Abraham Lincoln on email

Posted on November 8, 2006. Filed under: Advice, eMail |

Telecom expert Tom Wheeler says that Abraham Lincoln, the first U.S. president with access to the telegraph, developed a personal code of electronic communications that modern-day netizens would do well to adopt in their email habits.

Wheeler describes Lincoln’s “T-mail” etiquette and the lessons we can learn from it, like:

Less is More – Whereas many saw the blank telegraph form as an invitation to an essay, Lincoln’s telegrams were short and to the point. “Your long despatch of yesterday just received,” Lincoln chided General George McClellan about a 10-page telegram sent in May 1863. Then the president required only three additional sentences to reply to the general’s endless essay.

Less is More – Whereas many saw the blank telegraph form as an invitation to an essay, Lincoln’s telegrams were short and to the point. “Your long despatch of yesterday just received,” Lincoln chided General George McClellan about a 10-page telegram sent in May 1863. Then the president required only three additional sentences to reply to the general’s endless essay.

Responding to a long-winded message with only a few words is indeed a great way to train others how to use email. Glad that Honest Abe agrees.

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