The Civil 
War Institute

300 North Washington Street
Campus box 435
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: 717.337.6590
F: 717.337.6596

Part 2: Lincoln, The Man

"As was so often proclaimed by the Abraham Lincoln experts at the Institute, Lincoln has become a man of myth and legend, and the Institute set out to debunk these myths and reveal the man behind the mask. Jean Baker was a great supporter of remembering the man at home, with his wife and children. She strongly maintained to the other experts on the panel to stop raising Lincoln on a pedestal that history has placed him on, to forget all his great achievements he may or may not be worthy of, and to focus on the fat that he was as human as the rest of us, and that his home life may have been the most important as all, as well as providing the greatest insight on the man so many of us know, and yet know nothing about." - Student from Meriden, New Hampshire

Lincoln, The Man"He was someone who as a child was referred to as warm and friendly but as an adult more guarded and cool. He was not someone who took an active role in Springfield, Illinois community life. Instead, he devoted himself to his family, especially his children, towards whom he showed tremendous affection, his law practice, and his political career. While he was a member of six community organizations and an officer in two more, he was not someone who viewed clubs as a vehicle to create positive change. Instead, he viewed it as the job of government to do for people what they cannot do or do well for themselves. It is for this reason that his relative lack of community involvement does not cast a shadow over such a great life. He simply had other things on his mind, a man whose focus was not on changing his town but rather his world." - Student from Edina, MN

"From our talk with Professor Winkle we learned Lincoln was very hard working from an early age.  We also learned that as he grew older he became less community oriented, which Winkle ascribed to Lincoln's focus on national and global issues as opposed to civic or local ones.  Involved in politics as early as the 1830s, Lincoln did not always win his elections.  He seemed jealous of Stephen Douglas' success in the political sphere, but remained resilient in his pursuit of public offices.  After falling on his sword for another candidate in 1855, Lincoln was promised another chance to run in 1858 with more support.  Being the competitor he was, Lincoln took this chance and debated Douglas and the others to an alleged victory, but due to the geographic appropriations that were vastly skewed in the state senate Douglas won election to the office of the U.S. Senate.  Still, Lincoln would not be denied and eventually ran for President in 1860, which is another testament to his unwillingness to quit." - Student from Omaha, NE

"The real Lincoln, I believe, was a man of principle, ambition, which sometimes overrode the former, and intellect. He was at heart a fatalist and many of writings convey s sense of forbidding depression. I think Lincoln was very interested in creating a legacy for future generations to study, something he did well. His greatest fear was that history would forget him." - Student from Harveys Lake, PA

"Lincoln was the greatest leader this nation has ever seen, and devoted himself to the preservation of this country and later the equality of all people. He was burdened to make the most difficult choices that any man could make militarily, had to decide who was and was not fit to lead the army or navy, and, perhaps the hardest of all, had to decide whether or not to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, the timing of its issuing, and what it would include." - Student from Shaker Heights, OH

Read about students' experience at the conference:

Part 1: Student Expectations
Part 2: Lincoln, The Man
Part 3: Lincoln, The Commander In Chief
Part 4: Lincoln, The Great Emancipator
Part 5: Experiencing College Life
Part 6: Visiting The Battlefield
Part 7: The CWI

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300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: (717) 337-6300