Thursday, November 06, 2008

It was on this day (Nov 6) in 1860 that Abraham Lincoln was elected to his first term as president of the United States. Lincoln's only experience in national politics had been a single term as a congressional representative and two unsuccessful runs for senator. He had only one year of formal schooling and no administrative experience. Newspapers called him a "third-rate Western lawyer."

Once he got the nomination, Lincoln lay low until the election. He only attended one campaign rally, in Springfield, and he didn't even make a speech.

The Southern states took his election as a sign that slavery would be abolished, and before he even had a chance to take the oath of office, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas all seceded from the Union. Abraham Lincoln would spend all but the last few weeks of his life fighting to hold the country together.

Posted today on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. Keillor also hosts the weekly radio show Prairie Home Companion.

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book Team of Rivals, the secret to Lincoln's success was his ability to form and lead a good team. Charlie Rose said on his post-inauguration show with the author as his guest that it was his understanding that the book is being read or re-read by President-elect Barrack Obama. It will be interesting if he, too, forms a team of former rivals. His challenges are certainly equal to Lincoln's in many ways.

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