This volume collects nine essays on the topic of Abraham Lincoln as written over the last 20 years of the 20th century by Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. For Williams, Lincoln remains the central figure of the American experience - past, present and future. Williams begins with a survey of the interest in - and influence of - Lincoln both at home and abroad and then moves into an analysis of Lincoln's personal character with respect to his ability to foster relationships of equality among his intimates. Williams then addresses Lincoln's leadership abilities during the span of his career, with particular emphasis on the Civil War. Classifying Lincoln's leadership has been difficult, as he could at times adopt the stance of autocrat or democrat, conservative or liberal, idealist or Machiavellian. Williams defends the value of each stance within its historical context. Next, Williams enters into a qualitative comparison between Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill to explain why Lincoln not only ranks as America's greatest leader but also holds that same position among the pantheon of all the world's democratic leaders. The volume concludes with an essay (written by Mark E. Neely Jr.) on collecting Lincoln artefacts as another means of preserving and fostering the Lincoln legacy. The collection contains 49 illustrations from The Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana, and there is an epilogue by John Y. Simon.
Harold Holzer, cochair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and author and editor of many books on Lincoln, provides a foreword to this volume. John Y. Simon, executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, provides the collection's epilogue. Frank J. Williams is chief justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and a well-known expert on Abraham Lincoln. He has authored or edited eleven books, contributed chapters to several others, and lectured on the subject throughout the country. At the same time, he has amassed a private library and archive that rank among the nation's largest and finest Lincoln collections. Williams is the founding chairman of the Lincoln Forum, the current president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, and a past president of the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Lincoln Group of Boston. In 2000, Chief Justice Williams was appointed by Congress to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to plan events commemorating the two hundredth birthday of Abraham Lincoln in 2009.