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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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. The pressure was on Lincoln from all sides to retract the emancipation before it was finalized on January 1st but once he was committed there was no retreat.He was a leader who understood his country and the mind of men and slowly but surely took the United States into a new reality as no other man could have done.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 21, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 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. Perhaps emancipation was Lincoln’s “last card” as Carpenter related. If so he threw it at precisely the right moment and then stuck to his guns. There would be no retreat after January 1, 1863, and as the recent movie Lincoln so richly demonstrated, emancipation would become triumphant via the 13th Amendment whose passage Lincoln worked so energetically to insure. Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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. In the central chapter of his study, Masur examines closely the highly varied public response to the Preliminary Proclamation and describes how the response set the stage for the final version. Although the Emancipation Proclamation has been written about extensively, the "100 days" has not received the degree of focus that Masur offers. He examines critical and supportive views of the Proclamation and its legality from the legal and scholarly community of the day. He discusses the differing responses from the news media, from those in military service, from the broad public and from politicians. Masur discusses the impact of the Proclamation on foreign relations and on what was feared as Britain's intervention on behalf of the Confederacy. Masur discusses the uncertain impact of the Proclamation on the mid-term Congressional elections. He discusses the military course of the Civil War during the 100 days. Most importantly, he discusses how Lincoln's own thinking evolved and solidified during this time. There were those who thought that Lincoln would fail to follow through on January 1, 1863, Masur examines Lincoln's slow, patient, but consistent course of action during this time and his determination to see the Proclamation through to its conclusion. The final Proclamation became perhaps the defining act of his presidency.

In the two surrounding chapters of the book, Masur covers more familiar ground in showing the slow generation of the proclamation from the early days of the Civil War to the impact of the Proclamation after it was issued. Masur emphasizes throughout the "slow fruit" of liberty as the Emancipation Proclamation expanded the aims of the Civil War from the original goal of preserving the Union to the additional and related goal of ending slavery.

Masur shows how Lincoln's ideas grew slowly and as a response to the slow change in public perception of the war. He pays strong attention to the pragmatic realism of Lincoln's approach in his attempt to keep the loyalty of the border states and to avoid getting too far ahead of public opinion. The Proclamation followed the fortunes of the War. Lincoln became convinced that he had the authority to issue the Proclamation as a matter of military necessity in his position as commander in chief. Lincoln, in Masur's account, remained strongly committed to Constitutionalism.

With the issuance of the final Proclamation, African Americans began to serve in the Union Army in great numbers. Masur devotes substantial attention to the African American contribution to the war effort and to the reaction both of free African Americans and of slaves to the Emancipation Proclamation. He examines the impact of the Proclamation on the soldiers in uniform and finds that, on the whole, the opposition that the Proclamation surely would have received in the early days of the war had been muted substantially by time and by events. Masur discusses the way in which Emancipation changed the ways in which the war was fought and how Lincoln implemented the goals of the Proclamation with an ever surer sense of purpose. Lincoln's efforts culminated in the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which bars slavery and involuntary servitude.

The book offers a detailed exploration of the historical record using some little examined source material. For example,Masur makes extensive uses of the diary of Count Adam Gurowski,, a Polish exile who worked for the State Department. Gurowski recorded his frequently acerbic and uncomplimentary thoughts on Lincoln and what Gurowski perceived as Lincoln's temporizing. Masur makes good use of Gurowski's diary in exploring changing perspectives on the Emancipation Proclamation.

Masur also offers his own analysis and assessment of the historical record. For example, in an insightful passage he writes:

"Union was a condition; liberty an idea. The Emancipation Proclamation remade the war into a new cause. It gave meaning to lives lost, and it gave purpose to a conflict that seemed fatally directionless -- a battle here, a battle there, but no vision beyond restoring the Union, which was no vision at all. This is not to say that Union was not an important ideal -- only that it was a restorative rather than a transformative idea. Colonel Theodore Gates of the 20th New York State Militia saw into the future: 'President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation will take its place among the most important papers of the age & will by & by stand side by side with out Declaration of Independence.'"

The book emphasizes the slow, deliberative character of Lincoln's development of the Emancipation Proclamation. This "slow fruit" character of the development of liberty was of crucial importance at the time. It may have contemporary importance as well. The book includes detailed endnotes together with four different versions of the Emancipation Proclamation, but it lacks a bibliography. Readers interested in understanding American history and in reflecting on the American experience will learn from Masur's book.

