NSU’s Schaff to publish book, ‘Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy’

Jon Schaff_cropped

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University Political Science Professor Dr. Jon Schaff is releasing a book examining the Lincoln presidency and democracy in the United States.

“Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy” will be published by Southern Illinois University Press. It is available for purchase at the SIU website and also on Amazon.

This study of American political development assesses the Lincoln presidency through the lenses of governmental power, economic policy, expansion of executive power and natural rights to show how Lincoln not only believed in the limitations of presidential power but also dedicated his presidency to restraining the scope and range of it.

Schaff said he became interested in this subject because he sensed that the American people were taking democracy for granted. 

“Because our democracy has been so successful for so long, we think it comes naturally. In fact, democratic norms and values require cultivation,” Schaff said. “Democratic statesmanship is precisely the task of cultivating healthy political habits among the people. I think we are starting to see an erosion of democratic norms because we haven't paid sufficient attention to statesmanship. Abraham Lincoln is our democratic statesman par excellence and a study of his statesmanship can remind us of what makes a healthy, vibrant democracy.”

Allen C. Guelzo, author of “Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas,” said,We know that Abraham Lincoln was a skilled politician. But was he a skilled political thinker whose ideas still deserve attention 150 years after the events he shaped? Jon Schaff argues with an emphatic yes, guiding us through what the structure of statesmanship looks like and how thoroughly Lincoln inhabits it. This is an eminently balanced—even usable—Lincoln, since Schaff not only lays out Lincoln’s natural-rights political thinking but also shows how the modern presidency, besotted as it is with near monarchical notions of its importance, and a healthy democracy could profit from some Lincolnian restraint.”

Jason R. Jividen, author of “Claiming Lincoln: Progressivism, Equality, and the Battle for Lincoln’s Legacy in Presidential Rhetoric,” said, “Schaff ’s book should be read by anyone interested in Lincoln, the politics of the Civil War and the enduring possibilities and challenges of presidential statesmanship in American democracy.”

Schaff, who specializes in the study of American political thought and institutions, received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University, his master’s from the University of Wyoming and his Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago. His essays have been published in several books and journals including “Perspectives on Political Science and South Dakota History.” At Northern, Schaff has been a department Chair, faculty athletic representative, Chair of the NSU Promotion and Tenure committee, and 2005 NSU Outstanding Faculty Award winner.

Schaff will be interviewed about “Abraham Lincoln’s Statesmanship and the Limits of Liberal Democracy” by SDPB’s Lori Walsh on Aug. 13. For more information, including to request a review copy of the book or schedule an author interview or signing, contact siupresspublicity@siu.edu.

About Northern State University

Northern State University is a regional university that offers outstanding academics and exceptional extracurricular activities at an affordable price on a safe, welcoming campus. Northern State recently announced its Educational Impact Campaign, with a goal of raising $55 million for a new South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, new athletic and recreation fields, and an on-campus regional sports complex. Once the campaign is complete, NSU will be the recipient of more than $100 million in privately funded building projects and scholarships within a decade. To learn more, visit NSU Admissions.