- The Odd Couple: Abraham Lincoln and Dale Carnegie.
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By Steven Watts. Dale Carnegie was born in rural Missouri, his father a poor farmer, his mother a successful preacher. To make ends meet he tried his hand at various sales jobs, and his failure to convince his customers to buy what he had to offer eventually became the fuel behind his future glory. Carnegie quickly figured out that something was amiss in American education and in the ways businesspeople related to each other. Carnegie conceived his book to help people learn to relate to one another and enrich their lives through effective communication.
His success was extraordinary, so hungry was s America for a little psychological insight that was easy to apply to everyday affairs. He teaches history at the University of Missouri. Steven Watts is the Plutarch of American modernity. It was during this time Carnegie perfected his techniques as a teacher of public speaking and created his philosophy of how to develop and maintain relationships. His classes would soon evolve into the Dale Carnegie courses.
Since college Carnegie had aspirations of becoming a writer, but he experienced little success. The Art of Public Speaking focused on three principles of public speaking:. The Gettysburg Address was also a speech used as an exercise, and it was described by the authors as one of the few immortal speeches that was not delivered for a selfish or a narrow cause. They stated that it was born out of a passionate desire to help humanity. When an awkward giant like Abraham Lincoln rose to the sublimest heights of oratory he did so because of the greatness of his soul- his very ruggedness of spirit and artless honesty were properly expressed in his gnarly body.
The fire of character, of earnestness, and of message swept his hearers before him when the tepid words of an insincere Apollo would have left no effect.
1. Avoid criticizing, condemning, or complaining
But be sure you are a second Lincoln before you despise the handicap of physical awkwardness. The book served as a manual for instructors teaching public speaking courses at any local YMCA. The book identified essential qualities of the instructor and methods of instruction, and it often identified Lincoln as an accomplished orator and a fierce debater. Furthermore, Carnegie gave two examples of debate topics that would not be ideal because there were not two sides to the question.
In , Carnegie married Lolita Baucaire, self-proclaimed countess.
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The marriage was an unhappy one, and they divorced ten years later. Soon after the divorce, a friend inquired about Mrs. We got divorced. To accommodate the growing demand, he started the Dale Carnegie Institute. It was also around this time that Carnegie chose to change the spelling of his last name from Carnagey to Carnegie. This change was a shrewd move to make his courses more marketable by capitalizing off the name of the wealthy steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie.
In this book, Carnegie once again referred to President Lincoln as an example of an exemplary impromptu and prepared speaker.
In the chapter about keeping the audience interested, he told a story of a young Lincoln using emotion to help him with a case for a widow of a Revolutionary War hero who had been swindled by a pension agent. Carnegie urged the reader to be like Lincoln and study successful speakers and practice. In another different chapter about speakers having a clear purpose, Carnegie detailed how Lincoln always succeeded famously because he knew where he wanted to go and how to get there. He used Lincoln as an example for improving diction and increasing vocabulary by demonstrating how Lincoln read books to grow and develop as a speaker.
In the s, the need for middle management employees was growing. Carnegie began to expand the purpose and goals for his classes. He started focusing on the needs of businessmen. The taught his students how to interview, give persuasive arguments, and maintain positive relationships. He inspired his students by having them share with each other how they put what they learned into action in the workplace.
According to the official Dale Carnegie Training website retrieved in , Carnegie was an admirer of President Lincoln. In , he published Lincoln the Unknown. It took Carnegie ten years to write the book. Despite his efforts, the book was not a great success. In the forward, Carnegie explained why he chose to write the book. He had been in London reading the newspaper. A newspaper columnist for The Morning Post , T. Indeed, he knew about Honest Abe the rail-splitter, the great speaker, and the President who set the slaves free; but that was all Carnegie knew. He talked to his friends about Lincoln and was surprised by how little they knew as well.
He resolved to learn more. The more Carnegie researched Abraham Lincoln the more interested he became. Carnegie set out to write a biography about Lincoln. This biography would not be a scholarly one; he believed there were many fine examples of those in existence. Carnegie stated he neither possessed the qualities of an academic nor a historian to write a scholarly biography. Therefore, he chose to write a brief biography for the average person.
He found after a few years that researching in Europe was not sufficient. He relocated to Illinois to continue his research. While in Illinois, he met with men whose fathers had worked with Lincoln. Carnegie read old books, letters, speeches, newspapers, and court documents. He visited the same sites where Lincoln once stood. He spent one summer in Petersburg, IL which was close to the recently restored village New Salem which is now a national historic site. Carnegie wrote that he enjoyed sitting and writing under the same white oaks where Lincoln must have studied, wrestled, and made love.
He was disappointed that her gravesite had been overgrown and abandoned. Carnegie also spent time researching in Springfield, IL. He visited places where he believed Lincoln had once been. He wrote in different locations around town including the sitting-room where Lincoln and Mary Todd lived.
The courtship was short-lived; Rutledge died of typhoid fever in In contrast, Carnegie was not quite so diplomatic with Mary Todd Lincoln.
Winning Friends and Influencing People
He described her as ambitious and bad-tempered. Moreover, he said she was haughty and had an exalted opinion of her own superiority. Carnegie spent a great deal of the book depicting the relationship of Lincoln and Todd. The picture was that of an unfortunate and tragic marriage.
Dale Carnegie - Author - Biography
He shared a less than loving love letter between Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln as documentation of their unhappy relationship. They needed good people skills and there were no books available to fill that need.
Carnegie decided to change that. The book came at a time when the country was in turmoil due to the Great Depression.
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For many this book was the answer to the disillusionment felt due to the hard times. The book was wildly successful. How to Win Friends and Influence People went on to be a colossal success. The public loved it. Some critics were not quite so kind to Carnegie or his book. In the first edition of his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Carnegie referred to Lincoln as an example of study yet again.