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Lincoln on Lincoln

Paul Zall

Publication Year: 1999

" Though Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of numerous biographies, his personality remains an enigma. During his lifetime, Lincoln prepared two sketches of his life for the 1860 presidential race. These brief campaign portraits serve as the core around which Paul Zall weaves extracts from correspondence, speeches, and interviews to produce an in-depth biography. Lincoln's writing about himself offers a window into the soul and mind of one of America's greatest president. His words reveal an emotional evolution typically submerged in political biographies. Lincoln on Lincoln shows a man struggling to reconcile personal ambition and civic virtue, conscience and Constitution, and ultimately the will of God and the will of the people. Zall frames Lincoln's words with his own illuminating commentary, providing a continuous, compelling narrative. Beginning with Lincoln's thoughts on his parents, the story moves though his youth and early successes and failures in law and politics, and culminates in his clashes and conflicts--internal as well as external--as president of a divided country. Through his writings, Lincoln said much more about himself than is commonly recognized, and Zall uses this material to create a unique portrait of this pivotal figure.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. vii

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pp. ix

The excerpts in this book have been selected to tell a story of Abraham Lincoln's life in his own words. They have been put together from his writings, speeches, and interviews with preference for those recorded as the events or ideas unfolded. His own writings have been supplemented...

Some Important Dates

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pp. xi-xiii

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pp. 1-4

This book came about in trying to understand what Lincoln was really like. He leads in every twentieth-century poll of presidential greatness. He is perennially subjected to biographies for all ages. Yet his personality remains one of the nation's unsolved mysteries. He himself composed...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 5

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1. Surviving the Frontier

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pp. 7-19

I was born February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky.1 My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families-second families, perhaps I should say. My paternal grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or...

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2. Finding a New Life in New Salem

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pp. 21-34

An adventurer from Kentucky, Denton Offutt promised cousin John Hanks, stepbrother John Johnston, and Lincoln 50 cents a day and 60 dollars to trade a flat-boat load of pork, corn, and live hogs down to New Orleans. Offutt came from a respected Kentucky family but somehow had...

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3. Seeking a Fortune in Springfield

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pp. 35-67

On April 15, 1837 removed to Springfield, and commenced the practice, his old friend, Stuart taking him into partnership.1...

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4. Making His Way with Wit and Wisdom

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pp. 69-88

I never was much interested in the Texas question. I never could see much good to come of annexation; inasmuch, as they were already a free republican people on our own model; on the other hand, I never could very clearly see how the annexation would augment the evil of slavery. It...

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5. Stumping the State and the Nation

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pp. 89-113

In the autumn of that year he took the stump with no broader practical aim or object than to secure, if possible, the re-election of Hon Richard Yates to congress. His speeches at once attracted a more marked attention than they had ever before done. As the canvass proceeded, he...

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6. Preserving, Protecting, Defending

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pp. 115-144

"It was just after my election in 1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great 'Hurrah, boys!' so that I was all tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau, with a swinging- glass...

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7. Making Peace, All Passion Spent

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pp. 145-173

You dislike the emancipation proclamation; and, perhaps, would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests its Commander-in-Chief, with the laws of war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is that slaves are...


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pp. 175-181

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 183-189


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pp. 191-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780813128023
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813121413

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 1999