Leadership Style Made Abraham Lincoln Essay

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Interestingly, and not well-known, is the fact that as a method of "methodically" shortening the long odds against him, Lincoln arranged to have transcripts of his debates with Douglas published. The publishing of those debates greatly improved his visibility and he began to receive invitations to speak at Republican gatherings. Goodwin explains that he gave speeches in Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Iowa and Ohio in the four months between August and December 1859.

It is not true that Obama published books to emulate the Lincoln success story albeit Obama's books Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope certainly helped drive interest him as a candidate. Here was Obama, an unlikely candidate who hitherto was a first term U.S. Senator from Illinois and not well-known outside Washington D.C. And Illinois. Again, a link to Lincoln emerges from the literature.

The Janesville Gazette reported "The high order of [his] intellect left a permanent impact upon his listeners, who would remember his tall, gaunt form" and his "points and his hits" for "many a day" (Goodwin, p. 224). There is little doubt -- except perhaps by those who attacked Obama during the campaigns as a "community organizer" who was unworthy of the presidency -- that Obama's intellect and soaring rhetoric made the same kind of impression on his audiences in 2007-2008 as Lincoln did in 1859-1860.

In summary, Professor Winter asserts that it is difficult to study the motives of political leaders -- because they are not readily accessible to researchers -- but he believes that psychologists can assess a politician's motives by studying speeches, interviews, letters and other writings. Winter embraces the idea that there are three motives that drive a political leader: power, achievement and affiliation. In his essay Winter explains that power-motivated politicians exhibit behaviors that seek "impact" and "prestige"; if the individual is "high in responsibility" the power he seeks is "pro-social and involves successful leadership" (p. 26). Power-motivation certainly seems to fit the personalities of Lincoln and Obama.

Lincoln's Campaign Style

To fully understand the measure of a man running for high office, examining his style of campaigning is a good beginning. In the presidential campaign, Lincoln showed tremendous skill and patience in his oratory, since he was running at a time when the nation was about to be torn apart by civil war. Instead of telling his audiences what they might want to hear in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lincoln told Kentuckians -- who had crossed the Ohio River to listen to him -- that he thought they (meaning Southerners) "…are as gallant and as brave men as live" (Goodwin, p. 225). But, he went on, "man for man, you are not better than we are and there are not so many of you as there are of us. You will never make much of a hand at whipping us" (Goodwin, p. 225).

The audacity of Lincoln's remarks -- even in hindsight some one hundred and fifty years later -- seemed to make people even more interested in him. He went on: "If we were fewer in numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we were equal it would likely be a drawn battle; but being inferior in numbers, you will make nothing by attempting to master us" (Goodwin, p. 225). The following day the Cincinnati Gazette reviewed his speech with glowing narrative. For example, the paper said the speech was "…an effort remarkable for its clear statement, powerful argument and massive common sense" (Goodwin, p. 225). Here is an obvious example of Lincoln's use of charisma to help drive his goals, and he was "unconstrained by situational pressures" -- again, demonstrating achievement-motivated leadership.

The Gazette went on: His speech was possessed "…of such dignity and power as to have impressed some of our ablest lawyers with the conclusion that it was superior to any political effort they had ever heard" (Goodwin, p. 225). The growth of Lincoln's popularity was such that at some point in the campaign he became a "national spokesman for the fledgling Republican Party" and in doing so, he was able to put out some fires that were building in the party in Massachusetts. Indeed, an anti-immigrant movement received Lincoln's attention. He wrote to Schuyler Colfax (Speaker of the House of Representatives at that time) that those fostering the anti-immigrant movement "failed to see that tilting against foreigners would ruin us in the whole North-West" (Goodwin, p. 226).

