Frederick Douglass And Abraham Lincoln: Leadership Styles
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Published: Thu, 04 May 2017
Leadership style defines the manner and the approach employed by a leader in providing direction, implementing his or her plans and motivating people towards attainment of a certain goal. Leadership philosophy defines that values ethics and virtues that a leader puts emphasis on in his or her leadership. The many successful African-American leaders have employed various leadership style and philosophies during their leadership terms. These leaders also used various strategies during their leadership times to achieve their goals. However, they faced challenges due to limitations in their leadership strategies but they also succeed due to strengths in the leadership strategies that they used. This essay looks at leadership strategies of African American leaders Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
Frederick Douglass among the leaders of abolitionist movement that fought to end slavery in the United States several decades before that Civil War in America. During the civil war, he played the role of an adviser to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. With his advice, they successfully fought for the adoption of constitutional amendments that gave voting rights and other civil rights for the black people. He also held a powerful voice for human rights along the American history and he is still honored today for his contributions towards the fight against racial injustices in America (Sertima, 11).
Frederick Douglas was born in 1818 to a slave woman in Maryland’s eastern shore. His early years were spent with his grandparents and he only was his mother four to five times before she died leaving Douglas seven years old. The only thing that he knew about his father was only that he was a white. During this time, Douglas faced a lot of humiliation of the slavery life which included brutal whippings and spending nights in the cold without any food. He heard of the ideas of abolition and abolitionists when he was sent to Baltimore to work with a ship carpenter at eight years. It is at this time when he learnt how to write and read and this enabled him to understand abolition. Douglas later came to associate his success in abolition with his life in Baltimore.
This was the beginning of his enlightenment. When he was twelve years, he read a book called The Columbian Orator where he went through a dialogue between a slave and the master as the slave explained his necessity of being set free. The more he read the book, he felt much tormented of his current situation in slavery. He realized the hell he was living in but had no means of escaping. His other enlightening moment was at the docks of Fell point when he was assisting two Irish men to unload s tone from a ship. After the two realized that he was a slave, they advised him to run to the north so that he may be free. Still at Baltimore, he achieved religious awakening in 1820s and 30s a time of preaching in US. His interpretation of the preachers’ message was that all men are equal before God and they deserve deliverance from bondage.
Leadership strategy of Frederick Douglass
His leadership was well experienced from 1840s when he started his wok as an abolitionist. He gained international fame from his lecturer work and also as a write of persuasive power. In 1861, he welcomed the Civil War as a moral campaign to end the evil of slavery. During the war, he played the role of violent propagandist of the Union cause and emancipation. He was also involved in recruitment of black army and in two occasions, he also acted as an advisor to Abraham Lincoln. His leadership was seen as more of emblematic and not activist. He widely travelled along the American states as he gave lectures on racial issues. In 1870, he moved to Washington DC where he was later appointed as Marshall and recorder of deeds in the District of Columbia. Between S1889 and 1891, he served as a minister to Haiti. Frederick Douglas is known as one of south’s leader who mixed religion and racial heritage. He was brilliant and heroic and he is regarded as a symbol of unique American voice for humanism and social justice (Sertima, 116).
Leadership strengths of Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglas achieved power in his activities through his desire and endeavors of enlightenment. He was active in searching for knowledge which is known to be the source of power. He then became a high rank writer. He worked as a newspaper editor for many years and also did great contributions to magazines. Generally, Douglass had great felicity of expression. It is through this empowerment that he was elected and could be allowed in forums where e could discuss anti slavery matters (Franklin, & Moss, 321).
Douglass was a brave leader and this was seen during his meeting with the overseer in the eastern shore plantation. With all the odds against him, and the law stating that any Negro who dared strike a white man must be killed. Nevertheless, Douglass whipped him. His courage is also seen in the way he plotted for escape with other slaves, giving them passes and the desperate fight he maintained in the Baltimore yard at a time when the law and public reactions were not on his side. Had he not maintained this courage that was fired by his determination to free the slave, he would have fallen to the cruelty and violence of the people in the Free states. Douglass also enjoyed the support of the president, Abraham Lincoln in his efforts to rescue the African American slaves.
Leadership weaknesses of Frederick Douglass
One of the problems that Frederick Douglass faced in his endeavors was the fact that he was an African American, and was fighting for the freedom of the slaves, who were his fellow African Americans. The big question he faced was the role that a black man would play in achieving his own liberty.
Another problem that was experienced by Frederick was his lack of education. He knew that education was the only means that would help them out of slavery but the prevailing conditions could not allow any Negron to attain education. Frederick was at one time lucky to find a mistress who was willing to teach him some few words and the alphabet and encouraged him to continue holding his head high. However, this was lost when her husband realized and told the wife that her judgment was poor because ability to read disqualifies one from becoming a slave (King, & Fluker, 73).
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1801 in a log cabin and grew up on the American frontier. He was not able to attend any school and he therefore educated himself by borrowing books and reading for himself. Born of a Kentucky frontiersman, he had to struggle for a living and also for education. He passed through a lot of struggles to attain knowledge at the same time working as splitting fence rails and also as a clerk in general store before he became a lawyer, a job that led him to the government.
Before he was elected the American president, he served the Illinois general Assembly for a period of eight years and then entered the U.S House of representatives where he served for one term. Abraham Lincoln served as the sixteenth president of the Unites States from 1861 until when he was shockingly assassinated in 1865. Being a president, he also led the American Civil war, the most significant event in the American history. Abraham Lincoln is a vague figure in both history and literature that raises much disagreement on his beliefs and actions concerning the black Americans. He was against slavery prevaricate in public speeches about racial equality.
