Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Favorite American Quote Winner

Several weeks ago I asked my readers to contribute their favorite quote from American history. I promised I'd choose my favorite from the list and highlight it in a future post. This... is that future post.

I'd first like to thank those of you that contributed. We had about ten participants and about 15 submissions.

My favorite of the bunch was from the anonymous contributor 'boldlygo', who submitted a great Abraham Lincoln quote from a letter Lincoln wrote to Union General George McClellan.

"If you don't want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while."

That said, here's a little history of that quote...

Lincoln, was known as a micro-manager. During the war he could hardly keep still and was constantly getting his hands dirty in the details of the war. According to Doris Kearns Goodwin, Author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Lincoln, Lincoln would often "get himself to the battlefield to visit the soldiers, walk amidst their ranks, [and] see the wounded in the hospital."Abraham Lincoln would often walk amongst the soldiers during the Civil War

The picture to the left is a great example of Lincoln's "Management by Walking Around" concept. A strategy still used today by many managers and supervisors.

His relationship with McClellan was no exception. McClellan was entrusted with the duties of leading the Union soldiers to battle against the Confederates. McClellan however, who's talent was in organization and training, did little more than prepare his soldiers for battle. Lincoln repeatedly urged his General to "engage the enemy" but McClellan claimed he needed more men, more munitions and more time. And with Lincoln's aforementioned want of total control Lincoln asked for control of the Army of the Potomac in March of 1862.

Lincoln wanted to win the war quickly, and was no longer willing to accept McClellan’s belief that the Union Army "should take their time and use extra precaution". An interview found in Spartacus, in March of 1863, Lincoln said:

I directed McClellan peremptorily to move on Richmond. It was eleven days before he crossed his first man over the Potomac; it was eleven days after that before he crossed the last man. Thus he was twenty-two days in passing the river at a much easier and more practicable ford than that where Lee crossed his entire army between dark one night and daylight the next morning. That was the last grain of sand which broke the camel’s back. I relieved McClellan at once.

Lincoln soon replaced McClellan with Ambrose Burnside. Lincoln would go on to relieve several more Union leaders until finally settling on Ulysses S. Grant to finish the war.

Other Works cited:

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Pam Walter said...

What a great quote! It is such a good example of Lincoln's clever wit.

klkatz said...

thanks for reading Pam - it is a pretty humurous quote - Lincoln was definitely known for his wit and great sense of humor...

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