Robin Friedman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
There are many turning points in American history -- decisions and events that changed the nation's social or political or economic structure. Almost without exception, these pivot points are formed as a response to major national calamities - the New Deal stemming from the Great Depression, the Constitution that was so directly shaped by the men who fought the Revolutionary War, the Marshall Plan that sustained democracies in Europe and insured the continued involvement of America in the wider world after World War II. Perhaps none of these pivot points was as meaningful or as deeply powerful as the Emancipation Proclamation, promulgated by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, which freed the slaves throughout the rebellious South. Thus, the long march towards racial equality began, ending a national disgrace that began before the Union was formed in 1776.

Although Lincoln wrestled with the solution to the slavery issue for many years prior to the Proclamation, his attitude towards the institution itself was as consistent as any of his judgments on public issues. He felt that "if slavery is not wrong then nothing is wrong." The solution to the problem, however, was not at all clear. Only as the tide of the Civil War began to change, with the first half of the war showing the weaknesses of the North and the brilliance of the Southern military but then - beginning with Antietam in September 1862 -- the gradual emergence of the North's fighting machinery, could Lincoln become more forceful in the dismantlement of slavery in the South. His thoughts on the solution to the slavery issue rapidly jelled in the late-summer and fall of 1862. The culmination of these thoughts - which at various times included colonization of remote Caribbean islands and confiscation of only those slaves whose owners were in open rebellion to the Federal government - was the meeting of his cabinet on September 22, 1862, at which he revealed that he had decided to emancipate slaves held in the rebellious territories. This meeting, only five days after Antietam, marked a watershed shift in Lincoln's thinking. It would be followed one hundred days later with the publication of the Proclamation.

Louis Masur tells the story of Lincoln's tortuous journey from a stubborn reluctance to interfere with the institution of slavery, odious as it was, to his declaration of freedom for the slaves held in the South. His action was derided by the abolitionists of the North who contended that Lincoln had freed the slaves in war zones where the Union forces had no ability to enforce the new law but had denied freedom to those slaves in the border states and the North where the Union had the power to execute the law. True, but Lincoln was convinced, correctly as it turned out, that the extinction of slavery in precisely the section of the country where it was strongest would cause the end of slavery everywhere. And it did, with the ratification in 1865 of the Thirteenth Ammendment which abolished slavery throughout the nation. Masur tells the story with his lens firmly on the debates that swirled around and within the administration on the timing and scope of the emancipation, the conscription of the freed slaves into the Union army, and the changing politics of the country. After all, the Democrats surged in the mid-term election of 1862, leading Lincoln to conclude that he might well be a one-term president.

Masur does a first-class job in telling this story. The mood of the North was rapidly changing and he details these shifting sentiments through copious quotations from the periodicals and news journals of the time. The reader is led through the path, step by step, that Lincoln takes in concluding that emancipation is the correct answer. In order to understand his thinking one must, however, be aware of the many other parts of the Civil War story. These are not discussed in any detail but rather are referred to largely in passing. We must know the importance of Antietam, the slaughter at the first Bull Run, the attitude of the British which leaned towards the South for much of the war, and the strains that faced Lincoln in handling the military aspects of the war.

This is a wonderful book told by what I can only conclude is one of the nation's most talented young historians. Masur, who trained under the great James McPherson, has many more books ahead of him. This reader awaits those with great anticipation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Great read. Feels like an eyewitness account. Everyone should read. Paints a clear and easy to follow picture of a very difficult subject.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A great history lesson. Perhaps too much quotation from various congressmen and journalist and others as to why they agreed or disagreed with every move the President made.
It reads well. This book serves well for college but a condensed version is needed for high school.
A must for the history buffs.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Louis P. Masur's Lincoln's Hundred Days is an excellent book to read as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation is marked in 2013. Richly detailed, the book covers the hundred day period between the writing of a preliminary Proclamation and the final signing of the document and its issuance on January 1, 1863. The fluctuating President Lincoln struggles in his decision making. A vast array of Americans and foreigners are heard from as to their views about the efficacy of freeing the slaves. Masur's research points to a major struggle in the march to freedom for all Americans, a struggle with consequences down to this day.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Louis Masur's book is beautifully written, and offers a refreshing perspective on Lincoln given the current media (popular movies on Lincoln). As always, his books are captivating and make every topic enjoyable.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I have always enjoyed biographies. This is my first but not last book I will read on Lincoln. Reading Decision Points led me to search out a book on Abraham Lincoln. President Bush seems big fan of Lincoln and referenced him several times. This book was very informative. I learned so many things about the war and the Proclamation itself that I never knew. Excellent reading!
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