Fall 2008

Political Thought and Statecraft of Abraham Lincoln

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-87


Hadley P. Arkes (Section 01)


(LP, PT) This seminar will study the statesmanship of Lincoln, and it will weave together two strands, which accord with different parts in the understanding of the statesman. First, there is the understanding of the ends of political life and the grounds of moral judgment. Here, we would consider Lincoln’s reflection on the character of the American republic, the principles that mark a lawful regime, and the crisis of principle posed in “the house divided.” But second, there is the understanding drawn from the actual experience of politics, the understanding that informs the prudence of the political man as he seeks to gain his ends, or apply his principles, in a party. The main materials will be supplied by the writings of Lincoln: the speeches, the extended debates with Stephen Douglas, the presidential messages and papers of State. The problem of his statesmanship will be carried over then to his exercise of the war powers, his direction of the military, and his conduct of diplomacy. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science. Requisite: One of the Political Science 12, 18, 41, 42, or 49. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Arkes.