Chestertown, MD, November 22, 2004 — Oxford University Press—the world's leader in scholarly publishing—has announced the selection of Prof. Richard Striner's work, Father Abraham: Lincoln the Moral Strategist, for publication. In Father Abraham, Striner—a professor of American history at Washington College—examines what he calls the “stunning duality” and genius of President Lincoln's leadership: his ability to harmonize morality and cunning as he saved the nation by changing it. Release is set for early 2006.
According to Striner, Father Abraham challenges the conventional views of Lincoln in a number of ways. It challenges the notion of Lincoln as a “moderate” by demonstrating the strategic dynamism of his program. It puts the “unionism” of Lincoln in better perspective by showing how his fight to save the Union was always contingent on the ultimate phase-out of slavery—indeed, it was Lincoln's commitment to stop the spread of slavery that drove the South into secession. It also challenges the claim that Lincoln was a racist. To the contrary, Striner suggests, Lincoln's goal was to hold white supremacy at bay while he reduced the power of the slave states.
“Lincoln was driven by an ethical sense, but he was also driven by a Machiavellian understanding of politics,” Striner observes. “He was a genius at orchestrating power. Importantly, his strategic sense could lead him to some compromises with the truth. But these compromises were always ethical in intent. Lincoln was never a shortsighted idealist. Quite to the contrary. He would readily juxtapose truth and calculated deception if it served a higher good.”
In fact, Striner asks readers to use the case of Lincoln to reflect upon the problems of democratic leadership. By perfectionist standards, Lincoln's leadership was problematical. But Striner argues that Lincoln's willingness to balance lesser evils with greater led to a moral success of great magnitude.