Citizen Lincoln


Ward M McAfee
The California State University, CA, USA

Series: First Men, America’s Presidents
BISAC: HIS036000

In modern times, some critics have belittled Abraham Lincoln’s antislavery resolve as shallow. Some have portrayed him as a passive president, waiting upon the bold initiatives of others. Citizen Lincoln regards him differently. First, it portrays Lincoln’s animus against slavery as rooted in the highest ideals of the American Revolution, which he saw as being corrupt in his own time. Second, it analyzes Lincoln’s supposed passivity.

Lincoln learned as a legislator, first in Illinois and later in the United States Congress, that bold initiatives often backfire and fail to fulfill original intentions. In the state legislature, Lincoln supported a dramatic internal-improvements project that collapsed in the midst of a national depression. Lincoln also boldly opposed the Mexican War in Congress, only to see his cause evaporate as soon as a peace treaty was drafted with Mexico. In both instances, his timing was faulty. He had rushed into taking rigid policy positions when greater caution would have reaped better results. But in both instances, he learned lessons that would hold him in good stead later.

Lincoln as president was wisely cautious, knowing that bold action could only disrupt the delicate coalition that kept the Union cause moving forward to victory. Harriet Beecher Stowe described Lincoln’s unique strength as waying to every influence, yielding on this side and on that to popular needs, yet tenaciously and inflexibly bound to carry out to the end. She wisely added that no other kind of strength could have seen the nation through the worst trial in its history. In filling this role, Abraham Lincoln fulfilled that which he had long regarded as his personal mission within the larger context of his nation’s providential destiny. (Imprint: )

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Foreword (Barbara Bennett Peterson, Oregon State University)
Chapter 1. Introductory Notes
Chapter 2. Hard and Humble Beginnings
Chapter 3. New Challenges
Chapter 4. Frustrated Ambitions
Chapter 5. Deep Cogitation
Chapter 6. “Somebody Named Lincoln”
Chapter 7. The Campaign and the Crisis
Chapter 8. Herding Cats
Chapter 9. A Union Worth Saving
Chapter 10. “Now He Belongs to the Ages”

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