Perhaps there is no greater challenge faced by a political leader in the modern era than a civil war. In 1860 the United States elected a new leader who had minimal political experience and who was a member of a new party that represented sectional interests. Abraham Lincoln was considered weak by members of his own party, many planned to use him to achieve their own political ends. Before he took the oath for office seven states had voted to leave the union and another six were contemplating similar actions. Very few leaders have faced such complex problems. Although he lacked experience, he kept the Union together, crafted the end of slavery, and developed a new vision for America. His words, faith and vision inspired and continue to inspire Americans. We will look at the unique aspects of Lincoln's character that made him one of the most successful and significant leaders in American history.
Robin E. Baker, Ph.D. is a historian, an experienced university administrator and is the 12th president of George Fox University. His research has focused on the American Civil War and Reconstruction, 19th-century American political/quantitative history, and the history of the southern United States.