If Abraham Lincoln can be credited for delivering America from the grip of Civil War-era secessionism, he stood on the shoulders of two presidential giants. The iconic nineteenth century visionary honored the same constitutional ideals of Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore, emulating both men’s governmental principles and the extent to which they were willing to use force in the interest of national preservation. Here, Michael Gerhardt, author of The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy, explains the origins of Lincoln’s distinctive style of leadership, examining how these two political predecessors in particular shaped Lincoln’s legendary presidency.
Michael Gerhardt is the Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of The Forgotten Presidents: Their Untold Constitutional Legacy. A nationally recognized authority on constitutional conflicts, he has testified in several Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and has published five books, including The Power of Precedent. Read his previous blog posts.