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The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery Hardcover – October 4, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Starred Review. Original and compelling….In the vast library on Lincoln, Foner’s book stands out as the most sensible and sensitive reading of Lincoln’s lifetime involvement with slavery and the most insightful assessment of Lincoln’s―and indeed America’s―imperative to move toward freedom lest it be lost. An essential work for all Americans.” (Library Journal)
Top Customer Reviews
"The Fiery Trial" demands close attention, as the narrative thread winds and twists among the myriad complex issues presented by slavery and its attendent racism. In the end, the story does become one of change, how one extraordinary man traveled from the ordinary deep, casual racism of the time and place of his birth to a position that impelled him in the end to embrace a notion of equality that not only forbade slavery but demanded even-handed treatment before the law and even expanded to include that simple justice required extension of the right to vote. It was a long journey, and Lincoln was neither the perfect saint of later myth, nor the racist demon featured in so much recent revisionist history, but instead was a complex, real man who grew in stature to meet the greatest challenge of his era.
Foner sets out the story in chronological order. He strikes a fine balance between the competing demands of completeness and concision and does so with both sound scholarship and narrative flair. To say this book reads well is an understatement.
Of course we read that Lincoln grew up in border areas and had limited and somewhat ambivalent dealings with blacks. He talked about blacks in language that makes us cringe. He could be patronizing and yet he was increasingly aware. And his initial stance on slavery, which originally owed much to his "beau ideal," Henry Clay, seems in retrospect hopelessly naive. For many years, he favored a combination of gradual emancipation rather than outright abolition, compensation of slave-owners, and colonization of slaves in another nation rather than integration here. Bizarre as colonization seems to us now, among opponents of slavery it was for decades considered the only realistic option once slaves were emancipated. Even in the North, it was all but unthinkable that blacks could be integrated and enjoy social, legal and political equality.
It is widely understood that Lincoln's attitude toward blacks and slavery evolved, as did his insight into how to govern a divided nation in the midst of a war that almost daily threatened to arrive at his very doorstep.Read more ›
Abraham Lincoln's and Americans journey to emancipation is the subject of this excellent book. America faces serious divisions over slavery but very few over race. The wish to end slavery often did not include what to do with the former slaves. Northern states, with few slaves, accepted gradual emancipation and managed to tolerate their Black population. In the majority of Northern states Blacks could not vote, could not serve on a jury nor could they testify against a White person. Some Northern states essentially ban Blacks. In many more states, they are under server restrictions and required to post bonds to insure good conduct. Garrison said that Illinois is essentially a "slave state" due to the restrictive laws on Blacks.
This is a book about race relations more than about slavery. The majority agreed that slavery is "bad" but cannot see a reasonable exit. Gradual Emancipation is an acceptable answer. Slaves born after a set date become free when they become n years old. The current slaves either remain slaves or become free after n years. This pushes the race problem away, leaving it for another generation to deal with. Immediate Emancipation ends slavery but has few answers to the race question. Colonization is a popular answer.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A masterful analysis of Lincoln's shifting views on the slavery question and how they were influenced by the political realities attending the Civil war.Published 7 days ago by R. Thompson
This book brings to life the era of the Lincoln presidency. Insightful and fully supported with additional materials, it makes the most challenging time of American history much... Read morePublished 1 month ago by mona berrier
Had to read this for Undergrad. Foner paints Lincoln in a new and interesting light.Published 3 months ago by Beastly
An incredibly thorough analysis of Lincoln's view toward slavery. It examines how the different circumstances in his life affected his position on slavery, and how this position... Read morePublished 3 months ago by MALA 21
Foner has made Lincoln a man rather than a deity. He was hesitated but also determined. And as the author said "willing to growth".Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
"The Fiery Trial" delves deeply into Lincoln's views on slavery, and traces his attitudes as they evolve from his early years right up through his last speech as President. Read morePublished 3 months ago by R Helen
Interesting to read as Lincoln learns & grows in understanding. Books details much of the infighting going on in congress as the War continues.Published 4 months ago by S. Polk
A very scholarly book that provides greater detail to the evolution of President Lincoln's feelings about salver you in America. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Robert L. Petersen
Illumination of the life of Abraham Lincoln, which considers the complicated identification of the 'Great Emancipator'.Published 9 months ago by Neku