Since Abraham Lincoln's death, generations of Americans have studied his life, presidency, and leadership, often remaking him into a figure suited to the needs and interests of their own time. This illuminating volume takes a different approach to his political thought and practice. Here, a distinguished group of contributors argue that Lincoln's relevance today is best expressed by rendering an accurate portrait of him in his own era. They seek to understand Lincoln as he understood himself and as he attempted to make his ideas clear to his contemporaries. What emerges is a portrait of a prudent leader who is driven to return the country to its original principles in order to conserve it.The contributors demonstrate that, far from advocating an expansion of government beyond its constitutional limits, Lincoln defended both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In his introduction, Justice Clarence Thomas discusses how Lincoln used the ideological and structural underpinnings of those founding documents to defeat slavery and secure the liberties that the Republic was established to protect. Other chapters reveal how Lincoln upheld the principle of limited government even as he employed unprecedented war powers.Featuring contributions from leading scholars such as Michael Burlingame, Allen C. Guelzo, Fred Kaplan, and Matthew Pinsker, this innovative collection presents fresh perspectives on Lincoln both as a political thinker and a practical politician. Taken together, these essays decisively demonstrate that the most iconic American president still has much to teach the modern-day student of politics.
Lucas E. Morel, the Class of 1960 Professor of Ethics and Politics at Washington and Lee University, USA, is the author of Lincoln's Sacred Effort: Defining Religion's Role in American Self-Government.