Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lincoln's Leadership Qualifications

This week I've been enjoying David Herbert Donald's 1995 biography called simply, "Lincoln". (I've been reading it to celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday next month).

A passage I read tonight reminded me of the debates and discussions from the 2008 Presidential election over the experience (or lack of experience) of the candidates (specifically Gov. Palin and Sen. Obama).

Here's how Dr. Donald's described Abraham Lincoln's leadership qualifications in 1859 as Lincoln considered running for President:

"To all outward appearances he was less prepared to be President of the United States than any other man who had run for that high office. Without family tradition or wealth, he had received only the briefest of formal schooling. Now fifty years old, he had no administrative experience or any sort; he had never been governor of his state or even mayor of Springfield. A profound student of the Constitution and of the writings of the Founding Fathers, he had limited acquaintance with the government they had established. He had served only a single, less than successful term in the House of Representatives and for the past ten years had held no public office. Though he was one of the founders of the Republican party, he held no close friends and only a few acquaintances in the populous Eastern states, whose votes would be crucial in the election. To be sure, his debates with Douglas had brought him national attention, but he had lost the senatorial election both in 1855 and 1859."

After initially telling reporters, "I must, in candor, say I do not think myself fit for the Presidency", Lincoln (as we know now) decided to organize supporters who then helped him successfully gain the office in 1860.

An interesting comment on Lincoln's leadership qualifications,

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