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With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union Paperback – June 24, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is the best book I have ever read about Reconstruction during the Lincoln administration. With Charity for All offers a powerful argument for the continuity of Lincoln's generous approach to Reconstruction, and it provides a wealth of information showing how the president's mind worked. I only wish I had had this first-rate book before me when I was writing my Lincoln biography."―Journal of American History

"2nd place winner of the 1997 Lincoln Prize."―

"Harris offers powerful, fresh arguments about the pros and cons of Lincoln's policies, and supports all of his conclusions with first-rate scholarship and writing."―Civil War Courier

"Essential reading for all interested in wartime Reconstruction."―Georgia Historical Quarterly

"A detailed, well-organized overview of Lincoln's reconstruction policy."―History

"A very fine book in every way, and an important contribution to Reconstruction historiography. Harris writes clearly with an easy style that effortlessly keeps his readers on track."―Illinois Historical Journal

"Harris brings impressive research and new sophistication to an old question."―North & South

About the Author

William C. Harris was named an Alumni Distinguished Professor for Research at North Carolina State University on the basis of this book.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; 1st edition (June 24, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081310971X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813109718
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,671,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. W. Stone on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
mwstone@aol.com

This book is a must for all those interested in Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and the Reconstruction period which followed it.

Its theme is the "pre-history" of Reconstruction, dealing with the attempts by Lincoln, whilst the war was still in progress, to re-establish loyal governments in various southern states. Some of this, notably the well-known Louisiana experiment, has been written about before, but much is included which will be new to the general reader. For instance, Tennessee and Arkansas, both of which have been rather neglected in comparison to Louisiana, get a fairer share of attention in this work. The Tennessee chapter is particularly interesting as it includes some of the prehistory of Andrew Johnson, and perhaps illuminates some of the personality traits which helped to land him in trouble as President. Better still, there are whole chapters devoted to the more obscure Reconstruction projects in Florida and North Carolina, of which I had vaguely heard but about which I knew virtually nothing. All in all, a valuable addition to my education on a subject which has always interested me.

Also, this book registers a firm, and (in my opinion at any rate) long overdue, note of scepticism about the picture, grown fashionable in recent years, of Lincoln as a sort of "closet" Radical Reconstructionist, who by the end of his life was all set to move away from his former policies, and adopt much if not all of the Radical Republican programme.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Beauregard on January 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
Who would have thought that at such a late date, a historian could produce a work that so brilliantly and sharply alters our perceptions of the thinking and policies of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most written-about figures in history? Harris makes the reader realize that previous scholars have not been methodical or rigorous enough in examining Lincon's reconstuction policy. Given Lincon's immense prestige, contemporaries and historians have struggled to make his opinions match theirs. After Lincoln's death, Radical Republicans who bitterly opposed his reconstruction policy keenly felt the need to convince the public (and perhaps themselves) that Lincoln, before his death, had begun to come around to their way of thinking. Too many historians have mistakenly accepted this deceptive assertion. As Harris powerfully demonstrates, Lincoln's reconstruction policies were extremely consistent, and one must also say, very conservative. Due to his desire to prevent anarchy and restore order and stable, "republican" (with a lowercase r) government, Lincoln was willing to allow "loyal" Southern whites an almost free hand in reestablishing state governments, as long as they abolished slavery and granted African Americans minimal legal rights. Contrary to the later assertions of the Radicals, Lincoln evidently never determined to insist on voting rights, or perhaps even full legal equality, for African Americans. (He may have been willing to accept discriminatory "Black codes" or even a slavery-like apprentice system). Given Lincoln's immense prestige, it is more than a little disturbing to consider what the results of his policies would have been if implemented.Read more ›
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert Govier on November 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
With the secession of the Southern States after the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and the subsequent secession of the upper South after firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, reconstruction, or restoration as William Harris claims, was underway. Lincoln upon his inauguration extended an olive branch to his "dissatisfied fellow countrymen" promising them that the Federal Government, nor he, would assail them or their institutions if they agreed to return to the Union. Lincoln did everything in his power as president of the United States to keep the Southern states intact and a part of the United States of America. It was the decision of the Southern states to pursue war and not that of Lincoln.
William C. Harris, a professor of history at North Carolina State University, chronicles Lincoln's many attempts at restoring the nation to avoid war, and eventually to try and shorten the war in his fine work With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union. (1997) Harris starts out analyzing Lincoln's first inaugural address and points out Lincoln's belief that the Southern states could not secede from the Union. Lincoln believed that the Union was inseparable and thus there was no legitimacy to the Confederate States of America, and their illegal government. Lincoln felt that individuals and not states had rebelled against the United States Government. Thus, Lincoln's task was clear, he had to suppress the rebellion and restore loyal governments in the South. Harris shows how Lincoln never wavered from this theory throughout his work. The states were indestructible and it was his job as president to return them to there "proper practical relationship with the Union.
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