Abe Lincoln - Differences in Perception

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Differences in Perception

There is a saying that states, "If thirty people are gathered to describe one object or thing, you will then have thirty different descriptions"; this is never more evident then within history. Depending on who is interpreting an event in history, there can be many angles and approaches taken to a single event or person. This notion of biases in interpretation depending on the storyteller is evident in the different elucidations of Abraham Lincoln's life by authors Joshua Shenk and Doris Goodwin. Primary sources are only used as a guidance tool in helping decipher events or people in time. Authors or historians such as Shenk and Goodwin utilize the same primary source documents of letters, journals, photos etc. or read similar secondary source biographies by fellow historians and yet both are able to come out with differing views. In Goodwin's Team of Rivals and Shenk's Lincoln's Melancholy there are several different focuses and interpretations on Abraham Lincoln's life that can lead individuals to two very different conclusions on what type of person Abraham Lincoln was. In this following essay I will distinguish these differences between the two biographies in their approach to telling the story of Abraham Lincoln focusing on the different anecdotes used and how it emphasizes their personal annotations. There will be three main differences in which I will highlight to prove how different interpretations can shift a characters image. Firstly I will look at their approaches to Lincoln and religion; secondly I will analyze the slavery issue through the Mary Speed Letter of 1841; the final differentiation that will be distinguished are the views on Abe and his family life. Abraham Lincoln and religion is my first choice as it is within this context where I find the greatest differentiation between the two authors Shenk and Goodwin. Shenk places a lot of emphasis on religion in his book "Lincoln's Melancholy," using Abraham Lincolns...
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