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Abraham Lincoln

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A former senator and a democrat, George McGovern from South Dakota came up with a biography of Lincoln which can be described as a short, concrete and workmanlike piece of information concerning Abraham Lincoln. The biography covers 155 pages and is compiled from a cautious and absolute reading of secondary information. The biography is not that stunningly incisive when compared to other works like those of James McPherson and neither is it voluminous like many other emerging biographies of Lincoln’s birth and life. All the same, it is a good introduction for the people who have no time to seek to learn much more on the greatest president of America. One of the most conspicuous weaknesses of the biography of Abraham Lincoln by McGovern is the short shrift given concerning the role of Lincoln as the general commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the war course. The discussion given by McGovern on the battlefield somehow lacks flow and is not continuous. However, it may be considered a minor flaw which should necessarily forfeit some information for the sake of being brief.

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McGovern focus and emphasis on some aspects of the life of Lincoln and matters related to presidency can be considered a great strength. These issues have received little cover up in other biographies which have been compressed. For example, the other legislative achievements of Lincoln beyond war course are featured. McGovern highlights instances when Lincoln made preparations to deliver his yearly message to the December Congress. He explains how Lincoln made reflections in the achievements of the legislature on the first term of service. This coverage by McGovern is something many would have overlooked owing to the preoccupation made by the country on war matters.  McGovern recalls a lot of new laws, enacted and passed by the Congress controlled by the Republicans, which proved to have long-term consequences as the country pushed persistently westward, inhabiting other lands and expanding the borders.

The main points discussed by McGovern include a series of monetary measures enacted in funding war which cost $2 million each day. War has taken a center stage in Mc Govern’s writing of Abraham Lincoln’s biography. As directed by the Treasury Department together with the administrative directives by Jay Cooker, a banker from Philadelphia, Mc Govern revisits the issuance of war bonds by the government. Thus, Mc Govern tackled on the issues of money and government spending under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. There was need to have unrestricted supply of currency to fuel the program of bonds. It was also during the reign of Lincoln when the first federal system of tax on income was put in place as described by Mc Govern. This was the Internal Revenue Act of 1861. This is covered as one of the major life events in Lincoln’s reign by Mc Govern which he thinks was an assurance to the financial community that the federal government would certainly have a dependable income source to make payments for interests on the bonds of war.

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McGovern further digs deeper into the leadership life of Lincoln by recording the Homestead Act of 1862 in which public lands found in the West were made available for peasant farmers. McGovern presents Lincoln as a president who was confronted with many challenges during his leadership. He starts by highlighting the war events where a big decision was required from him from time to time. The challenges were insurmountable. Well, McGovern shows how being a Republican as at then was somehow challenging than being a Republican in modern times. There was needed higher level of authority and power as presented by McGovern through a number of events and actions because political parties of the time were less co-operative and united in some matters.

Well, all said and done, the general tone of McGovern in writing the book is in an acknowledgement mood. The author categorically states the many achievements that Abraham Lincoln had in shaping the lives of the Americans. He does not speak much about his uneducated nature but rather lays emphasis on the many things that he did which were praiseworthy and which found favor in the eyes of many people. Although Lincoln was self educated, McGovern does not center much on that but on the much he was able to deliver. The book is thus in an appreciative mood and the greatness which came along with the achievements made by Abraham Lincoln. The focus is on the strengths of Lincoln and how he gradually advanced in learning the law thus making him stabilize in law and politics as well.

The effectiveness of Lincoln’s leadership was as a result of his ability to speak together with an underlying charisma and strong personality. These qualities made him succeed in doing justice to the nation of America and all that was needed to make a strong nation. However, Abraham Lincoln had some weaknesses in his leadership. Lincoln depended so much on his perception and judgment even in such areas where he did not have expertise in. This caused some diplomatic issues with the powers of Europe. Again, Lincoln was slow in action and kept the Secretary of State, Seward, from performing duties in a more timely fashion.

In the Trent Affair, this slow action convoluted relations with England, something which could have been avoided. The suspension of the civil rights possibly went to great heights like the newspapers suppression among other things. His slow action in handling the mess by the military was also a weakness. There was a lot of incompetence with insubordinate field commanders. Lincoln was ready to let these inexperienced commanders to continue messing rather than enforcing his directives as the president on the effort of war. However, these weaknesses did not override his strengths and he stood out as a great leader in the end.

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