Abraham Lincoln: Innovator of Political Ideas Through His Creative Use of Words

April 19, 2010
By TreeTopWriter SILVER, Davenport, Iowa
TreeTopWriter SILVER, Davenport, Iowa
9 articles 14 photos 0 comments

Sprinkled throughout human history, great men and women have arisen who have devoted much of their lives to certain ideals, and have done so in the face of grave circumstances and opposition. Sometimes, society embraces those ideals as its own… and our way of life is changed. Coming from all countries, from all backgrounds, there have always been these people. Whether they dedicate their time to the ideals of art and aesthetics, the study of micro-organisms, or to the deepest questions of our being, they have always been a major part of our history. They have helped to define what it is to be human–because they challenge the status quo…and humanity is better off. But, ever so rarely, and seemingly when we need it most, there appear those figures who not only devote themselves to society’s ideals, but dare to change them and cause society to embrace them for the goodness of the people. Among these great, but rare figures is a man whose name is known to every American, and is indeed known worldwide. Yet, as well as this man is known, the true extent of his impact is not nearly as yet realized. He changed the half-developed democratic and social ideals of a struggling country in crisis, revolutionizing our society from an experiment with partial democracy to a new kind, one that set an example for the evolving world, as well as for the future. He did this all in way that no other person had done before, he was innovative, one might say. This man was Abraham Lincoln, and he changed a country, and world, through words.
Kings had armies. Lincoln had words. Yes, it’s true that Lincoln had armies too, young men taking up arms to fight those who had been their fellow citizens only a few months before. But even many people supporting the Union, weren’t convinced that what they were fighting for was right. Let them (the South) go in peace, they said. Lincoln used words, his greatest ally, to convince the unsure men and women of his country, and to inspire that farm boy from Indiana, or that young clerk from New York, that what they were fighting and giving their lives for was right and was necessary. And he did. With his Second Inaugural and Gettysburg Address, he explained to his country in a total of three pages why the war was fought, the importance of popular government, and its future. Once again, this man of the people, a true statesman, used words like no other popular leader had done before to rally people, and show them the importance of popular government, while at the same time proving to them a new idea, an innovation to democracy. He proved through his powerful speeches and words that “right makes might.”
Could any other man have led this nation to the result achieved…one nation unified, slavery gone, and popular government vindicated? It is no wonder that Lincoln became deified. How else but to fight a war against slavery and yet keep the loyalty of four slave states? And he persevered among the astronomical carnage on top of it all. It was his extraordinary ability to communicate to his cabinet, to his generals, but most of all to the people that made possible this result that seemed so impossible a few years before: A Second American Revolution.
Of all the great national heroes and statesmen of history, Lincoln is the only real giant…Lincoln was of whom a nation should be proud; he was a…saint of humanity, whose name will live thousands of years in the legends of future generations.
Why? Because he loved his enemies as himself and because he was a universal individualist who was great through his simplicity and noble through his charity…That is what makes him immortal and that is the quality of a giant…Lincoln lived and died a hero, as a great character he will live as long as the world lives.

Leo Tolstoy
February 7, 1909

With a sword that was his pen, with almost no education and in a country where the President had never really been a true man of the people, Abraham Lincoln used words creatively and innovatively to explain like no other what popular government meant. Through his letters and speeches, he kept these ideals alive in a constantly changing world, where the experiment in popular government was not an inevitable success; but a very real possibility of a disintegrating failure. Amidst a devastating war, Lincoln rose and rallied to save the very idea of popular government…through words…

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