Abraham Lincoln’s 1842 Temperance Address can be understood as an act of cultural criticism delivered in epideictic form in which the young politician demonstrated his leadership ability by presenting his political philosophy. Lincoln exploited the capacious indeterminacy of meaning afforded by the discourse of the flourishing temperance movement to address indirectly problems plaguing the American republic, namely incivility and slavery. Offering only hushed praise for Washington, Lincoln silenced the slaveholding founders so that the sensibilities of a new generation of men could be heard. Lincoln constructed a Whig manhood grounded in ideals of entrepreneurialism and restraint that demonstrated his fitness to lead his party and the Second American Revolution.

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