E-mail lessons from Abe Lincoln

Tom Wheeler’s delightful book Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails explains how the President’s adept use of the telegraph helped him win the Civil War. In a new essay, Wheeler expounds on how reading Lincoln’s “t-mails” changed his own email style. To whit:

When he used an electronic message Lincoln maximized its impact by using carefully chosen words. His August 1864 telegram to General Grant, ‘Hold on with a bull-dog grip, and chew and choke’ could not have been more explicitly expressed. Emails, on the other hand, have tended to become the communications equivalent of casual Fridays, substituting comfort and ease for discipline and rigor.


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