Abraham Lincoln And The Self-Made Myth Analysis

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When learning about American history students have the inspiring story of Abraham Lincoln drilled into their head. Honest Abe, the man that never told a lie was born poor in a log cabin, he would come home from a hard day of working and spend his nights studying and educating himself. Due to Lincoln’s courage and determination, he rose from poverty to be a well-known lawyer and eventually became president, where he saw America through the Civil War and put an end to slavery. It is an amazing story, one that made it possible to move social ladders, Lincoln showed generations of Americans that if you work hard you really could accomplish anything. But is Abraham Lincoln’s story just that, a story? Are the facts that have been drilled in student’s heads true? That is the main claim made by historian Richard Hofstadter in his persuasive essay 'Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth'.…show more content…
He claims that Lincoln was “thoroughly and completely the politician, by preference and by training.” This shows that Lincoln's life was committed to politics starting at a young age, even though there were many attempts by biographers to cast him as a self-made businessman or a Christian preacher. Instead, Hofstadter argues that that was not the real him, Lincoln could put on those personas when it benefited him politically. Hofstadter's first big claim was that the self-made man image is something Lincoln went out of his way to preserve. Hofstadter claims that Lincoln as a child was lazy doing chores and got away from physical labor as quickly as he could. But when running for office, his campaign gave him the nickname “the rail splitter,” playing up his brief time cutting logs for fences to make him more appealing to working-class voters. (Another example just need 10
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