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Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point Hardcover – June 13, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this careful, balanced look at Abraham Lincoln's stirring 1854 Peoria, Ill., speech, writer and historian Lehrman finds a "prelude to greatness" that put the little-known lawyer and politician on the path to national prominence while laying the intellectual groundwork for his presidency. The subject was slavery, already the great question of 19th century America, recently reignited with the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that repealed earlier anti-slavery laws for certain new territories. Arguing that the fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence extended to African-Americans, Lincoln took an abolitionist position daring for any politician with national ambitions (though he did not go so far as to advocate for full social or political equality). Lehrman also considers Lincoln's Illinois nemesis, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, sponsor of the new Kansas-Nebraska Act who spoke at Peoria before Lincoln as a stalwart booster of "the rights of whites to enslave blacks." Ably building on the drama of Lincoln's anti-slavery efforts through subsequent years, culminating in his ascent to the presidency, Lehrman's detailed chronicle, rich in first-person accounts, lays out the case that from his earliest public forays, Lincoln was no ordinary leader.
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About the Author

Lewis E. Lehrman is dedicated to reviving the teaching of American history in its schools and colleges. Mr. Lehrman has written and lectured widely on American history and economics and has written for publications such as Harper's, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the New York Sun, and Policy Review. He also writes for the Lincoln Institute, which has created award-winning websites on the sixteenth president. With Richard Gilder, Mr. Lehrman built the Gilder Lehrman Collection of original historical manuscripts and documents to teach American history from primary sources, now on deposit for public access at the New-York Historical Society. He was presented the National Humanities Medal at the White House in 2005 for his work in American history and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Lincoln Forum.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; 1St Edition edition (June 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811703614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811703611
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

LEWIS E. LEHRMAN has written widely about history, economic and monetary policy in publications such as Harper's, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, Policy Review, Crisis, New York Post, Greenwich Time, The American Spectator, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, National Review and The New York Times. His writings about monetary economics earned him an appointment by President Ronald Reagan to the Presidential Gold Commission in 1981. Along with Congressman Ron Paul, Lewis Lehrman collaborated on a minority report of the commission, which was published as The Case for Gold (1982). He is also the author of The True Gold Standard: A Monetary Reform Plan without Official Reserve Currencies (2012) and Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point (2008). He edited the 2012 edition of Money and the Coming World Order.

In April of 1987, Lehrman joined Morgan Stanley & Company, investment bankers, as a Senior Advisor and a Director of Morgan Stanley Asset Management. In 1988, he became a Managing Director of the firm. He is presently Senior Partner of L. E. Lehrman & Co., an investment firm he established.

Lehrman has been named to the advisory board of the American Principles Project's Gold Standard initiative. He heads The Gold Standard Now - a project of The Lehrman Institute. Established in 1972, The Lehrman Institute is a public policy foundation focused on history, economic and foreign policy, education, and local communities. He has been a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute, the Morgan Library, the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation and New-York Historical Society. He is a former Chairman of the Committee on Humanities of the Yale University Council.

Lehrman received the National Humanities Medal at the White House in 2005 for his teaching and studies of American history. In 2010, he was awarded the William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship.

Lehrman earned his B.A. from Yale where he became a Carnegie Teaching Fellow on the Yale faculty and an M.A. from Harvard where he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Lehrman has been awarded honorary degrees from Babson College (Babson Park, MA) where he was made a member of its Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame; Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA); Lincoln College (Lincoln, IL), Marymount University (Arlington, VA); and Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Weimer on June 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lewis Lehrman provides a thorough and interesting reconstruction of this pivotal Lincoln address. Here, in October of 1854, Lincoln marked his public transition from Illinois politician to national anti-slavery statesman.

Lehrman documents how Lincoln, in this rhetorical masterpiece, launched his powerful attack on the Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed by Congress only five months before. The Kansas-Nebraska Act voided the Missouri Compromise, allowing slavery to spread to northern parts of the Louisiana Purchase. Lincoln clearly saw that the Act undermined the hope that slavery would naturally take the road to extinction as America spread west.

