9780743254687

We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends

Donald, David Herbert

ISBN 10: 0743254686 / 0-7432-5468-6
ISBN 13: 9780743254687
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Hardcover
Editorial Reviews for this title:
Synopsis:

"We Are Lincoln Men" examines the significance of friendship in Abraham Lincoln's life and the role it played in his presidency. Though Lincoln had hundreds of acquaintances and dozens of admirers, he had almost no intimate friends. Behind his mask of affability and endless stream of humorous anecdotes, he maintained an inviolate reserve that only a few were ever able to penetrate. In this highly original book, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner David Herbert Donald examines, for the first time, these close friendships and explores their role in shaping Lincoln's career.

"We Are Lincoln Men" shows how Lincoln's experiences as a boy growing up in frontier Indiana made it hard for him to develop warm, supportive relationships later in life. Not until 1837, when he met Joshua Fry Speed, with whom he shared a room and bed for the next four years, did he learn the real meaning of friendship. These two young men confided everything to each other, and they even helped each other as they diffidently sought brides. After Speed returned to Kentucky, Lincoln developed a close relationship with his younger law partner, William H. Herndon. He became Herndon's mentor and hero, and Herndon's idealization of him satisfied one of Lincoln's basic psychological needs.

When he was elected President, Lincoln had no close personal friends in Washington until Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning arrived. Browning became his confidant and, under Lincoln's skillful guidance, served as his strongest supporter in Congress. This useful friendship dissolved when the two men disagreed over emancipation, and Browning became further alienated when Lincoln three times passed over the opportunity to name him to the United States Supreme Court.

In his greatest triumph of friendship, Lincoln won over his powerful, opinionated Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who thought he was better qualified than the President for his job. With psychological insight and charm, Lincoln gained Seward's friendship and secured his loyal support.

Lincoln's closest, and most genuine, friendships while he was in the White House were with his private secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John Hay. Always at his best when dealing with young men, he served as a role model, and they, in effect, were his surrogate family. He won their devotion, and they became his most ardent supporters and, ultimately, his official biographers.

Professor Donald's remarkable book offers a fresh way of looking at Abraham Lincoln, both as a man who needed friendship and as a leader who understood the importance of friendship in the management of men. Donald penetrates Lincoln's mysterious reserve to offer a new picture of the President's inner life and to explain his unsurpassed political skills.


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