The Rise of Abraham Lincoln


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Before elevating citizens and slaves, Lincoln had to rise.

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  • Edmund Morris: TR
  • Three themes you will notice
  • Gleaves Whitney’s talk
  • Focus on one of these obstacles as a way to understand the ambition behind Lincoln’s rise: Emotional poverty.“He spoke with a voice of thunder, he laughed like the sunrise, and his deeds were as strong as a rock.”
  • BrotherAunt & UncleAngel MotherSister/Nephew(Sons)
  • Men remained: father, cousins, step brother – step mother helped
  • “Now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered features, for her skin was too full of fat to permit its contracting into wrinkles, but from her want of teeth, weather-beaten appearance in general, and from a kind notion that ran in my head, that nothing could have commenced at the size of infancy, and reached her present bulk in less than thirty five or forty years.”
  • 32 years old20 years before he became president
  • Obstacles as motivation
  • Joshua Speed (source)Fame, public good
  • Removing obstacles to happiness & success
  • Born into Jefferson’s AmericaFather’s land – KY, IN, ILNorthwest Territory-townships-standardized surveying-saleable lots
  • Two silver half dollars“I could scarcely believe my eyes. Gentleman, you may think it was a very little thing … but it was a most important incident in my life. I could scarcely credit that I, a poor boy, had earned a dollar in less than a day…. The world seemed wider and fairer before me.”Shaped by Hamilton’s America
  • Sum upObstacles fed Lincoln’s enormous ambition (to remove obstacles for others).Ambition fed his determination to rise.Second American revolutionAgricultural/financial/industrial/commercial pursuitsBank, tariffs, taxes (income), improvements, homesteads, morril land grant collegesHow did he get that far?
  • Story is knownPaid the consequences-beaten by father-outcast by other boys & men
  • UnknownAnything but wide-ranging, liberal arts educationNecessarily narrow, focused, thorough
  • Bible & poetry gave him his sense of meter, his sense of imagery, and his skill with metaphorsRest prepared him for his professional future
  • James Rutledge, Debating Society in New Salem
  • Eighth Circuit in Illinois: Fourteen counties
  • Eighth Circuit in Illinois: Fourteen counties
  • Ever increasing skill set, ever widening network of supporters
  • Last keystone, for which Lincoln is quite famous today
  • “I remember them but Modesty and my Veneration for his Memory forbids me to relate.”“Feathers on her head and down on her behind”“I can contribute nothing to the end in view.”Some of Mr. Lincoln's intimate friends once called his attention to a certain member of his Cabinet who was quietly working to secure a nomination for the Presidency, although knowing that Mr. Lincoln was to be a candidate for re-election. His friends insisted that the Cabinet officer ought to be made to give up his Presidential aspirations or be removed from office. The situation reminded Mr. Lincoln of a story: "My brother and I," he said, "were once plowing corn, I driving the horse and he holding the plow. The horse was lazy, but on one occasion he rushed across the field so that I, with my long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, I found an enormous chin-fly fastened upon him, and knocked him off. My brother asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn't want the old horse bitten in that way. 'Why,' said my brother, 'that's all that made him go.' Now," said Mr. Lincoln, "if Mr. Chase has a Presidential chin-fly biting him, I'm not going to knock him off, if it will only make his department go."
  • Drawing people to himDrawing people together
  • “I remember them but Modesty and my Veneration for his Memory forbids me to relate.”“Feathers on her head and down on her behind”“I can contribute nothing to the end in view.”
  • Finish by reviewing my conclusions
  • “The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him.” ~Lincoln
  • The Rise of Abraham Lincoln

