“Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.”
– Sonnet 55
Earning public sentiment is arguably the most powerful skill required to gain anything of significance. It takes an understanding of culture, timing, language, and positioning to earn the favoring tide of public sentiment.
Lincoln was famously quoted:
“In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who molds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed.”
Winning public sentiment is just as important when evaluating today as it was in forming yesterday and predicting tomorrow.
A famous Lincoln adviser by the name of Leonard Swett stated this about Lincoln’s leadership: “It was by ignoring men, and ignoring all small cases, but by closely calculating the tendencies of events and the great forces which were producing logical results.”
John Forney of the Washington Daily Chronicle observed the same intuitive judgement and timing, arguing that Lincoln was “the most truly progressive man of the age, because he always moves in conjunction with propitious circumstances, not waiting to be dragged by the force of events or wasting strengths in premature struggles with them.”
Lincoln even believed his timing of the Emancipation Proclamation was extremely delicate calculating it down to the months.
“It is my conviction,” Lincoln insisted when he heard the criticism of his sluggishness, “that had the proclamation been issued even six months earlier than it was, public sentiment would not have sustained it.” Read more about the logic here at HistoryNet.
In the document below we examine a very real example of how Lincoln analyzed public sentiment and used it to his advantage to prevent a Stephen Douglas attack and the potential spread of slavery. Lincoln alleged that Douglas was working to pave the way for a hypothetical “Dred Scott II” (Dred Scott passed in 1857) that would prevent any state from outlawing slavery.
Douglas was the antithesis of Lincoln.
Download the guide below to learn 3 Ways to Win Public Sentiment Like Abraham Lincoln