Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Lincoln’s Statesmanship in Navigating a Divided Nation
Lincoln’s Statesmanship in Navigating a Divided Nation

Lincoln’s Statesmanship in Navigating a Divided Nation

Abstract

The role played by the rule of law is crucial to a liberal democracy because it demarcates a central area of authority which separates civil society from the state, thus ensuring that the state will not over-reach and subjugate civil society, nor that civil society will recklessly pursue anarchy and plunge the regime into chaos. One of the prime examples of maintaining the rule of law lies in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who enforced the boundaries which restrained both the state and civil society under circumstances of the most extreme stress, namely, a civil war. Lincoln rebuffed secession as a species of anarchy, but he also restrained (though not without some mis-steps) the state from becoming oppressive, even as he successfully navigated the nation to reunion and restoration.

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