Lincoln Reminiscences and Nineteenth-Century Portraiture: The Private Virtues of Presidential Character

Parry-Giles, Shawn J.; Kaufer, David S.
June 2012
Rhetoric & Public Affairs;Summer2012, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p199
Academic Journal
This essay examines reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln that were published in the aftermath of his death by those who had interacted with Lincoln personally. An understudied genre, Lincoln reminiscences offered judgments of Lincoln's character through a portraiture style designed to make salient private as well as public dimensions of his character. We historicize the rhetoric of portraiture and trace the rise of reminiscence out of biography as a stand-alone genre, which reached unprecedented popularity in the competitive subgenre of the Lincoln reminiscence. We argue that Lincoln reminiscences featured a balance of common and uncommon virtues thought essential for a president, a balance that helped democratize and humanize presidential character.


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