What Lincoln learned from Euclides – 07/20/2021 – Marcelo Viana

(1809–1865) was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, presidents of the United States. A charismatic leader who led the country through the worst crisis in history and was murdered for his role in the abolition of slavery, Lincoln was also a shrewd politician who knew how to use his humble roots and reputation for honesty. He had his most powerful political weapon in his eloquence. Several of his speeches, such as the famous “Gettysburg Address” which he gave in 1863 in honor of the soldiers who died in the Civil War, are among the most influential in American history.

Less known is the origin of his remarkable rhetoric. Although he revealed the secret in an interview with Rev. JP Gulliver published by The New York Times on September 4, 1864.

When asked how he acquired this ability to “say things,” the president said he had almost no formal training, adding:

“I often came across the word ‘demonstrate’ in my legal readings. At first I thought I knew the meaning, but then I realized I didn’t know. Ultimately, I said to myself, ‘Lincoln, you can never be a lawyer if you don’t know what evidence means. So I returned to my father’s house and stayed there until I understood all the sentences of Euclid’s “elements”. Then I knew what it meant to demonstrate and went back to studying law. ”

The Greek Euclid lived in the 4th century BC. In North Africa. In “Elements” he collected and organized the geometry of his time and created the standard of clarity and accuracy of argumentation that is still used in mathematics today. The brilliant orator found his inspiration in this work by Euclid, one of the most influential in human history.

Gulliver did not hide his admiration: “Mr. Lincoln, your success is no longer a cause for surprise. It is the legitimate result of the right causes. With your permission, I would like to share this fact publicly. It will be very important to motivate young people for the mathematical culture that all heads must have. ”And he added:“ Euclid, well studied, would rid the world of half of its disasters and banish half of the nonsense, who deceives and curses our days. I always thought Elements would be one of the best books for the bar library if they could get people to read it. “

Lincoln laughed, “I agree. I am voting for Euclid! ”. And I’ll go with the president.

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