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President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman Paperback – January 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
"President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman," is a delight. As the title reflects, this volume deals with Lincoln's years as President. Miller is well-versed in the vast reaches of Lincoln scholarship. Unlike the best-selling "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kerns Goodwin, however, Miller actually provides new and revelatory insights that further enhance Lincoln's reputation. Of the current coterie of authors on Lincoln, I have yet to find one who has spent the time Miller does on addressing the substance of Lincoln's critical July 4, 1861 message to Congress, where Lincoln denounced the "farcical" pretence of secession and demolished the myth of state sovereignty as he asked Congress for money and men to fight a war that had become much fiercer than almost anyone had imagined. Douglas Wilson, in "Lincoln's Sword," provides an excellent and in-depth discussion of the drafting of this document but he skirts much of the real substance - which remains controversial in some quarters. Miller shows how Lincoln carefully maneuvered between Union and emancipation. He does not avoid controversy. The message to Congress emerges as a central document in Lincoln's development and in the ongoing debate over "states' rights."
One intriguing episode Miller describes concerns the cashiering of Major John J. Key, who was the brother of one of General McClellan's top aides.Read more ›
1. Whether to supply Fort Sumter by sea or allow the Charleston SC.fort to be surrendered to the new Confederate government without a shot being fired? Lincoln had promised to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution in his inaugural address on March 4, 1861. He believed the President of the United States should defend our territory so refused to give up on Sumter. The Confederates fired on the fort leading to a declaration of war with the United States. The Civil War would cost over
600,000 lives-2/3 of them because of disease and insanitary conditions.
2. Lincoln made the decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Confederate controlled areas as of January 1, 1863. As a wily politician this act did not apply to slaves held in Union held but slave states. All African-Americans in bondage would be freed by the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution following the great emancipator's death
by assassination on April 15, 1865.
3. Miller cites several examples of Lincoln's mercy to soldiers convicted by court martial. He could be tough refusing to save the life of Nathaniel Gordon a slave ship owner and a man who shot a white officer leading a parade of black soldiers in Norfolk, Va. Lincoln was a kind and merciful man who was without hubris or self-glorification.
4.Read more ›
Abraham Lincoln is rightfully remembered here for the actions he took during the short time he actually served in the White House. This is not a book about Mr. Lincoln's youth, his career in Illinois, or his family life. How this statesman balanced power, people, and ethics in reaching his twin noble objectives is laid out in a most compelling way by William Lee Miller.
(I especially found interesting the material presented on President Lincoln's use of the pardoning power.)
Purchase this book for yourself, or a friend who may question why the world still celebrates a politician who was born almost two hundred years ago.
And, by the time I got done, I came to the impression that this statement (with which I heartily agree) was the fulcrum of the whole book.
Miller breaks Lincoln's Civil War activities down into easily reviewed and analyzed chunks, and in doing so, parses, pulls out, and displays Lincoln's intelligence undergoing presidential growth, meeting the challenges and rising to the occasion.
A couple of other specifics. Miller does an excellent job of defending Lincoln against improperly revisionist historians' (there are properly revisionist historians) charges of racism or similar. Lincoln was moderatly left of center on racial enlightenment, in terms of his day and age, even before becoming president, and grew vastly after taking office. As for colonization ideas, Lincoln was not racist, nor was he alone in proposing colonization, nor was he alone in why he proposed it.
Miller is not a hagiographer, though. He points out that Lincoln did have one notable weakness, indeed somewhat of a failing, in his administration -- Indian affairs. The 1862 Minnesota Sioux uprising and its aftermath are cited as evidence.
That said, had Lincoln served a second term, free from the Civil War, although dealing with Reconstruction, I certainly agree with the implied idea of Miller that Lincoln would have exhibited the same degree of growth in Indian affairs as he did elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I happened to check this book out from the library before realizing it was the second part of a two-part “ethical biography” of Abraham Lincoln, this volume covering Lincoln as... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Nathan Albright
Our personal library consists of several books about President Lincoln, including those by Carl Sandburg. Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by Susan
A full five years after publication, it's doubtful anything further needs to be said about this great book, but here goes anyway. Read morePublished on January 27, 2013 by E. Cardinal
It was a great read about Lincoln's initial election as pres of the u.s and the tribulations he encountered with the civil war. It conveyed his virtues as a man. Read morePublished on October 27, 2012 by Big Steve the iron roughneck.
Heard this book being read on NPR radio. Knew I had to have it in hand. It is excellent,,,and could be primer for politicians of this day. I love Mr. Read morePublished on January 11, 2012 by Betty A. Scherrman
I have read and reread this book three times; each reading brings me a larger understanding of how extraordinary Lincoln, the President, was. Read morePublished on April 3, 2011 by Mollynash
I am by no means a Lincoln scholar, but like almost all Americans I have great respect for the man based on what I know of him. Read morePublished on August 30, 2010 by tennisfan
I enjoyed this book, as I have two previous efforts by William Lee Miller, but I would suggest it is probably not the place to start if you are just now getting to know President... Read morePublished on January 28, 2010 by Brian Lewis