Daniel's Reviews > Lincoln the Unknown

Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie
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Mar 08, 11

Read in September, 2009

** spoiler alert ** With malice towards none, with charity for all.

Lincoln's childhood was destitute. He live in a shack in Indiana that only had 3 walls. They lived through the Winter like that. His grandma was self-educated, and his mother was uneducated. He was self-educated, collected books and loved to read. He was an avid reader of Shakespeare.

He came of age in now-defunct New Salem, IL. He tried running a grocery store there with a friend, and it failed. There was a group of rough-housers there that grew to love him. He could beat them at their challenges, and he told funny stories. He became their de facto leader. He fell in love with a girl named Ann Rutledge. It was all to brief, because she got typhoid fever and died. This had a profound impact on Lincoln the rest of his life. He was a very melancholy person from then on, and would quote famous sad Shakespeare lines. He decided to become a lawyer, and did it by studying law books, totally on his own. He'd ride a horse on a circuit in Central Illinois to serve a wide area as a lawyer.

Mary Todd was a half-crazy person from a family that told everyone they were important. She told people she was going to marry the next president of the US. She was courting both Stephen Douglas and Abe Lincoln at the same time. She may have been inbred. She was insanely jealous of Lincoln being around other women. She made really no friends, only enemies. She basically had 1 good friend her whole life. Somehow Abe was able to tolerate her. He must have been a saint. He did not want to marry her, originally standing her up on her wedding day, but he later relented.

He took on Stephen Douglas in debates about slavery when Douglas was Secretary of State, and Lincoln had been defeated and was only a 1-term Congressman. He was out of politics for 6 years before running for president. He only got the Republican nomination because a colleague of William Seward (the frontrunner) had a vendetta and badmouthed him. Lincoln's people touted him since he had already debated the Democratic nominee Douglas at length.

So what did I learn from reading about Lincoln? He had immense patience. He never critisized anyone. His "team of rivals" cabinet all thought they were better than him (Seward was his Secretary of State), and more deserving of being president. He tolerated their poor attitudes in order to keep their many talents. His reading of Shakespeare really colored his famous speeches, such as the Gettysburg Address. He definitely hated slavery, but his goal in the Civil War was not to abolish slavery. His goal was to save the union. He made a political calculation, and made his Emancipation Proclamation at the right time in the war when he thought it would have the most impact. He definitely had the "How to Win Friends and Influence People" part down, but could have learned some more about "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living".
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