This program originally was set to be on September 22nd, this is the rescheduled date. The most important influence on Abraham Lincoln’s political thought and practice was what he learned from the leading figures and especially founding documents of the birth of the United States. From George Washington, the indispensable Founding Father, to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Lincoln learned about the promise and challenges of American self-government. He also drew from the Founding Fathers’ compromise over slavery to address the growing political divide of his time over the future of slavery in the United States. Without the ideals of the American Revolution, Lincoln’s most famous speeches would be unrecognizable, and the character of the nation would have lost its foundation on the universal principles of human equality, individual rights, and government by the consent of the governed. In understanding Lincoln, we understand the essential principles and structures of American self-government, as well as what is required of a free people to maintain their republican way of life. By reminding the nation of its noblest ideals, Lincoln hoped that “the better angels of our nature’ would heal the divided country and preserve “the last best hope of earth.”
Lucas Morel is the John K. Boardman, Jr. Professor of Politics and Head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of Lincoln and the American Founding (Southern Illinois University Press, 2020) and Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government (Lexington Books, 2000) and editor of Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages (University Press of Kentucky, 2015). Dr. Morel conducts high school teacher workshops for the Ashbrook Center, Jack Miller Center, Gilder-Lehrman Institute, Bill of Rights Institute, and Liberty Fund.
He is a former president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute; a founding member of the Academic Freedom Alliance; a trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society; a consultant for the Library of Congress and National Archives; and currently serves on the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission, which will plan activities to commemorate the founding of the United States of America.