Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

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Lincoln & the Legacy of Conflict Series
Program 2
Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
Richard Brookhiser, National Review

Abraham Lincoln grew up in the shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the men of the founding—Washington, Paine, Jefferson—and their great documents for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the inheritor of the Founders' mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery. Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling biography of Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the Founding Fathers’ work. 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 politics and 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.

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

Lincoln and the Legacy of Conflict Series

The MHS will commemorate the sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War and the assassination of Pres. Abraham Lincoln with a series of programs. Renowned authors and historians will explore the war, the president, and the legacy this conflict has left. A Civil Conversation: James McPherson and Louis Masur on 26 March is the first program in the series. Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln with Richard Brookhiser on 1 April is program two. Mourning Lincoln with Martha Hodes on 8 April is program three. Mourning Lincoln & Racial Equality with John Stauffer on 15 April is the final program in the series.