Welcome to the website about Abraham Lincoln as the Great Communicator. This website is a result of much research and investigation as part of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s web course in conjunction with Dickinson College, entitled Understanding Lincoln. The title “Great Communicator” was initially given to President Reagan, but it more aptly applies to President Lincoln. Lincoln was candid, sincere, empathetic, simple and clear. These are traits of a great communicator. The Gettysburg Address is considered one of the greatest speeches in history, and yet it was a short, 272-word declaration of the meaning of our nation. But the Gettysburg Address is the tip of the iceberg for President Lincoln. Some of the best examples of Lincoln’s ability to communicate across a wide variety of audiences are not speeches, nor are they often read or studied by students. They include telegrams, public letters, and messages to his staff. One might wonder why official proclamations are not included; this exclusion was intentional. The author of this website wanted to concentrate on different means of communication rather than formal, legal proclamations.
The goal of this website is to demonstrate the variety of ways Lincoln was a great communicator and to assist educators in teaching this theme. One will note a common thread through most of the examples provided here: Lincoln’s conviction of the great, American, republican, self-government. This conviction is clearly one Lincoln believed was worth fighting for.
Within this website, one will find easily accessible pages of Lincoln’s speeches, telegrams, and public letters proving he was a great communicator. In addition, educators can find practical lesson plans using many of the documents at this site. Please also note the extensive bibliography to find additional resources.
Enjoy exploring Lincoln: The Great Communicator!