Lehrman shows how most of Lincoln's future antislavery arguments were contained, at least in embryonic form, in this trail-blazing address. It was a speech that changed Lincoln, making him a permanent enemy to the expansion of slavery and the amoral pro-choice arguments of Senator Douglas, and setting the nation on the path to civil war.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Lincoln at Peoria: The Turning Point is an in-depth, historical and critical analysis of Abraham Lincoln's three-hour speech delivered at Peoria on October 16, 1854. The speech would come to mark a crucial turning point in Lincoln's political career, and therefore the history of America. Chapters give extensive historical context and frame of reference to Lincoln's speech, which firmly established his opposition to the further extension of slavery in the American republic and embodying Lincoln's anti-slavery campaign. A seminal and scholarly reference, Lincoln at Peoria is especially recommended for college library and American history shelves.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kirt Zimmer on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book provides excellent insight into the development of Abraham Lincoln's extraordinary leadership. I enjoyed the little details that helped me understand his charisma. Like most Americans, I had an understanding of the broad strokes of Lincoln's viewpoints, but this detailed analysis of a critically formative period really illustrated it in a powerful way. At points I almost felt as if I was right there. Lehrman clearly brought a powerful curiosity to this project and I'm grateful that he's shared the fruits of his labor with us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dennis W. Dillard on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lincoln At Peoria, The Turning Point
by Lewis E. Lehrman
published by Stackpole Books
"Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. Let us repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white, in the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution?" Mr. Lincoln, Peoria October 16, 1854.

Lincoln at Peoria is a stout tome of 412 pages, adorned by 808 footnotes and 14 pages of bibliography. The complete transcription of the three-hour speech in question occupies 51 of the pages.

At first glance, this work is a detailed analysis of what the Mr. Lehrman considers the defining point in the political career of Abraham Lincoln. He proceeds by investigating the development of Lincoln's political views leading to that precise and settled presentation at Peoria, dissecting the speech in great detail, and thoroughly demonstrating that Lincoln was guided by the foundations established therewith, from that point on until his death.

Surprisingly, what emerged for this reader was a distilled and simple picture of the temperament and philosophy of Abraham Lincoln. Contrary to some who would claim his mantle in our times, the author paints Lincoln as a conserver, pointing out that he was a "self-described conservative." Although he would use harsh means as President in order to save the Union, Lincoln was neither a radical nor a revolutionary seeking to set the nation on some new path - on the contrary, he was a purist and reformer, always urging a return to first and foundational principles. And he found those principles foremost in the Declaration of Independence, which he placed on an almost scriptural pedestal.

"In Lincoln's judgment, the objective moral order of the Declaration of Independence was timeless, universal, and immutable.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Many legends, from the factual to the sublime, have been constructed about the rise of Abraham Lincoln from obscure, backwoodsman, through personal and political defeat to the Presidency of the United States at its most crucial time. Lewis Lehrman shares his life's work and passion while illustrating that the true turning point in the political fortunes of Mr. Lincoln was a speech that he gave concerning "America's peculiar institution" of slavery in Peoria, IL on October 16, 1854. In the telling, he shows how this became a remarkable turning point in American and, indeed, world history.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Gilder on December 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am not a historian and have never fully grasped the greatness of Abraham Lincoln amid the towers of tomes that loom over this man and cast him in the multifarious shadows of his eminent biographers, impersonators, and iconographers. The eminent polymath Lewis Lehrman here has made the splendid strategic decision to stand back and let the man himself speak, while providing a rich and illuminating, wise and comprehensive study of the historic context. As a result the reader not only senses, and almost directly experiences, the greatness of Lincoln but also can grasp how a speech and a historic moment converged to propel this unlikely man to the center of our nation's supreme crisis and then to the pantheon of our greatest men. By focusing intensely on a single historic moment, Lehrman has achieved a more profound and convincing image of greatness than historians who approach their subject across wider paths of time and space.

At the heart of the matter is an issue that grows ever more acute--the meaning of "popular sovereignty," vaunted by Stephen Douglas as the answer to Lincoln's assertion that democratic majorities, however large and confident, have no right to enslave human beings. At the time the key issue was actual slavery. Today the demagogues of "popular sovereignty" favor a new and more subtle enslavement of the most productive citizens by majorities "spreading the wealth" to themselves. Lehrman shows that the Peoria speech and crisis remains a pivotal expression of both the vital promise and the continuing perils of popular majoritarian democracy. Lincoln understood deeply that democracy can only thrive in the context of an enduring moral and legal order affirmed by the religious truths of the Declaration of Independence.
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