In a mix of history and politics, author Rich Lowry traces Abraham Lincoln's ambitious climb from provincial upstart to political powerhouse and calls for a renewal of the Lincoln ethic of relentless striving. Lincoln believed, he posits, in a small but active government in a nation defined by aspiration. He educated himself in a frontier environment characterized by mind-numbing labor and then turned his back on that world. All his life, he preached a gospel of work and discipline toward the all-important ends of self-improvement and individual advancement. In short, Lincoln lived the American Dream and succeeded in opening a way to it for others. He saw in the nation's founding documents the unchanging foundation of an endlessly dynamic society. He embraced the market and the amazing transportation and communications revolutions beginning to take hold. He helped give birth to the modern industrial economy that arose before the Civil War and that took off after it.
His vision of an upwardly mobile society that rewards and supports individual striving is now under threat. Economic stagnation and social breakdown are undermining mobility and the American way. To meet these challenges, Lowry draws us back to the lessons of Lincoln. He argues that it is imperative to preserve a fluid economy and the bourgeois virtues that make it possible for individuals to thrive within it.
Rich Lowry, who was named editor of National Review in 1997, is a syndicated columnist and a commentator for the Fox News Channel. He writes for Politico and Time magazine, and often appears on such public affairs programs as Meet the Press and Face the Nation. His previous book, Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years, was a New York Times bestseller.
More About the Speakers
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.
Vice President, American Studies and Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics