Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln”
Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln” was an excellent narrative of the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Through Vidal’s portrayal of the personality of Lincoln and the people surrounding him it was easy to get an idea of the leadership role that Lincoln played during presidency. After reading many accounts of Lincoln during my research for my paper, I found that Vidals account was extremely accurate. Most interesting was the commanding yet passive relationship that Lincoln had with the members of his cabinet and his generals. Vidal also gave a portrayal of the capitol during the 1860’s that is seldom mentioned in any of the Literature that I have read. These accounts really help to get a feel for the environment in which Lincoln made his decisions. Lincoln’s family life was also revealed in some detail in the novel which helps us to see the personal dilemmas and tragedies that Lincoln had to ...view middle of the document...
C. at the time was the Attitude of the place itself. Since Washington was a neutral state much of the population was against Lincoln and sided with the confederacy.
Lincoln cabinet was strategically chosen by Lincoln, he chose those in his party who ran against him in the election or were close to the Republican Party. Vidal’s Lincoln reveals Lincolns thinking about these people and how he places them in. I have read in other readings including, The Unfinished Nation, byAlan Brinkley, that Lincoln picked these people to have a diversety of ideas in his cabinet. He wanted to keep these people close to him so that they would be working for him and not against him.
The fictional character Lincoln in Vidal’s book in regards to to Salmon P. Chase and William H. Seward that Chase’s radicalism and Seward’s moderate ideas that although the two are different they give the president balance. Lincoln being a brilliant politician knows that balance is neccesary to win the war and to being a successful leader.
Throughout the book and according to history Lincoln had many problems with he numerous generals that he had during the war. We can see Lincoln’s frustration mount as he goes through each general. In the literature I have read it was said that Gener Burnsides was fired because he did not extend the army further after Fredricksberg where he could have won the war. Vidal’s book says that Burnsides gave his resignation, but we could feel the dissapointment of the President.
Perhaps some of the most gripping parts of the book for me were the personal conflicts and dillemas with which the president had to deal with. Mary Lincoln’s family did not support the Union which made it very difficult on Mary and on Abe. Mary’s freent bouts with headaches and her preoccupation with dreams portrays a woman who is very needy of her husbands attention. Lincoln maintains his leadership with ease. The death of his son which has also been written about in books such as, “The Unfinish Nation”, and “Lincoln, Father to an Army and a Nation” talks about how devisated Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln was at this time. Still, as the book portrays, Lincoln goes on with his duties.