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Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham…

Founders' Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln (2014)

by Richard Brookhiser

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This is an intellectual biography of Lincoln, but a limited one. One could study Lincoln's influences more generally and come to some conclusions about his views. Brookhiser instead sets out to show how the founders — but not, with few exceptions, others — influenced Lincoln. The result is readable and interesting, though limited. Brookhiser must return again and again to just a few threads (e.g., popular sovereignty, antipathy to slavery) and just a few sources (e.g., Northwest Ordinance, Declaration of Independence, Constitution). There are mistakes: the Robert Strozier noted in the bibliography is actually Charles, and Booth's cry at Lincoln's assassination is misspelled (tyrannis, not tyrannus).
  messpots | Aug 31, 2016 |
The author focuses on the influence of the founders on Lincoln, and so this is more of a political biography than a standard bio. It is informative and worth the read. ( )
  jimmoz | Feb 17, 2016 |
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When Abraham Lincoln was a young man in his twenties, the last of the founding fathers - the men who won the Revolution and made the Constitution - finally died. (Introduction)
When Lincoln was a child he learned two unsettling things about his family tree, one for each branch of it.
The pattern of difficult second terms was well established by the middle of the nineteenth century, and there is no reason to think that Lincoln, if Booth had failed, would have avoided one. (Epilogue)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 046503294X, Hardcover)

Abraham Lincoln grew up in the long shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the great men of the founding—Washington, Paine, Jefferson—and their great documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution—for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the power vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the true inheritor of the Founders’ mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery.

In Founders’ Son, celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling new biography of Abraham Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. Following Lincoln from his humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in Washington, D.C., 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 first Illinois politics and then 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.

Bridging the rich and tumultuous period from the founding of the United States to the Civil War, Founders’ Son is unlike any Lincoln biography to date. Penetrating in its insight, elegant in its prose, and gripping in its vivid recreation of Lincoln’s roving mind at work, this book allows us to think anew about the first hundred years of American history, and shows how we can, like Lincoln, apply the legacy of the Founding Fathers to our times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:44 -0400)

Argues that the sixteenth president of the United States was inspired by the Founding Fathers of the nation and struggled to carry on their work throughout his career.

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