By David J. Kent
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The Lincoln Group Study Forum is starting a new book! Beginning May 15 and continuing through July, we will read and discuss Lincoln and the American Founding by Lucas Morel (Southern Illinois University Press, 2020).
Morel is well known in the Lincoln studies world. His special emphasis is Lincoln's intellectual relationship with the Founders and the Founding Documents. He is an expert on Lincoln's views on the principles on which the nation was built. His expertise shows in this book. Part of the Concise Lincoln Library series, the book looks short, only 122 pages plus an extensive set of notes, bibliography, and an index. Digging deeper, however, shows that the book is dense with information, well-written, and incredibly insightful. Here's how Amazon describes it:
In this persuasive work of intellectual history, Lucas E. Morel argues that the most important influence on Abraham Lincoln’s political thought and practice was what he learned from the leading figures of and documents from the birth of the United States. In this systematic account of those principles, Morel compellingly demonstrates that to know Lincoln well is to understand thoroughly the founding of America.
With each chapter describing a particular influence, Morel leads readers from the Founding Father, George Washington; to the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution; to the founding compromise over slavery; and finally to a consideration of how the original intentions of the Founding Fathers should be respected in light of experience, progress, and improvements over time. Within these key discussions, Morel shows that without the ideals of the American Revolution, Lincoln’s most famous speeches would be unrecognizable, and the character of the nation would have lost its foundation on the universal principles of human equality, individual liberty, and government by the consent of the governed.
Lincoln thought that the principles of human equality and individual rights could provide common ground for a diverse people to live as one nation and that some old things, such as the political ideals of the American founding, were worth preserving. He urged Americans to be vigilant in maintaining the institutions of self-government and to exercise and safeguard the benefits of freedom for future generations. Morel posits that adopting the way of thinking and speaking Lincoln advocated, based on the country’s founding, could help mend our current polarized discourse and direct the American people to employ their common government on behalf of a truly common good.
The Study Forum review begins Saturday, May 15 and meets monthly at 10 A.M. via Zoom. The group is open to all Lincoln Group of DC members. Anyone interested in attending as a guest can do so by contacting David J. Kent at firstname.lastname@example.org.