Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

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Basic Books, Oct 14, 2014 - Biography & Autobiography - 376 pages
Abraham Lincoln grew up in the long shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the great men of the founding—Washington, Paine, Jefferson—and their great documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution—for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the power vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the true inheritor of the Founders’ mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery.

In Founders’ Son, celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling new biography of Abraham Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. Following Lincoln from his humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in Washington, D.C., Brookhiser shows us every side of the man: laborer, lawyer, congressman, president; storyteller, wit, lover of ribald jokes; depressive, poet, friend, visionary. And he shows that despite his many roles and his varied life, Lincoln returned time and time again to the Founders. They were rhetorical and political touchstones, the basis of his interest in politics, and the lodestars guiding him as he navigated first Illinois politics and then the national scene.

But their legacy with not sufficient. As the Civil War lengthened and the casualties mounted Lincoln wrestled with one more paternal figure—God the Father—to explain to himself, and to the nation, why ending slavery had come at such a terrible price.

Bridging the rich and tumultuous period from the founding of the United States to the Civil War, Founders’ Son is unlike any Lincoln biography to date. Penetrating in its insight, elegant in its prose, and gripping in its vivid recreation of Lincoln’s roving mind at work, this book allows us to think anew about the first hundred years of American history, and shows how we can, like Lincoln, apply the legacy of the Founding Fathers to our times.
 

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User Review  - messpots - LibraryThing

This is an intellectual biography of Lincoln, but a limited one. One could study Lincoln's influences more generally and come to some conclusions about his views. Brookhiser instead sets out to show ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jimmoz - LibraryThing

The author focuses on the influence of the founders on Lincoln, and so this is more of a political biography than a standard bio. It is informative and worth the read. Read full review

Contents

Two Old Men One Young Man
1
PART ONE
11
18091830 Youth
13
George Washington and Liberty
25
18301840 Manhood
37
Thomas Paine Laughter and Reason
51
18401852 Maturity
67
Henry Clay and the Fourth of July
89
The Election of 1860 The Towering Genius II
171
PART THREE
199
18611863 War Emancipation
201
Preamble to the Constitution
229
18641865 War Death
247
God the Father
267
1865 Victory The Towering Genius III
285
One Old Man
297

PART TWO
103
18551858 Running for Senate
119
18591860 Running for President
139
Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence The Towering Genius I
151
Photo Insert
164
Acknowledgments
303
Notes
305
Bibliography
327
Index
333
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and the author of eleven books, including the James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, American, and Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. He lives in New York City.

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