Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Preface

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

Most people like Abraham Lincoln. He has his critics, to be sure, and any mature evaluation of his character must include recognition of his entirely human shortcomings, mistakes, and oddities. But on the whole, it is fair to say that the vast majority of Americans, indeed a fair number of people around the world, find Lincoln to be an appealing man—a good guy. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-4

Frederick Douglass once called Abraham Lincoln a white man’s president, during a speech he delivered in 1876 at the dedication of the Freedmen’s Monument in Washington, D.C. His exact words, spoken before a predominantly white crowd, were, “[Lincoln] was preeminently the white man’s President, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men.”1 ...

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1. Seven Negroes

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pp. 5-24

Abraham Lincoln’s first recorded, face-to-face encounter with people who were not white occurred on a river flatboat, sometime in 1828.1 He was in all likelihood terrified. ...

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2. White Trash

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pp. 25-43

Lincoln’s second recorded encounter with African Americans occurred three years later. He was once again traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and he was once again a crewman aboard a flatboat. This time, Lincoln’s embarkation point was Illinois, where he and his family had lived for a little over a year on a small farm near the town of Decatur. ...

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3. The Lebanon

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pp. 44-62

In 1841, on yet a third occasion, Lincoln encountered African Americans on a river, this time while traveling on a steamboat rather than a flatboat— and a well-appointed, modern steamboat at that. ...

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4. The White A and the Black B

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pp. 63-84

By the 1850s, Lincoln’s whiteness had several components, accumulated over a lifetime of experiences living within what was a more or less typical white cultural and social environment. He possessed a benign but nevertheless distinct sense of whiteness defined by the savage and black Other, ...

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5. The Broader Difference

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pp. 85-112

Despite the dire warnings of alarmists such as Stephen Douglas, any significant change in the relationship between black and white Americans (and by extension the predicament faced by other ethnic minorities in America) before 1860 was highly unlikely. ...

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6. Some Compunctions

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pp. 113-136

And yet he acted. When the moment of truth came on January 1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law. Some people wanted him to reconsider. “We think that the withdrawal of the Presidents [sic] proclamation from this State would harm the effect to quit our people and make them return to their allegiance to the United States Government, ...

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7. Abraham Africanus the First

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pp. 137-159

Lincoln’s last recorded encounter with an African American occurred on April 14, 1865, the day before he was assassinated. April 14 was an extraordinarily busy day for the president. Gen. Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox five days previously, and the capital was buzzing with excitement and activity, foretelling the end of the war. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 160-164

Frederick Douglass was not the only African American present at Lincoln’s second inaugural ceremony. Prior to 1865, black people were theoretically not allowed to attend presidential inaugurals. I qualify this with theoretically because crowd control in a city with the size and sprawling layout of the nation’s capital could not have been tight, ...

Notes

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pp. 165-194

Bibliography

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pp. 195-206

Index

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pp. 207-213

Back Cover

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