Horrocks investigates Lincoln’s campaign biographies within the context of the critical relationship between print and politics in nineteenth-century America and compares the works about Lincoln with other presidential campaign biographies of the era. Horrocks shows that more than most politicians of his day, Lincoln deeply appreciated and understood the influence and the power of the printed word.
The 1860 campaign biographies introduced to America “Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter,” a trustworthy, rugged candidate who appealed to rural Americans. When Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864, the second round of campaign biographies complemented this earlier portrait of Lincoln with a new, paternal figure, “Father Abraham,” more appropriate for Americans enduring a bloody civil war. Closing with a consideration of the influence of these publications on Lincoln’s election and reelection, Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies provides a new perspective for those seeking a better understanding of the sixteenth president and two of the most critical elections in American history.
Lincoln as Hero shows how—whether it was as president, lawyer, or schoolboy—Lincoln extolled the foundational virtues of American society. Williams describes the character and leadership traits that define American heroism, including ideas and beliefs, willpower, pertinacity, the ability to communicate, and magnanimity. Using both celebrated episodes and lesser-known anecdotes from Lincoln’s life and achievements, Williams presents a wide-ranging analysis of these traits as they were demonstrated in Lincoln’s rise, starting with his self-education as a young man and moving on to his training and experience as a lawyer, his entry onto the political stage, and his burgeoning grasp of military tactics and leadership.
Williams also examines in detail how Lincoln embodied heroism in standing against secession and fighting to preserve America’s great democratic experiment. With a focused sense of justice and a great respect for the mandates of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Lincoln came to embrace freedom for the enslaved, and his Emancipation Proclamation led the way for the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. Lincoln’s legacy as a hero and secular saint was secured when his lifeended by assassination as the Civil War was drawing to a close
Touching on Lincoln’s humor and his quest for independence, justice, and equality, Williams outlines the path Lincoln took to becoming a great leader and an American hero, showing readers why his heroism is still relevant. True heroes, Williams argues, are successful not just by the standards of their own time but also through achievements that transcend their own eras and resonate throughout history—with their words and actions living on in our minds, if we are imaginative, and in our actions, if we are wise.
Univeristy Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools 2013 edition