I have been pleased to learn from readers that A. Lincoln is being used by book discussion groups.  With the publication of the paperback edition in May 2010, I have put together the following questions which I hope will aid in your discussions.

A. Lincoln: A Biography

Discussion Questions

  1. What characteristics of the young Lincoln stood out to his boyhood friends in Indiana?
  2. Beginning with Lincoln’s announcement of his candidacy for state office in 1832, what qualities marked his four terms in the Illinois State Legislature?
  3. In Lincoln’s single term in Congress why and how did he criticize President James Polk’s policies in the Mexican-American War?
  4. How would you characterize Lincoln’s self-understanding as a lawyer in the years 1849-1854?
  5. Why did Lincoln reemerge into politics in 1854 and what is new about his political message and style?
  6. It has been suggested that Lincoln actually won the debates with Stephen Douglas in 1858.  What is the basis for this claim?
  7. “There is no such thing as good writing—there is only good rewriting.”  In Lincoln’s Inaugural Address of March 4, 1861, discuss several examples where Lincoln took Seward’s ideas and rewrote them into his own prose poetry.
  8. In Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to Congress (December, 1862) what do you think he meant when he said “As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew?”
  9. When and why do you think Lincoln decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation?
  10. Lincoln taught himself to be Commander-in-Chief.  What principles came to undergird his understanding of his role?
  11. Dr. White suggests that one of Lincoln’s finest attributes of leadership was his ability to put himself in the shoes of others.  Please discuss some examples during his presidency.
  12. One of the windows on Lincoln that needs more light is the story of his faith journey.  What surprised you about his faith?  In his Second Inaugural Address how did Lincoln come to understand the role of God in the Civil War?
  13. Many Americans would rank at Lincoln at the top of near the top of American presidents.  From your reading of A. Lincoln what qualities impressed you most about Lincoln?