Since his death in 1865, Abraham Lincoln has been immortalized as one of, if not the greatest hero in American history due to his role in ending the Civil War and abolishing slavery. He led our country through its’ darkest days and was able to prevent the south from successfully seceding and preserving the United States. Throughout history many have been called heroes, some deservedly and others not. Lincoln’s recognition as a hero is valid because of his many achievements and his leadership style. Lincoln was born in February 1809, in Kentucky. His early life was difficult, losing his mother to illness at 9 years old. The family was poor and Lincoln needed to work to help support them. As a result, he had very little formal education, but it was this hard work and humble beginnings that ignited the spark in Lincoln to learn. When he was a young man the family moved to Illinois and it was there that Lincoln learned the law and became interested in local politics. In 1834 he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature.
He taught himself the law, was admitted to the Bar in 1836 and also began a career as a successful lawyer. Between 1847 and 1849 he served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result of the increased opposition to slavery, the Republican Party was born and Lincoln joined the party in 1856. It was his anti-slavery views and the continuing passing of laws to protect slavery that further sparked his interest in politics. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate but obtain national exposure from the race due to his unique communication and debating techniques. It was this exposure that found him as a candidate for President in 1860. He was elected the 16th President of the United States and the first President from the Republican Party. Because of his well-known views on slavery, the secessionists began their plans to split from the Union prior to his taking office. The Civil Was began in April of 1861 with the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
Almost immediately in his role as President, Lincoln was faced with the most challenging situation of any President prior to him. His decision-making and communication skills, though unpopular at times, would be a vital part of his success over the next several years. Lincoln possessed strong social intelligence skills. He was sensitive to other people’s feelings and moods, and he was particularly adept at reading people. Lincoln had a great ability in understanding the motivations of others, and was skillful at getting others to cooperate with him. He knew to be pleasant and approachable while also being fierce when fighting for causes he believed in. One tool that Lincoln would use was storytelling. He would use stories from his past which would put people at ease while at the same time relaying his point in a clear way. Another method he would use was to ask questions to get his rivals to see things his way. His communication style and speeches were simple and logical.
Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech was the Gettysburg Address given in 1863 at the dedication of the National Cemetery after the battle at Gettysburg. The speech last just over two minutes and was an example of how Lincoln understood his audience. There had been much “Pomp and Circumstance” throughout the ceremony and many long speeches prior to his. The words he chose were short and to the point, but were full of inspiration and emotion. The speech focused on the principles of the founding fathers of our nation and the words from the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and that all men have the unalienable rights to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. One of the main things Lincoln wanted to accomplish with this speech, was to rally support for the 13th Amendment, which would abolish slavery and was in jeopardy of failing to pass in Congress.
Lincoln again used his influence as a communicator to get the 13th Amendment passed. He would spend hours with his political rivals building relationships. It was important that he understood their perspectives on the issues and would give them the opportunity to express their views and needs. His approach was thoughtful and personal. This bill was met with much opposition and it took great skill and tenacity on Lincoln’s part to insure its passage. Many Presidents since Lincoln have also faced challenges when trying to pass legislature, among them our current President Barack Obama.
Whether or not you are a supporter of our current President aside, some similarities can be seen between the two. As was the case with Lincoln, Obama is known for his listening skills, and taking in ideas from all sides. He is a skilled orator and there is a strong sense of morality in his tone when speaking. There are many references to President Lincoln in Obama’s speeches which show the influence the former President has on him. Abraham Lincoln led our nation through one of its most turbulent times. He used his communication skills and understanding of people to obtain success. His ability to talk to people and understand what they stood for while moving them to see things his way led him to be regarded as one of our greatest Presidents.
A-E Networks. Abraham lincoln – biography [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/abraham-lincoln-9382540
Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided PBS. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/lincolns/player/
Hubbard, C. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.historynet.com/abraham-lincoln
Communicate like Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved from:http://www.communitelligence.com/blps/article.cfm?weblog
The Connections Between President Barack Obama and President Abraham Lincoln (n.d.)Retrieved from: http://www.reobama.com/ObamaLincoln.htm
House passes the 13th Amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/house-passes-the-13th-amendment