Lincoln’s Reelection

In this video close reading, Prof. Pinsker argues that an under-appreciated turning point of the Civil War occurred on Tuesday, August 23, 1864.  That was not the date of a battle, but rather of a unique political decision.  President Lincoln wrote a secret memorandum on that morning which he presented sight unseen to his cabinet officers for their signatures.  The short document outlined Lincoln’s plans in the event of what he termed the “exceedingly probable” outcome of the 1864 elections –his defeat.  The so-called “Blind Memorandum” has subsequently entered into Lincoln lore as a sign-post of the gloom surrounding his administration in the summer of 1864.  However, there are other ways to see this fascinating and complex document.  Watch the video and decide for yourself what seems the best explanation for Lincoln’s motivation.  What was he really trying to accomplish by writing the Blind Memorandum?

The Blind Memorandum: Abraham Lincoln and Leadership from The Gilder Lehrman Institute on Vimeo.


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