Cover image for Founders' son : a life of Abraham Lincoln
Founders' son : a life of Abraham Lincoln
Brookhiser, Richard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Basic Books, [2014]
Physical Description:
xi, 347 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
1809-1830: youth -- George Washington and liberty -- 1830-1840: manhood -- Thomas Paine, laughter, and reason -- 1840-1852: maturity -- Henry Clay and the Fourth of July -- 1854: the repeal of the Missouri Compromise -- 1855-1858: running for senate -- 1859-1860: running for president -- Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. The towering genius (I) -- The election of 1860. The towering genius (II) -- 1861-1863: war, emancipation -- Preamble to the Constitution -- 1864-1865: war, death -- God the father -- 1865: victory. The towering genius (III) -- Epilogue: One old man.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E457.45 .B76 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E457.45 .B76 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E457.45 .B76 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E457.45 .B76 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
E457.45 .B76 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Abraham Lincoln grew up in the long shadow of the Founding Fathers. Seeking an intellectual and emotional replacement for his own taciturn father, Lincoln turned to the great men of the founding-Washington, Paine, Jefferson-and their great documents-the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution-for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and purpose. Out of the power vacuum created by their passing, Lincoln emerged from among his peers as the true inheritor of the Founders' mantle, bringing their vision to bear on the Civil War and the question of slavery.

In Founders' Son , celebrated historian Richard Brookhiser presents a compelling new biography of Abraham Lincoln that highlights his lifelong struggle to carry on the work of the Founding Fathers. Following Lincoln from his humble origins in Kentucky to his assassination in Washington, D.C., Brookhiser shows us every side of the man: laborer, lawyer, congressman, president; storyteller, wit, lover of ribald jokes; depressive, poet, friend, visionary. And he shows that despite his many roles and his varied life, Lincoln returned time and time again to the Founders. They were rhetorical and political touchstones, the basis of his interest in politics, and the lodestars guiding him as he navigated first Illinois politics and then the national scene.

But their legacy with not sufficient. As the Civil War lengthened and the casualties mounted Lincoln wrestled with one more paternal figure-God the Father-to explain to himself, and to the nation, why ending slavery had come at such a terrible price.

Bridging the rich and tumultuous period from the founding of the United States to the Civil War, Founders' Son is unlike any Lincoln biography to date. Penetrating in its insight, elegant in its prose, and gripping in its vivid recreation of Lincoln's roving mind at work, this book allows us to think anew about the first hundred years of American history, and shows how we can, like Lincoln, apply the legacy of the Founding Fathers to our times.

Author Notes

Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and the author of eleven books, including James Madison , Alexander Hamilton, American , and Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington . He lives in New York City.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historian Brookhiser (James Madison) argues that, with an ungainly, backwoods persona for which he endured ridicule and depression throughout his life, Abraham Lincoln sought refuge in the words and actions of the country's Founding Fathers, especially the duty-bound, multi-faceted George Washington. Brookhiser excels in describing Lincoln's political fights over government banks and in parsing his presidency in wartime-specifically, his detailed account of the complex evolution of the president's views on slavery. The infamous Lincoln-Douglas rivalry adds levity to this historical work, especially as each man positioned himself as the "Revolution's legitimate heir" in an attempt to reach the national political stage. Unfortunately, in aiming for casual readers, Brookhiser avoids nuances in favor of modern simplifications-for instance, in his brief background on Federalists and Republicans-and errs in playing psychologist to the young Abe. He demonstrates that the founders' struggles over slavery not only inspired the 16th president in navigating his own philosophical evolution, but also served as a crucial point of reference for Lincoln's history-altering oratory and leadership . Brookhiser's approach to examining this great American president is certainly a novel one, yet his research does not go far enough in proving Lincoln's close ties to the nation's founders. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Brookhiser (National Review, Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington) argues that to understand Abraham Lincoln accurately, one must comprehend his connection to and critical appreciation for our country's founding generation. Lincoln turned to founders such as George Washington, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson to chart his own political career and channel his ambition. As much as Lincoln was fueled by ambition, he was also motivated by a comprehensive curiosity about human nature, the founders' intentions, our country's past, and its imagined and hoped-for future. Lincoln read everything he could get his hands on, and his political touchstone was the Declaration of Independence. This self-educated politician asserted that one could likely create a path to the future (and through the fiery trials of the present) by appreciating the past but not being bound to it. Lincoln knew that history was both past and prolog, and he sought to appropriate the earlier age properly to guide the nation successfully through the Civil War. VERDICT This highly accessible read will appeal most to readers who desire to learn more about Lincoln and especially the ideas, dogmas, and dreams that moved him to his public career and life in the White House.-Stephen Kent Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, ID (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Abraham Lincoln was the product of several different influences. Lincoln himself cited the Bible, the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence as the main influences upon his political thinking. Here, Brookhiser adds another influence upon Lincoln's presidential philosophy. In a sweeping evaluation of Lincoln's decision-making process during his prewar life and wartime presidency, Brookhiser ties Lincoln's political actions to the precedents and idealism of the founders of the republic. In both broad and specific terms, Brookhiser describes Lincoln as the political descendant of Alexander Hamilton and John Adams and their ideas of free economics, centralized political power, and individual liberty. Lincoln demonstrated all of these ideas, first as a rising frontier lawyer striving for status and economic security, later as a founder of the Republican Party during his early political career, and last as a president dedicated to the perpetuation of the Union. The political process of the nation's founders culminated when Lincoln freed the slaves, an act of political liberation the equal of the Declaration of Independence. A well-written and readable interpretation of Lincoln's political philosophy. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries. --Steven J. Ramold, Eastern Michigan University

Table of Contents

Note on Spelling and Usagep. xi
Introduction Two Old Men, One Young Manp. 1
Part 1

p. 11

1 1809-1830: Youthp. 13
2 George Washington and Libertyp. 25
3 1830-1840: Manhoodp. 37
4 Thomas Paine, Laughter, and Reasonp. 51
5 1840-1852: Maturityp. 67
6 Henry Clay and the Fourth of Julyp. 89
Part 2

p. 103

7 1854: The Repeal of the Missouri Compromisep. 105
8 1855-1858: Running for Senatep. 119
9 1859-1860: Running for Presidentp. 139
10 Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. The Towering Genius (I)p. 151
11 The Election of 1860. The Towering Genius (II)p. 171
Part 3

p. 199

12 1861-1863: War, Emancipationp. 201
13 Preamble to the Constitutionp. 229
14 1864-1865: War, Deathp. 247
15 God the Fatherp. 267
16 1865: Victory. The Towering Genius (III)p. 285
Epilogue: One Old Manp. 297
Acknowledgmentsp. 303
Notesp. 305
Bibliographyp. 327
Indexp. 333