A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War by Harry V. Jaffa is the long awaited sequel to the author's 1959 book, Crisis of the House Divided. Although the specific objective of the A New Birth of Freedom is to examine Lincoln's development of the Gettysburg Address, what makes the text so unique is that it focuses on Lincoln as a scholar. This aspect of Lincoln's personality is often overlooked in the context of autobiographical data on Lincoln.With the realization that Jaffa spends so much of he text focusing on Lincoln as a scholar, this investigation seeks to provide a clear understanding of Lincoln in this light. By examining what Jaffa writes about Lincoln as a scholar and comparing this to what others have written on this historical figure, it will be possible to demonstrate that Jaffa's work makes a notable contribution to scholarly understanding of Lincoln as both a man and a leader.
[...] Jaffa through his analysis of both Lincoln's rhetoric and writing is able to find a clear connection between the philosophical undertones of the founding fathers and the specific decisions made by Lincoln with respect to what direction the country should take. When viewed from Jaffa's perspective much of the negative publicity that has been given to Lincoln swiftly falls by the wayside. While one can effectively argue that Lincoln was indeed a man ruled by his moral convictions, his moral convictions stemmed from his relentless pursuit of better understanding what the founding fathers wanted for the government and people of the United States of America. [...]
[...] While the specific analysis provided by Jaffa with respect to Lincoln's interpretation of the declaration of independence clearly shows the ability of this president to critically examine the past work of philosophers and scholars, Jaffa's argument culminates in a review of the specific information provided by Lincoln during the Gettysburg address. According to Jaffa, through the utilization of the Gettysburg address Lincoln poses a timeless question that is both important for reflection but also difficult to answer: there, and all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness? [...]
[...] By examining this figure in such an honest light, Jaffa is able not only to accurately describe Lincoln and his decision-making processes but also to help Lincoln reclaim some of the dignity that has been lost through the sensationalism of his life in the popular media. In the end, Jaffa's work provides a strong historical analysis of how Lincoln was able to effectively serve as president of the United States. Although many of Lincoln's viewpoints were viewed as rebellious or defiant in this time period, when placed in the context of his desire to hold true to the wishes of the founding fathers many of the decisions made by Abraham Lincoln make logical and rational sense. [...]
[...] Einhorn contends that, for the most part, Lincoln's demeanor was fabricated simply as a means to make him a more appealing speaker. Neely in his examination of Lincoln's life and presidency makes the observation that through the course of his actions Lincoln established himself as a tyrant in the eyes and minds of many constituents. Although Neely argues that Lincoln was not a tyrant or a dictator in any sense of the word he does argue that Lincoln's staunch adherence to the Constitution created considerable conflict when it came to negotiating problematic issues. Neely maintains that Lincoln typically became rigid and inflexible in his attitudes and opinions, preferring to rely on to the strict interpretations provided by the Constitution. Although it is possible that Lincoln was merely upholding his basic moral convictions, many policymakers found it difficult, if not impossible, to work with Lincoln in solving some of the nation's most critical problems. [...]
[...] A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Neely Jr., Mark E. The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. New York: Oxford University Press Thomas, Benjamin P . Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. New York: Alfred Knopf Harry V. Jaffa. A New Birth of Freedom: Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War, (Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000): 104 Harry V. Jaffa Harry V. Jaffa Francis Fisher [...]
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