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On Lincoln

Civil War History Readers, Volume 3

John T. Hubbell

Publication Year: 2014

For sixty years the journal Civil War History has presented the best original scholarship in the study of America’s greatest struggle. The Kent State University Press is pleased to present this third volume in its multivolume series, reintroducing the most influential of more than 500 articles published in the journal. From military command, strategy, and tactics to political leadership, race, abolitionism, the draft, and women’s issues, and from the war’s causes to its aftermath and Reconstruction, Civil War History has published pioneering and provocative analyses of the determining aspects of the Middle Period.

In this third volume of the Civil War History Readers, John T. Hubbell has selected groundbreaking essays by Douglas L. Wilson, Mark Neely Jr., Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones, Ludwell Johnson, Allan Guelzo, and other scholars that examine Lincoln’s assertive idealism, leadership, views on slavery, abolitionism, emancipation, and Lincoln as a war president. Hubbell’s introduction assesses the contribution of each article to our understanding of Lincoln and the Civil War era.

Published by: The Kent State University Press


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Praise, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

Abraham Lincoln is a historiographical lodestone, the subject of so many books that one feels obliged to cite the number (16,000?). They range from the mythological to the hagiographic to the defamatory, from monographs on any number of topics, often illuminating, and to biographies, all definitive. The articles in the present collection address subjects salient to an understanding of the man. Perhaps salient is a term that carries its own risks, just as a military salient is a tactical circumstance that invites attack...

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Abraham Lincoln as Revolutionary

Otto H. Olsen

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pp. 1-13

With the possible exception of his beard, there is little about Abraham Lincoln that fits the modern, popular concept of a revolutionary.1 rather, Lincoln has been associated with qualities that are usually perceived, even by many leftists, as the antithesis of revolutionary. Typically these qualities include some combination of moderate, reasonable, kind, liberal, conservative, pragmatic, flexible, pious and law abiding.2 These hardly accord with the familiar extremism, cruelty, and violence of revolution. And so, the leader of the bloodiest war and one of the most stupendous social transformations in our history endures as a symbol of moderation and the rule of reason and law...

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Lincoln and van Buren in the Steps of the Fathers: Another Look at the Lyceum Address

Major L. Wilson

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pp. 14-30

on January 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln delivered an address to the Young Men’s Lyceum at Springfield, illinois, entitled “The Perpetuation of our Political institutions.” Less than a year earlier, on March 4, 1837, President Martin van Buren dealt with the same matter in his inaugural Address. Both expressed concerns widely shared at the time and the ambiguous nature of these concerns: they proudly claimed success for the “republican experiment” begun by the fathers, yet warned that it might fail if the present age proved false...

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On the verge of Greatness: Psychological Reflections on Lincoln at the Lyceum

Charles B. Strozier

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pp. 31-42

on a chilly Saturday evening, January 27, 1838, at seven o’clock in Springfield, illinois, the members of the local Young Men’s Lyceum gathered in the Baptist Church at Seventh and Adams Streets, just a block from the new capitol that was under construction in the town’s square.1 Abraham Lincoln, an ardent member of the Lyceum, that evening presented a speech he titled “on the Perpetuation of our Political institutions.” Just shy of his twenty-eighth birthday, Lincoln chose the opportunity of the speech to reflect broadly on the issues of the day and define his political philosophy...

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Abraham Lincoln, Ann Rutledge, and the Evidence of Herndon’s Informants

Douglas L. Wilson

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pp. 43-67

The Ann Rutledge story has always sounded like nineteenth-century popular fiction. The most beautiful girl in the village becomes engaged to a rich storekeeper, who admits he has been living under an assumed name and who says he will marry her when he returns from a visit to his aged parents. When he stops writing and shows no sign of returning after two years, the deserted girl accepts the advances of the poor-but-honest postmaster, who has loved her secretly all along...

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Abraham Lincoln and “That Fatal First of January”

Douglas L. Wilson

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pp. 68-99

Abraham Lincoln’s courtship of Mary Todd, while one of the most colorful and dramatic episodes in his early life, is also one of the least understood. What obscures this critical chapter in Lincoln’s maturation and emergence, and in turn hampers our ability to assess its character and importance, is the fragmentary and incoherent form in which the story of the courtship has come down to us. The crux of the problem of what happened to Lincoln over the course of his courtship is the mysterious broken engagement...

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Lincoln and the Mexican War: An Argument by Analogy

Mark E. Neely Jr.

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pp. 100-121

Since Albert Beveridge’s Abraham Lincoln, 1809–1858 (1928), historians have regarded Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican War as a unique mistake, an ordinarily practical politician’s case of political suicide. The unseasoned Sucker, they say, went to Washington for his first and only fling at national office (other than the Presidency fourteen years later), was dazzled by the shining brilliance of his great eastern Whig heroes, forgot the simple patriotic sentiments of his expansionist Midwestern constituents in Illinois’s Seventh Congressional District, and opposed the war...

