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Abraham Lincoln, The Higher Moral Ground for Decision Making



How Lincoln Thought

Lincoln's Cabinet   Holding the Union Together The Slavery Issue
Lincoln, the War and Congressional Oversight Mr. Lincoln's Generals (Finding a Fighting General) Lincoln Learning and Becoming Commander & Chief Lincoln's Political Leadership (the Issues) Post-War Reconstruction Planning Library of Congress Timeline

Abraham Lincoln, The Higher Moral Ground for Decision Making
To be used with the Lincoln, Commander and Chief Learning Activities and Resources


Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg,
probably thinking about his War Decisions


Abraham Lincoln, 16th President

. . . The Higher Moral Ground
For Decision Making


The Higher Moral Ground:  What this means?

       A person in a leadership role, such as a Senator or President must make decisions based upon a higher good or intent.  Abraham Lincoln would use the BIBLE as well as his deep understanding of the intents of the Founding Fathers as his higher moral ground guide.  Some would think Abraham Lincoln used his "own opinions" to make policy, and put them on others, but his decisions would best be described as coming from the "High Moral Ground."

Read the Article on [Abraham Lincoln and his moral ground on Slavery and Emancipation]

[Civil war, also known as an intrastate war, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies.]

A description of how Civil War presidential decisions were made based upon a "High Moral Ground":

1.  What  decisions with policies, were made, and what "assumptions" underlay them?
2.  Did either government (Union or Confederate) want or expect war?
3.  What did each government expect would happen implementing its' policies?
4.  Did their implementation decisions have unintended consequences?
5.  Were the policies consistent over time, or did the policies change as conditions altered?

Issues of policy and decision making, therefore, call not only for an investigation of actions taken, but also of the motives and intentions behind those actions.

We always hope that our President and other leaders will draw upon the "High Moral Ground" to guide our country.

The moral high ground: a position in which one has a moral advantage over others.  The Confederacy lost/ceded from the moral high ground when they entered war to protect their economic interests. President Lincoln believed he had the moral high ground on this issue.

President Lincoln and His Public Relations Considerations

From the book by

        Despite his veneration for the law in a democracy, Lincoln was also very conscious of the importance of public opinion in making public policy. “Lincoln believed the will of the people could be identified through constitutionally prescribed forms of representation, and expressed in legislative deliberation and decision,” wrote historian Herman Belz. “The will of the people as communicated in public opinion imposed moral and constitutional obligation on government officials.” Belz added that “Lincoln viewed public opinion” as embodying “universal, objective, rational principles and ideas.”

        But he noted that Lincoln understood the limits of public opinion – particularly on questions like slavery where public opinion was claimed by both sides.

        It seems that President Lincoln was running a war over states rights, and slavery, but had to wait until the right time to bring the latter to an end.  He was not an avid abolitionist, but hated slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation and later 13th Amendment would be the final results.  H.T., this website publisher.





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