« AnteriorContinuar »
WHY THIS BOOK ?
Most of us have a smattering of the life of Lincoln, many of us have made a general surface study of it. But Lincoln lived in the subsoil of human thought and soul. He dug down deep into every subject-matter claiming his attention. If we would know and appreciate him we too must dig down deep among the roots, the foundations, of his personal, professional, and public life.
He lived largely in the world of thought. How he thought, what his mental methods were, how he developed his great mental efficiency in law, logic, language, and public leadership, should be a matter of interest and inspiration to that great army of men and women who have learned to love Lincoln.
This is an era of efficiency. We all understand physical efficiency, industrial efficiency, financial efficiency, and the like, and rapidly we are coming to understand something of educational efficiency.
Lincoln's life is a demonstration of the highest type of efficiency for every situation he met.
How did he attain it?
How did this backwoods boy become a master of men?
How did he pass from the pioneer life, with all the privation and primitiveness of the frontier, and grow to be the greatest lawyer of his State, the greatest orator of his day, and the greatest statesman of his age?
In short, what was the paramount philosophy of his life, as gathered from what he said, from what he did, from how he lived and how he died ?
To answer some of these questions, as they have not been answered heretofore, is the primary and paramount purpose of this volume.
To this end I have selected and assembled from the authenticated records as compiled by others the significant and symptomatic facts of his life, and have examined carefully his words and works.
I want to present what I conceive to be, not merely his creed but his code of conduct, with his chart, compass, and chain; and how he used this chart, compass, and chain in each day's duties, particularly as a lawyer at Springfield and as President at Washington.
But more important than all else is. to present to young America, and to the world, our type of true Americanism.
History, after all, is only the sum of big biography, the product of the leadership and life of the great men with benevolent ideas and ideals that preserve and promote our American institutions, our spirit of liberty and democracy practically applied.
We can best study Americanism through some great American, and in the foregoing respects, by common consent, at home and abroad, the name of Lincoln leads all the rest. We are told that the world must be made "safe for democracy."
But what is democracy? Who better understood and expressed it than Lincoln ? What were his views on government, its powers, its purposes ? That is, what did Lincoln himself say about it?
LINCOLN'S PASSION FOR KNOWLEDGE
"A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.”—Proverbs 24 : 5.
WITHIN a twelvemonth, within a circle described by a fifty-mile radius, there were born in the State of Kentucky two boys destined to be the great popular leaders on the opposite sides of a great cause-Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.
When quite young, Davis moved south to Mississippi, to slavery and aristocracy; Lincoln moved north to Indiana and Illinois, to liberty and democracy. Had their routes been reversed, then what?
Davis was educated at a college in Mississippi, Transylvania University at Lexington, Ky., and later was graduated at West Point.
Lincoln never spent a day in a public school or college.
How, then, did he become the leading lawyer of Illinois, the only man of his State who dared to debate with Douglas ?
How did he become the logician at Cooper Union, the orator at Gettysburg, the emancipator of a race, the savior of a country, and the idol of the patriotic world?
Great men, as a rule, have had great mothers rather than great fathers. This was peculiarly true as to Lincoln. Though his mother died when he was but nine