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August 2009
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President's MessageSteve Wiley and Angela Sontheimer

Welcome to the dog days of summer! August is proving to be as hot and steamy as it was back during the Civil War.  Fortunately, we have the luxury of taking some time off and escaping to a relaxing retreat for some downtime. My special place is Nantucket.  The sea, the surf and island life combine to provide a unique and wonderful place to do some of the critical and proactive reflection that we talk about in our leadership program.

Did you realize that Abraham Lincoln himself had a special summer place where he retreated for reflection, peace and solace during the heat of Washington summers? Beginning in 1862, when the pressures of the war and the summer heat got to be too much, Lincoln would escape to a hilltop cottage on the grounds of the Soldier's Home, just four miles from the White House. 

There he would walk the grounds, read, and visit with soldiers. Some historians believe that he spent one-quarter of his presidency there.  Now you too can visit Lincoln's summer retreat, which was restored and opened to the public just last year. For more information visit www.lincolncottage.org. Read on to learn more from LLI faculty member Matt Pinsker, Lincoln historian and author of a book about Lincoln's bond with the Soldier's Home.

I encourage you to take some time to find your own retreat for personal reflection. Maybe it is an island, or maybe like Lincoln's it's a grassy hill a few miles from home. Wherever your special place is, take the time to consider where your leadership practice is headed. I guarantee it will be time well spent!


Don't forget to visit our blog at http://blog.lincolnleadershipinstitute.com/. We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

Best regards, Steven B. Wiley

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Meet our new affiliate: The Lincoln Leadership Academy

Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School

We are excited to announce that we've formed an inspiring new relationship with the Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School, an innovative program that opens its doors on Sept. 8 in Allentown, PA.

Focused on helping students in grades 6 through 9 who come from high-risk environments, the program aims to provide these children with a quality education and the promise of a better life, all in a caring and safe environment.

"We're taking a holistic approach that incorporates their social, emotional and academic development," explains Principal Sandra Figueroa-Torres, who is also the school's CEO and founder as well as a former principal at the neighboring faith-based school Life Academy. "I've seen kids find success when you show them how much you care, rather than how much you know. Our smaller classrooms, which will not exceed 20 students, will give teachers the opportunity to spend more time with students."

Steven B. Wiley's LLI program will bring an additional opportunity to the students, Figueroa-Torres believes.

"I first learned about Steve's Lincoln Leadership Institute when I was on a trip and saw him profiled in Continental Airlines magazine," she says. "When I got home, I immediately called him and we began talking about how he could bring into our classrooms some of the principles that he and his faculty members teach to executives."

Figueroa-Torres says she wants to have her students — of whom 80% are Latino, 15% are African-American, and 5% are white — study the leadership lessons LLI has identified in the Battle of Gettysburg.

"I know that if professionals come into our classrooms and teach the students, the children will be able to eventually incorporate those skills and knowledge into their understanding of what it means to be a good manager and leader, and what it truly takes to be successful in the world."

Wiley says he's thrilled to be working with the Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School, and looks forward to what he'll learn from the students.

"The truth about leadership is that you learn to be a better leader — and a better person — from every encounter that you have," Wiley says. "I am looking forward to working with these young, bright people and to having us grow together to make an impact on the future."

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Learn what's new at the David Wills House Museum

David Wills House Site

Since the David Wills House opened its doors on Abraham Lincoln's birthday in February 2009, museum manager Jennifer Roth has greeted more than 25,000 visitors to the museum / home where the 16th president spent the night before delivering his famous Gettysburg Address.

Roth has worked on a series of projects to raise awareness about the new museum, which is owned by the National Park Service. She has launched a new website, www.davidwillshouse.org, created a volunteer program, and added films and interactive exhibits that give the public a vital experience of the aftermath of the battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln's visit to the site.

The most popular of those programs is Letters to Lincoln, where visitors are invited to share their thoughts on Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address and the Civil War by answering a new question posed each month. The August question is: "What are your thoughts on the Civil War?"

"About 3,000 letters have come in so far," says Roth, noting that a selection of responses will become part of a new exhibit to be unveiled in late 2009.

Next month, visitors are encouraged to attend the museum for free when Smithsonian magazine hosts Museum Day on Saturday, Sept. 26.

"This is a nationwide one-day event in which museums and cultural institutions offer free admission to Smithsonian readers and Smithsonianmag.com visitors who present a Museum Day admission card," Roth explains. "The David Wills House is proud to be a part of Museum Day."

Don't miss it! Free passes can be downloaded here.

Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home

Learn more about Lincoln's summer retreat in an acclaimed book by historian and LLI faculty member Matt Pinsker

Lincolns Sanctuary

At the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg, we love to tie history to the present. Our new faculty member Matt Pinsker — Lincoln scholar and the Endowed Chair of Civil War Studies at Dickinson College — makes that easy. 

In his 2004 book, Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home, Pinsker offers a fascinating portrait of Lincoln's stay in a hilltop cottage located just off Georgia Avenue in D.C., on the grounds of the Soldier's Home.  

Pinsker uses the president's cottage hideaway to frame the story of his remarkable growth as a national leader and a private man.

"After the heartbreaking death of his son Willie, Abraham Lincoln and his family fled the gloom that hung over the White House, moving into a small cottage in Washington, D.C., on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, a residence for disabled military veterans," Pinsker explains. 

Although Lincoln lived at the Soldiers' Home for approximately a quarter of his presidency — and for nearly half of the critical year of 1862 — interestingly, most Americans (including many scholars) have not heard of the place.  Pinsker connects this early "summer White House" to key wartime developments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the firing of McClellan, the evolution of Lincoln's "Father Abraham" image, the election of 1864, and the assassination conspiracy. 

"At his secluded retreat, the president complained to his closest aides, recited poetry to his friends, reconnected with his wife and family, conducted secret meetings with his political enemies, and narrowly avoided assassination attempts," Pinsker says. "Perhaps most important, he forged key friendships that helped renew his flagging spirits. The cottage became a refuge from the pressures of the White House, a place of tranquility where Lincoln could refresh his mind."

Email Matt about Soldier's Cottage and buy his fascinating book here.

Copyright 2009, The Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg

Newsletter by Inkandescent Public Relations
Writing by Hope Katz Gibbs, president & founder; Copyediting by Kristin Nauth
Design by Jessica Dean, publisher/designer of Celebrate Gettysburg magazine