He was a complex political genius who carried with him the charm of the average citizen.For this reason, Lincoln has often been misrepresented by anecdotes or attributed writings. While some scholars have argued that Lincoln's views on equality, race, and slavery shifted during the course of his career, this is a simplified look at many of his seemingly ambiguous positions. While in his writings and speeches there are references to a position that would allow some slavery in the antebellum period, his actions and words during the Civil War denounced slavery as a national evil. For Lincoln, these moral compromises were made for political expediency and pragmatism. Lincoln's views on race, slavery, and equality did not change throughout his career, but the shifting political foundations of the country dictated Lincoln's position as he strove to maintain a cohesive Union of states.There is an ample amount of primary reference material available for the study of Lincoln's political and personal views. The 1946 compilation Abraham Lincoln, His Speeches and Writings edited by Roy P. Basler is one of the more complete sources for this area of study. Carl Sanburg remarks in the preface of the book that, "...Abraham Lincoln, is best to be known by an acquaintance with all that he wrote and said."1 The key to Sandburg's notation is that to know Lincoln we must know all that he wrote and said. ...
Early in his career he could see the destructive forces of slavery at work on the new nation. In a speech titled "The Perpetuation of our Political Institutions" addressed to the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield Illinois on January 27, 1838 Lincoln warns, "If destruction be out lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."2 This statement indicates Lincoln's early inclination to value a united Union that was free, and shows his depth of understanding that a divided Union would lead to self destruction. The speech is a stern lecture on the horrors of lynching slaves and admonishes the reader that respect for the law is the most important attribute in the maintenance of unity. While the speech is clearly aimed at the unconscionable actions taken by the "...pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves.", it also contains a universal message of equality.3 Lincoln speaks of equality and its association with the respect for law when he writes, "And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars."4 Basler points out that this speech, given when Lincoln was a young man and not yet active outside local politics, has been criticized as being "highly sophomoric".5 Yet, it illustrates Lincoln's core belief that the reverence for law and the moral obligation of equality will need to be shared by all Americans to build a successful future.
The inequality of the elitist economic system was addressed in Lincoln's career while running for the General Assembly in Illinois. In an article announcing his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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