Analysis Of Richard Hofstadter 's ' American Political Tradition ' Essay

Analysis Of Richard Hofstadter 's ' American Political Tradition ' Essay

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In Richard Hofstadter’s book “American Political Tradition” he describes twelve biographical portraits of American statesmen, breaking them from longstanding reputations and putting them under scrutiny. Shockingly, among these statesmen is Abraham Lincoln. Hofstadter criticizes both his legacy and his political intentions. Lincoln, a president nationally regarded as a “self-made” man, nicknamed “Honest Abe,” and generally well liked, is not typically heavily criticized (Hofstadter 121). Hofstadter believed his reputation of being “self-made” was simply just a myth that he used to advance his political career and to seize opportunities of advancement (122). Although Hofstadter believes Lincoln’s reputation is not as notable as history says it to be; Lincoln still made remarkable speeches and passed documents that changed the United States history forever. Two of Lincoln’s most notable documents are his first Inaugural Address and the Emancipation Proclamation.
Abraham Lincoln has a reputation of being one of the best presidents in United States history (Merry). This reputation describes him as a “self-made” man, coming from a difficult family life. In his early biographies Lincoln portrayed that he came from a poor and uneducated family in which he defied on his path to success. He claimed, “I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life” (Hofstadter 122). By constantly putting himself down, and talking about his previous adversities he “placed himself with the poor, the aged, and the forgotten” (123). However, Hofstadter believed the reasoning behind Lincoln’s constant reminder of his struggles was just to gain sympathy and support in his political career. As historians later found out Lincoln’s family life...


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...coln used family life as an excuse to further his political career and gain public support. Hofstadter put him under scrutiny because he believed previous historians were blinded by his personification of the American dream. However, Hofstadter still did believe Lincoln was a good president just not with as clean of record as history leads to believe. One thing is for certain however, both Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address and the Emancipation Proclamation made large historical impacts. His address kick-started the Battle of Fort Sumter, and shortly after the American Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation kick- started the Homestead Acts furthering opportunities for freed slaves and advancing towards abolition. Although Abraham Lincoln may have had faults along his way to the White House, while in office he made changes that have been detrimental to America today.

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