The Lincoln Symposium Speakers
Warren Greer: “The Golden Mean: Lincoln’s Essential Wartime Principle” It is well known that Lincoln was a political centrist, but many of his most successful wartime decisions also followed a middle course. His fateful decision at Fort Sumter, his celebrated Emancipation Proclamation, and his triumphal steering of abolition toward the center of the North’s war aims are all examples of what philosophers and theologians variously call the golden mean, the doctrine of the mean, and the middle way. These concepts suggest that a path to excellence can often be found near the center of two extremes, a place Aristotle defined as “moral virtue.” Warren Greer presents this argument about Lincoln’s wartime decision making as part of a larger paradigm that sees Lincoln’s extraordinary rise as less a function of innate genius or natural talent and more the result of principle-centered living and leadership.
Dr. Anne Marshall: “’Ripe for Mutiny:’ Lincoln and Loyalty in Civil War Kentucky” Dr. Marshall plans to speak about how Lincoln’s emancipation political and federal crackdown on dissent in Kentucky, as well as the enlistment of African Americans in the Union army caused white Kentuckians to become more disloyal to the Union over the course of the war.
Dr. Brian McKnight: “Twisting Lincoln’s Arm: East Tennessee and the Politics of Liberation” Dr. McKnight argues that Lincoln so needed unionist East-Tennessee to remain loyal that he had to cater to the region’s sometimes self-centered and strategically myopic politicians (Johnson, Maynard, Nelson, Brownlow, Temple, etc.). Due to this, he had to make the region a strategic priority which diverted attention away from other, more strategically convenient and important areas. Ultimately, East Tennessee’s liberation probably didn’t happen any earlier than it would have if Lincoln had ignored the region entirely . . .
Dr. Daniel Stowell: “Little Burdens: Empathete in Chief Abraham Lincoln”By any measure, Abraham Lincoln had many concerns on his mind as President. Elected to lead a deeply divided nation, Lincoln faced the secession of seven states before he even took the oath of office. Among his major burdens were patronage, mobilization, international relations, strategy, command, Congressional relations, federal relations, the Supreme Court, political unity, war materiel, the press, civil liberties, Native American unrest, African-American soldiers, emancipation, occupied territory, and reconstruction.
In spite of these many competitors for his attention, Abraham Lincoln often took time to listen to the concerns of individuals – the grieving father, the desperate widow, the wounded soldier, and the repentant prisoner, among others. Lincoln’s strong sense of empathy for the suffering of others added many little burdens to Lincoln’s already filled days and nights. . . .
By bearing and intervening in hundreds and perhaps thousands of these little burdens, Abraham Lincoln established a reputation for empathy in his lifetime that became a defining part of his reputation after his martyrdom.
Hon. Frank J. Williams: “Abraham Lincoln’s Re-Election: Almost Derailed by Casualties and the Pressure for Peace” In 1864 and 1865, there were several attempts to initiate peace between the warring parties by involving Presidents Lincoln and Davis in negotiations. But upon want terms could the two governments agree to end the fighting and growing list of casualties? The Confederate government was successful in a program of disinformation by insisting that Lincoln really did not want an end to the Civil War without emancipation – regardless of his stated purpose of reunion. This is the story of conflicting political efforts that almost prevented President Lincoln’s re-election.