- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (February 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743273206
- ISBN-13: 978-0743273206
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,148,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Guelzo (Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America) gives us an astute, gracefully written account of the celebrated Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858. These seven debates between two powerful attorneys and statesmen, Abraham Lincoln and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, starkly defined the stakes between sharply different positions on slavery and union on the eve of civil war and offered examples of serious, deeply reasoned exchanges of views rarely seen in American politics. As Guelzo wisely shows, the debates did not stand alone but were part of a larger Illinois senatorial campaign. Douglas won re-election that year, but Lincoln gained national recognition despite losing and then defeated Douglas three years later for the presidency. Perhaps more important, the views that Lincoln enunciated in 1858—that the government, heeding the majority's will, should halt slavery's further spread—laid the foundation for emancipation and a new era in the nation's history. Guelzo's smoothly narrated history of this segment of Lincoln's career, packed full of illustrative quotes from primary sources, will become a standard. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at
Gettysburg College, where he also directs the Civil War Era Studies Program and
The Gettysburg Semester. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer
President (1999) and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of
Slavery in America (2004), both of which won the Lincoln Prize. He has
written essays and reviews for The Washington Post, The Wall Street
Journal, Time, the Journal of American History, and many other
Top customer reviews
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Rather than focusing the book primarily on the seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas, Guelzo expands the picture and examines in detail the entire political campaigns of 1858 in order to give the debates context. "Lincoln and Douglas" taught me much I didn't know about Lincoln as a man and as a politician (sometimes we forget that in addition to being one of the greatest U.S. presidents in history, he also had to maneuver the political scene of his day - and boy, could he maneuver).
One star off for a lot of political jargon (which, being quite young in the world of elections and voting, I didn't quite understand) and for not printing the full texts of the debates in the book. Still, I recommend it highly.
On a side note, I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Guelzo speak at my college last month, and he is a wonderfully knowledgable historian and the most eloquent speaker I've ever listened to. If you ever have a chance to hear him present on CIvil War topics, go with a notebook, pen, and high expectations.
The Republican Party of the 1850's was formed from the imploding Whig Party and disaffected members of the then Democratic Party around a common theme that slavery, the peculiar institution of the South should be contained within the bounds set by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. This not surprising in that the compromise was the work of Whig Henry Clay whose memory was still revered by many Whigs, including Lincoln. Under this compromise Missouri entered the U.S. as a slave state, but slavery would be excluded from all portions of the remainder of the Louisiana Purchase above latitude 36 30. Now the Republican Party including Lincoln made it clear repeatedly that they were not abolitionists. They did not want to abolish slavery where it already existed, but only to contain its expansion. They feared being overwhelmed in congress by slave holding states. Conversely, by the 1850's the slave holding states begin to fear that as the territory of purchase started to develop into states, they would be overwhelmed in the congress by non-slave states and slavery itself would be at risk.
The Democratic Party of the time not exactly a pro-slavery party, but it was considerably less adamant than the republicans in wanting to contain the growth of slavery. It was seen by most as the party most sympathetic to the slave holding states of the south. Stephan A. Douglas arguably the most prominent member of the party hoped to maintain both party unity and to give the Democrats something like parity with burgeoning Republican Party. He therefore successfully overthrew the Missouri Compromise in favor of allowing each state to determine the status of slavery in that state. This `popular sovereignty' bill infuriated the Republicans and as it turned out failed to satisfy the slave holders. It was this bill more than anything else that persuaded Lincoln to embark on a series of debates with Douglas.
The Debates and their back ground make for some fine reading. Yet it is discouraging to read how nobody including Lincoln really considered the African-American, either free or slave, to be equal to what was called the `white man'. Not even the majority of the abolitionists were willing to treat them as equals. Fredrick Douglass who was not only the equal of many white men, but superior to most was virtually ignored, insulted, or at best treated as an aberration. This is the unpleasant part of what is a very good book.
The electorial process was as flawed then as it is now. Lincoln had the popular vote however did not win the election.
However the debates exposed Lincoln to the whole country and set the stage for his later success in the 1860 Presidential Elections.
James Squires, St Johns, Newfoundland, 09-10-08