Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: Self Taught Commander in Chief

I am tired of hearing glib arguments that people like Ben Carson and Marco Rubio aren't suitable candidates for president and - in particular - commander in chief. Those arguments would have disqualified Abraham Lincoln, and our Nation would be the poorer.

Lincoln was a country lawyer and legislator, and not - to my knowledge - a chief executive before he was president of the U.S. Yet he possessed a God-given energy and wisdom. Here's what historian James M. McPherson said about Lincoln as a self taught military commander:

"Lincoln faced a steep learning curve as Commander in Chief in the war…

[He had been a member of the Illinois militia in 1832 but had never seen combat.]

"He was also painfully aware that his adversary, Jefferson Davis, was much better prepared for that daunting task. A graduate of the US military Academy at West Point, Davis had fought courageously has a colonel of a Mississippi regiment in the Mexican war and is served as an excellent secretary of war from 1853 to 1857…

Lincoln possessed a keen analytical mind, however, and a fierce determination to master any subject to which he applied himself …

"As commander-in-chief Lincoln sought to master the intricacies of military strategy in the same way he had tried to penetrate the meaning of mysterious adult conversations when he was a boy. “He gave himself, night and day, to the study of the military situation,” Hay later wrote. ”He ran a large number of strategical works. He pored over the reports from the various departments and districts of the field of war. He held long conferences with eminent generals and admirals, and astonished them by the extent of his special knowledge and the keen intelligence of his questions.” Some of those generals, like Lincoln's courtroom adversaries, eventually found themselves on their backs in a ditch. By 1862 Lincoln’s grasp of military strategy and operations was firm enough almost to justify the assertion of the historian T. Harry Williams: “Lincoln stands out as a great war president, probably the greatest in our history, and a great natural strategist, a better one than any of his generals.”

[From Tried by War, Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief, by James M. McPherson, New York, Penguin Books, 2009]

If God gifts surgeon Carson, or lawyer Rubio, as He gifted lawyer Lincoln, we will have an outstanding president of the United States.