Leadership strategies of Abraham Lincoln
The leadership of Abraham Lincoln can be viewed from his efforts in the American civil war. The central issue that is associated with the American civil wrap is the issue of slavery that led to the conflicts between the North and the South. The war came as a result of conflicting ideas regarding slavery between the north and the southern. The southern claimed that state rights were another definition of codes regarding the defense of slavery. The pro-slavery idea grew extensively in the southern in 1840s and by 1860, its popularity had grown in the whole of south and was crowned by a strong feeling that slave states enjoyed a distinctive culture. The main was exploded by the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 who gained almost all the votes in the Northern states and none from the south. The southern then formed a rebel government that was headed by Jefferson Davis as their president and they located their capital to Montgomery, Alabama.
President Abraham Lincoln responded to this by issuing a declaration that called for 75,000 people to volunteer for a period of there months in order to put down the rebel government. The rebel government was made of 11 slave states from the southern. Civil war was therefore a fight between the Lincoln’s federal government (The Union) as he fought to end the slavery and the rebel government that fought to protect their rights of maintaining the slaves. In his leadership, he addressed two most human public issues: freedom and war. He addressed the two issues with political skills that had never been required for an American leader thereafter.
Abraham Lincoln is held by the Americans with such high esteem due to two main factors. One is due to his personal leadership skills, where he demonstrated that a leader can succeed even in the most difficult circumstances. The other one was in his efforts to end slavery, things that were never expected as outcomes of the civil war. These were achieved due to his courage and persistent leadership that saw America saved from slavery and attainment of freedom by the oppressed. He stood tall by that time and his legacy still stands as a motivation to young leaders who may be facing challenges similar to his.
Leadership strengths of Abraham Lincoln
One of the strengths that Lincoln portrayed during his fight for freedom of slaves in American was the knowledge that being a commander in chief, the most important thing he could do was to form a strong military force which was like forming a strong political coalition. He focused on having professional soldiers especially those from the west frontiers in the significant commands. His leadership strength was also seen in his efforts towards executive execution of his plans. This was evidenced when he was frustrated by George McClellan, he removed him from command. He also removed Don Carlos, who was given to inactivity, from command (Williams, Pederson, Marsala, 165).
His other strategy that enhanced his success was his focus on emancipation. With the resistance for freedom by his enemies, his friends started to think that he was a hesitant emancipator was who was too slow in facing the great cause. It was obvious that a politician of that time must have been aware of the prevailing strong racial hostility in the North but this could not obscure the time and thought that Lincoln committed to emancipation. In 1862, he recommended for amendment to that constitution so that it could abolish slavery. In September the same year, he announced the Emancipation Proclamation, a war that was founded on his constitutional consent as a commander in chief that would take effect in January the following year (Franklin, & Moss, 229-230).
Another strength in leadership of Abraham Lincoln was that he focused more on the good of the country that his personal feelings. It was evident that during his presidency, he was surrounded by people including his enemies who were highly ambitious and had strong egos and he allowed them in his cabinet. These people could question his power freely and were not afraid of engaging in arguments with him. For example, Lincoln chose Salmon Chase into his cabinet and gave him the post of a treasury secretary for a period of three years and he was fully aware that Chase was eyeing the presidency and was undermining his authority. This is because he considered the work that the person was doing and not his personal feelings towards him. His main focus was to have the best people by his side who could do better job in leadership for the sake of the country Hoyt, Goethals, & Forsyth, 204).
Weaknesses in the Leadership of Abraham Lincoln
His leadership was also faced by various challenges that were attributed to by some of his weaknesses. One of the weaknesses suffered by Abraham Lincoln was his inability to have control of people who operated under him. He had conflicts with members of his own cabinet who sometimes undermined him. He was not able to exercise authority over his juniors. For example, Salmon Chase was a member of his cabinet who could not fellow Lincoln’s authority and was not afraid of engaging in arguments and conflicts and with the president Abraham Lincoln. The problem was that it was his first time to serve in cabinet or even in the senate.
Setbacks that he experienced during the early periods of the civil war also contributed to a belief by the radical republicans that Lincoln was not an effective leader. For example, due to the fact that Lincoln was elected by a minority of the popular vote, his advisors therefore disregarded him and viewed his as an inexperienced leader. The radical republicans criticized him for not making emancipation the goal of the war from the beginning. Secondly, Lincoln was advised by the Democrats to go through the war without enlistment, emancipation of slaves and also without the National Bank Act that would have enabled him to raise money for the civil War.
The two African American leaders, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln showed exemplary efforts in the fight against slavery in America. Born in slavery, both of them experienced the hostile environment in which slaves are exposed to. The desire for freedom motivated them and not only for their own freedom, but also that of their fellow slaves. Their leadership in the anti-slavery movements was also enabled by their various abilities and strengths in their leadership styles. For example, Abraham Lincoln was able to survive and continue with his efforts in the midst of enemies and people who never obeyed his authority. Courage was a great strength to Frederick Douglass since he was able to confront the hostile slavery environment in the fight for the freedom of his fellow slaves. The two also faced some challenges in their efforts due to some of their leadership weaknesses but this did not deter them from achieving their goals.
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