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Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America Hardcover – February 3, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This impressive work is a splendid history of the genesis, issuance and aftermath of Lincoln's epoch-making Emancipation Proclamation. Not surprisingly, it focuses on the president, whom Guelzo (whose Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President won the 2000 Lincoln Prize) presents in all his prudent, acute genius. As is well known, the recovery of the Union, not emancipation, was always uppermost in Lincoln's aims. Therefore, he had to convince himself that options other than emancipation-principally treating escaping slaves as contraband of war or compensating slaveholders for their freed slaves-were unworkable and likely to retard Northern victory before concluding that the slaves' emancipation would advance the cause of war as well as end an evil. The history of how Lincoln convinced himself is Guelzo's main subject. The political and legal reasoning behind Lincoln's series of hugely difficult decisions has never been presented so well before nor in such authoritative detail. And rarely has Lincoln's cautious approach seemed, paradoxically, so fit and so bold. His ability both to listen to others and to explain with clarity and eloquence why he had taken the decision he did stands out, as does his firmness of resolve in the face of violent criticism. In this fast-paced and riveting work, whose details propel rather than retard it, the president stands forth not so much as the deeply compassionate and thoughtful man he was but rather as a man of inordinate understanding of his fellow citizens and of the needs of his fractured nation. It's hard to imagine that this book will soon be surpassed as the definitive work on its subject.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Analysts as diverse as Frederick Douglass and historian Richard Hofstadter have ardently criticized Lincoln's "passive" attitude toward abolition. These critics frequently point out that the Emancipation Proclamation was, in practical terms, meaningless, since it freed only those slaves in areas under Confederate control and left slaves in the Union border states in bondage. In this fine work of counterrevisionism, history professor Guelzo strives to resurrect the traditional image of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator. Despite Lincoln's frequent assertions that the preservation of the Union was his paramount goal, Guelzo insists that Lincoln was committed to abolition once hostilities commenced. His repudiation of efforts by John Fremont to liberate slaves were merely tactical retreats, according to Guelzo, and when he deemed the moment appropriate, Lincoln struck a mortal blow against the institution. Guelzo marshals considerable evidence to support his views, but this is hardly the final word on the subject. Still, his work is a valuable counterweight to those who too easily dismiss the importance of the document and Lincoln's role in eliminating slavery. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743221826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743221825
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Abraham Lincoln issued the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Near the end of that year, the artist Francis Carpenter determined to paint "a historical picture of the first reading of the Proclamation of Emancipation". Carpenter spent six months in the White House beginning in February, 1864, created a historically important painting of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to the cabinet, got to know Lincoln, and wrote a book detailing his experiences. Carpenter wrote that Lincoln told him regarding the Emancipation Proclamation: "It is the central act of my administration, and the great event of the nineteenth century".
Professor Allen Guelzo tells the story of the Carpenter painting (p. 220-21), includes a photograph of the painting in the book, discusses Lincoln's statement to Carpenter (p. 186) and includes much more in his detailed study, "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" (2004). This book is a worthy successor to Professor Guelzo's recent study of Lincoln's religous and political beliefs in "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President".
Professor Guelzo takes issue with a historical interpretation of the Emancipation Proclamation beginning with Richard Hofstadter (1948) that argues that Lincoln had little concern with the status of black Americans and issued the Emancipation Proclamation only from reasons of prudence to protect the interests of white workers. Guelzo also approaches the Emancipation Proclamation to address recent arguments by African-American scholars skeptical of Lincoln's role and pessimistic about the future of race relations in the United States.
Professor Guelzo agrees that Lincoln approached the question of Emancipation cautiously.
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Format: Hardcover
Allen C. Guelzo wrote this superb book as a work to counter the prevalent [revisionist] school of thought that holds
that Lincoln was a very reluctant emancipator - if even that. What many people hold against Lincoln, as is well known, is that he only touched slavery where slaves were out of his reach [i.e. living in confederate states in rebellion], and did not set people free where they were within his reach [i.e. in the loyal Border States of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky & Missouri]. HOWEVER: as Guelzo points out: when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he invoked the constitutionally warranted [and untried] WAR POWERS in his role as Commander-in-Chief, which only apply during wartime/times of rebellion. Slavery did NOT fall under FEDERAL jurisdiction, but under STATE jurisdiction. In other words: the institution of slavery was "protected" by the firewall protecting states from any intervention on the part of the federal government. Should Lincoln have ended slavery in the BORDER states, his action would have been declared UNCONSTITUTIONAL by the Supreme Court in a heartbeat. After all: the Border states were NOT in rebellion (and thus protected, by the U.S. Constitution, from presidential decrees/proclamations pertaining to slavery!).
Further complications: Roger B. Taney [Dred Scott case!] was still chief justice of the Supreme Court (!), not exactly somebody you'd call a friend of emancipation. Further more: such executive action would surely have resulted in
the loyal Border States actually joining the Confederacy. In the fall of 1862, there was even the threat of a march on Washington D.C., a military 'Coup-d'Etat,' led by Union Commander George McClellan at the head of the Army
of the Potomac.
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Format: Hardcover
Lincoln the Strategist

This is a wonderful book. It paints a portrait of a side of Lincoln rarely discussed, Lincoln the cunning politician and master of strategy. Lincoln by careful political and military maneuvering did what the fiery rhetoric of the abolitionists had failed to; free all slaves everywhere.

The majority of Northern whites were not abolitionists and were not willing to fight a war with the South, strictly to free black slaves. Lincoln knew and understood this, and cast the war in terms of preserving the union. However thru a series of gradual, and seemingly unconnected actions, Lincoln set the die for the eventual abolition of slavery and the equality of all people.

Consider Lincoln's decision to accept southern slaves into the union army. This decision could be easily be justified on the grounds of military expediency. It was common practice for one army to seize the property of the opposing side and then to use that property against it's former owner. When the Union overran a Confederate artillery position, they would seize the cannons and use them against the South. What could be more sensible and non controversial than to use seized southern property(slaves) against the south?

However by training and arming recently freed black slaves and clothing them in the uniform of the U.S. Government, Lincoln seriously eroded the thesis of slavery; that blacks were an inferior race deserving only of slavery and not citizenship. When the war was over these black veterans would be another obstacle to a continuation of the previous precarious, legal status of blacks. It was inconceivable that a slave who had joined the Union army and fought for the Union could later be returned to slavery or denied citizenship.
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