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Lincoln as Military Strategist

Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones

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pp. 122-134

The thesis of this paper is that Abraham Lincoln was a conventional midnineteenth-century military strategist who fully shared the ideas of Henry W. Halleck, George B. McClellan, and his other West Point–trained generals. These generals, like von Moltke in Prussia, analyzed operations in terms of lines of operations, believed in the superiority of the defensive over the offensive, and saw in turning movements the only way to overcome the power of the riflestrengthened defensive...

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Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln as War Presidents: Nothing Succeeds Like Success

Ludwell H. Johnson

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pp. 135-150

We are all familiar with the scene on that gloomy, cold, and rainy Washington’s Birthday when Jefferson Davis, pale and haggard from the strain of illness and recent military defeats, took the oath of office under the permanent Confederate Constitution. On her way to the ceremony, Mrs. Davis discovered to her consternation that her carriage was escorted by four Negroes in “somber broadcloth and top hats and wearing white cotton gloves. She asked the coachman what they were doing there...

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To Suppress or not to Suppress: Abraham Lincoln and the Chicago Times

Craig D. Tenney

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pp. 151-164

A great deal has been said and written in recent years about governmental attempts to restrain the press. A roughly equal amount has been said and written about press responsibility. It might be well to remember that, when viewed against other periods of national history, recent attempts to influence, if not dictate, press treatment of the government are comparatively mild. The physical operation of the press is not threatened or affected directly as it was in earlier periods when national concern about the First Amendment was considerably less intense than it is presently and an administration’s willingness to move, oftentimes harshly, against its journalistic opponents was not nearly so restrained...

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“A Catholic Family newspaper” Views the Lincoln Administration: John Mullaly’s Copperhead Weekly

Joseph George Jr

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pp. 165-186

When he died in 1915, John Mullaly was an almost forgotten man. Few were still alive to remember that he had played a prominent role in the intellectual life of New York’s Irish during the era of the Civil War. New Yorkers had forgotten that he had become a Copperhead editor in the 1860s, denouncing the Lincoln Administration and even on occasion advocating in his newspaper, the Metropolitan Record, that the South should be granted its independence. But he was much better known to earlier generations...

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Abraham Lincoln on Labor and Capital

James A. Stevenson

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pp. 187-200

Abraham Lincoln and virtually all of his frontier contemporaries were immersed in an inherited culture that extolled a hoary republican ideal. Lincoln, as a result, propounded economic ideas that were determined by his existence within a venerable and a compelling tradition. This tradition must be understood as an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical/cultural phenomenon that transcended specific political, economic, and social ideologies...

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Lincoln’s Calvinist Transformation: Emancipation and War

Nicholas Parrillo

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pp. 201-232

The role of religion in Abraham Lincoln’s political leadership very much deserves to be studied, for, as Reinhold Niebuhr claims, Lincoln apprehended the religious meanings of political events more deeply than did almost any other American of his time.1 Yet the sources available on the subject present serious difficulties. While Lincoln’s statements on religion were at times profound, they were never lengthy or great in number...

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Only His Stepchildren: Lincoln and the Negro

Don E. Fehrenbacher

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pp. 233-251

if the United States had a patron saint it would no doubt be Abraham Lincoln; and if one undertook to explain Lincoln’s extraordinary hold on the national consciousness, it would be difficult to find a better starting-point than these lines from an undistinguished poem written in 1865:1
one of the people! Born to be
Their curious epitome;
To share yet rise above
Their shifting hate and love...

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Defending Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln and the Conkling Letter, 1863

Allen C. Guelzo

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pp. 252-281

Abraham Lincoln might well have believed that “i never in my life was more certain that i was doing right than i do in signing” the emancipation Proclamation into military law on January 1, 1863. But doing what was right and what was politically viable were two different things. “At no time during the war was the depression among the people of the north so great as in the spring of 1863,” remembered James G. Blaine, and largely because “the anti-slavery policy of the President was . . . tending to a fatal division among the people.”...

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The Historian as Gamesman: Otto Eisenschiml, 1880–1963

William Hanchett

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pp. 282-293

Otto Eisenschiml lived the classic American success story. He arrived in the united States from his native Austria in 1901 at the age of twenty-one, penniless and barely able to speak English. When he died in 1963 he was rich and famous and was listed as author or editor of thirteen books and pamphlets in Who’s Who in America. one of the books, Why Was Lincoln Murdered? (1937), had profoundly influenced how the American people thought about one of the most important periods in their history...


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pp. 294-295


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pp. 296-310

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781612778525
E-ISBN-10: 1612778526
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606352007

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 878130645
MUSE Marc Record: Download for On Lincoln

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Subject Headings

  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Political and social views.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Biography.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865.
  • Political leadership -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Biography.
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