The ascent of Abraham Lincoln as a national and world heroic ﬁgure seemed to defy many of the usual prerequisites we think of for such ﬁgures. Nothing in his awkward appearance or his personal bearing seemed to point towards the making of a romantic hero of the nineteenth century. Nor for that matter had he displayed any remarkable skills as a charismatic leader of men. Despite his remarkable gifts for writing speeches, many described his oratorical skills in delivering speeches rather wanting. There was also something inimical in a democratic society to the spawning of charismatic leaders: a contradictory tendency on the one hand to reward political leaders who could play to the masses and rebuke those who pretended to be above them.