I wrote “Abraham Lincoln-An Uncommon, Common Man” to give readers what I call the “basic” Lincoln life story.
Two years ago a teacher told me “a lot of history has occurred since you were in school that needs to be covered in the class room and, out of necessity, Abraham Lincoln is allocated less time today.” Of course she was right. Among other newer history lessons are several tragic wars, new Presidents (including another Presidential assassination and other attempted assassinations), civil rights movement, international terrorism, technological advances, development of the space program, and the changes resulting from the word-wide internet and social media. However, that means that today’s young people, including my grandson, do not have sufficient classroom opportunity to learn about the extraordinary legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
She also reminded me that the “story of Abraham Lincoln” has been modified over time to include criticism of some of his personal traits and Presidential decisions. She was again correct as, over the past 30 years, there have been numerous books and articles that focus on a very narrow aspect of Lincoln’s life. Some delve deeply into his relationships with long time friends, political allies and opponents, his Cabinet and Generals; whether he suffered from Clinical Depression; whether his 1863 directives to stop draft protests were violations of the Constitution and even impeachable; whether he really cared about the issue of slavery; and a few even speculated about his sexuality. Many of these authors had a scholarly purpose to provide valuable insight into his personality and political philosophy. However, there have also been revisionist attempts by some authors to inappropriately, and incorrectly, challenge his legacy to either sell more books and/or to promote a personal cause
How does a reader separate the earnest scholars from the those who only have a defamation agenda?
I believe we first need to return to his basic life story, without getting lost in the minutiae. Not to disregard his faults (and he had a few) nor to embellish his attributes (and he had many), but to re-introduce Lincoln who, like all of us, made mistakes and had self doubts, but he still managed to achieve great objectives. It is also helpful to put his statements and decisions, which some modern authors have criticized, into the perspective of the times in which he lived and the societal norms of his day.
I hope my book “Abraham Lincoln-an Uncommon, Common Man” may remind those who have extensively studied Lincoln that his broad life story is still an important character lesson; and, I hope it may give to those others who are not as well acquainted with Lincoln an introduction that may result in a desire to learn more about him.
None of us would want others to judge our entire life by an isolated incident or speculation about a character trait. We owe Mr. Lincoln the same courtesy.
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