Abraham Lincoln is widely acknowledged to be one of the great leaders in American—and world—history. His leadership secured the American Union through a bitter Civil War and secured the emancipation of the slaves. This study explores Lincoln’s grammar, how his use of the first person plural served to construct a new world of collective subjects. Even in the midst of a great and tragic civil war, Lincoln eschewed the language of ‘us versus them’ in favor of ‘we’ the people, northern and southern, rich and poor, white and black.
Peter S. Field is Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Canterbury, and is currently a visiting scholar at Princeton University. He was formerly Assistant and Associate Professor of History at Tennessee Tech. He is the author of several books, including The Crisis of the Standing Order, and Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Making of a Democratic Intellectual. He is currently at work on the forthcoming Promise and Paradox of American Freedom.