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Customer Review

123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a classic book on Lincoln and required reading, October 14, 2010
This review is from: The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (Hardcover)
We see Abraham Lincoln as "The Great Emancipator", who ended slavery in the United States of America. Lincoln's words describe and inspire us, remaining as current as the day they were spoke. We see Lincoln not as the man but as the larger than life occupant of the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln's 1860 nomination is not because he is or is thought to be "The Great Emancipator". Lincoln is a moderate on slavery and race, acceptable to both wings of the party.
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. Questions on transporting four million people to Africa or some other location is not answered. Nor is the question of how many Blacks voluntary will leave the United States.
Black rights are the major problem. To avoid full citizenship, "rights" are subdivided into acceptable and unacceptable units. Natural rights, not being enslaved, being allowed to seek work and being secure in your person are acceptable because they enshrined in The Declaration of Independence. Political rights, being able to vote, serve on a jury or testify in court are questionable. The majority of Northern States say no to these rights. A few liberals accept "more intelligent Negros" as possible candidates for political rights. Social rights, being able to mix with whites as equals are not considered. Lincoln spends a good deal of his time answering Democratic attacks in this area.
This is a history of Lincoln's journey from Whig to Republican, from gradual to immediate emancipation from colonization to political rights. America move along with Lincoln, one sometimes ahead of the other but both leading and encouraging the other. It is not an easy journey nor is it a quick one.
Eric Foner is an excellent author and historian. This well-written book is informative and easy read. Forner is careful to maintain a balanced approach and never descends into bashing, Lincoln, America or the South. This should be a classic book on Lincoln and required reading.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 18, 2010 8:59:55 PM PDT
Hzleyes says:
I heard a great interview with the author on NPR, Fresh Air. Thinking about buying for my Kindle. You must have a hardcopy ver?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 20, 2010 7:32:11 PM PDT
I do have the hardcopy version, all my reviews are from books.

Posted on Nov 17, 2010 7:39:09 AM PST
Not to be too nit-picky, but:

The author's surname is Foner, not Forner.

Lincoln was once a Whig, not a Wig.

Posted on Jul 22, 2011 8:21:29 AM PDT
T. Bill says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2011 11:04:09 AM PDT
Required reading for an American Civil War person or for a Lincoln person.

Posted on Aug 1, 2011 2:18:17 PM PDT
Connie says:
Eric Foner is THE Lincoln espert. I started reading this book last week and there are things about that man I never knew before. Foner really knows his topic.
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