Abraham Lincoln's Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy

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Product Details

Southern Illinois University Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 0.9 X 9.1 inches | 1.15 pounds
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About the Author

Jon D. Schaff is a professor of political science at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. His essays have been published in several books and journals including Perspectives on Political Science and South Dakota History.


"As we come to the end of the decade following the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, there is no discernable slowdown in the publication of books on the sixteenth president. And while there is little that is new in the many publications that continue to roll off the presses, there are several recent studies that present Lincoln in a new light or offer a new perspective on his life and career. Jon D. Schaff's Abraham Lincoln's Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy is one of these."--Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War Monitor

"Impressively researched, exceptionally well written, deftly organized and presented, "Abraham Lincoln's Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy" is an extraordinary work of original and seminal scholarship"--Midwest Book Review

"While Lincoln may 'belong to the ages, ' Jon Schaff's excellent book reveals that seeking to understand Lincoln's words and deeds is particularly important in our own era of hyperpartisanship and political polarization. Through his insightful analysis of Lincoln, Schaff usefully reminds us that a democratic leader who is moderate and prudent can at the same time be highly principled and inspiring. The overall portrait that emerges in this fine book is one of a Lincoln who is both timeless and timely."--Brian Danoff, author of Educating Democracy: Alexis de Tocqueville and Leadership in America

"In this perceptive and instructive book, Schaff demonstrates that Lincoln's example helps teach us that a healthy democratic politics depends on our willingness to embrace the theoretical and political limits that natural-rights principles and constitutionalism impose on majority rule."--Jason R. Jividen, author of Claiming Lincoln: Progressivism, Equality, and the Battle for Lincoln's Legacy in Presidential Rhetoric

"Lincoln and the Limits of Liberal Democracy shows that in Lincoln's statesmanship, Americans found a rare combination of character and mind devoted to the nation's highest principles while tempered by a due sensibility to human frailty."--Lucas E. Morel, editor of Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages

"We know that Abraham Lincoln was a skilled politician. But was he a skilled political thinker whose ideas still deserve attention 150 years after the events he shaped? Jon Schaff argues with an emphatic yes, guiding us through what the structure of statesmanship looks like and how thoroughly Lincoln inhabits it. This is an eminently balanced--even usable--Lincoln, since Schaff not only lays out Lincoln's natural-rights political thinking but also shows how the modern presidency, besotted as it is with near monarchical notions of its importance, and a healthy democracy could profit from some Lincolnian restraint."--Allen C. Guelzo, author of Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas