The Student Researcher: A Phi Alpha Theta Publication


“Lincoln acquired his power by exacting obedience from words, and this discipline he acquired in only two ways known to man – by reading and writing,” asserts Jacques Barzun in his Lincoln: the Literary Genius.1 While from humble farming beginnings, President Abraham Lincoln cultivated his writing abilities into a tool for satisfying his ambitions, which far exceeded those of his forefathers, and those ambitions would eventually lead him to the White House. Complimentary to his success was Lincoln’s ability to write in a way that catered to the auditory, as well as the logical, senses, thus producing works that left the page and imprinted themselves on his audience’s minds. Though he was president during a particularly tense time in American history, the Civil War era, President Lincoln still wrote his own speeches, and he employed a technique consisting of prewriting, perfectionism, and revision to convey his message, clearly and concisely, to a variety of audiences.2 President Lincoln’s writing may have initially been born of a combination of natural affinity and a desire to move away from his roots, but he developed his skills into a powerful tool for his rise in politics and, eventually, to his election to the office of President of the United States. (first paragraph)