- Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons; 1st edition (1950)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684104156
- ISBN-13: 978-0684104157
- Package Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Emergence of Lincoln, Vol. 1: Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos, 1857-1859 Hardcover – 1950
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For the Union was like a runaway train rushing headlong to a place where the bridge was down - and total disaster loomed. If for the ability of a trained engineer it need not be so.
But the engineer at the helm of the United States in 1857 was the weak, lilly-livered, effeminate James Buchanan. Northern by birth, never by sentiment, Buchanan not only gravitated towards, but bent over backwards to appease the South. He had no sympathy towards the poor Black Slave, and was coarse towards those who even urged the Slave Power to moderate.
The prominent members of his cabinet, Howell Cobb of Georgia, Jacob Thompson of Mississippi, and John Floyd of Virginia, all future Confederates were essentially running the show - with Jeff Davis lurking in the background. When the Southerners or Slave Power howled, Jemmy Buchanan jumped.
When it came time for Buchanan to take a stand, as in the case of backing his hand-picked governor for the Kansas Territory, the able Robert Walker of Mississippi, who, though Southern born was Unionist in heart and mind, and urged that the people of Kansas decide whether or not slavery be allowed in that ravaged territory, Buchanan quickly repudiated him and adopted the Slave Lecompton Constitution.His own friends denounced him, and even the blinders began to fall off the pliant Northerners in his cabinet, men like the willing but old Secretary of State Lewis Cass and Buchanan's own sidekick, Attorney General Jere Black.
From then it was all downhill towards Secession and Sumter - save for the courageous stand of Stephen Douglas, and the rise, rise, and steady rise of Douglas' rival in Illinois, a backwoods lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln. Nevins adroitly covers the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates and their affect on the nation as it was tearing itself apart.
There are plenty of moments of high drama throughout this history, for example, in the first pages when Nevins conjures up the horror and bloodshed of the forthcoming Civil War, and tries to convey that if Senators had any idea of what was to come, they would either have allowed the South to secede, or they would have acted resolute earlier. Instead they - and the country got Jemmy Buchanan. And War.
While this is but one volume of a two-volume set, these books can and do stand alone on their own merits.