By Tim Storey

The most pivotal battle of the American Civil War was fought on the first three days of July 151 years ago in Gettysburg, Penn. Historians estimate that there were nearly 50,000 casualties on those hallowed grounds as a result of just three days of fighting. 

Workshop participants pose with an actor who discussed leadership with the legislative leaders in the character of Abraham Lincoln. The battle at Gettysburg is one of the most studied military events in American history. The lessons from the battle and the decisions made by leaders from both sides are as relevant today as they were in the 19th century.

NCSL recently sponsored a three-day executive training workshop at Gettysburg for a small group of legislative leaders. The seminar focused on the roles of key battlefield leaders as well as the part played by President Lincoln.

For example, the leaders learned about the courage and imagination needed to be a great leader by studying the fateful decisions made on Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism and decision making at Gettysburg.

Tennessee Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson looks out at Devils Den from the fabled hill called Little Round Top. Learning how to be a better legislative leader by examining the lessons of history is an incredibly effective way for today’s leaders to hone their skills. Strengthening the institution of the legislature is central to NCSL’s mission. Helping leaders from both parties become more effective is a big way that NCSL fulfills that mission. 

Tim Storey is the director of Leaders Services for NCSL.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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