Not only that, Lincoln went on, if Ohio and New Hampshire tried to thwart enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law (a law that runaway slaves must be returned to their "masters") it might "utterly overwhelm us in Illinois with the charge of enmity to the constitution itself." Though he would later of course oppose slavery and even free the slaves, Lincoln was politically astute enough to realize that his Republican campaign colleagues should "look beyond our noses and at least say nothing on points where it is probably we shall disagree" (Goodwin, p. 226).

Lincoln Prior to the Presidency -- Legal Work, Marriage, Domesticity

Author Allen C. Guelzo (who wrote Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President) describes the young man -- recently married to Mary Todd -- who passed the Illinois State Bar Exam and began practicing law; "The look is confident, almost cocky, the hair is slicked glisteningly into place, the shirt and silk tie and vest are immaculate" (Guelzo, p. 102). The "broad-lapelled frock coat appears fresh and uncreased" which was appropriate because he was now in partnership with Stephen Logan, and hence he was linked to "another influential Whig politician" which brought Lincoln "a generous share of state supreme court appeals cases" (Guelzo, p. 102). That is what a young ambitious lawyer needs is high-profile legal cases to try, and in fact there was a new federal bankruptcy law in place that brought Lincoln and Logan seventy-seven cases. Those cases allowed them to buy foreclosed property that was fortuitous for Lincoln because he was recently married and had debts in New Salem to pay off.

One thing Lincoln was certainly not was an affiliation-motivated leader. Professor Winter describes affiliation-motivated leader as "cooperative and friendly" if they feel "secure and safe" (p. 26). But when threatened or challenged they are known to become "prickly and defensive, even hostile" (Winter, p. 26).

Speaking of his relationship with Mary Todd, Lincoln is reported (at age 30) to have walked up to twenty-year-old Mary and said, "Miss Todd, I want to Dance with you in the worst way," according to Abraham Lincoln Research Site (ALRS). The two were engaged and a few years later they broke up, were separated for a time and eventually began seeing one another again. They decided to be married in the fall of 1842 but they wanted a small wedding and Lincoln wanted it in the home of Reverend Charles N. Dresser, an Episcopal minister.

That did not sit well with Mary's guardian, Ninian Edwards, who insisted that they be married in her house (ALRS). The wedding featured some folly; standing behind Lincoln during the ceremony was Judge Thomas C. Browne of the Illinois Supreme Court. According to ALRS, Browne was "blunt" and "not accustomed to wedding dynamics. So when Lincoln placed the ring on Mary Todd's finger and he spoke the words, "With this ring I thee endow with all my goods, chattels, lands and tenements," Browne shouted out, "God Almighty, Lincoln, the statute fixes all that" (ALRS). The rain poured down outside and after the interruption the wedding continues. Lincoln later was asked about his marriage. He said "Nothing is new except my marrying, which to me is a matter of profound wonder" (Guelzo, p. 104).

Private married life seemed to offer Lincoln "a kind of domestic satisfaction he had only imagined," Guelzo writes (104). The newly married couple rented an apartment in a new wing of the Globe Tavern that cost about four dollars a week. In March of 1843 Mary was pregnant; on August 1, 1843 she gave birth to Robert Todd Lincoln. The three moved out of the Glob into a rented cottage in Springfield until January, 1844 when they moved into a one-and-a-half story home at Eighth and Jackson streets. They lived there for 17 years and Lincoln bought the house for $1,200 in cash.

After two years a second son was born (Edward Baker Lincoln) and though Lincoln seemed to be enjoying married life he "remained restless and unfilled" Guelzo explains. His friends kidded him about marrying into aristocracy and Lincoln seemed to absorb the blows with dignity. However, Guelzo, who is Professor of the Civil War Era department at Gettysburg College, reports that Lincoln was "wounded sufficiently" when James Matheny (a friend) continued the harassment vis-a-vis the "aristocracy" charge. He took Matheny "to the woods" and said, in reference to charges that he married into money and high society: "Jim -- I am now and always shall be the same Abe Lincoln that I always was" (Guelzo, p. 105).…[continue]

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