Lincoln's Defense of Politics: The Public Man and His Opponents in the Crisis Over Slavery
By: Thomas E. Schneider (author)Hardback
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Abraham Lincoln is chiefly remembered for two historic achievements: he freed the slaves, and he saved the Union. That Lincoln did these things is not controversial. What is controversial is the connection between the moral and constitutional aspects of these achievements. Lincoln refused to see them as exclusive, and thus would not uphold states' rights to the exclusion of abolition on moral grounds or allow one to serve in the other's place. In "Lincoln's Defense of Politics", Thomas E Schneider examines six key figures from among the states' rights constitutionalists (Alexander H Stephens, John C Calhoun, and George Fitzhugh) and the moral abolitionists (Henry David Thoreau, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglass). Schneider uses these men to illustrate the universal significance of the slavery question and to shed light upon the importance of politics in decision-making. Secession and war deprived Abraham Lincoln of the opportunity to demonstrate to the South that while he was opposed to any further extension of slavery, he bore no feelings of ill will toward the southern people.
Lincoln did not expect southerners to concur with his party's view of slavery as morally wrong, but he called on them as "national men" to consider whether sectional harmony was likely to be restored on any basis other than the one proposed by the Republicans. "Lincoln's Defense of Politics" addresses a question of perennial interest and significance: what is the nature and value of politics? Political theorists as well as scholars of American political thought will find this work of particular value.
THOMAS E. SCHNEIDER is Research Associate at the Editorial Institute at Boston University.
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- ID: 9780826216069
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