    1. 1. The Rise of Abraham Lincoln<br />Brian Flanagan<br />Spring Lake District Library<br />September 29, 2009<br />
    2. 2. Before elevating citizens …<br />
    3. 3. Before elevating slaves …<br />
    4. 4. Lincoln had to rise.<br />
    5. 5. The Rise of Abraham Lincoln<br />Lincoln’s rise was a conscious enterprise.<br />He experienced both successes and setbacks.<br />He exhibited endurance and determination – two qualities that would later define his presidency.<br />
    6. 6. The Rise of Abraham Lincoln<br />Topics:<br />Obstacles<br />Ambitions<br />Keystones<br />
    7. 7. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Geography<br />Education<br />Wealth & connections<br />Ugliness<br />Emotional poverty<br />
    8. 8. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Emotional Poverty:<br />“His melancholy dripped from him as he walked.”<br />“Don’t you find … that his eyes are full of tears and that his lips are sad with a secret sorrow?”<br />
    9. 9. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Family<br />“He sat down in the door of the smoke house and buried his face in his hands. The tears slowly trickled from between his bony fingers and his gaunt frame shook with sobs.”<br />
    10. 10. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“Lincoln was lazy – a very lazy man.”<br />“He was no hand to pitch in at work like killing snakes.”<br />
    11. 11. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Ann Rutledge<br />“I did honestly – & truly love the girl & think often – often of her now.”<br />
    12. 12. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Love life<br />“I am willing, and even anxious to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will in any considerable degree, add to your happiness.”<br />
    13. 13. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth.”<br />
    14. 14. Obstacles to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awefullyforbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or do better.”<br />
    15. 15. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />“I would be more than willing to die, but I have an irrepressible desire to live till I can be assured that the world is a little better for my having lived in it.”<br />
    16. 16. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />“To connect his name with the events transpiring in his day and generation and so impress himself upon them as to link his name with something that would redound to the interest of his fellow man was what he desired to live for.”<br />
    17. 17. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />“I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence…. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of men, and that all should have an equal chance.”<br />
    18. 18. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />Jefferson’s America:<br />Independent citizens<br />Spread widely on abundant lands<br />Engaged in useful, primarily agricultural work<br />Free from the “demoralizing pursuits” of banking, manufacturing, and commerce<br />
    19. 19. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />Hamilton’s America:<br />Vibrant, forward-looking nation<br />Bustling urban centers<br />Global trade<br />Featuring the “demoralizing pursuits” of banking, manufacturing, and commerce.<br />
    20. 20. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />“I want every man to have the chance … in which he can better his condition – when he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally to hire men to work for him. That is the true system.”<br />
    21. 21. Lincoln’s Ambition<br />“… to elevate the condition of men – to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life.”<br />
    22. 22. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Self education<br />A strenuous life<br />Humor<br />
    23. 23. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Self education:<br />“a Constant … Stubborn reader”<br />“He read diligently – studied in the day time … went to bed Early – got up Early and then read.”<br />
    24. 24. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“When he came across a passage that Struck him he would write it down on boards if he had no paper & keep it there till he did get paper – then he would re-write – look at it repeat it….”<br />
    25. 25. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Readings:<br />Pious: Bible<br />Poetic: Shakespeare & Burns<br />Political: Newspapers<br />Practical: Grammar, Math, Law<br />
    26. 26. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Debating Society:<br />Subjects: Slavery, public improvements, education, banks, temperance<br />“[Lincoln] opened up the discussion in splendid style to the infinite astonishment of his friends…. He pursued the question with reason and argument so pithy and forcible that all were amazed.”<br />
    27. 27. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Self education: Conclusions<br />Narrow but thorough, laborious reading<br />Purposeful reading<br />Driven to gain the skills of his trade<br />Driven to rise<br />
    28. 28. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />A strenuous life:<br />Carpenter<br />Riverboat man<br />Store clerk<br />Blacksmith<br />Merchant<br />
    29. 29. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Soldier: militia captain in the Black Hawk War<br />
    30. 30. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Postmaster for New Salem, Illinois<br />
    31. 31. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Surveyor: Deputy County Surveyor for Sangamon County, Illinois<br />Became the best in the region – settled disputes<br />
    32. 32. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Lawyer:<br />8th Circuit in Illinois: 14 counties<br />
    33. 33. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />5,000 cases in 23 years<br />300 before the Illinois Supreme Court<br />70 in federal courts<br />Modern equivalent of a $170,000 fee for one case<br />William Armstrong case<br />
    34. 34. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Politician:<br />Stump speaker<br />Party leader<br />Illinois legislator<br />U.S. Congressman<br />Senate candidate<br />
    35. 35. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />A strenuous life: Conclusions<br />Hard work<br />From physical to mental labor<br />Professional reputation<br />Expanding fame<br />
    36. 36. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Humor:<br />“the vents of my moods & gloom<br />“An emollient [that] saves me much friction and distress”<br />“I laugh because I must not cry.”<br />
    37. 37. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“Gentleman, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.”<br />
    38. 38. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />“Down on her behind”<br />“The end in view”<br />“Presidential chin fly”<br />
    39. 39. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />
    40. 40. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Humor: Conclusions<br />Coping mechanism<br />Personal magnetism<br />Fellowship<br />
    41. 41. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Conclusions:<br />Obstacles fed Lincoln’s enormous ambition.<br />Ambition fed Lincoln’s determination to rise.<br />
    42. 42. Keystones to Lincoln’s Rise<br />Conclusions:<br />Self-education: Gift for the written and spoken word; political philosophy; and practical knowledge.<br />Strenuous life: Skills; reputation; fame<br />Humor: Emotional wherewithal; personal magnetism; fellowship<br />
    43. 43. The Rise of Abraham Lincoln<br />