12 February 2009

Happy 200th Birthday, President Lincoln

There are a lot of things to admire about Abraham Lincoln, and you certainly don't need me to list them out for you, so I thought I would share some Lincoln tidbits on this day.

First, you can check out some Lincoln photographs on Flickr. Yes, they actually had photographs during Lincoln's lifetime. In fact, the Library of Congress has a collection of photos online, including 22 of Lincoln.

Second, you can read Lincoln's writings for free. Project Gutenberg creates electronic versions of public domain books. They have quite a few writings of Lincoln available. An easier route is ManyBooks.net where they provide an easy point and click to convert Project Gutenberg (usually) texts to whatever format you want. They have a page dedicated to Lincoln's texts. If you do not have an e-reader, you can download the documents as PDFs.

Third, I would like to share a quote that displays Lincoln's leadership. It is taken from the Memoirs of General William T. Sherman (link to the entire manuscript on Project Gutenberg). If you want to read that book, you can download it in various formats at ManyBooks.net as well.

The incident occurred early in the Civil War when Colonel Sherman was located near Washington. There were differing opinions amongst the soldiers as to when their service began, and therefore ended, and many were trying to leave. Fearing mutiny, Sherman took a hard stand against an officer who announced his time was up and he was leaving. That same day Lincoln came to review the troops. Towards the end of this visit Sherman recalls:
In the crowd I saw the officer with whom I had had the passage at reveille that morning. His face was pale, and lips compressed. I foresaw a scene, but sat on the front seat of the carriage as quiet as a lamb. This officer forced his way through the crowd to the carriage, and said: "Mr. President, I have a cause of grievance. This morning I went to speak to Colonel Sherman, and he threatened to shoot me." Mr. Lincoln, who was still standing, said, "Threatened to shoot you?" "Yes, sir, he threatened to shoot me." Mr. Lincoln looked at him, then at me, and stooping his tall, spare form toward the officer, said to him in a loud stage-whisper, easily heard for some yards around: "Well, if I were you, and he threatened to shoot, I would not trust him, for I believe he would do it." The officer turned about and disappeared, and the men laughed at him. Soon the carriage drove on, and, as we descended the hill, I explained the facts to the President, who answered, "Of course I didn't know any thing about it, but I thought you knew your own business best." I thanked him for his confidence, and assured him that what he had done would go far to enable me to maintain good discipline, and it did.
Chapter IX

I was impressed by this passage. A leader, who instills total trust in his subordinates. A leader who "squanders" an opportunity to grandstand to the crowd.

1 comment:

CityKin said...

What American doesn't love Lincoln? The portraits are totally engrossing. Also interesting are the crowd photos of his funeral processions.