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Lincoln Looks West

From the Mississippi to the Pacific

Edited by Richard Etulain

Publication Year: 2010

This essay collection traces the full outline of Abraham Lincoln’s important links with the trans-Mississippi American West. The volume features seven reprinted essays, two new ones, an introductory overview, and a bibliographic essay.  

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Front Flap

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Book Title

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pp. iii


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pp. iv


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xi

This volume attempts what no other book has done. Among the more than fifteen thousand books written about Abraham Lincoln, none has sketched out the full dimensions of his important connections with the trans-Mississippi American West. A few scholars have focused on one Lincoln link with the West, and a limited number of books present an episode or two of ...

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Abraham Lincoln and the Trans-Mississippi American West: An Introductory Overview

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pp. 1-67

On the last day of his life, Abraham Lincoln was thinking about the American West. When Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House, visited the president in the White House on the morning of Good Friday, 14 April 1865, Lincoln requested Colfax to carry a message to miners in California. “Tell the miners,” Lincoln directed, that he would “promote their interests ...

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1. Lincoln and the Mexican War: An Argument by Analogy

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pp. 68-89

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 ...

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2. Lincoln, the West, and the Antislavery Politics of the 1850s

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pp. 90-112

On February 27, 1860, a large crowd sat at New York City’s Cooper Union as William Cullen Bryant, the poet and Republican editor of the New York Evening Post, introduced that evening’s speaker. Bryant said, “The great West, my friends, is a potent auxiliary in the battle we are fighting, for Freedom against Slavery.” He added, “These children of the West, my ...

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3. Lincoln, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Admission of Nevada

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pp. 113-120

The scholars and the debunkers have pared away much of the “Lincoln legend”—the hagiography which not only canonized the man but presented him posthumously with a united and sympathetic party. Today the schoolboy knows that Lincoln was both political manager and statesman, and he knows that Lincoln had bitter enemies and outspoken ...

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4. Lincoln and the Territorial Patronage: The Ascendancy of the Radicals in the West

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pp. 121-133

"How pleasant to think of, and how delightful to enjoy are those nice fat offices that our generous Uncle has provided.” In these words, Jared Benson, an influential Minnesota Republican, alluded in 1859 to the interest of his party in the federal patronage.1The Republican victory of 1860 placed the selection of a host of officials in the hands of triumphant party leaders ...

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5. Lincoln’s New Mexico Patronage: Saving the Far Southwest for the Union

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pp. 134-152

New Mexico Territory receives scant mention in connection with the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. Historians have generally concluded that Lincoln and other federal officials attached no great value to the territory and mostly neglected it. It is true that Lincoln could devote little attention to the administration of thewestern territories during ...

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6. The Tribe of Abraham: Lincoln and the Washington Territory

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pp. 153-173

On November 6, 1860, the day American voters cast their ballots for a new president, a politically active farmer living on Puget Sound asked, “Who is Elected? or is any one Chosen? If the People have made a choice, which is probable, that Choice has undoubtedly fallen on Lincoln.”The prospect did not seem reassuring. “I have faint hope that Lincoln may be ...

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7. Dr. Anson G. Henry (1804–65): Lincoln’s Junkyard Dog

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pp. 174-188

In July 1865, still mourning the murder of Lincoln, the Pacific Coast suffered more sorrow when the wooden-hulled, double side-wheel steamer Brother Jonathan went down in the roiling surf off Crescent City in northern California. For a dozen years and more, she had set speed records on both coasts and was still recognized as the swiftest between San Francisco and ...

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8. The Mormon Connection: Lincoln, the Saints, and the Crisis of Equality

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pp. 189-209

"Political liberty,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, “bestows exalted pleasures from time to time upon a certain number of citizens. Equality every day confers a number of small enjoymentsoneveryman.The charms of equality are every instant felt and are within the reach of all.” Democratic communities, he explained, have a passion for equality that is “ardent, insatiable ...

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9. Lincoln and the Indians

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pp. 210-229

The date was August 21, 1862.The news came at the worst possible moment in the war for the Union. Abraham Lincoln’s armies were desperate for manpower, and it appeared that Lincoln might even have difficulty defending Washington against Confederate attack. The telegram from the governor of Minnesota read: “The Sioux Indians on our western border ...

Lincoln and the American West: A Bibliographical Essay and a Bibliography

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pp. 233-250


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pp. 251-252

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pp. 253

I wish to thank the following journals, publishers, and authors for allowing me to reprint the following essays in this collection. Mark E. Neely Jr. “Lincoln and the Mexican War: An Argument by Analogy.” Civil War History 24 (March 1978): 5–24. Reprinted with permission of The Kent State University Press. Earl S. Pomeroy. “Lincoln, the Thirteenth Amendment, and the Admission ...


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pp. 255-262

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Author Bio

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pp. 263

Richard W. Etulain is a professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico. A specialist in the history and literature of the American West, he has authored or edited more than forty-five books on U.S., and particularly western U.S., culture. His books include Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature (1983, 1996), The American West: A ...

Back cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809385584
E-ISBN-10: 0809385589
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329618
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329611

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • West (U.S.) -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • United States -- Territorial expansion -- History -- 19th century.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
  • Slavery -- United States -- Extension to the territories.
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