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Abraham Lincoln's Political Faith Hardcover – May 1, 2003
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"Fornieri walks with eyes wide open
armed with a first-rate knowledge of a wide range of studies." -- The Journal of American History
"One of the best overviews for understanding Lincoln's politics." -- Allen Guelzo, author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President
"Presents a strong vision of Lincoln's political religion." -- Martin E. Marty, University of Chicago
"This is a book that will enlighten historians even as it stimulates political theorists to affirmation or rebuttal." -- American Historical Review
About the Author
Joseph R. Fornieri is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rochester Institute of Technology. He received the 20012002 Eisenhart Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
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Critics of Lincoln's policies (both those of his time and modern ones) have attributed his strengthening of the federal government, his use of Biblical references in speeches and letters, and his Emancipation Proclamation, to cynical reasons (including messianic ambitions on Lincoln's part). Fornieri addresses and convincingly refutes these arguments, using voluminous quotes from throughout Lincoln's life. The author effectively counters the argument that Lincoln's use of Scripture in speeches and letters was merely an affectation for political convenience or just the common mode of speech at the time. Fornieri shows, through the use of Lincoln's letters and speeches (pre-Presidential and later), that Lincoln's religious faith -although non-sectarian- was sincere and heartfelt. The author also defends Lincoln's actions during the war, including the Emancipation Proclamation, as wholly consistent with his long-standing personal and political beliefs, as well as with the intent of men like Jefferson.
One of the most interesting sections in the book, in my opinion, is the analysis of the theological/Scriptural arguments used by proslavery clergy to not only defend slavery, but to attack antislavery efforts as heretical and "against God's will". Fornieri takes this topic, which is seldom-discussed (particularly by modern-day Confederacy apologists) and shows how Lincoln elegantly and effectively countered the alleged Scriptural defenses for slavery.
The book, being a work of academic research, is not an easy or casual read by any means, but it is well-written and well-researched, and is accessible and compelling enough to hold the interest of those interested in learning more about Lincoln's personal and political philosophies as well as the use and misuse of Scripture during Lincoln's time.
We will never grow tired of exploring Lincoln's thought. Why? Because it was so profound for his own time and remains so illuminating for our own.