Despite tremendous interest in Abraham Lincoln and his place in one of America’s most tumultuous historical periods, little has been written about his religious life. This truly fresh look at the nation’s sixteenth president relates the outward events of Lincoln’s life to his inner spiritual struggles and sets them both against the intellectual backdrop of his age.
This unique intellectual portrait explores the role of ideas in Lincoln’s life. Guelzo presents Lincoln as a serious thinker deeply involved in the problems of nineteenth-century thought, including those of classical liberalism, the Lockean enlightenment, Victorian unbelief, and Calvinist spirituality. Lincoln emerges as a philosophical man who appropriates certain religious values without adhering to any religion, who insists on the pre-eminence of self-interest in spite of becoming the Great Emancipator, and who appeals to natural law and natural theology in politics while remaining a classical nineteenth-century liberal in principle. Based on primary materials from a wide variety of archives, this insightful work sheds light on the intellectual conflicts that led to civil war and that still influence today’s “culture wars.”
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