Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in History & Political Thought, History Concentration (MA)

Committee Member

Thompson, Jerry D.

Committee Member

Vergaray, Alfonso R.

Committee Member

Zschirnt, Simon


This paper examines the phenomenon of procrastination in decision making. In certain circumstances, procrastinating a decision can yield better results in the long term. This paper looks at procrastination and decision making from the point of view of Von Clausewitz and Machiavelli and uses Abraham Lincoln as an example of efficient use of procrastination in decision making. Von Clausewitz looks to find action at the strongest point. The strongest point may not come for some time in the future and thus encourages procrastination. Machiavelli uses procrastination as an offensive capability in decision-making. Through prudence, virtù, and fortune, a prince can use procrastination efficiently and with power. Lincoln procrastinates often in making his decisions. He prefers to have the world move around him rather than to influence events at the earliest opportunity. In this capacity, he operates on a plane higher than his adversaries. Lincoln makes decisions at the time he sees fit. This paper reviews three instances of Lincoln’s successful use of procrastinated decision making in his presidential administration in three scenarios: 1) the sacking of Secretary of War Simon Cameron, 2) the dismissal of General John C. Frémont for insubordination, 3) the manner in which Lincoln handled the Cabinet Crisis of 1862.