Abraham Lincoln has long been revered by blacks and whites alike as the "Great Emancipator." In recent years, however, this image has come under assault by scholars who question Lincoln's commitment to racial equality and who assert that he was in fact, as Frederick Douglass once noted, the "white man's president." Such arguments challenging deep-seated assumptions about our nation's most beloved leader demand serious investigation. What personal beliefs did Lincoln hold about the inherent differences or similarities between blacks and whites? How did his vision for race relations change as a result of the Civil War? What political, legal, and cultural circumstances prompted him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation? And in what ways have Americans chosen to remember Lincoln's legacy? Does he truly deserve his fame as the "Great Emancipator?" In this volume, seven historians attempt to answer these critical questions. Kenneth Winkle analyzes the racial climate of the early nineteenth-century Midwest in order to place Lincoln's views in context. K.R. Constantine Gutzman discusses the influence of Thomas Jefferson's racial politics upon Lincoln; and James N.
Leiker scrutinizes Lincoln's attitudes toward Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics as well as toward blacks. Phillip S. Paludan and Brian Dirck describe Lincoln's tortured deliberation over emancipation, while Dennis K. Boman uses Missouri as a case study of the president's delicate handling of this explosive issue. By tracing the changes in Lincoln's proposals for the future of liberated slaves, Michael Vorenberg argues that, despite what many Americans today would consider limitations, Lincoln demonstrated a remarkable openmindedness and capacity for growth.
Allen C. Guelzo opens the volume with a thought-provoking foreword. Brian R. Dirck is Assistant Professor of History and Political Science at Anderson University and is the author of two other books about Lincoln.