The examination of President Abraham Lincoln’s performance in office through multiple political theories can help political scientists better understand the decision making process which led to both successful and unsuccessful decisions taken by arguably the most illustrious president in United States history. My research examines three of Lincoln’s major decisions while in office, using the cases of the Emancipation Proclamation (successful decision), the management of General McClellan (failed decision), and his suspension of habeas corpus (mixed decision). My aim is to discover can these theories focusing on presidential character or on the use of strategic action help to explain the outcomes of Lincoln’s decisions? The character approach (based primarily on Stanley Renshon’s work) hypothesizes that if a president possesses strong character elements (this should lead to good judgment and strong political leadership resulting in more successful decisions. The strategic power approach (based on Richard Neustadt’s work) alternatively hypothesizes that the resources that a president has at his disposal and how they bargain and persuade using those resources will be the central determinant of successful decision-making.
Sharfman, Hannah, ""If You Want to Test a Man's Character Give Him Power" Abraham Lincoln's Character and Use of Strategic Action: An Analysis of Presidential Decision-Making" (2015). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 6723.
Lincoln, decision-making, presidency, character, strategic action
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar
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