Unlike other books I have read on Lincoln, this book focuses on his political and Presidential talents, activities and strategies during a pivotal period in the history of our country. It is an in-depth exploration of why he was a successful political leader and why he ranks as a great President. It shows that the Republican Party was born of widespread indignation over the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which opened up the possibility that slavery could expand into the Northern territories if approved by a vote by the territorial settlers. Lincoln, a recognized political leader because of his active campaigning for previous Whig Presidential candidates, strongly opposed any such expansion of slavery. This became the prime issue in the famous debates of 1858 between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas.
The issue facing the Nation in the 1860 Presidential election and at the onset of the Civil War was a moral one: would the Nation permit the further expansion of slavery into the new territories? Most in the North said “no” because they viewed slavery as a moral evil. The leaders in the South said “yes” because they viewed slavery as an indispensable part of their social fabric and felt expansion was necessary to preserve their political influence.
The book does an excellent job of portraying Lincoln’s great character and talents in fashioning and leading a political consensus behind his war aims—preserving the Union at all costs—and how that consensus evolved over time from restoring the pre-War Union to refashioning a stronger Union through the prohibition of slavery.
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