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Prudence and Politics: Abraham Lincoln's Road to Emancipation

Recorded on April 12, 2007

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Prudence to the ancients was a virtue, to the faculties of the American Colleges of the 19th Century it was part of the curriculum in moral philosophy, but to Americans today, the word prudence seems to be part of a joke. This serves as a warning for the difficulty we may have in understanding 19th Century American thought, where virtue was discussed seriously and where prudence was considered a desirable trait in public leaders. The intellectual distance we feel from the way the 19th Century used the word, and the way we disparage it today explains a major difficulty we have in understanding the individual who is a template for what Russell Kirk once called "the politics of prudence," Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era, Director of Civil War Era Studies, and Associate Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was born in Yokohama, Japan, in 1953, and grew up in Springfield, Pennsylvania. Author of numerous books on American intellectual history and on Abraham Lincoln, he holds a Master's of Arts and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Pennsylvania. His most famous work, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Wm. Eerdmans, 1999), won both the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize in 2000.