Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Allen C. Guelzo
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Beneath the surface of the apparently untutored and deceptively frank Abraham Lincoln ran private tunnels of self-taught study, a restless philosophical curiosity, and a profound grasp of the fundamentals of democracy. Now, in Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction, the award-winning Lincoln authority Allen C. Guelzo offers a penetrating look into the mind of one of our greatest presidents.
If Lincoln was famous for reading aloud from joke books, Guelzo shows that he also plunged deeply into the mainstream of nineteenth-century liberal democratic thought. Guelzo takes us on a wide-ranging exploration of problems that confronted Lincoln and liberal democracy--equality, opportunity, the rule of law, slavery, freedom, peace, and his legacy. The book sets these problems and Lincoln's responses against the larger world of American and trans-Atlantic liberal democracy in the 19th century, comparing Lincoln not just to Andrew Jackson or John Calhoun, but to British thinkers such as Richard Cobden, Jeremy Bentham, and John Bright, and to French observers Alexis de Tocqueville and François Guizot. The Lincoln we meet here is an Enlightenment figure who struggled to create a common ground between a people focused on individual rights and a society eager to establish a certain moral, philosophical, and intellectual bedrock. Lincoln insisted that liberal democracy had a higher purpose, which was the realization of a morally right political order. But how to interject that sense of moral order into a system that values personal self-satisfaction--"the pursuit of happiness"--remains a fundamental dilemma even today.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who, according to his friend and biographer William Henry Herndon, "lived in the mind." Guelzo paints a marvelous portrait of this Lincoln--Lincoln the man of ideas--providing new insights into one of the giants of American history.
About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.
Massachusetts colony. Nor was there much for them to practice upon. Jury trials were infrequent. Criminal cases were usually devoted to meting out punishments for moral or religious offenses, and the punishments were appallingly savage; civil cases were usually limited to matters of debt and inheritance. And the guiding principles for both were contained in the ‘‘common’’ law, a vague mass of legal precedent and traditional procedure in English-speaking jurisprudence that judges and magistrates
terrible form of brinkmanship. South Carolina bolted ahead on December 20, 1860, announcing that it was withdrawing from the Union, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, 90 Lincoln reserved to himself only two points: that he would not consent to calling slavery right, and that he would not endorse any further extension of slavery into the territories (which were under federal jurisdiction, no matter what the Dred Scott decision claimed). So, on the one hand, he
there, he believed that secession was probably more bluff than substance, and a little forbearance on his part might give loyalists there the chance to turn the political tables. He refused to make any statement of how he planned to respond to secession—or at least none in advance of his inauguration in March—and he privately assured as many Southerners as would listen that a Republican president would do nothing to ‘‘directly, or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their
reason; there shall be no religious establishment to guide us or control us; there shall be no born rank of any kind, but every honour held, every promotion enjoyed, shall spring from the people, and by selection; we maintain that we can govern ourselves without the institution of any hierarchy or privileged body whatever.’ ’’ All that might have been lost, in America and everywhere else, had the Confederate secession proved that, in fact, human beings could not cooperate by reason, could not
of the Civil War. New York: Knopf, 1960. Escott, Paul D. After Secession: Jefferson Davis and the Failure of Confederate Nationalism. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978. Greeley, Horace. Horace Greeley to Abraham Lincoln, July 29, 1861. Abraham Lincoln Papers, Library of Congress. Luraghi, Raimondo. A History of the Confederate Navy,. Translated by Paolo E. Coletta. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1996. McClellan, George B. George B. McClellan to Lincoln (July 7, 1862). In