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Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union Hardcover – August 13, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Sew edition (August 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674066901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674066908
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


When Lincoln published a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, warning Confederate states of his intention to issue a final edict on January 1, he did not realize that those two dates stood precisely one hundred days apart. Louis Masur's Lincoln's Hundred Days focuses on that crucial period, but it starts more than a year earlier to set the stage for those hundred days, and follows up with the aftermath and consequences of Lincoln's historic action. Masur...argue[s] persuasively that the progression of events during that critical autumn of the war were full of contingencies and that the final outcome was by no means certain...Provide[s] detailed and careful renderings of these events and of Lincoln's intellectual journey. (James M. McPherson New York Review of Books 2012-11-22)

Among the strengths of Masur's book is its account of how the war changed minds--from enlisted and conscripted men to those directing the war--by introducing 'slavery to soldiers as a reality, not as an abstraction.'
(Andrew Delbanco New Republic 2013-08-19)

[A] splendid book. (Ed Voves California Literary Review 2012-10-25)

A moving, accessible portrayal of Lincoln as a deeply humble, strangely physical presence who spoke in oracular parables. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-08-01)

A lucid and learned account of the process whereby Lincoln moved toward emancipation, and once so committed, made it the lodestar of the Union... Masur makes much of the importance blacks attributed to the document as their Declaration of Independence and the importance of black soldiers in giving it force... This is now the best work on the proclamation. As its sesquicentennial looms (January 2013), all persons wanting to understand the contingency of freedom should read this book. (Randall M. Miller Library Journal (starred review) 2012-08-01)

Masur delivers an intelligent account of how Lincoln balanced politics with the goal of ending slavery... Readers will enjoy his rich, perceptive history of the passionate maneuvering that produced it. (Publishers Weekly 2012-07-23)

Masur takes a pivotal moment in time and opens it up like a master watchmaker, revealing the intricate, hidden mechanisms, the tensions and balances, concealed within the most momentous decision that an American president has ever made. A finely wrought and important book. (Adam Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening)

Masur has written a compelling, convincing page-turner about a dramatic period in history that too many Americans take for granted--the fraught hundred days between Lincoln's preliminary and final proclamations of freedom, when the fate of liberty itself hung in the balance. Here is superb scholarship and high drama combined into a rich and rewarding narrative. (Harold Holzer, author of Emancipating Lincoln)

A stirring and penetrating account of those tense days between Lincoln's preliminary edict and the final Emancipation Proclamation. The story will keep the reader on the edge of his seat until the final pages. (James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom)

A vital book about the meaning of the Civil War, and of America, brilliantly conceptualized, deeply researched, and elegantly written by one of the foremost scholars of the Civil War era. With fresh insights throughout, coupled with subtle and judicious syntheses, it should be read by anyone interested in America's past. (John Stauffer, author of Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln)

About the Author

Louis P. Masur is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University.

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Customer Reviews

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Albiani on December 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Always knowing that "Lincoln freed the slaves" really doesn't get the reality How he led the racist, and even worse, indifferent people of the North to fight for freedom for the slaves was a testament to Lincoln's leadership While he was attacked for moving too slowly he never
wavered from his mission While he always hated slavery he didn't see any way he could legally do anything about it where it was and could only fight its expansion. His true feelings were made clear when in the first few months of his presidency he was faced with the trial of a captain of a slave ship captured with almost 900 slaves on board. While there had been many such seizures before and even though it was technically a capital offence nothing was ever done to the owners or captains of such vessels. There were over 100 such slave vessels operating out of New York in 1860 and this was the first while Lincoln was President. The captain was shocked to hear his sentence of death. He was even more shocked when Lincoln refused to pardon or commute his sentence. In affirming the sentence Lincoln said "I believe I am kindly enough in nature and can be moved to pity.and to pardon the perpetrator of almost the worst crime that the mind of man can conceive or the arm of man can execute; but any man, who for paltry gain and stimulated only by avarice, can rob Africa of her children to sell into interminable bondage, I will never pardon, and he may stay and rot in jail before he will ever get any relief from me." The captain, Nathaniel Gordon, was hanged on Feb 21, 1862, the only execution for the slave trade in American history and it was the end of the slave trade from Africa to the US. This shows clearly how Lincoln felt about slavery.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christian Schlect VINE VOICE on September 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A nicely done and accurate account of the months leading up to the issuance on January 1, 1863, of the Emancipation Proclamation, and this powerful act's immediate aftermath.

Professor Masur, with a ready command of the contemporary sources, takes the reader through the conflicting political, constitutional, military, and moral forces that acted upon President Lincoln as he struggled to a policy decision that ranks in importance with the Declaration of Independence in our country's history.

Those desiring a more general description of Civil War events in 1862 should consider reading The Library of America's excellent "Civil War: The Second Year Told By Those Who Lived It" as edited by Stephen W. Sears.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In November, 1862, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay, "The President's Proclamation" in praise of President Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued on September 22, 1862. Emerson began his essay: "In so many arid forms which States incrust themselves with, once in a century, if so often, a poetic act and record occur." Emerson continued: "Every step in the history of political liberty is a sally of the human mind into the untried future, and has the interest of genius, and is fruitful in heroic anecdotes. Liberty is a slow fruit. It comes, like religion, for short periods, and in rare conditions, as if awaiting a culture of the race which shall make it organic and permanent." Emerson found Lincoln's September 22 Proclamation an "eminent example" of the slow fruit of liberty, placing it among human "acts of great scope, working on a long future, and on permanent interests, and honoring alike those who initiate and those who receive them."

Louis Masur uses Emerson's statement, "liberty is a slow fruit" as an epigraph of his book on the Emancipation Proclamation, "Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union" (2012) and also discusses Emerson's essay at length. Masur used the title for his own essay on the Emancipation Proclamation which developed into this book; and Emerson's observation could well serve as the theme of the study. Masur, Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University, has written extensively on the Civil War as well as on Bruce Springsteen.

The title of Masur's book refers to the 100 days between September 22, 1862, when Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation and January 1,1863, when he issued the final Emancipation Proclamation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Tom on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Lincoln’s Hundred Days is a long overdue and terrific study of a critical time period in American History. Even Lincoln, when discussing the time between the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued on September 22, 1862 and the final Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863 with Francis Carpenter, noted that, "It was a somewhat remarkable fact . . . that there were just one hundred days between the dates of the two proclamations, issued upon the 22nd of September and the 1st of January. I had not made the calculation at the time." In a very real way that statement accurately characterizes many of the calculations Lincoln did and did not make, which Masur so richly details in his scholarly and thorough dissection of this momentous interval and the events that led to it. Lincoln was such a master of misdirection, as demonstrated by his response the Horace Greeley’s critical editorial, that it is difficult to ascertain with precision why he acted as he did. Constitutional experts at the time disagreed, sometimes quite vociferously, whether or not Lincoln possessed the power to emancipate as part of his war powers. Even today scholars disagree as to what was actually accomplished, though many agree that January 1, 1863 changed the direction and character of the Civil War. As late as his message to Congress in 1862, which took place during the hundred days, Lincoln was still promoting voluntary colonization, which some thought incongruous with the spirit of emancipation. No doubt Republicans did lose ground in the 1862 elections, which some saw as a referendum on the upcoming proclamation, but by and large Lincoln had correctly gauged public opinion as well as the even more critical opinion of the soldiers in the field.Read more ›
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